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Wii On!

As part of my ongoing immersion into all things Japanese, I have bought a Wi console, made by company Nintendo.

If you didn’t know already, Nintendo is one of the biggest manufacturers of video games in the world. The Wii is their latest machine, and it has an interesting interface method: instead of pressing buttons with your fingers, you hold two controllers, or リモコン and wave them around in front of your TV. You really have to try it to understand it; the feeling of having two controllers in your hands and frantically flailing them about makes the whole experience much more enjoyable.

I’m currently battling my way through a game called Rayman Raving Rabbids. In it, a group of crazy ラビッツ try to take over the world, and challenge you, レーマン to a series of challenges to prove your worthiness. These take the form of a series of minigames, or single challanges. These may be races, dancing competitions, shootouts with hordes of rabbits out for your blood, or navigating through mazes. Admittedly the game doesn’t have a very solid plotline, but it is still enjoyable. Nevertheless, sometimes the screaming ラビッツ get on your nerves, and I have taken a break to write this blog entry.

I have somehow ended up with the Japanese version, and besides brushing up on my カタカナ, I have had to learn some new words to get through the game. Each minigame is different to all the others, so before you play, instructions on how to complete the challenge come up on the screen. As I have the Japanese version, I have to say… everything… out… loud… slowly… to… understand…, or fire up Firefox and use Rikachan to work out what I’m meant to do. I tell myself that all my hours spent on my Nintendo Wii counts as Japanese study time.

I have always had a fascination with ニンテンド, from when I was young enough to wrap my little fingers around a Nintendo Entertainment System control pad. You might even say that ニンテンド, and their rivals Sega first seeded my interest in all things Japanese. That and the fact that Japan was the only place I knew where grown ups read comic books.

I wouldn’t go so far to say that I’ve come so far with Japanese exclusively because of video games, but I guess they have been a factor in my childhood interest in Japan. Like so many young kids, I played a lot of video games, and was amazed to find out that almost all of my favourite games came from a small island country off the coast of mainland Asia. Although my interest in video games has waned, my interest in Japan has only grown stronger. So many unique things have come from Japan: not just Nintendo and Sega, but 侍, 盆栽, the Walkman, automatic toilets, ドラえもん, not to mention everyone’s favourite podcast.

I know people often end blog posts with a question. You see, we bloggers aren’t always sure people are listening, so a question is a little bit like a to prod our readers to see if they are really there. But this time I really am interested (not that I wasn’t interested before, but you know what I mean!): what made you want to learn Japanese? It’s a question that a lot of Japanese people ask me, and I’ve never been able to give an answer to my satisfaction. I meant to attempt an answer in this post, but I can’t get it across. I hope that my fellow jPod listeners, of all people in the world, will know what I mean when I talk about my interest in Japan.

Maybe you find it hard to answer too. If you feel like it, leave a message!

I’m going back to blasting screaming bunnies with a toilet plunger (really!)