Friday, July 18, 2014

seishun (literally, "blue spring"), 青春

Today was our last day of school before summer break, and everyone was in fine spirits, anticipating what the coming month would bring.  I had an iced tea in my hand as I walked to the teacher staff room and the halls were chaotic.  Most students in our school are in clubs, and there are committees as well--the Culture Festival Committee, the Summer Camp Committee, the Student Council. . .They were manically running to and fro, and making me tired.  I wanted a moment's peace so I went out of the building and sat on the stone wall in front of our main entrance.

As I sat there people started to exit, their meetings finished.  Some of the seniors saw me with my iced tea and came over to say see you after the break.  They were talking a lot to each other, so hyped up as they were.  One of them said "Seishun!"  I didn't know why.  "Seishun!  How do I say 'seishun' in English?"

If it's the seishun that I'm thinking of, then adolescence would be the definition I learned some years ago.  I said, "Adolescence?" and no one reacted much.  "Do you mean like, your teen years?"

And then there was reaction.  They understood what I meant.  One of the girls told me that seishun can be one's teen years, but not necessarily so.  They went on to explain the kanji to me, which literally translates to "blue spring," aoi (青い) and haru (春)."  When I heard that, I thought they meant blue as in depressed, as in wedding blues, which is a common phrase in Japan (denoting the anxiety and regret that some newly married people feel after the ceremony).  But no, that wasn't what they meant.  They said that seishun
can be any time in your life that could be one of the best times in your life.

When I got home I Googled it and, along with the youth and adolescence definitions I also came across "the springtime of one's life."  I supposed that springtime is, naturally, the time of adolescence for many people, which is likely why those definitions come up so ubiquitously.  But I also appreciated that a group of teenagers today were reflective enough to say that, no, the springtime of a person's life can happen at any time.  

"Seishun" (also romanized as "Seisyun") was a 2007 single by the group Tokio.

Friday, July 11, 2014

netabare (ネタバレ)

netabare (ネタバレ) = spoiler

I saw Maleficent a couple of days ago; it came out in Japan a bit after much of the rest of the world.  There was a tremendous amount of anticipation for it here, as Disney is quite popular in these parts.  Most of my students can hardly wait to see it, and as its release here coincided with final exam week for many of them, most haven't seen it.

So after exams week, we resumed classes and I mentioned that I'd seen the movie.  They taught me the term netabare (ネタバレ), which I eventually understood to mean spoiler.  None of my students knew the word spoiler; it was simply the way they cried out "Netabare! Netabare!", with their hands held out to shield them, that I understood that they didn't want me to tell them about the story.  They then confirmed this intended meaning by saying to me, "Please don't tell me what happens!"

I liked how Angelina Jolie fit the part.  She uses her eyes so effectively.  Whenever she screamed out her curses and anti-curses in dramatic fashion I felt that things got a bit awkward, but on the whole I couldn't imagine another actress filling this part the way she did.  I don't think it a spoiler to say that I say that I liked the way Maleficent seemed always determined to be truthful with Aurora, even in situations in which it wasn't easy  to be so.

Sometimes students write about Walt Disney and how he's impacted the world as a first-rate imaginary and business visionary.  So far, they haven't brought up any charges of Hollywood blacklists and anti-Semitism, so I haven't had to deal with those sticky subjects. I won't avoid them, but at the same time I'm not rushed to bring them to the forefront.
The trailer in Japan. . .

and a press conference

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