Holiday Japanese – Anpanman and Puzzle and Dragons Z

Adorable Doremi-hime - unknown outside Japan!
Doremi-hime – unknown outside Japan!

I have been having fun with Japanese over the holiday. I received the wonderful present of Pazudora (Puzzle and Dragons) Z and have been watching a lot of Anpanman – especially the Christmas Special movies.

These two activities have one notable thing in common – they barely exist in English. While there is a Wikipedia article, there is very little other online information on Anpanman and very few, if any, translations exist. Many charming and wonderful characters seem to be completely unknown outside Japan. For example, you won’t find a picture of Doremi-hime (from アンパンマンとクリスマスの星 – Anpanman and the Star of Christmas and other movies and episodes.)

Similarly Pazudora, which is a huge phenomenon in Japan – earning its maker, GungHo, several million dollars a day (really!) is virtually unknown outside Japan.

Pazudora is a cute and complex RPG, like Pokemon so there is a lot of text and a lot to learn about the monsters themselves. But unlike Pokemon, there is no “cheating”. The keitai version exists in the US, but that is very different from the Z-version, the Nintendo 3DS RPG.

So if you want to understand the game and know your monster collection intimately, you have to read a lot of Japanese and you can’t sneak away for a quick info-break on an English-language site. And this is such a good game that it is well worth doing. It really compels you to play.

Gung-Ho’s president – true to the company’s name – has said his aim is to sell more games than Nintendo by the time he retires. Not very likely, but this company is serious about games and has done a really good job on PazudoraZ. Famitsu’s four reviewers gave it 9/10 each – 9:9:9:9 from Famitsu is a huge accolade in Japan. The game sold through most of its initial shipment on the first day.

I don’t have Pokemon X yet (it will be X, as my Japanese-game-playing friend has Y) but Pazudora is splendid training in learning a game’s complexities in Japanese.

My recent bout of Anpanman-watching has been a reberu-appu for me, as I have been watching intensively in Japanese without subtitles (I usually use Japanese subtitles). Kikitori (hear-catching or “listening  comprehension”) is currently a problem for me and I often have to play the same fraction of dialog four or five times. But I am getting faster. I remember when a half-hour show with Japanese subtitles took me hours. Now it is much faster. Some things I just can’t get in Anpanman, presumably because I simply don’t know the words. But I can definitely follow the shows and know most of what is going on.

And they really are worth watching. I have cried several times during the Christmas (and other) movies. They are pure, warm-hearted and deeply touching shows of a kind that one doesn’t find in the West. Anpanman is hugely popular in Japan (you see Anpanman products of one kind or another just about every shop you go in) and has been for years. I would guess it is never coming to the West, so experiencing these beautiful shows is one of the benefits of learning Japanese.

kururu-pazudoraPazudora may eventually come to the West (though the US keitai version is very far from achieving the runaway success it has had in Japan, so they may not bother). It is another unique and truly wonderful experience that, at the time of writing, can only be enjoyed in Japanese.

I’ll leave you with my favorite team-member, クルル Kururu, from PazudoraZ. She is currently my team leader and has the leader-skill called inori (prayer) which heals a small but substantial amount of the team’s life every turn.

She also gives my Japanese a few more hit-points every turn!