On the State of the Japanese Film Industry and Also Myself

Electric Asano

The less I write on this site, the more the writing on this site becomes centered around apologizing for not writing more on this site, but The Hammering Heart was never intended as a blog about not writing, so I will spare any excuses and simply say, “Hello.”

This past summer was defined in part by a series of wakeup calls. Each of the calls suggested that, despite how I’ve constructed an identity for myself as a Guy who Likes Japanese Film, I might not actually be that into Japanese film.  Continue reading “On the State of the Japanese Film Industry and Also Myself”

Music and Materialism in the Digital Age

There are two life-enriching things that are said to become much more challenging after college: meeting people and discovering good music. In my own experience, I have found the latter to be true and the former to be the opposite of true: false.

I can swallow the sentiment that it’s harder to meet interesting people when you no longer live in a veritable colony of peers, but to be sure, I spent most of my college time in isolated obscurity.

As a result of the above, however, I was constantly discovering great music that spoke to me. This was because at that time in my life, to do so was a necessity. It was either that or notice the ever-present silence. I’ll also admit to having had the occasional friend who would introduce me to something good.

Continue reading “Music and Materialism in the Digital Age”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Epilogue: Too-Ra-Loo-Ra Loo-ra Loo-ra)

It was with utmost sarcasm that I wrote “Atomic Girl,” but underneath its layer of drunken belligerence beat a genuine heart. The song is at once a scathing indictment of the manipulative, self-destructive S and an admission of my own part in creating the terrible situation from which I’d been forced to escape. It’s a step-by-step dissection of a habit I’d developed in my life of being enticed by half-heartedly suicidal girls, allowing them to pull me into their terrible worlds instead of pulling them out. I was protesting the atomic bomb with my finger on the button, and it took a situation as exaggerated as this one to finally allow me to see the caricature I’d become.

Continue reading “Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Epilogue: Too-Ra-Loo-Ra Loo-ra Loo-ra)”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 7: I Swear This is Almost Over)

I refrained from replying to S’s inexplicably light-hearted text message. But the next day, I received a follow-up message: “You’re not mad, by any chance, are you?”

I decided I should refrain from speaking to her ever again, reasoning that her safety was at stake but actually more concerned for my own. As evening fell, I received a direct call to my cellular. I glanced reluctantly at the screen. It displayed a giant Japanese equivalent of an S, the rest of her name following like the proverbial stalker following the proverbial me.

“Uggh,” I shuddered, hurling the phone into the garbage bin. I stared at the bin until the ringing stopped.

I immediately second-guessed my rash action on account of the phone not being burnable waste. You have to understand that the town of Tajimi, Japan had very stringent waste disposal regulations, as dictated by the iron-fisted town mascot, the Unagappain a massive, forty-four-page PDF document.

Continue reading “Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 7: I Swear This is Almost Over)”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 6: Projection)

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S sat rigid at the well-lit bar, surrounded by young men and women enjoying the placidity of each other’s company. All seemed subtly aware of her smoldering, deathly presence, allowing her an exclusion zone two-and-a-half meters in radius. But precautions be damned for the man with a penchant for pain. Radiation suit off, I approached her.

“Hey.”

“Hi,” she said, not breaking her rigidity.

“Why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”

“I want to kill myself.”

Continue reading “Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 6: Projection)”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 5: My Beating Heart)

At roughly midnight, we arrived back at my apartment. My Kiwi friend decided to stay the night at my place to avoid a cumbersome walk home. Just before he went to take a shower, I received a phone call. It was S.

“Greg?”

“Yeah.”

“Did you really. . . believe my story?” She spoke in Japanese. Her voice wavered.

“Well yeah, why wouldn’t I?”

On the other end of the phone, S let out a terrible wail. She wasn’t just crying–she was bawling.

“Where are you?” I asked.

Continue reading “Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 5: My Beating Heart)”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 4: Timing)

A wise or more occupied man would have stopped frequenting the BL at this point. But roughly two weeks later, I went back, for lack of a better idea. I’m proud to say that it was not in forbidden anticipation of once again encountering S, but rather in spite of the possibility of. I’m pretty sure.

The day was the vernal equinox, I believe, which in Japan is a national holiday. My Kiwi friend and I were out drinking “bears,” as he called them, at a gaudy but hidden burger joint called Honey’s Diner. It was one of the few places open on the holiday, but two drinks in, they were closing shop.

“Could sure go for another round,” my friend said. “Any places around here gonna be open?”

“Eh, I guess there is this one place, but. . . if we run into any familiar faces, I’m counting on you to bail me out of a situation.”

“Bear.”

Continue reading “Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 4: Timing)”

Atomic Girl – A Full Explanation (Part 2: S is for…Something)

I returned to my home in the unremarkable town of Tajimi with a newfound love for beautiful, traumatized Hiroshima and a disgust for something I couldn’t quite name. Not for a specific person or government, but for something as simple and abstract as the concept of enmity itself. Naturally for the Bomb as well. I could still see the logic in why they chose to drop it and then drop it again, but could no longer see that logic as “justification”. How could you justify the mass cooking of a city filled with civilians? I love civilians. And the ones in Hiroshima, among other things, make the world’s best okonomiyaki. Also they deserve to live.

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Broken English: Seen But Not Heard (Part 2)

So yeah! In my last post on the “unspeakable” foibles of language, I was talking about ate-ji. And then I finished. To summarize, they are kinda neat, kinda annoying, but often serve as a testament to a man or woman’s mastery of kanji. They’re kind of like puns if puns had dignity.

Today I want to talk about the other thing I mentioned in the last post–“fake furigana.

So first I should probably explain furigana for the noob crowd. Basically, in Japanese you’ve got three writing systems: Hiragana, Katakana, and Kanji. Hiragana and Katakana are what they call “syllabaries,” which is kind of like alphabets, except that each character is a whole syllable, like ka or u or chi or go. Mastering the syllabaries is a simple matter of memorizing some 46 characters (each), which really isn’t that hard at all, given the distinctive vibe possessed by many of these characters; I swear, some of them just inherently look like the sounds they make. か is totally ka and there’s no unseeing it once you’ve seen it.

Continue reading “Broken English: Seen But Not Heard (Part 2)”

Hon’né and Tatémaé – Two Things You Have

A thing you’ll see a lot in Japan:

Guy X, in the presence of Guy Y, does something not so much rude as marginally acknowledging of his own needs as a living organism. For example, he might sit down. Perhaps he will gently move aside an object that is in his way. Perhaps he will go away so as to make it in time for a separate engagement.

Depending (but only marginally) on the relationship between Guy X and Guy Y, Guy X will bow–perhaps profusely–at this juncture, apologizing–perhaps profusely–for doing that thing.

Guy Y, in return, will bow and wave his hand in front of his face–perhaps profusely, perhaps even simultaneously, causing him to slap himself in the protruding face several times–and say something like “Tondemonai,” which can mean either “Think nothing of it” or “Unspeakably horrible,” for you see, being apologized to for something trifling is most certainly that.

Continue reading “Hon’né and Tatémaé – Two Things You Have”