ANIME IS LIFE

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Ever felt like you wanted to start an anime but find yourself not having enough time for it? Or do you have a friend who you would like to get started on an anime, but they’re unable to relate to it? The writers for these anime have managed to take a concept, present their thoughts in a short amount of time, and create relatable anime. No more excuses about long runtimes or concepts that are too difficult to relate to.

Words: Charlene Lim

The “slice-of-life” genre of anime picks up on various aspects of day-to-day tasks and interactions. It exaggerates one particular concept and builds a story from there with some light hearted comic relief for good measure.

The average length of an episode of anime is approximately 23 minutes long. This is a considerable amount of time in one’s day, which is perhaps the reason why animators have chosen to produce short clips between 2 to 8 minutes long — the perfect length for break time enjoyment.

To bring this guide together, some points to note are the episode length and the “Real-life Relatability Rating”. This is scored out of 10 and is based on how often we find ourselves in situations similar to what is described in the anime. Some universes may be outside our scope of imagination, but each story line covers topics such as work or school life in situations we may have experienced before.I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying

Real-life Relatability Rating: 7/10

Studio: Seven Produced
by: Dream Creation Theme: Otaku Culture
Episode Length: 3 1/3 minutes

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This anime focuses on the married life of Kaoru, an office lady, and Takashi, her otaku obsessed husband. What’s unique about this series is the number of anime references it touches on per episode. The creators’ ability to adapt both verbal and illustration styles from different genres is impressive.

I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying ran for 2 full seasons and, despite the short individual episode length, the writers have managed to introduce a large amount of characters and have allowed viewers to experience and grow with the 2 protagonists over the course of time. This is a good introduction to the lifestyle of an otaku from an outsider’s perspective.

This light-hearted anime is shown from Kaoru and her friends’ perspective of a lifestyle that is quite foreign to their own. If you are an otaku, you will enjoy trying to catch as many different references as you can while watching this anime.

Meeting people from all walks of life is an integral part of social interaction. It does not matter if the networking aspect is in real life or online as it helps to develop a deeper sense of individuality and understanding. The people that we meet in our lives may have drastically different views and lifestyles in comparison to our own and that is what makes our lives vibrant and fulfilling.

Tonari no Seki-kun

Real-life Relatability Rating: 3/10

Studio: Shin-El Animation
Theme: School Episode
Length: 8 minutes

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This anime is depicted from the viewpoint of Rumi Yokoi, the main character, who sits next to Toshinari Seki in class. Yokoi is often distracted by the activities that Seki is involved in during class and often narrates the on goings in her head while observing the scene.

Seki has the ability to transform regular objects such as stationery into complex games during class time, and more often than not, despite Yokoi’s continuous attempts to concentrate in class or getting Seki to focus on class, Yokoi often finds herself an unwilling participant in those games.

Despite Seki’s large scale creations and the entertainment he provides, it seems that Yokoi is the only person in the whole class that notices what is going on. In such short episodes, the writers are still able to involve other classmates and build them into Yokoi and Seki’s life outside of Seki’s creative imagination and games.

During the more boring parts of school life, there are times where we would consider entertaining ourselves with what is available to us. This anime seems more likely to exist in our imaginations as carrying out the activities described in this anime would probably be a logistical nightmare.

Wakakozake

Real-life Relatability Rating: 9/10

Studio: Office DCI
Themes: Food Episode
Length: 2 minutes

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Wakakozake revolves around Wakako, an office lady who spends her time alone after work enjoying food with sake. Each episode is only 2 minutes long, and focuses on a Japanese dish and with an alcohol pairing.

Despite the short running time, the amount of expression and delight that is conveyed is wonderful. With Wakako’s first bite of food, sip of alcohol and sigh of enjoyment, you can feel her stresses wash away, taking your troubles along with them. A word of warning — this anime may bring on extreme food cravings.

The best part about this anime is its attention to detail in illustrating the dishes served up. From the onset, you will notice that the focus is mainly on the food and alcohol pairing. For example, seafood is usually served with hot sake, whilst fried food with beer.

I would consider this a highly relatable anime with great tips on how to enjoy food with alcoholic beverages. This anime may make you want to head out to the closest izakaya (Japanese pub) to start trying some of the more traditional Japanese dishes.

WakakozakeHozuki no Reitetsu

Real-life Relatability Rating: 6/10

Studio: Wit Studio
Theme: Office Life/Work Politics Episode
Length: 23minutes; 2 segments per episode

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The protagonist in this series is a high level administrative officer in Hell named Hozuki, who supports Enma, the king of Hell. The relationship between both characters is similar to that of an operations manager with a company director. Each episode is generally split into 2 stories that covers topics involving situations at work such as: personal relationships between superiors and subordinates, hiring processes, and the work/life balance. The idea that hell is run like a large corporation with multiple departments is a novel concept which the writers have done a great job with.

One of the many topics this anime illustrates is international company exchange programs. This can be seen when satan from European Hell visits and discusses the cultural differences between Eastern and Western worlds. Exchange programs between administrative managers happens frequently throughout the series, often resulting in cultural shock due to their differences.

Training is also depicted in this anime. This is provided to the staff by subject matter experts, and allows for skill development of current employees to provide better service and success in various job fields.

We may often find ourselves living a real-life version of this universe and many aspects of this anime are quite relatable. In the workplace, we may be met with familiar situations such as understaffing and attempts to keep a good work/life balance. This anime manages to touch on subjects in a light hearted and comical manner that is close to our hearts.

FINDING A PLACE TO STAY IN JAPAN

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Words: Dennis Bott

BUDGET ACCOMMODATION OPTIONS

Whether you’re staying long or short-term, finding somewhere to stay in Japan can be a daunting challenge especially if you don’t speak the language and have just arrived.

Although I haven’t tried it myself, Airbnb, where people rent out their rooms and apartments, seems to be a popular choice nowadays. It’s usually cheaper than most hotels and depending on the option you choose, you could have an entire apartment where you can cook, use wireless internet and perhaps even get some travel advice from your hosts.

Another website called couchsurfing.com connects you with hosts around the world on the condition that you also offer your place to other couchsurfers. This can be a great way to connect with other travellers and organise trips together and basically allows you to stay for free, anywhere.

THE PROS AND CONS OF HOSTEL LIFE

Then, of course, there are hostels. Hostels also offer the ability to cook, but can often be noisy and sometimes rough or dirty. You also have to be careful about having your things stolen if you’re staying in a room with several strangers. On the positive side, they’re also a great place to meet people and can be really memorable experiences. I once stayed in a really ratty hostel in Kyoto with about eight people in one room. People came in at all hours of the night and we all had to sleep in bunk beds. But I’ve also stayed in some really nice ones as well, so make sure you do your research and read the reviews.

BEST OPTION FOR LONG TERM STAYS

For those looking at a long-term stay, a guesthouse is probably the best option. There are several companies in Japan with Englishspeaking staff and websites where you can book a room by the month ahead of your arrival. There’s a deposit of 20,000 to 30,000 yen, but you get most of it back when you leave, as long as you don’t trash the room. The rooms are usually furnished with a bed with new sheets and a desk. The kitchen and bathrooms are shared with your housemates. I’ve actually lived in a guesthouse for the past two years. It’s convenient and it’s fun to meet the people from all over who come and go.

Another advantage is that a lot of guesthouses are conveniently located near big train stations so you can live relatively cheaply in a convenient area where rent would typically be very expensive. Paying rent is also easy because all the utilities are included in one price.

TRY A HOMESTAY FOR AN AUTHENTIC LOCAL EXPERIENCE

Another viable option is doing a homestay. I spent my first two months in Tokyo doing a homestay with a young couple who had two spare rooms. At first it was great having someone to talk to and dinner on the table every night. It was a great chance to see how Japanese people live and they organised a lot of activities every weekend. I would say that for a twoweek stay, a homestay would be perfect. Any longer than that, in my experience, seems to be wearing out your welcome. It became uncomfortable trying to be home on time for dinner and I always felt like I had to be careful about making noise or using the shower.

Homestays can also be quite expensive in the long term, but I would say it was a great experience for someone arriving in Japan for the first time.

OTHER ALTERNATIVES – RENT YOUR OWN APARTMENT

Finding your own apartment presents its own set of pitfalls and challenges. First of all, you’ll need a bank account. But in order to get a bank account, you need an identification card and, of course, to stay in Japan you need some type of visa. Even if you have a job lined up before you come, getting everything in order takes time, so I recommend staying in a guesthouse for a month or two so you can take your time to find a good apartment.

Most apartments in Japan require at least a two-year contract as well as up to the equivalent of one or two month’s rent or so in deposits and fees. Choosing the right apartment in Tokyo is usually a compromise between price, size or location. Rarely will you find a place that is ideal in all three. You have to decide what’s more important for you depending on your own budget. For me, living in a central convenient location, close to a station and my job is important, but I also don’t want to pay a lot for rent. So I decided to sacrifice on space and privacy by just staying in my guesthouse.

Basically, the further the apartment is away from a train station, (i.e. less convenient) the more spacious or cheaper it will be. Some people decide to live outside of Tokyo altogether and commute into the city to save money on rent. For me though, not having to ride the crowded morning trains and being able to ride my bike to work is worth the extra cost of living in the city. I’m also able to stop home for lunch or go back if I forget something and I don’t have to worry about catching the last train at night on the weekends.

A LITTLE PATIENCE AND PLANNING WILL PAY OFF

Hopefully, someone from your company or a friend will help you with the process at the realtor’s office. You might be shocked to hear that some or many of the landlords will reject you right off the bat simply because you’re a foreigner. The most common reason is that they don’t want to deal with the language barrier. Also, they’re worried you will have poor Japanese etiquette such as making too much noise or not disposing of your trash properly. Some foreigners also leave Japan suddenly without paying all of their last bills. Whatever the reason, this is one of the most frustrating parts about finding an apartment in Japan. However, they do seem to be more open if you tell them you can speak some Japanese.

Another thing to keep in mind is that you won’t have Internet for the first two or three weeks after you move into an apartment, while the telecommunications company changes the phone lines to your name. With proper research and planning, you may be able to shorten the waiting time by telling them ahead of time to get started on the process.

Make sure you budget ample time and money in your search for a place to stay. There are tons of options, and with a little planning and research, it doesn’t have to be a headache.

LIVE BEYOND THE ORDINAR

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Since opening in 1992, Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel Tokyo have welcomed guests from more than 100 countries. Their new ‘vacation rental’ offering is a service for those seeking long-term stays, and is perfect for families, friends, couples and other group trips.

Vacation rental accommodation can be found in Tokyo and Kyoto, and in addition to having no check in or check out and other time limits common to hotels, there is no need to pay for advance securities such as key money or deposits, seek out guarantors, or pay other types of processing fees. English-language onsite support is also available, and if there is a vacancy, you can begin your stay on the same day you make your booking. All listings come with furniture and bedding, and everything you need during your stay. Simply turn up, suitcase in hand, and start your life in Japan.

HANDY LOCATIONS CLOSE TO TOURIST ATTRACTIONS

With three apartment buildings in the Shinjuku area and a listing in Nishi-Ojima in eastern Tokyo, all listings are close to shopping areas and public transport. A listing in Kyoto allows you to have the experience of staying in traditional Japanese accommodation.

FRIENDLY STAFF ARE ON HAND TO SUPPORT YOU DURING YOUR STAY

Multilingual staff are available to answer any questions you may have during your stay, making it a safe option for first-time visitors to Japan. Sakura House and the Sakura Hotel and Hostel also offer calligraphy and kimonowearing experiences throughout the year, providing a chance to experience Japan in a way no other accommodation can afford.

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