Teaching Materials Update

I’ve added my recently designed, “Castle Game” to my teaching materials page. Use and enjoy.

Castle Game


may i castle game

This game uses no dice. Game pieces can just be the student’s erasers or pen caps. One student is the ‘King’ and the others want to become the new king. Best played in groups of 3-4. The students will take turns playing rock-scissors-paper with the ‘King.’ If they win they can go 3 spaces, if they tie they to 2 spaces, and if they lose to the ‘King’ they will go one space. They must ask the ‘King’ for permission as they land on the appropriate spaces. e.g. if the 1st student loses to the king and lands on (1) then they have to ask the king, “May I go to 4?” Then another round of rock-scissors-paper is played. If the player wins then the ‘King’ grants the request, (Yes, you may.), and the player can move to (4). If the ‘King” wins then the request is denied, (No you may not.), and the player has to stay put. Each space that has a request asked to the ‘King’ has the Loss / Win results beneath the request.

In my game using “May I…” the students have a chance to gain “bazookas” which can then be used when they are attacked. The ‘King’ holds the bazooka cards and must give them out when it is requested. If the students have no bazooka cards they then they have to try to escape instead.

When a student reaches the end and becomes the new king the game begins again from the start.

You may change the Loss / Win values if you want or use the blank template I’ll provide here to use your own grammar point. Even if you don’t know how to use photoshop you can simply write in your own target grammar as long as your handwriting is legible. You can also use whiteout, type your new stuff in word or something and then cut and paste and then run it through a copier. That’s old school, but I’m willing to be at least some of you have never thought of doing that before which is pretty sad…

castle game template



Bazooka cards. One sheet should be enough for a class of 35-40 kids.


Spring Thoughts

It’s been far to long since I updated this blog. I fear that spring this year has made me tired as the natural world around me blooms and procreates.

Cherry blossoms at night

There are several things that spring brings in Japan.

There’s the wild vegetables we go to the mountains and ditches to harvest. For warabi, we trek to Kumamoto and climb tall hills that serve as cow pastures. The bitter plant is a fern that can be eaten while the fronds are yet unfurled. Tsukushi sprouts up in ditches and drainage spots, though to pick the plant from those locations means you brave dog shit. We like to go to the unplowed rice fields where the plant sprouts up in the inclined slopes that receive the most sunlight.

The winds from the West bring China’s smog and desert sands that blanket skies and savage our sinuses. It’s called kosa, which means literally ‘yellow sand.’ It’s terrible stuff and most of Japan hates China for it. Chine of course couldn’t give a shit, but I’m unsure what Japan would have China do… I suppose they could go “green,” but it’s not like China can control their deserts or the winds as much as they’d like to and contrary to their martial arts movies.

Asians like it windy

School ends and starts again in April. In Fukuoka spring is undokai season. America doesn’t really have “sports day” and if they did I’m sure half of the students would refuse to participate. Undokai is a day long even that mostly involves running, lots and lots of running. There’s usually some tug-o-war, dance routines, obstacle courses, and sand bag lifting tossed in as well. It’s a huge deal. Families will erect tents to watch their children compete just as their parents once watched them compete. The kids seem to love it, even the handful of ones who are on the thicker side.

Yeah… I can’t see my 8th grade classmates doing that…

Japan 3.11

I’m sure that any educated reader of my blog knows that every seven years the human body completely regenerates. From your eyes to your bones, every seven years a completely new you is created from within.

That means every 7 years there's another Kate Beckinsale???

As individuals, we humans are little different from our cells. We group together to build families, societies, and countries. None last forever, but most are not so weak than any little thing will end the line indefinitely.

I’ve seen some tragedy, more than some, much less that so many others. I’ve buried a brother, tagged along to AA meetings with my father, watched the Twin Towers collapse while praying none of my family was in that vicinity, and cleaned away the wreckage of modern civilization left by more than one hurricane.

Katrina was a bitch.

But last year I saw my first tsunami as it raked the north-eastern shores of Japan. People, cars, homes, schools, and entire towns were leveled, crushed, and swept away in mere moments. The survivors watched powerlessly as their homes and neighbors were swallowed whole by the rising black water.

Humanity, like humans, is perhaps more resilient than it should be. Our lives are not calm predictable things. Lots of things change the current of our personal evolution. Loss of a job, substance abuse, crime, accidents, stock markets, tsunamis… catastrophic events might always be just around the corner. And when they come sometimes we survive. Sometimes we don’t. Sometimes we don’t even have an option. Yet for those that do we have that magical and almost spiritually pure thing that repentant villains in family films covet… a second chance.

There's not much that's more valuable than a 2nd chance.

The human body regenerates after seven years they say. I say, that’s nothing compared with the human spirit.

Thank you for thinking of Japan ~Matt

Japan Living TIPS

So you’ve made it to Japan. You’ve left the plane, passed through immigration, convinced customs that those weren’t the droids they were looking for, and you’re officially a gaijin.

You will stand out. This is a fact. It happens to everyone, it doesn't mean there's something wrong with your or that you're in anyway special... you're not.

So after you get over the taxis with the SKYNET smart doors, smack your forehead a couple of times into low hanging door frames, and check into your hotel for your training; you’ll have to begin the long road of learning to live in a foreign country. Here are some pointers and insights to help you through the transition.

Be careful where you party

I’m not talking about avoiding places that don’t serve foreigners. I’ve never seen such a place and I probably wouldn’t be turned away anyway… I’m talking about partying efficiently. If you love bars/pubs then you’re used to spending plenty of $$ for a night out on the town. As for me, I was used to Kansas house parties and hot co-eds crowding around my keg-o-rator I kept stocked with Boulevard Wheat. When I did go out, my drinks were usually on the house or set over by groups of giggly farm girls.

Again, it's called the Don Draper effect.

Japan is connected by trains and the major cities will have large train stations full of stores and restaurants. Tokyo has lots of very large stations. Your training period won’t be in some little hick town, mine was in Tokyo, but Fukuoka, Osaka, Kyoto, Nagoya, and Shizuoka are also popular training locations. Cities of that size will have decent sized main stations that are central locations that make for good landmarks for meet-ups.

A general rule of thumb is to avoid drinking at the station. Or if you want to drink at the station make sure your party is subterranean. Basement level establishments at the station and/or places that are 1-2 blocks away from the station have much lower rent and are much more affordable places to drink away your inhibitions or at least drink until that one chick with the dragon tattoo jumps from a 4 to a workable 7…

The real question is what did SHE drink last night...

Be Prepared

Sure, washboard abs, forearms that look like steel cables wrapped in skin, and a dark wash pair of jeans paired with any high quality wool top will show everyone that you have a gym membership and a subscription to GQ, but if you want to really impress a bunch of brand new gaijin then be a little prepared.

Don’t be that douche that knows everything about everything and won’t STFU about it. But keep a little notebook and write down some different foods you’d like to try. Then when you’re out and everyone is ordering off the pictures in the menu you can try something you’re actually interested in trying.

Learn from my mistakes... the drawings of Firefly do not help you in Japan...

Two things you’ll want to ask about are nomihodai’s and tabehodai‘s. A lot of different restaurants and even karaoke joints will have a nomihodai option. It’s all you can drink from a limited drink menu, usually draft beer, red & white wine, and a few different types of sake. Yakiniku restaurants will often have a tabehodai option, which like the nomihodai, is all you can eat from a select menu.

Be careful, you'll have to wind up eating any mistakes you make when ordering tabehodai.

Buy old sushi

Supermarkets typically close around 8:00 p.m. Around an hour before they lock their doors, all of the prepared food they have left-over will go on sale. This includes all bento boxes, onigiri, and sushi & sashimi. If you wait to shop then you can save a ton and still eat like a king.

Oh yeah... you might have some competition...

I used to buy bento boxes with assorted foods for around ¥270. I bought shredded crab over rice for around ¥450. Boxes of sushi dropped down between ¥300-600 depending on the contents.

This, and raiding the local vegetable gardens is how I survived my first year in Japan.

I did lose a fair number of petticoats and shoes though...

Recycle Shops

Japan has 2nd hand shops that make the thrift stores I shopped at in Kansas look like… well… like thrift stores you’d expect to find in the middle of Kansas.

Man that brings back memories...

They’re called “Recycle Shop” and like you’d expect of Japan they’re clean, safe, and meticulously maintained. The electronics work, the clothes are clean, and the porn is… well… plentiful.

This is the name of a Recycle Shop I frequented.

100 Yen

Shopping at a Dollar Tree in America is a mission to actually find something worth a $1… one that usually ends in failure unless you place a higher value on plastic harmonicas and bubble wands than normal people… The Japanese relative of the dollar store is the aptly named “hyakuen” which just means “100 yen.”

Now ¥100 shops are actually ¥105 with tax, but they’re still great places to get office supplies, hangers, dishes, eco bags, cleaning supplies, slippers, etc. It’s actually difficult to not find something that would in some way improve your life in Japan.

I can't stop thinking of uses for this!

Socialized Medicine

I always recommend getting on the National Health Insurance. If you work for Interac they’ll recommend a 3rd party international insurance company called Global Health Insurance. Japan doesn’t recognize this company. You’ll have to pay all costs up front in full, save your receipts, and then file more paperwork to get reimbursed. Being that I hate paperwork I opted to get onto the National plan as quickly as possible.

See... I hate paperwork so much even getting an autograph annoys me...

Now the National plan is based off of your salary from the previous year. As you are new to Japan, you did not collect any salary last year so there is next to no price difference between Global and the National plan. However… your second year in Japan your insurance rate will probably double, which turns some people off to the National plan, but you should still probably get on it.

Japanese companies are required by law to either provide company based insurance or enroll their employees in the National Health Insurance. How dispatch companies and English schools skirt around this I’m not sure, but there are plenty of angry bloggers who have already discussed that issue.

Some people take the internet too seriously...

The thing that I want you to be aware of is if you’re in Japan for a long time and using a 3rd party international insurance and then want/need to switch to the National coverage, you’re up a metaphorical creek of excrement without any means of propulsion or steering… You’ll be expected to make back payments for those years you’ve been in Japan not paying for any health insurance that Japan recognizes. Now there are ways around this, or at least I’ve heard rumors of people who have been able to dodge the bullet, but again… that’s more work than I want to do.

I could go on and on about tips for living in Japan. But being dervishly witty and a humorous rake gets old after a while…

If I’ve made any mistakes or your experience has been otherwise please let me know. If you have any other hints that might help the 新外人, then please let me know!

If you enjoyed reading this then you might want to read: What to bring to Japan and The 11 strangest foods I’ve eaten in Japan.

No matter how much you fit in you'll still stand out... But that doesn't mean it's held against you.

Japanese VD…

Valentine’s day in Japan is a day where women give men chocolate and men eat chocolate.

Welcome to my world...

It’s not all fun and games, as you must remember who gave you chocolate and then a month later return the gesture on March 14th, which is called White Day. Your return present should be worth about 3x the gift you received on Valentine’s Day.

Women will give chocolate to, not just lovers, crushes, and spouses, but also co-workers, bosses, friends, and family members.

So what seems like a giant ego boost is really becomes an obligation to empty your wallet later on.

It’s truly a time of year where dashing good looks are a curse…

At least that's what all my handsome friends tell me...

The best Valentine’s Day gifts I’ve received has been bottles of sake. On White Day I simply bought more bottles of sake as a return gift and we all drank them together!

Which is the best way to drink sake~

Younger girls will usually make chocolate by hand, as they don’t have the money to spend on expensive candy. They’ll buy wrapping paper and decorations to make their gifts cute. It’s called 「手作りチョコ」(tezukurichoko), and I think it almost means more than fancy expensive chocolate. (though I still prefer sake)

How did you know I had a hand fetish?

 Happy Valentine’s Day world!

If you want to read about my worst Valentine’s Day check out my post: On a Valentine’s Day

Watch Yuuki shops for chocolate for her uncle and cousin:

5 Disturbing Animes

When I was a child it was forbidden for me to watch children’s shows with a lot of violence. This meant, no Power Rangers, no Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, no Thunder Cats, and no Marvel or DC comic based shows…

Somehow Darkwing Duck made the cut, along with Tail Spin, Rescue Rangers, and nature shows with lions ripping zebras apart.

I remember once watching a weasel kill and eat a bunch of baby rabbits while their mom was away…

I was actually home schooled for the better part of my elementary school years which means I learned enough before 7th grade to make me the smartest kid in the school until I graduated high school. When I was reintroduced to America’s public school system all the kids were using cool curse words, sagging their shorts like prison inmates who needed belts, and playing Pokémon on their cool Game Boy Advances.

I had a lot of catching up to do…

So to fit in, I unbuttoned the top button of my denim shorts so my pants could be in a perpetual kinetic state with my actual waist, learned how to cuss like sailor with Tourettes, and bought a used GB Pocket and a new copy of Pokémon (Red).

Pokémon was my first taste of Japanese culture outside of that one time my family went to a sushi restaurant in Kentucky and the origami I learned from watching Reading Rainbow. It was a little like a gateway drug. While I never watched the anime to go with the game I did wind up discovering afterschool anime on the Cartoon Network.

Butterfly in the sky!

When you got home from school you could watch Dragon Ball Z, Ruroni Kenshin, Yuyu Hakusho, and one or more of the Gundum spinoffs. This was the little secret my brother and I kept from our conservative mother, who would likely have frowned upon us watching aliens beating the crap out of each other, a high school delinquent hunting demons, and a man slayer trying to atone for his murderous past by wandering aimlessly like a lost good Samaritan.

In Japan, these sorts of shows are the norm. They almost all originated as a manga (mahn gah), a Japanese comic. These shows are insanely popular overseas in N. America, S. America, Europe, and other Asian countries. I’ve read dozens of them since moving to Japan in 2008 and watched a fair share of the animated versions as well. If you’re reading this chances are you stumbled upon it because like me you are a huge huge nerd, and even though it’s 2012, no, nerds are not cool or sexy, they’re still square…

maybe not totally square shaped, maybe a little round here and there…

But part of growing up is over analyzing stuff, because just pure enjoyment seems too juvenile. And looking now at some of the anime/manga that I love, or loved, or is popular today I noticed cracks of insanity start to appear…

5. Pokémon – a PETA field day

This is the only one on this list that the only knowledge I have of it is from playing the game version. I have not seen any of the anime or read any of the manga.

The game was all I ever needed…

So, let me get this straight. There are dangerous animals in the world. So in order to venture out into any place with grass, water, or caves you need your own collection of dangerous animals who are loyal to you seemingly only because a.) you own their ass, b.) they respect the merit badges c.) if you’re not pleased you can stick them in a tiny little red and white ball.

Translation, “Recognize bitch!”

There are three points to the game, a story line that with each version of the game differs ever so slightly, like Pocahontas > Dances with Wolves > Avatar; an RPG element that revolves on you hand picking a few of your very best Pokémon to train from cute little throw pillows to marauding battle creatures the size of gorillas, and the last is as some insane sort of collector as you scour the world to fill out your pokédex.

the adorable 20lb Squirtle eventually becomes an 189lb monster with a pair of inexplicable canons coming out of its shell

What kind of world do we live in where cute little characters grow up into monsters? What kind of message is that?

The really insane thing is those pokéballs fail all the fucking time when you’re trying to catch wild Pokémon. (The exception of course being the master ball, that without using the surfing cheat you’ll only have one of the entire game.)

Somehow once caught it is just assumed that your Pokémon will swear allegiance to you despite the fact that 90% of the time it’s either riding around in it’s tiny unstable pokéball or uploaded as data to your computer which I imagine is either like purgatory or TRON…

Idea for movie: Tron+The Matrix meets Japanese animation starring Kate Beckinsale wearing Princess Leia’s slave costume

So as you wander the world you encounter numerous different Pokémon. Some are as threatening as a goldfish, others are massive ferocious beasts with bodies ranging from, poison, ice, rock, magma, and dragon… I’m pretty sure every time you toss your Pokémon out as a Pokémon shield, it’s seriously contemplating turning on you and tearing you to shreds with all the nasty things you’ve taught it…


4. Anpanman – When Bread Flies

Batman is a billionaire psychopath who uses a bat motif to strike terror in he hearts of villains who are afraid of small flying rodents. Spiderman is a man who has mutant spider powers and a dry wit. Anpanman is a man made out of bean-filled bread.

This just screams super hero…

Anpan is bread filled with the Japanese sweet bean paste called anko, it’s like mixing sugar into refried beans. Kids love the stuff apparently, though knowing children even celery dipped in chocolate would appeal to them.

Anpanman came into being when Jamu Ojisan (Uncle Jam) was baking and a shooting star landed in his oven… Right…

Naturally, Anpanman can fly. He has super strength. He doesn’t need to eat as he’s made of bread filled with sweet protein. He is weak against water, (what bread isn’t?) and also when he gets dirty he loses his power much like the sexually ambiguous Captain Planet. When he stumbles on a hungry person or creature he let’s them eat his head.

You look hungry kiddo… here’s some of my face…

That’s right one of his super-duper abilities is breaking off pieces of his face to feed hungry people. Don’t worry! Because he can regenerate his visage after it’s been consumed. Wait… did I say regenerate? No, that’s not right. What happens is that old baker that baked him can bake him a new head, which can be taken to Anpanman’s headless, dirty, or water logged body to revive him.


So in the land of Anpanman there are discarded half-eaten heads of our hero just kind of scattered about like… like nothing… I can’t think of a similar analogy to a world filled with a hero’s half-eaten heads… I mean those things will rot right? They’ll mold over and animals will shred them and ants will be crawling all over the place… gross.

3. Rurouni Kenshin – Personality Disorder Hero

I love this anime, even when it deviated horribly from the original manga and featured what was possibly the silliest mixing of media ever to close out an animated series it’s still one of my top ten animes.

Yep, that’s live action with animation characters, a la Mary Poppins…

It follows the story of Kenshin Himura, who before he became a “rurouni” (wandering swordsman) he was a key architect of the new era in Japan. His former job was as the most feared assassin in the revolution where he earned the nickname of Battosai the Man Slayer by racking up a body count like Leonides mopping up Persians.

Hiten Mitsurugi sword style would have really helped the 300…

After the revolution, to atone for all the murdering he’d done in his past life he decided to wander around a while helping people with his sword when he could. Apparently he did pretty much all of his wandering before the first episode/chapter because, aside from day trips to the market, a quick trip to Kyoto to kill a mummy, and a pirate incident, Kenshin pretty much bases all of his operations out of Kaoru’s dojo.

Now the Japanese government doesn’t think that Kenshin hanging out as a cook for Kaoru’s dojo is a proper allocation of resources for their deadliest weapon and they spend a lot of time trying to get Kenshin to revert to his former murderous self. They’re not alone either. Other retired Samurai, a group of ninjas, and some European knights all try to convince Kenshin that he was really better the way he was back in the revolution–all for various nefarious purposes.

The thing is they succeed on more than one occasion and Kenshin goes bat-shit insane and only the fact that he uses a reverse blade sword keeps him from hacking people apart.

No instead he just wails on people with a thin piece of steel at speeds so great his swings creates vacuums… But that’s not lethal at all right?

So this is obviously a story of a split personality serial killer. Through most of the series he’s mild mannered goofy and calm as a Zen statue. Other times he looks like a deranged maniac that’s hungry for murder.

I’ll let you guess which is which…

He’s infinitely more useful in his deranged state, as initially he never really finished mastering his sword style, and instead just relied on his god-like speed combined with bloodlust. So when he’s peaceful-Kenshin he’s a sword master, but when he’s murderous Kenshin the difference between him and other samurai is like asking toddler to take down Jason Bourne.

Moral of the story, it’s good to try to pay for the wrongs you committed in life. But when it’s really necessary it’s fine to go bat shit crazy and cut up some mo fo’s…

2. Naruto – Like Mexican Cartels

Naruto started out well as a manga about ninjas. What’s more Japanese than a manga about ninjas? This story starts with the lead character failing to graduate from ninja academy, but then by foiling a traitor and saving his sensei’s life he earns the respect of the village leaders enough for them to rubber stamp his diploma.

Let’s get some gaping flaws in the whole story out of the way.

  • First, for a story about ninja’s, not many of the characters spend much time trying to be ninjaish… they spend lots of time yelling out the names of their attacks while running straight for their opponents, creating large explosions, floods, fires, tempests, and littering the ground with hundreds of shurikin. For christsake the main character wears bright orange which only trails the suit full of question marks in the ridiculous ninja garb department.
People like this is what reminded everyone how stupid the world was…
  • Second, one of the characters uses a 7-sword sword-style, which is just fucking stupid.
Killer Bee: You’ve got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well, do ya, punk?… // Me: Well, I’m kind of waiting for you to move… because I’m pretty sure you’ll drop six of those little knives when you do. And I’m pretty sure you’ll impale yourself at least twice in the process…
  • Third, half the time they rely on massive animals to fight their battles either with or for them, which brings us back to #5 on this list.
okay… so we have a toad with a katana, a giant cobra, and a slug getting squeezed to death… one of these is much much much less impressive
  • Fourth, the entire ninja world is at most only 100 years old… the 5th Hokage (village leader) is about 50 years old, and is the granddaughter of the 1st Hokage. She replaced the 3rd Hokage who is about the age her parents should have been and the 3rd Hokage was friends with the 1st and 2nd Hokages who it seems were about the same ages. They talk about the history of the ninja world and lost techniques and bloodline abilities, yet these things couldn’t have been missing for very long at all. Ninjas must count in dog years.

The single most disturbing fact about Naruto is the simple fact that it’s a show about children taught how to kill people. The better the child is at killing, the more highly he’s revered in the ninja world.

The title character often feels inferior to other characters who are more advanced than him, but that means he feels remorse that it’s taking him into his teens to become a feared ninja.

pick it up slacker…

Naruto graduates from the ninja academy at the ripe age of 12 and starts to undertake ninja missions. We’re under the assumption that Naruto’s village is the ninja village that takes the moral high ground, though we later learn that’s all bullcrap, and most of Naruto’s early work is mundane stuff that you’d expect a child to do, like yard work, tending fields, and catching escaped pets.

In his first hazardous mission, the client lies to the town to get a cheaper rent-a-ninja-rate and Naruto and his team that consists of two other tweens, Sasuke and Sakura, and a 28 year old sensei, Kakashi, have to ward off attacks from a blood thirsty killer, Zabuza, who is accompanied by a sidekick suffering from a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome, Haku.

This is Haku in casual attire…

Haku is a boy. Yes, he cross dresses and says that his life’s purpose is to only serve the much older and emotionally empty Zabuza who treats Haku like an object to be used and discarded (his words, and Haku’s)… but let’s ignore how utterly disturbing that is and focus on how Haku is used in the story for Naruto’s development. Naruto feels competitive and chagrined that Haku is so much stronger than him and Sasuke, the same way I used to get pissed at Craig Wilson because he could hit a baseball further than me in Little League. Haku is a better assassin and 12 year old Naruto is jealous.

Haku’s part in the story ends when he intercepts Kakashi’s attempt to execute Zabuza and dies by way of fist through the heart-area of his body… he uses his dying words tell everyone how happy it makes him that he could be of some use to Zabuza…

That’s gonna leave a mark…

Where else do we see this sort of child violence encouraged? Mostly in the Middle East by terrorists, African warlords, gangsters in Breaking Bad and Mexican cartels…

Yeah… that’s not right.

The villages also profit from the ninja children fighting and dying in the Chunin exams where ninja children from around the ninja world come to compete and show off their ninja abilities. If you do well you earn a promotion in ninja rank, if you don’t do well then you have to take the test over, provided you weren’t killed in any of the rounds, which does happen fairly frequently.

The final section of the exam is a set of colosseum style matches that really rake in the cash for the hosting town as hordes of violence loving fans pay for seats to watch… to watch children beating the crap out of each other.

This is like child boxing events, except we use weapons…

The adults of the series are often saying how they have to trust the future to the younger generation… Screw that… if you teach a bunch of kids how to blow shit up and call on giant animals to appear out of nowhere, you better have some goddamn parental supervision! I was a teenager once, and considered very responsible by most adults, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t have bottle rocket wars on the highway, or play flaming tennis, or hit golf balls off the tops of parking buildings into downtown Kansas City. And these “adult ninjas” who are so eager and ready to let Naruto and his friends take the reins of responsibility are barely into their 30’s, with the oldest main character the 50 year old 5th Hokage. Actually most of the few truly old characters in Naruto’s village are portrayed as scheming douche bags when they’re at times the only voices of reason…

But even I was happy when Danzo bit it…

Point is kids are stupid. Even smart kids are stupid, especially when faced with the crisis that is puberty. Sure you’ll get that one kid who was born an old soul and is pretty much a better human being than the rest of us, but by far and large the majority of us shouldn’t be trusted with a fruit knife much less ninja techniques that can destroy entire city blocks… middle school is hard enough…

It should be noted that in Japanese cultures, like many cultures around the world, warrior training began in early childhood, from knights and squires, to Native American Indians, to Spartans, and Roman legionaires.
Naruto is at this moment the most popular anime that romanticizes this historical fact in Japanese history, which is why it earned its place on this list. Thanks to rhaphazard for pointing that out. Who knows… maybe in a few decades or centuries Neo-Mexico will have 3D or 4D cartoons about the brave teenage cartel executioners and the strength of friendship, teamwork, and spirit!

1. DBZ – Gohan will spend a fortune in therapy

I love Dragon Ball. When Goku transformed into a Super Saiyan I think my other testicle finally descended and my voice stopped cracking. Before there was Tebowing there was definitely the raising-your-power-level pose which incidentally is also my taking an explosive #2 pose.

gotta order a new scouter from SkyMall

Dragon Ball’s central character, Son Goku is an idiot. Strongest being dead or alive, yes, but like so many central characters in Japanese stories he’s a character with extraordinary abilities often overlooked by his extraordinary stupidity. It’s like if you crossed Superman with Kung Fu Panda plus brain damage.

If there was an award for shitty parenting you might as well name that award The Goku. To be fair Goku wasn’t really sold on the whole family thing in the first place and he got married because he was too good natured and too stupid to think of a reason not to when Chichi proposed it.

He has no idea who she is…

His wife becomes the stereotypical house wife, who is a severe disciplinarian and task master when it comes to her child’s studies. However, for some reason Chichi can never seem to confront Goku on his unemployment status and absentee parenting style. She’s forever enamored by the spikey haired simpleton.

He still has no idea who she is or what’s happening…

Goku really drops the ball with all of his children. After escaping from the exploding planet Namek, Goku does a little tour of the galaxy while his wife, son, and friends believe that he perished in the blast. Despite showing that he can use King Kai as a telepathic collect call, he doesn’t even bother to phone home to let everyone who loves and cares for him that he’s still alive. Instead, they all frantically collect the dragon balls and try to wish him back to life. The dragon tells them they’re silly and he can’t bring someone to life who’s ain’t dead yet. Surprised but overjoyed by the news they ask the dragon to bring Goku back to Earth. Apparently Goku is having too much fun on his one-man road trip and refuses to allow the dragon to instantly bring him home. Sounds pretty suspicious to me…

In his travels Goku stops off on the planet Yardrat where he picks up a teleportation technique that allows him to immediately travel to any location he wants in the galaxy as long as he can sense the energy of someone he knows at his destination. Let me repeat that, he can travel anywhere he wants instantly… this includes not only interplanetary travel, but he can also travel between the living world and “Other World” in an instant. So he could have say, popped in at home for a few days or just to say hi, and then immediately return to where he was and resume his gallivanting across the universe.

Meanwhile the rebuilt Frieza and his equally ugly father come to Earth to kill Goku and blow up the planet by way of Frieza’s little finger bomb. Goku is aware of this, but sensing Trunks’s presence he decides to just keep rocking out in his conventional space ship for another three hours. When he lands he’s wearing some clothes that look like he just got home from a gay cruise… suspicious… He tells Trunks that he could have come home at any time, but sensing that the world wasn’t really in danger he didn’t.

Does this this poofy pink neck thing make me look…

The next crisis for Goku is when the Earth is attacked by a robotic praying mantis crossed with a scorpion. Reciving prior warning of this by time traveling Trunks, Goku has spent the time training with Gohan. Gohan I’m sure couldn’t be happier during this period. But the magic wears off as things get serious and Goku puts Gohan into the ring against Cell in his completed form.

With the fate of the world on Gohan’s 10 year old shoulders Piccolo, who’s a much better father figure, tells Goku that matching his son against the strongest fighter in the universe was a mistake as Gohan, unlike Goku, doesn’t really like fighting, plus Gohan is a 10 year old child…

Cell, intrigued that Gohan might have hidden powers and aided by the hint from Goku that if Gohan gets mad he gets stronger, kills off the peaceful Android 17 16. This sends Gohan into a blind rage, which overpowers Cell, but instead of ending the fight and killing Cell, Gohan begins to sadistically torment the former villain, like a child bully would do. Cell, backed into a corner, blows himself up and Goku has to sacrifice himself and die (for the 2nd time) to save the Earth… Oh, and he kills King Kai, a monkey , and an oversized hornet in the process… Well live and learn right?

Or not.

Six or seven years later Goku returns to Earth for a day to compete in the World Martial Arts Tournament. Apparently he knocked up Chichi right before he died, because he now has a seven-year old son named Goten.

Of course Goku’s arrival brings new disaster to the Earth with the last super villain of the Dragon Ball Z series: Majin Buu.

Editor: So this is the sketch for the next super villian? /Toriyama: Yep. /Editor: And the dildo attached to his forehead? /Toriyama: Oh, it’s magic, it turns stuff into candy. /Editor: This will be your last arc…

Goku starts to train his youngest son and Trunks who is a year older than Goten, to fuse their bodies together to increase their power. Taking a break from practice Goku sends Trunks to fetch the dragon radar while he confronts Buu and reveals that he has a new badass transformation that makes his body suck in his eyebrows and grow his hair long, which in Japanese animation, like Sampson, means a big boost in strength. He fights with Buu for a while, then decides to quit.

The eyebrows were totally holding me back!

Upon returning Piccolo accuses Goku of not fighting seriously. Goku confirms that he didn’t go all out, but only because he is willing to bet the future of the Earth on the two children. His reasoning is that danger is always out there and while he’s around at this moment, what about the next time when he’s back to being dead? Goten is 7 and Trunks is 8 so they’re plenty old enough to learn how to be protectors of the planet, right?

Play time’s over guys!

Of course the kids don’t come through… Buu ends up of absorbing them and and killing nearly everyone on the planet including Chichi. In the end Goku has to borrow energy from all the creatures in the universe to incinerate the Pepto-Bismo colored monster.

After Buu, we’re left to assume, that for the next 10 years Goku lives with his family in peace, though I’m willing to bet he spent the majority of the time training by himself and wandering around killing and eating sentient dinosaurs.

Goku and company enter the World Martial Arts Tournament again because there’s a special fighter that Goku wants to spar with. Turns out Goku asked that the crazy evil Buu be reincarnated as a good soul so he could fight with him again. Apparently this asinine request was fulfilled and Buu is reincarnated as a dark-skinned human named Uub, which is the 2nd laziest thing a writer has ever done in the history of any and all written language.

Unobtanium anyone?

So facing off against the seven year old Uub who is as timid as a virgin on prom night, Goku tries to get Uub fired-up by going to his primary teaching MO, getting the student as angry as possible. He insults Uub first, and then insults Uub’s family. Uub finally loses his temper and attacks well enough to impress Goku with his potential. Goku announces to his family that he’s going to go live with Uub to train the kid to be the Earth’s new protector, because apparently his sons just don’t impress him enough. Gohan asks his father, why he’s doing this, but Goku ignores the question entirely and says he’ll come home now and then, which if history is any indicator means never…

Daddy, why don’t you love me?

I love all of these (except for Anpanman) and they hold a special place in my childhood with fond memories and cool memes. For some of these it has been a long time since I read, watched, or played them, so if you notice any inaccuracies please feel free to point them out.

If you enjoyed reading this you might also enjoy reading about The 11 Strangest Foods I’ve Eaten in Japan or What the F*ck Weak People?

You can catch me on YouTube doing living in Japan sort of stuff: Gaijin Chameleon aka Superscheu