Sunday, January 30, 2011

1. Tangled

I usually never go see movies in theatres, but various circumstances came together to lead me to see Tangled, which Wikipedia says is the 50th Disney Animated Classic. Is it really? Somehow I thought that there would be more, considering they'd gone as far (low?) as to create movies like Lion King 1 1/2. Come on now.

Ever since I discovered the beauty of Studio Ghibli, I've been unable to take Disney seriously, but Tangled was cute, old-school, and generally enjoyable. I was a little wary when the movie began with a voiceover by Flynn Rider talking directly to the audience, but thankfully that was short. I'd forgotten what the real story of Rapunzel was about, so I did spend a small part of my concentration wondering what creative licenses Disney had taken, but the story flowed well and most of the characters were rather endearing. I'm sort of over the whole animal-sidekick(s)-as-comic-relief thing, even though I actually did like Pascal and Maximus, even though the former had no business being named after a mathematician and the latter looked like a cow that acted like a dog.

For some reason I'd decided somewhere along the line that Mandy Moore was an overhyped cute face, but she can actually sing. Oops.

Lady Gothel is pure evil. Damn, she is good.

So there is, of course, a scene in which Flynn Rider ridiculously tells Rapunzel that she is his "new dream," because there is no reason a law-breaking playboy shouldn't fall in love with a sheltered 18-year-old in a span of two days. Even though it's a Disney movie, and therefore they obviously have to get married and live happily ever after, I was seized by a very strong desire to yell out that it was probably all a lie. I don't yell in movie theatres, though, or many public places, and I didn't want to dash the hopes and dreams of all of the 8-year-olds in the audience besides. Sigh.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

12.16.2010 きたなシュラン:二宮和也


















Thursday, January 20, 2011

2011 Australian Open: Day 5

So. Exhausted. Australian Open Radio is alternately highly entertaining and exceedingly annoying.
  • "First name Trinidad, last name Tobago?"
  • Following Tomas Berdych vs. Richard Gasquet is absolutely maddening.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

2011 Australian Open: Days 1-4

I want to watch the Australian Open! It seems like there are some amazing things going on and I am missing them all!
  • It looks like Rafael Nadal is putting on freaking clinics every time he steps onto the court. His matches might not be the most exciting, but who cares?
  • I almost died last night when Kei Nishikori lost the third set 6-0. He seems to have a speech impediment (irrelevant, I know), but he's fun to follow. All aboard the Japanese Singular Mindset Bandwagon!
  • Apparently, Todd Woodbridge sent the following text to Rennae Stubbs:
    "Is Kim Clijsters pregnant? She looks grumpy and her boobs are bigger."

  • Oh, Dinara Safina...
  • Jelena Jankovic, your ship has sailed.
  • Jamie Murray is married now? Damn, Jankovic's ships are all sailing away.

Monday, January 17, 2011

4. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

To be quite honest, circuses freak me out. It's not the clowns--for whatever reason, all of the irrational dislikes and fears that I have do not extend to clowns--but more of the creepy gap between the spectacle that goes on in the front and the cruel, dirty conditions that exist in the back. I know logically that circus conditions must be better now than they were when the stereotypes were created, but they still freak me out.

I should have considered this a bit before picking up Water for Elephants, but I was completely intrigued by the name and the random bits of praise that I had heard here and there in the past several years. By the time I realized what I had mentally dove into, it was too late--the plot was moving at breakneck speed, and I was completely hooked.

I was a little dissatisfied throughout by how the Cornell situation was never completely resolved--I mean, where did Jacob's dorm belongings go, for instance?--and also felt at times that the sheer horror of some of Jacob's experiences verged on fantasy. The fantasy was continued by Jacob and Marlena's seemingly perfect love. I kept waiting for Jacob to reveal that the wife with whom he had had five children, and whom he had lost to cancer, was in fact not Marlena. Somehow, with no true development of their relationship, they fell in love and were meant to be together forever.

By the way, why have the main characters of my last two books both been Jacobs?

Sometimes it was better if I didn't try to imagine things that carefully, and instead just let some of the more colorful details wash over me. At other times I was a little shocked by how daring Sara Gruen is as a writer, not necessarily in the sense of some groundbreaking plot element, but in her descriptions and diction. I let those parts wash over me too, and quietly wondered if this is what it takes to make it as an author these days.

I did love the book though, and not just because it was the first contemporary book I've read so far in this yearlong goal of mine. The setting is unique, the cover is beautiful, and now that I'm not always quite so apprehensive over what will happen to all the characters I care about, I could probably even read and enjoy it again.

US Customary Units: Conquered?

Here we go:

  • 2 pints = 1 quart
  • 4 quarts = 1 gallon
  • 16 fl. ounces = 1 pint
  • 8 fl. ounces = 1 cup
  • 2 cups = 1 pint
  • 4 cups = 1 quart
  • 16 ounces = 1 pound
...I think, anyway. Why is this so difficult?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1.15.2011 SPOKEN!:小塚崇彦・無良崇人・佐野隼規
















3. The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

To be quite honest, I hated A Farewell to Arms. I'm sure a part of it was that I read it in English class senior year with a teacher I both hated and ridiculed, but a bigger part of it is that I simply have no interest in war stories. With that in mind, I wasn't convinced that picking up another book by Ernest Hemingway would be the best idea, but in fact The Sun Also Rises isn't actually about World War I.

Instead, it's about a group of fairly young, petty, irresponsible friends--people?--who seem to spend all of their time eating in cafés, getting drunk, and hurting not only each other but everybody around them. There is both a callousness to money and a firmly arrogant belief that it can solve anything, and a conviction that each's own emotions are deeply true while completely disregarding the validity of others'. Is this characterization supposed to indirectly reflect the dehumanizing effect of war? My English teacher would probably argue yes, but I would say no.

It never ceased to be incredible to me that Brett, the only major female character in the book, has no qualms about cheating on her fiancé, and apparently with his knowledge. Mike gets angry and jealous, and yet does nothing about it, and it almost seems that they had never sat down together for a serious, sober conversation about anything, let alone their expectations for each other in a monogamous relationship. Meanwhile, Jake, who spends a considerable amount of time explaining that he is a rare, foreign aficionado of bullfighting, promptly turns around and allows Brett to destroy the Spanish purity of the bullfighter Pedro Romero. It was satisfying to see that the hotel owner Montoya stopped being friendly to him in response, but infuriatingly Jake does not seem to care.

I half-expected Romero to die in a fight, and when this didn't happen, I also sort of expected Cohn to commit suicide. That also did not happen. Actually, Cohn is never really pulled together at the end of the story, and neither is Mike nor Bill. To some extent I would have appreciated a little more narrative about Jake's war experiences, because it would have helped clarify the history and nature of his relationship with Brett, how Mike and Bill fit into their dysfunctional world, and perhaps even how the ending is supposed to be interpreted and imagined. The only reassuring part is that it seems that even when only Brett and Jake are the ones truly left in the book, they do not get together and instead maintain some semblance of actual friendship.

I really need to treat myself to something contemporary now. Water for Elephants, here I come! Provided I actually get to the library, that is.

Friday, January 14, 2011

12.12.2010 情熱大陸:Kohei Uchimura

Narrator: With these hands he grasped the top of the world. Gymnast Kohei Uchimura. His callused palms are clear evidence.

Kohei Uchimura: I have two pairs of nail clippers, one for cutting my nails and one for cutting off the dead skin from my hands. This is really embarrassing.

Commentator: We can see the raging fire (i.e. his power)... He stuck it! Stuck it!

Narrator: At the World Gymnastics Championships that took place this October (2010) in the Netherlands, Uchimura became the first Japanese gymnast to defend the All-Around title. He is only the third gymnast ever to make this brilliant achievement. The name Kohei Uchimura swept through the gymnastics world. He is the man currently closest to the (All-Around) gold medal at the 2012 London Olympics.

Koji Gushiken (1984 Olympic All-Around Champion): No matter what area you look at--pick up--he has very clean, beautiful gymnastics. They make a picture. He must have eyes all over the place--where he is and how he is positioned, what he should do to stick the landing, all these things.

Narrator: What are "beautiful gymnastics"? Uchimura has intently pursued this. For this Uchimura, there is one title now that he desperately wants.

Kohei Uchimura: I know that Japanese Nationals and the World Championships are completely different, but everyone wants us to win Nationals, and we athletes also want the title no matter what, so...

Narrator: The World Champion, who does not let up at all, was focused on winning with his friends and teammates in his last competition as a student.

Question: Gymnastics is...?

Kohei Uchimura: I guess it's destiny? I feel like it's not too extreme to say that I was born so I could do gymnastics.

Narrator: Where does the road that the 21-year-old World Champion seeks lead?

(Nippon Sport Science University)

Narrator: The World Champion rides his bicycle to school from his dorm every day.

Kohei Uchimura: 'Morning.

Crew: Are you not a morning person?

Kohei Uchimura: I don't really get sleepy, so...

Crew: Oh really?

Kohei Uchimura: Yes. If I sleep, my body doesn't move well, so...

Crew: I see.

Kohei Uchimura: Yeah. This is my standard outfit.

Crew: You're wearing work gloves?

Kohei Uchimura: Yes, because it's cold.

Gymnasts: Good morning! 'Morning!

Narrator: Nippon Sport Science University Gymnastics Club. It is a renowned gymnastics program that has produced numerous medalists. Practices are held daily for an hour midday, and four hours in the afternoon. Uchimura is a senior and the captain who pulls together the 65 members of the men's division.

Gymnasts: Let's work together.

Narrator: (Only 13 more training sessions until) Japanese Nationals, which start on December 3. For Uchimura, it is the last meet he will compete with his friends.

Gymnasts: Together! Let's go!

Narrator: In the team competition in gymnastics, three athletes from each team compete on six events such as floor, the high bar, and still rings, and the total scores from those performances are used. Last year, Nippon Sport Science University allowed the "working adult team" to win, and finished in second place. And so especially, the World Champion was very focused on the last meet he would spend with his friends.

Koji Yamamuro (senior): He's very shy, but I think he's gotten a lot better.

Fumihiro Hosokawa (senior): There are parts of him that I don't get, but I do think that he's a great athlete who hides it when he gets down.

Masataka Aoyama (sophomore): You get the feeling that he competes against himself. He doesn't get nervous, and performs with confidence.

Narrator: On this day he went to a ramen place with the underclassmen with whom he lives in the gymnastics division dorms.

Masataka Aoyama: To be honest, we're definitely better than Kohei at still rings--

Kohei Uchimura: Shut up.

Takumi Sato (junior): Sorry.

Kohei Uchimura: First, these noodles--

Waiter: Noodles.

Kohei Uchimura: --and gyoza, five of them.

Waiter: Okay.

Kohei Uchimura: Fried chicken--fried chicken, three of them.

Narrator: They ordered noodles, gyoza, and fried chicken.

Crew: Are you a picky eater?

Kohei Uchimura: Oh yeah, definitely. Things I don't like...

Takumi Sato/Masataka Aoyama: Tomatoes...

Kohei Uchimura: Tomatoes. Green peas. Yeah, vegetables.

Crew: Which actors, comedians, etc. do you like?

Kohei Uchimura: Saki Aibu. Saki Aibu.

Crew: Usually when you go out to eat, do you split the bill?

(Takumi Sato and Masataka Aoyama shake their heads and gesture towards Kohei Uchimura)

Crew: Oh he treats?

Takumi Sato/Masataka Aoyama: The burden of being a veteran.

Kohei Uchimura: Hey you, you ate the fried chicken without asking, didn't you?

Masataka Aoyama: Thanks!

Kohei Uchimura: What are you doing, eating it?

Narrator: There is only a little bit of time left that he can spend with his underclassmen. Only ten more days until Nationals. During practice, one could often see him like this. His hands calmly move through the air without rushing, as if he is waving a baton.

Kohei Uchimura: That--I'm imagining the skills I will perform.

Crew: Images?

Kohei Uchimura: Yes. In my mind I can see how they should be best performed, so I guess I am continuously seeking those in practice? Yeah.

Narrator: (Born on January 3, 1989) By the time he realized it gymnastics was already a part of his life. His parents, who were both gymnasts, opened a gym at their house when Uchimura was three years old. Nagasaki Prefecture, Isahaya City. Even today, his parents continue to run their club.

Shuko Uchimura (mother): Go! Go! Very good!

Narrator: From here the second Uchimura may emerge.

Crew: Excuse us.

Kazuhisa Uchimura (father)/Shuko Uchimura: Welcome, come on in.

Shuko Uchimura: There are a lot of pictures. Come in.

Narrator: Pictures of their World-Champion son decorate every corner of the living room.

Shuko Uchimura: Well, when he focuses... even if something, a bomb, exploded right next to him, he probably wouldn't notice--he was a child with that kind of ability of concentrate. One sunny day he was sleeping underneath the high bar. I was so shocked, I thought he had fallen! Yes. I guess he'd gotten tired after playing on it for so long. When I looked he was sleeping underneath the high bar.

Narrator: His toy was the high bar. The first time he competed in a meet was when he was six years old. The result: last place.

Shuko Uchimura: He was crying at his first meet. Yeah....

Narrator: Shuko showed us a notebook.

Shuko Uchimura: So it's this... it's a notebook that child wrote in as he imagined skills.

Narrator: Uchimura's notebook from when he was in elementary school. Inside, countless gymnastics skills were crammed in. His gymnastics life that began with last place. Wanting to get even a little bit better, he continued to draw imagined skills whenever he had a chance. And that is linked to his beautiful gymnastics today. Of this beauty, Athens Gold Medalist says...

Hiroyuki Tomita (2004 Olympics Team Gold Medalist): Rather than flexibility, I think he brings out beauty in the way he precisely and quickly moves his body. On the high bar, in general--the height of his releases, the opening up of his body... those are his strong points. It's rare that a gymnast can do a Kovacs so high. In his landings, the moment before his feet touch the ground, his midair positioning is very good. Well, I think he is the best gymnast in the world.

Narrator: His superior midair sense and landings. Their origins lie in the trampoline he has loved since he was a boy. Even now, he first imagines new skills on the trampoline. Uchimura was attempting a new skill on vault. It is a new skill that no one has successfully done before. If he succeeds at it at the World Championships, it would be named the "Uchimura." This skill requires three twists in the air. At the moment, the hardest vault recorded is two and a half twists. Upon landing, the body faces away from the vault. If this becomes a triple twist, it is an additional half twist--in other words, the body will face the vault. The key to success is twisting quickly. However, because he focuses so much on this, he cannot get into position to land.

Kohei Uchimura: Was it too fast? I ended up trying to get around.

Coach: I don't think that it's that you can't get the twists in, but.... something, something's a little off. A little more.

Narrator: Even Uchimura, with the best landing technique in the world, struggles.

Kohei Uchimura: Vault is the one event where even I feel like I don't do enough, so if I could change that I think that I could get stronger... yeah. Whenever I'm training skills I can't do at all, it's like, 'When the hell am I going to be able to do this?'

Narrator: There was only a week left before Nationals.

Trainer: You shoulder?

Kohei Uchimura: Yeah. But it doesn't hurt that much.

Trainer: How about now?

Kohei Uchimura: It hurts. The same place as before.

Narrator: In fact Uchimura was dealing with the uncertainty of having pain in his shoulder. He has bitter memories related to injury. The All-Around at his first Olympics as a 19-year-old, in 2008 in Beijing.

Commentator: He can make it... He's starting with this move... And now, swiveling around the pommel horse. It's here--AH! As expected!

Narrator: A fall on the pommel horse.

Commentator: His uncertainty struck! And again! A second time...

Narrator: With the second fall, he finished with the silver.

Kohei Uchimura: At the time, my wrist--my left wrist--was pretty painful, and even in everyday life is was extremely painful. I was thinking that I would definitely fall on the pommel horse, and I performed, and to me it was like, 'Good thing it was only twice.'

Narrator: How to deal with injuries and pain--this is also the destiny of gymnasts.

Yoshiaki Hanakeda (coach): The parts of the body that aren't usually used--you bring your body into these positions and a lot of weight is placed on those parts, right? So as expected, those parts get damaged--even if you think about it normally, they get damaged.

Narrator: The still rings place over six times his body weight on both shoulders. In his current state, it is impossible for him to perform his routine through the end.

Teammate: Does your shoulder hurt?

Kohei Uchimura: It hurts a lot.

Teammate: Does it hurt more than it did at Worlds?

Kohei Uchimura: It hasn't really changed.

Narrator: He tries (the still rings) using a harness that relieves some of the pressure on his shoulders, but... There was one friend who watched over Uchimura through all of this. His classmate Yamamuro was called Uchimura's rival from the time they were in high school.

However, he is also a close friend who supports the shy captain.

Koji Yamamuro: Kohei, I think the pain got a lot worse probably this year, and so in the beginning he wouldn't want to train because it hurt, but as a team we really need him.

Narrator: His teammates' thoughts come across painfully clear. What should he do as a captain so that his team wins? Uchimura was thinking. Four days before Nationals. At Nippon Sport Science University there is a traditional ritual that occurs before meets.

Kohei Uchimura: Nippon Sport Science University~!

Gymnasts: Fight!

Narrator: This was the last time he would lead the yell to raise his team's competitive spirits. On the way to Yamaguchi, where the competition would be held.

Kohei Uchimura: I took it!

Narrator: This was the last trip he would take with his team.

Crew: As captain, or as an individual competitor, what are your goals?

Kohei Uchimura: To have fun.

Masataka Aoyama: To have fun, and also to perform beautifully...

Kohei Uchimura: That's true, beautifully.

(Yamaguchi Prefecture Sports Culture Center)
(December 2, Official Practice)

Narrator: The competition was three days. Both a team competition and individual apparatus competitions would take place. The day before the meet, Uchimura was undecided about whether he would enter the still rings event. Because of the pain in his left shoulder, he had not yet been able to do a full run-through of his routine. That night...

Teammate: You're going to enter the rings, right?

Kohei Uchimura: Yeah I'll enter.

Teammate: Is it okay, your shoulder?

Kohei Uchimura: Yeah, it's okay.

Teammate: Amazing, as expected.

Kohei Uchimura: Probably.

Teammate: Well, I hope you have fun.

Kohei Uchimura: I think I can do it.

Narrator: And so the day of the team competition. Uchimura's battle begins.

(December 4, All-Japan Gymnastics Nationals, Team Competition)

Narrator: December 4, All-Japan Gymnastics Nationals, Team Competition. From high schoolers to working adults, the twelve elite teams that had won their respective competitions participated. The arena was packed with people who wanted to catch even a glimpse of the World Champion.

Gymnasts: Thank you. Let's go!

Narrator: Uchimura's last team competition as a student began. His first event was one of his specialties: floor. He pulled off numerous difficult skills and set up his team. Buoyed by Uchimura's momentum, his teammates also performed cleanly.

(Defending Champions KONAMI Team)

Narrator: Last year's winners, the KONAMI Team, which is filled with members of the National team, also performed cleanly and put pressure on Nippon Sport Science University. Even now the uncertainty over his shoulder remains. Next, the rings. If he enters, he cannot make excuses. As captain, as World Champion, this was his moment to prove himself. The time of his routine: 67 seconds. Of all of the competitors (in the event), his was the second-highest score. In the stands were his parents. And the event that everyone anticipated was the final performance of the team competition: Uchimura's forte, the high bar. The most beautiful landing in the world was also stuck on that day. The winners: Nippon Sport Science University. It was not the title, but this moment with his teammates that he wanted.

Kohei Uchimura: I want to become an athlete who can perform without mistakes, and beautifully, no matter the timing, no matter what the circumstances. What I'm aiming for--what I want to express--is far, far above what I'm doing now, so I think there is a lot more to be done in those areas. Thanks.

Narrator: The individual events the next day. The number that indicates Uchimura's vault is 0. It is a new skill that no one has successfully competed. On the last day, he somehow managed to contain the challenging landing. Higher, and beautifully. The landing that he struggled for is phase two of his dreams. Kohei Uchimura--on the road he has started to run along, a huge sky awaits.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

2. Thousand Cranes by Yasunari Kawabata

I will get back to the usual stuff soon enough (it's been a month?!), but battery issues and the like call for another step in one of my New Year's resolutions instead...

Since the book I got from the library was actually a two-novel volume, I immediately started Thousand Cranes after finishing Snow Country. I'm not sure if that was a good idea or not; on one hand, I was already in the mentality to read through the simplicity of Kawabata's writing, but on the other, I sort of took the time away from myself to actually sit back and consider the depth of the first story. But at any rate, they have both been read, so there's not much point in thinking about this now.

Based on the descriptions, I was actually looking forward more to Thousand Cranes than Snow Country, but having read both I think I might actually prefer Snow Country. The novels share the same type of frustrating male protagonist, who sabotages his chances at love through indecision and pointless mental wanderings. I could in a way relate to Shimamura in Snow Country, since in addition to feeling restless he was also conflicted about having left his family back in Tokyo and about marring the "cleanness" that defined Komako, but Kikuji in Thousand Cranes almost seems to have no moral or societal compass.

Sleeping with his deceased father's former mistress? What? Come on now. I can sort of understand his hesitation to marry the Inamura girl, since (even in miai) appearances aren't everything, and Chikako the go-between is as exasperatingly meddlesome as characters get, but allowing Mrs. Ota to seduce him because he reminds her of his father is simply creepy. Kikuji gives no thought to how the Inamura girl must feel or look--being led on that a successful match would happen, and then being ignored--and instead half-pursues the Ota girl despite her evident discomfort and all the history between their families.

Of course, the story ends with another inconclusive ending from Kawabata. It seems that in all likelihood the Ota girl also commits suicide, but the possibility that she and Kikuji end up together is also left somewhat open. And if she does commit suicide, then what happens to Kikuji? Is he as useless as ever, lounging around and occasionally going into the office? What happens to Chikako? Snow Country's ending was inconclusive too, but I found this one far more maddening.

In any case, that's it for Yasunari Kawabata, unless I feel compelled to read another, which I probably won't--not anytime soon, anyway.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1. Snow Country by Yasunari Kawabata

So weird to write "Yasunari Kawabata," instead of "Kawabata Yasunari" like I'm always used to saying and hearing. Anyway, in an effort to not fail my resolutions in the first week of the new year, I pushed myself to register for a card at the local library and get a start on the books I'd always been vaguely interested in reading. None of the books I'd actually been looking for were there, but as I perused the shelves in search of something I might have forgotten about, I came across Snow Country and Thousand Cranes, which I guess is sort of a good deal. Haha.

I'm pretty sure that the chances of my reading a Nobel Prize-worthy novel in Japanese are fairly low, so I decided to go for the next best thing. I wonder if Edward Seidensticker was as creepy as modern Japanophiles. I kind of feel bad saying that about a deceased, renowned scholar, though.

Anyway, Snow Country was surprisingly easy to get through, although the simplicity of the language and vocabulary actually forces the reader to slow down and consider each word. There's imagery and emotional introspection everywhere, and by extension I felt like I had to stop and consider my own emotions and my own experiences, even if I've never been a wealthy fat man in search of a mistress. The Nobel Prize committee referenced this subdued but keen emotion inherent in Kawabata's works:
The Nobel Prize in Literature 1968 was awarded to Yasunari Kawabata "for his narrative mastery, which with great sensibility expresses the essence of the Japanese mind".
I kind of find that hilarious. "Japanese" sounds so foreign and exotic here--imagine the committee giving the Prize to someone for "being French" or "imparting a sense of being Nigerian."

I can't decide whether Snow Country moves slowly or quickly--there isn't much action, but the character development progresses quite rapidly, and several years' worth of events are contained in 175 widely-spaced pages. There's something vaguely irritating about Shimamura, who does not work because he inherited money and instead abandons his wife and children in pursuit of a geisha named Komako. The thing is, though, he seems emotionally immature and incapable of actually acting upon his pursuit, and instead she is left always wanting more from him and living in fear that he will leave for what will be the last time. Shimamura's inability to truly connect with Komako is in some ways refreshing, because somehow that makes his transgressions and abandonment of responsibilities less abhorrent, but at the same time it is frustrating to read. I felt for Komako, maybe because a dead-end relationship is something I relate to very closely.

At the same time, Komako has very clear flaws as well, which prevents anybody from seeing her as purely a victim or a tragic heroine. Her work is less than ideal and honorable, and she is flighty, hysterical, and possibly an alcoholic. Just as I was pulled into feeling for her situation, I would be reminded that entertaining men and forging superficial relationships lie at the center of her profession.

The ending is vague and somewhat dissatisfying, but it goes well with the overall feeling of the story. Things are unclear and muddled, in stark contrast to the Milky Way and the clarity of Komako's skin. I wanted to shout at Shimamura to do something, anything, for the fire and for Yoko, but predictably he does not. Instead, Komako runs crazily to Yoko's fallen body, and it is this action vs. inaction that emphasizes the true gulf between the two main characters.

I think, all in all, I really did enjoy this novel. Kawabata's prose can take getting used to, but after a while the genius of his simplicity comes through and justifies the first--of only two--Nobel Prize ever awarded to Japanese author.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Congratulations on Adulthood

01.02.2011 スポーツ王は俺だ!:フィギュア軍団と卓球対決 aka Ping-Pong with Figure Skaters!

Usually I don't bother with translating shows unless it's specifically been asked, but there seems to be a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding and racially-driven anger brewing over this particular episode. It would probably be a better idea to catch up with the usual things I watch, but in the interest of doing my small part to keep the figure skating world somewhat civil...

Please do not repost without permission.

Narrator: Ping-pong match! Tunnels vs. Shuzo Matsuoka with the "Figure Skating Army"!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer):
This is the traditional Tunnels' "I Am the King of Sports!: Ping-Pong Match"! They are already getting all worked up! So, you two are called the "Kings of Ping-Pong of the Entertainment World," and again this year you will face some fateful competitors.

Noritake Kinashi: So this is not the one where we start out with a word-chain game, right?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): No, it's not. That is not the plan.

Noritake Kinashi: That's right. I know because we do this every year.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Actually, you two have never won one of these ping-pong matches.

Takaaki Ishibashi: What?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Yes, in fact that is true. Even though you are called the "Kings of Ping Pong of the Entertainment World"...

Takaaki Ishibashi: That's because partway through, the staff (for the show) will introduce weird rules...

Noritake Kinashi: Oh like giving (their opponents) weird pans! It's because they make it all New Years' special-like!

Takaaki Ishibashi: If they let us do things normally, we will definitely win.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): I see. You're confident of this?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Yes.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Well then, let's go ahead and welcome today's opponents!

(Battle cry...?)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer):
Through the white smoke has entered the Tunnels' fateful opponent, Shuzo Matsuoka, with the "Figure Skating Army"! Vancouver Olympics Silver Medalist, Mao Asada, and Daisuke Takahashi! Miki Ando, Nobunari Oda, Takahiko Kozuka, all striking poses! With Shuzo Matsuoka in front they have entered (the studio)! What a lineup! Wow, this--(Takaaki Ishibashi starts whacking Shuzo Matsuoka on the knee)--and he's off, he's off! Right away he's off! He went in to aim at Shuzo Matsuoka's old knee injury!

Shuzo Matsuoka: I just had treatment yesterday!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So this means you know all about his injuries. He will really be a fateful opponent.

Shuzo Matsuoka: This time... this is my favorite sport. "Figure Skating Army," thank you!

Takaaki Ishibashi: So cool!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Thank you very much! How extravagant (to have such guests)!

Narrator: A silver medal at the Vancouver Olympics, she who launched a revival at the year-end Nationals: Mao Asada. Japan's first male Olympic medalist, World Champion: Daisuke Takahashi. She who won Nationals for the first time in six years: Miki Ando. 2010 Grand Prix Final Silver Medalist: Nobunari Oda. First-time National Champion: Takahiko Kozuka! They who represent Japan, a splendid figure skating team, come together to create a miracle (to beat Tunnels)!

Shuzo Matsuoka: We've competed against each other before, but all--

(Takaaki Ishibashi whacks Shuzo Matsuoka on the knee)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The second time today! The sound of the whack rang through (the studio).

Shuzo Matsuoka: Even though I'm retired I don't want to get surgery... I've never lost (to them).

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): That's right.

Takaaki Ishibashi: But, you know, is this okay? I mean, everyone's still a child! They're like, students on a class trip! I mean, I saw them get off this weird bus!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Not at all! I mean, (Mao) turned 20...

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oh, Mao-chan turned 20, right?

Mao Asada: Yes.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Congratulations (Happy Birthday)!

Noritake Kinashi: Congratulations!

Mao Asada: Thank you.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So with regards to ping-pong--how good are you?

Mao Asada: So-so.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So-so?

Takaaki Ishibashi: I mean everyone's still like a child!

Noritake Kinashi: Wait, wait, speaking of children, Oda-kun--

Shuzo Matsuoka: Right, right! Congratulations!

Noritake Kinashi: Congratulations!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oda-kun, you became a father?

Nobunari Oda: Yes (on October 1, 2010).

Takaaki Ishibashi: A boy or a girl?

Nobunari Oda: A boy.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oh, right, how you debated whether to name him Nobunaga?

Nobunari Oda: No, no, I didn't worry about this.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Wow, so you're a father. Your shoelace is broken.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So this is a psych-out! The psych-outs have started!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Miki-san, please say something to them. (Miki Ando just laughs) So everyone, how is your ping-pong?

Noritake Kinashi: There isn't a ping-pong table at the training center?

Miki Ando: Oh, there's one in Russia!

Mao Asada: Yes, I played in Russia.

(everyone starts repeating "Russia")

Shuzo Matsuoka: Russia. Yes, they're international.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Right, right, right. But they're kids!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): No, they're top athletes!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Still, things will change when it comes to ping-pong. They will show a side of themselves they don't show on the ice.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Shuzo, why are you sweating? In just this opening (of the episode)!

Narrator: After this, the matchup will turn into the biggest see-saw game ever!

The rules are for a single 21-point game doubles match. The figure skating team can change their playing members at any time, at Shuzo Matsuoka's discretion. Either member of both teams can hit the serve or rally.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So, Shuzo-san, with which pair will you start?

Shuzo Matsuoka: To start--feel the World!--Mao! Daisuke! Let's go!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Here we go--the medalists! They've come in as a pair! The Vancouver Olympics Silver and Bronze Medalists! Those two have stepped forward!

Daisuke Takahashi: Best regards.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Okay, to start with, he made those things (the name-paddles) himself, that man!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Opponents, opponents--you can't pay attention to your opponents.

Miki Ando: Good luck!

Nobunari Oda: Good luck!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, the Tunnels will take the serve.

Noritake Kinashi: Okay, so the match will begin.

Miki Ando: I'm going to be nervous.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): And so it begins at last, this ping-pong match!

Daisuke Takahashi: I'm nervous!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Are you okay, Mao? That ring, is it okay (to play with)?

Mao Asada: I'm okay.

Takaaki Ishibashi: You're okay?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Pay attention, pay attention.

Mao Asada: Oh, right!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Pay attention, pay attention.

Takaaki Ishibashi: What is that, a present from your dad?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Pay attention, pay attention.

Mao Asada: I received it from a fan.

Takaaki Ishibashi: What? So you wear things you get from fans!

Miki Ando: The serve will come, Mao!

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! A surprise attack--they return it! This is--OUT! The figure skating team has taken the first point! Ishibashi's surprise attack was a failure.

Miki Ando: Don't forget your signature poses!

Mao Asada: Signature poses--

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! Aaah! This is dirty! Now this is dirty!

Mao Asada: The serve just now--the one just now, is it fair?

Noritake Kinashi: It's okay, right?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Referee Watanabe has given a point to the Tunnels! Ishibashi wins the point!

Daisuke Takahashi: That's bad!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay?

Mao Asada: Not fair!

Shuzo Matsuoka: So this is the real world, you see?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): That's right.

Shuzo Matsuoka: There's stuff like this all the time during matches!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels are sneaky!

Nobunari Oda: Either one of you can hit the serve, right?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Either, either one is okay.

Miki Ando: Mao, Mao--

Mao Asada: I'm nervous.

Shuzo Matsuoka: You're nervous, right? Please, think of those two as true enemies. I mean, niceness now is not allowed.

Daisuke Takahashi: Okay, no niceness allowed.

Shuzo Matsuoka: In figure skating, you don't compete (directly) with others, but this is a (direct) battle. Adopt a bad personality.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, Asada's serve.

Takaaki Ishibashi: You changed coaches, right?

Mao Asada: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: The same coach as Kozuka-kun--?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, let's go let's go let's go.

Mao Asada: (to Takaaki Ishibashi) Yes.

Shuzo Matsuoka: You can't listen to him here--

Takaaki Ishibashi: --said for you to train.

Shuzo Matsuoka: The power not to listen--

(Mao Asada serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): A surprise attack from Asada! Takahashi returns it, Ishibashi also returns it! Oh! It's in! One point to the figure skating team! A surprise attack, as you saw, to Ishibashi! The figure skating team has come out with more skill than anticipated!

(Noritake Kinashi sends the ball to Mao Asada)

Mao Asada: Aaah!

Noritake Kinashi: No, no, no! No!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): No, this is wrong! This is wrong!

Noritake Kinashi: Serve, serve, serve!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer):Kinashi simply gently sent the ball to the figure skating team so they could serve. She's been unnerved by the Tunnels' immature surprise attacks!

Mao Asada: I was so surprised!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): She's become suspicious.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Together, now--so cute!

Mao Asada: I was so surprised... whew... I'm tired.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, the difference is a mere one-point difference! The match has just begun!

Mao Asada: It might be better if I hit the serve.

Daisuke Takahashi: Okay, just hit it.

Mao Asada: Because it's easy. (to the Tunnels) Please imitate me!

Shuzo Matsuoka: "Please!" She said it politely, so!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Triple jump.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Triple jump. Triple Axel!

(Mao Asada serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! In the midst of this the game has begun--out! Takahashi skillfully aimed towards Ishibashi's corner! Ishibashi can't react! Asada-Takahashi! This pair is displaying more skill than expected!

Noritake Kinashi: This is bad, this.

Nobunari Oda: Great, great!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice play!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Okay, I've started to wake up a little.

Miki Ando: Mao, Mao! The serve will come, okay?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mao-chan, you don't have a boyfriend?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): And again, he tries a psych-out--

Takaaki Ishibashi: But they said that you should fall in love!

Noritake Kinashi: Love is important, isn't it?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Love is important.

Noritake Kinashi: It's January 2nd!

Tunnels: Yay~!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Love is important, isn't it?

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Noritake Kinashi: We want her to fall in love!

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Both teams have gotten into it!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Who does Mao-chan like, of those in the entertainment world?

Mao Asada: ...

Takaaki Ishibashi: ...

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Well, she's thinking!

Shuzo Matsuoka: She will not say!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's a tactic, it's a tactic!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Because it's our side's tactic.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Shuzo Matsuoka could not stand it and cut the conversation short.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Okay, this ends at 11 so let's do things quickly!

Tunnels: Yay~!

Noritake Kinashi: Okay!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! It's out! The figure skating team has a press conference scheduled at 11 (currently 10:20). The score is 3 to 2!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Is everything okay? Is everything okay? I wonder what kind of girl Takahashi-kun likes?

Miki Ando: Good luck, go!

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Noritake Kinashi: Go on, tell us what type (of girl) you like.

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Shuzo Matsuoka: You don't have to go along with them.

Noritake Kinashi: They're not really getting into this!

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Noritake Kinashi: Maybe because it's the morning.

Tunnels, Mao Asada, Daisuke Takahashi: Yay~!

Takaaki Ishibashi: I wonder where Daisuke's hair was permed--

(Noritake Kinashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Whoa--out! One point to the figure skating team! They were not tricked by the Tunnels' tactics! So, to continue, it is now the "Figure Skating Army's" serve.

Miki Ando: Good luck!

Noritake Kinashi: We'll return it, we'll return it!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Mao Asada's serve!

Nobunari Oda: Good luck!

Miki Ando: Good luck!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mao, you're Omron?

Miki Ando: You should bewilder them.

Mao Asada: Hello.

Tunnels: Hello.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's served! They return it--Kinashi also returns it, Asada--this is out!

Figure Skating Team: Nice try, nice try, nice try.

Miki Ando: It's okay, it's okay.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now it's becoming a good match!

Nobunari Oda, Takahiko Kozuka: It's okay, it's okay.

Miki Ando: Your smile, don't forget your smile!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, it's Asada's serve.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Mao-chan, this is it.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Is your sister doing well?

Mao Asada: Yes.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, will Mao-chan's serve...?

Mao Asada: She's there, she's over there.

Noritake Kinashi: Your sister came?

Mao Asada: She's back there. Over there.

Noritake Kinashi: Your sister--

Takaaki Ishibashi: Where is your sister?

Mao Asada: She's sitting in the back over there.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Sitting?

(Mao Asada serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Whoa, now it's Asada's surprise attack! Takahashi also returns--and a misfire from Kinashi! Now this is a bad miss for the Tunnels!

Narrator: From the start of this match, unbelievable strange play from the "Kings of Ping-Pong of the Entertainment World." Kinashi hit the ball not with his racquet, but with his thumb!

Shuzo Matsuoka: This is a bit of a surprise--what is this, nervousness?

Noritake Kinashi: Hah, I wonder if maybe the ball hitting my thumb came from nervousness!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Wow.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The figure skating team has a two-point lead! Can the Tunnels recover from Kinashi's mistake? Ishibashi's serve! Ishibashi, an unbelievable mistake on serve! Instead of recovering from Kinashi's mistake, he widened the point gap.

Takaaki Ishibashi: I'm becoming more awake!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Will the Tunnels continue to be left behind like this?

Miki Ando: It's because you don't focus.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Focus!

Noritake Kinashi: Focus!

Mao Asada: I wonder who's next.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Bring it, Chukyo University Chukyo (Campus)!!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): A fire has been lit in his Teikyo soul!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Teikyo soul!!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ishibashi's serve! It's returned--what a return!

Mao Asada: Yay!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): What a great return from Asada! Ishibashi's Teikyo soul has incomplete combustion!

Miki Ando: Your signature pose, your signature pose!

Shuzo Matsuoka: That just now, really a nice shot. That just now--please, your signature pose!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Mao Asada's signature pose!

Mao Asada: Yay!

Shuzo Matsuoka: That shot, really amazing.

Noritake Kinashi: I'm jealous, it's a good mood on that side.

Narrator: And the Tunnels entered a hard fight against the medalist pair, with mistake after mistake. Bit by bit, the point difference grows wider...

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The score is 9 to 3!

Shuzo Matsuoka: You know, we have such a lead, I feel a little bad for the other side. So why don't we change players?

Mao Asada: Okay.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Because we're too strong.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It appears that there will be a change of players. Now, who--?

Mao Asada: I've started to get used to things a little.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Miki-san, please! Nobunari-san!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Well--they have come out with the Ando-Oda pair!

Chie Honma (Announcer): The two of you--how was it?

Daisuke Takahashi: I was nervous.

Mao Asada: I was nervous. In the beginning, I couldn't get used to things at all.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oda-kun, you're a southpaw?

Nobunari Oda: I'm left-handed.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Really?

Nobunari Oda: Yes.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ishibashi--is this another psych-out tactic?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Have you already held him?

Nobunari Oda: What?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Have you already held him, I mean it's already been two months, have you held him?

Nobunari Oda: Oh--yes. Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Is he cute?

Nobunari Oda: Yes, he's cute.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Even here, he's gone ahead with a psych-out tactic.

Mao Asada: Good luck, good luck!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Do you think about making him a figure skater?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Oda must not get caught up (in these tactics) now. He cannot get pulled into this!

Nobunari Oda: Umm... if he himself wants to, yes.

Shuzo Matsuoka: (to Shinji Yoshino) It's because Oda-kun is nice...

Takaaki Ishibashi: If he himself says he wants to, I see.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Oda cannot let himself get pulled into this! Their makeshift tactics will use anything!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Indeed...

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The serve has come! The Tunnels have put on the pressure! They have put on the pressure!

Noritake Kinashi: Oda-kun, you'd better focus.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): This is the way the Tunnels, who have survived the rough waves of the entertainment world, do things!

Takaaki Ishibashi: I mean, Shuzo--

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in! He returned it.

Miki Ando: It's in.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ando also returns it--smash! Great smash from Ishibashi! With pure power, Ishibashi forced the ball through!

Narrator: The ball that Ishibashi hit so intensely skimmed the net and pierced through the opponents' side. Truly an attack for a comeback!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Yu-Na Kim!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Aah! Ishibashi--now, now, here!--has unleashed that Yu-Na Kim's pose!

Shuzo Matsuoka: You're slowly getting annoyed, aren't you?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Yu-Na Kim!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): And again! Again, the Yu-Na Kim pose! Will this ignite the figure skating team's competitive fire?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Don't hold back.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, Oda's serve--(Nobunari Oda serves)--it's sent to Oda, Oda sends it back! The score is 9 to 6!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, okay, okay, it's okay.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The close contest continues! The Tunnels are slowly making a comeback!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Who was it, who was it--the other ladies representative at Vancouver?

Miki Ando: Do you mean Akko-chan?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Ak--what, what?

Miki Ando: Do you mean Akiko Suzuki-chan?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Right near the middle of Akiko Suzuki-san's free skate--

Nobunari Oda, Miki Ando: What? No, there isn't, there isn't!

(Shuzo Matsuoka starts singing)

Takaaki Ishibashi: From a musical, a musical--

Miki Ando: There isn't, there isn't!

(Shuzo Matsuoka keeps singing)

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, mambo!

Nobunari Oda: There isn't, there isn't!

Takaaki Ishibashi: There was, right?

Mao Asada: There was something, wasn't there?

Daisuke Takahashi: Yes, there was something.

Mao Asada: There was something, right? What was it?

Takaaki Ishibashi: What was it, from that musical...?

Daisuke Takahashi: Yes, there was something...

Miki Ando: West Side Story.

Takaaki Ishibashi: West Side Story!

Nobunari Oda: It wasn't like that!

Noritake Kinashi: Enough with the theatre!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, the score is 9 to 6--the figure skating team leads by three points! Now, Oda's serve--it's in--Ando also returns it--net, and it's in! The Tunnels are slowly making a comeback! And here, Shuzo Matsuoka--

Shuzo Matsuoka: Next is... Daisuke! Taka-chan!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Shuzo Matsuoka can't help but change players! Here, two males--the Takahashi and Kozuka pair--have come forward!

Mao Asada, Nobunari Oda: Good luck! Good luck!

Noritake Kinashi: Taka-chan!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Kozuka-kun, you're called Taka-chan, right?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Kozuka-kun, are you good at ping-pong?

Daisuke Takahashi: Taka is good.

Takaaki Ishibashi: "Taka" is good?

Miki Ando, Nobunari Oda: Good luck! Taka-chan! Taka-chan!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Taka-chan! Okay--(Shuzo Matsuoka starts dancing)--Ta-ka! Ta-ka! Ta-ka!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, a full-out attack has been launched! They return it! Takahashi goes--aah! Into the net!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, okay, okay.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels have finally brought things to a one-point difference!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, Taka Taka Taka Taka Taka!

Miki Ando: Good luck!

Takaaki Ishibashi: "Good luck, Taka-chan!" sounds like a cheer for me! We've been told to let you guys go by 11 no matter what, so we're going to attack and finish you off!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now it's Kinashi's serve! No matter what they want to tie the score!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Let's go.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Two balls came! What is this, what is this?! What was that?! Wait a minute--! Aah!

Noritake Kinashi: Two points! Two points! Two points!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): What was that just now?!

Noritake Kinashi: Give us two points for that! Give us two points! Two points! Two points!

Narrator: Using two balls at once--a drastic move that totally disregards the rules. And the ruling on Kinashi's gamble in order overtake the other team in one move is...

Noritake Kinashi: We just got two points now, two points!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): There were in fact two balls just now! A foul, a foul! A yellow card! The pair's attack is not approved! Oh, Ishibashi--with a gesture like Coach Brown's--protests the referee's decision!

Noritake Kinashi: You're not going to give us two points just now?

Takaaki Ishibashi: It won't come loose.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): However this is a yellow card and does not count.

Noritake Kinashi: I aimed for two points and made them, you know...

Takaaki Ishibashi: It's always "away," this place.

Miki Ando: Taka-chan, good luck!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, Kinashi, changing and renewing his mindset, serves!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Good!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's turning into a rally--smash! Kinashi's smash wins the point! The spirit and stubbornness of the "Kings of Ping-Pong of the Entertainment World" can be clearly seen! Kinashi, after an unbelievable yellow card, caught up to tie the score with a disguised smash!

Miki Ando: So he hit a smash.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels have at last tied!

Takaaki Ishibashi: What was it, the maejyuji?

Daisuke Takahashi: Yes.

Noritake Kinashi: Is it okay?

Takaaki Ishibashi: The maejyuji, that's painful...

Shuzo Matsuoka: It's not maejyuji, it's zenjyuji!

(Note: Zenjyuji is the Japanese term for the ACL. The character for "zen" can also be read as "mae," and Ishibashi was purposely misreading it to be funny.)

(Daisuke Takahashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): With Takahashi's injury as the subject matter, they attempt to psych out (the opponents)... It gets caught on the net, but is in. Good pickup, Kozuka! Whoa-ah! A comeback, a comeback!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice try, nice try.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels finally achieve a comeback!

Nobunari Oda: So close, so close!

Mao Asada: So close!

Miki Ando: Good luck!

Nobunari Oda: Good luck!

Narrator: The Tunnels, fired up by their comeback, accumulate points bit by bit and pull away from the "Figure Skating Army." Is this the ability of the "Kings of Ping-Pong of the Entertainment World"?

Shuzo Matsuoka: It's irritating, isn't it? Take this irritation--ladies, please.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, a player change here! Mao Asada and Miki Ando! The entrance of an extremely illustrious pair!

Noritake Kinashi: So you've come...

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mao-chan, of all of the things you've received, what is your favorite?

Noritake Kinashi: Let's go!

Shuzo Matsuoka: You can do it!

Noritake Kinashi: From Mao-chan... it'll come--(Mao Asada serves)--it came.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice hit!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Nice serve!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice serve!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Incredible serve!

Shuzo Matsuoka: There was even a slide on that, a slide.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Asada's skill is beyond expectations.

Miki Ando: (to Mao Asada and Shuzo Matsuoka) Wait, me?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): She is making some incredible serves!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Wait, so did you already graduate from college?

Miki Ando: One more credit left.

Takaaki Ishibashi: One more year.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, this pause--aah it's happened! Yu-Na Kim! Yu-Na Kim has come! Yu-Na Kim has suddenly jumped out!

Noritake Kinashi: Enough with that, enough!

Shuzo Matsuoka: If you could do like, Miki-chan...

Takaaki Ishibashi: Cleopatra?

Shuzo Matsuoka: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mikitty's wearing a really nice watch, look... Isn't she wearing a really nice watch?

Noritake Kinashi: That might be--

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! It's returned, Asada also returns it--aah! It hits the net, for the Tunnels! Point for the Tunnels.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice try, nice try, nice try.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The score is 14 to 17!

Noritake Kinashi: All right, let's go...

Shuzo Matsuoka: (to audience) Isn't this a good team?

Miki Ando: I got it from my mother.

Noritake Kinashi: Your mother.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Your mother?!

Miki Ando: For my 20th birthday.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Right, because they're already 20.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Wow, wow--it's all shiny.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Miki, please don't take your eyes away.

Noritake Kinashi: By the way, Miki, we ran into each other once a long time ago in the parking lot of a furniture store, didn't we?

Miki Ando: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: What, where?

Noritake Kinashi: Five or six years ago--

Miki Ando: Yes, we did!

Noritake Kinashi: Right, right, right?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Why? What furniture did you buy?

Noritake Kinashi: Uh, I don't know.

Miki Ando: I don't know.

Shuzo Matsuoka: You bought it yourself and don't know...?

Noritake Kinashi: You were there, right?

Miki Ando: Yes.

Noritake Kinashi: That's right, I suddenly remembered.

Miki Ando: I feel like my butt is sticking out.

Tunnels: Your butt? Your butt? Butt?

Shuzo Matsuoka: It's not sticking out.

Miki Ando: It just goes like this...

Shuzo Matsuoka: Don't worry, don't worry.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Do you have a senior-junior (hierarchical) relationship?

Miki Ando: Yes.

Mao Asada: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: So Miki is the senior?

Miki Ando: In skating Mao is the senior.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oh, it's like that?

Miki Ando: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: If you met up in school, would you (bow to and) greet her?

Mao Asada: Well since we've been skating together from when we were little...

Miki Ando: We skated together at the same club from when we were little, and Skater Asada joined the club before I did, and...

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oh, so in that kind of relationship, do you greet her formally?

Noritake Kinashi: That's nice, senior-junior. Takaaki is also two years older than me, actually. (Note: They were actually in the same grade in high school, and are only 4 or 5 months apart.) What was it, you were left back twice?

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Takaaki Ishibashi: Takaaki has come!

Miki Ando: That's dirty!

Noritake Kinashi: Whoa!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Careful, that was close!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It has turned into a long rally! Ando is also in good form, Ando is good! Ando is good! Ando is also good! It has become a long rally! OUT! Point to the Asada-Ando pair! The figure skating team is hanging onto the (match against the) Tunnels!

Miki Ando: They're old, so I think it's better (for us) if we rally.

Takaaki Ishibashi: There's nothing we can do, they're too cute.

Shuzo Matsuoka: The other side will get nervous, so if you don't make a mistake, they will.

Mao Asada: Okay.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): So, the Tunnels have wiped away their sweat, and...

Takaaki Ishibashi: Vancouver~!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): This time, he is trying to provoke a response by imitating the Vancouver Olympics commercial!

Noritake Kinashi: Mao-chan, bring it!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Ma-o! Ma-o!

(Mao Asada serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in! Ando also returns it--aah! And oh no, here--again, Yu-Na Kim!

Shuzo Matsuoka: It's annoying, it's not funny, is it. It's okay if you're annoyed.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer):
The Tunnels widen their lead.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Let's definitely win this point.

Miki Ando, Mao Asada: Okay.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Definitely win this point. Give it your all.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, they pick it up--out! Point to the figure skating team!

Tunnels: Come on, let's go.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, the Asada-Ando pair is making a comeback, a comeback.

Tunnels: Come on, let's go.

Yoshie Takeuchi (Announcer): Tunnels, fight!

Takaaki Ishibashi: New Takeuchi (entered TV Asahi in 2008).

Noritake Kinashi: Ah, New Takeuchi.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Old Takeuchi (Emi Takeuchi, entered TV Asahi in 1999) is on her honeymoon.

Noritake Kinashi: Now, in this season?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Yeah.

Noritake Kinashi: Wow, I see--that's nice. Heave-ho!

(Noritake Kinashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ah--into the net. Into the net, so one point to the figure skating team!

Miki Ando, Mao Asada: Yay~!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The figure skating team is making a comeback! We still don't know (the outcome). Wow, wow! An incredible return! Ando has made an incredible return!

Takaaki Ishibashi: This is bad, this is bad.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's tied, it's tied! They have come back to tie!

(Miki Ando serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, this is also a rally--this is out!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice, nice, smile, smile.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels take the lead again.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Let's do this with a smile.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels will at last turn 50 this year.

(Mao Asada serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Stamina presents a challenge (to them)!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Be quiet, be quiet!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, can they keep up?

Tunnels: Be quiet, be quiet!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): They made it! It cannot be returned!

Tunnels: Be quiet!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Your commentary is annoying!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): They have arrived at match point.

Shuzo Matsuoka: But wow, amazing how they're playing so hard even at 50...

Noritake Kinashi: We're very sensitive about this, so don't talk about it too much!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, the Tunnels, match point--

Takaaki Ishibashi: Aw, after one more point we won't be able see Mao-chan and everyone anymore.

Noritake Kinashi: Match point!

Takaaki Ishibashi: I'm so sad, this is over in one more point!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels, will this become their first win?

Noritake Kinashi: Do you all want to have lunch at the Grand Hyatt?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Please take a picture with us later. I'll have my Yu-Na Kim pose all set.

Noritake Kinashi: In that case they might say they don't want to!

Shuzo Matsuoka: You're (figure skaters) annoyed now, right?

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mao-chan, have you ever been told that you look like a hina doll?

Mao Asada: No, I haven't.

Takaaki Ishibashi: No?

Noritake Kinashi: A cute hina doll.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Hina doll-face.

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The ball is returned! Ando also returns it. The rally continues! Nice! Ando's return misses! The Tunnels win! The Tunnels have amazingly defeated the "Figure Skating Army"!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Wait, Matsuoka here--

Shuzo Matsuoka: We would like you to let us play against you one more time.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Double Axel, triple toe loop...

Shuzo Matsuoka: They will express their desire to play one more time:

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): How's this! A consolation match!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Is it really okay?

Takaaki Ishibashi: We have to go to Tsutaya, so...

Miki Ando: Please, let us play one more time.

Noritake Ishibashi: Well, okay--

Shuzo Matsuoka: And one more time, please!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): They've come, they've come, they've come! The figure skating team has come forward in a procession!

Noritake Kinashi: Okay, because you're super funny, okay.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Okay!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): A consolation match has been agreed upon!

Shuzo Matsuoka: The side who wins this, wins overall.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): I see.

Shuzo Matsuoka: The match between the Tunnels and the figure skaters--here!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Whoa! What's this, what's this?!

Noritake Kinashi: Shuzo, what are you doing, preparing something!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Something--whoa! What is this--an enormous ping-pong table has been wheeled out!

Takaaki Ishibashi: TV Asahi has brought out yet another weird table...

Noritake Kinashi: Yes, it's true...

Takaaki Ishibashi: What is this table!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, what are they planning to do with this enormous ping-pong table?

Narrator: The second round uses an enormous ping-pong table that is twice the size of a normal one. First to 11 points, and all five on the figure skating team can play at once and hit whenever they want. Now, what kind of match will this become?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, a special, irregular 5 vs. 2 match that uses an enormous ping-pong table! First to 11, the Tunnels to serve! Now, let's go!

Takaaki Ishibashi: It's no good, we have to aim for Kozuka-kun.

Noritake Kinashi: Please start things well!

Shuzo Matsuoka: It's good if you aim for the middle. There's no need to aim for difficult spots.

Takaaki Ishibashi: It's coming, Mikitty!

Nobunari Oda: Miki, good luck--

Shuzo Matsuoka: --good luck!

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, this enormous ping-pong table--how will it go? The rally continues!

Miki Ando: Daisuke, go--

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): He goes for it! Out, out!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice try, nice try.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): He really went for it, Daisuke Takahashi!

Takaaki Ishibashi: You know...

Noritake Kinashi: This is fun.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ishibashi's serve! (Takaaki Ishibashi serves) It's come! They (figure skaters) return it. The increased surface area allows the players to hit with more confidence.

Miki Ando: (to Mao) Don't worry about it.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice try, nice try.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels have a two-point lead!

Takaaki Ishibashi: On this New Year's, we adults apologize for playing against these children (in this manner). However, TV Asahi told us to do this, so it can't be helped.

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, you know what, if they're like this--let's win, seriously. I'm going to go bother the other side.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): This is the enormous ping-pong table that Matsuoka brought in, but the figure skating team has been unable to get a good sense of the table.

Takaaki Ishibashi: We're going to win anyway!

Noritake Kinashi: (to Shuzo Matsuoka) Please don't get in our way!

(Miki Ando serves)

Shuzo Matsuoka: Excuse me--

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It worked, it worked! Shuzo Matsuoka's distracting actions worked! The point difference is one point, 2 to 1!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oda-kun, Oda-kun--your shoelace.

Nobunari Oda: It's fine.

(Miki Ando serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in! Oh, into the net! Tied, at 2 to 2!

Figure Skating Team: Yay~!

Noritake Kinashi: Nice play, nice play.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now it's become a good match!

(Noritake Kinashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Kinashi sent a surprise curve, but this also took Ishibashi by surprise!

Narrator: The large ping-pong table wreaked havoc not only with the Tunnels but also the figure skating team, and both sides struggled in this close match. The outcome of this match became completely unpredictable...

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Now, the score is 6 to 8 (in favor of the figure skating team)!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mikitty, can you speak Russian now?

Miki Ando: A little bit.

Takaaki Ishibashi: How do you say "hello"? How do you say "hello," in Russian?

Miki Ando: "Zdras'tye."

Takaaki Ishibashi: Huh?

Miki Ando: Zdras'tye.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Gra'sheh? Gra'sheh?

Miki Ando: Zdras'tye!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Gra'sheh.

Miki Ando: It's okay, enough of this.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): She will not get into this discussion!

(Takahiko Kozuka serves)

Nobunari Oda: Oh haha, it's in.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in again!

Takahiko Kozuka: Oh sorry--

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Wow! Good for Kinashi, getting the return in! Ishibashi, Ishibashi--his smash came!

Takahiko Kozuka: So close! Sorry.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Hina-face.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Ishibashi's provocations continue!

Mao Asada: That's terrible. Terrible. (Note: "Hina" is not actually an insult.)

Takaaki Ishibashi: Mikitty, your coach, as expected he's--

Miki Ando: Are you not going to do MojiMoji-Kun anymore?

Takaaki Ishibashi:

Miki Ando: MojiMoji-Kun.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Will you do MojiMoji-Kun next time?

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Psych-outs are returned with psych-outs.

Noritake Kinashi: Will you do Nou-Kabe? Nou-Kabe.

Miki Ando: Yes.

Takaaki Ishibashi: You will?

Mao Asada: Maybe I want to.

Noritake Kinashi: You want to do it?

Miki Ando: I used to watch MojiMoji-Kun all the time when I was little.

Takaaki Ishibashi: Oh really? 'My name is Moji-kun!'

Noritake Kinashi: 'Moji-san!'

Figure Skating Team: Wow! Amazing!

Noritake Kinashi: Will the five of you do our year-end special episode?

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Okay.

Noritake Kinashi: Heave-ho!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Okay, this time Oda is making sure to get the ball in. Again, Oda...

Shuzo Matsuoka: Get it in the middle, the middle.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's become a long rally. Ando returns it also!

Shuzo Matsuoka: In the middle, in the middle--hit it hard!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's now tied! The Tunnels have tied!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Okay, really, I'm sorry but so far I've never lost to them once, so...

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's true!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Three points, three points.

Noritake Kinashi: Shuzo, do something, Shuzo! You can play too, Shuzo!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Wow! And here, Shuzo Matsuoka has entered!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Come on, come on! You tennis ruin!

Shuzo Matsuoka: We are definitely not going to lose. Don't worry about it if you miss.

Mao Asada, Takahiko Kozuka: Okay.

Takaaki Ishibashi: That person, a long time ago, he hurt his knee at the (1995) US Open and cried.

Shuzo Matsuoka:
Hurry, come on!

Takaaki Ishibashi: "It hurts, it hurts, it hurts!"

(Takaaki Ishibashi serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's in--

Shuzo Matsuoka: Wait--!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Was Matsuoka psyched out?

Takaaki Ishibashi: My knee hurts, my knee hurts!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Was Matsuoka psyched out?

Takaaki Ishibashi: My knee hurts!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Was the 1995 US Open too much? (Shuzo Matsuoka serves) Whoa, he got him back! This time, he got him back! It's tied! (Shuzo Matsuoka pretends to serve) Matsuoka feints!

Noritake Kinashi: Be quiet!

(Shuzo Matsuoka serves)

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): He picks it up! It's out.

Takaaki Ishibashi: I'm going to hit to to Mao-chan.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's the Tunnels' match point!

Noritake Kinashi: Hah!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): They have finally arrived at match point! The figure skating team is backed against a wall!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Miki, good luck.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): It's come! Smash! Into the net!

Shuzo Matsuoka: Nice try, nice try!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): The Tunnels win!

Takaaki Ishibashi: Just in time, just in time.

Noritake Kinashi: We won at ping-pong for the first time!

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): For the first time, the Tunnels have won!

Takaaki Ishibashi: As expected, this (Yu-Na Kim pose) really worked on everyone.

Noritake Kinashi: Next year, what will we battle?

Figure Skating Team: Figure skating...

Noritake Kinashi: Okay, that's fine. Do you want to see a bit of Takaaki Ishibashi's backwards skating skills? (to Takaaki Ishibashi) First, please go back, starting at the corner.

Shinji Yoshino (Announcer): Oh this is speed skating.

Noritake Kinashi: He's started, how is it? Go backwards from there... he's going backwards!

Daisuke Takahashi: Great!

Noritake Kinashi: He's been doing this in the club room since we were seniors at Teikyo High School.