Monday, October 24, 2011

In search of TSU TSU ARU

I am beyond surprised at the moment. Here I was, reading that comic I suggested to you yesterday, and I find a phrase I never thought I'd be able to find. TSUTSU ARU... I've never seen it used except in my textbook, and I've certainly never heard it. My Japanese teacher told me no one uses it when they speak, and of course, my textbook says the same.

But there it is, in a really beautiful scene about omuraisu

The phrase in question is:
  • あなたの子供になりつつある。
  • Anata no kodomo ni nari tsu tsu aru.
TSU TSU ARU means to "continue doing something", and as I mentioned above, it's usually only used in written form. This, of course, indicates that it is a very formal phrase (which may be a very good indicatory on just how Mikako feels). JGRAM also wants me to say that it means "in the middle of doing something", but I'm not real sure about that seeing as my textbook doesn't even mention something close to that. The translation of the explanation my book give is "gradually doing something".

Helpful, right? Sort of...

The context of these scene is that when Mikako was first adopted, her new mother asked her what she wanted to eat, and she replied that she wanted omuraisu. When she goes to put ketchup on it, her mother exclaims something and Mikako thinks she's in trouble. Instead, the mother is just laughing about how childlike it is to use that much ketchup.  The last page is when Mikako is seventeen, and they are having omuraisu as they do every Saturday, and her mother starts laughing about how much ketchup Mikako uses. "You like that much ketchup?" she laughs, "like a child, huh?"

The Mikako narrates with our grammar point before the scene ends. We can divide the phrase like so:

  • あなたの子供になる(I'll become your child)  + つつある (continue doing so)
  • I'll continue being (becoming?) your child.
I think her use of formality here indicates a sort of contrary feeling to what she says, since it implies distance. Since I'm not Japanese, I can't say for sure, but I think I'm probably right.

How to make a TSU TSU ARU sentence:

  • Pre-MASU verb+ TSUTSU ARU
    • The NARU in this sentence became NARI

It it as easy as that!

But before I go, I thought I'd talk just a little bit about omuraisu which is, by far, my favorite food. Oddly, though, Japanese people tend to think it's an American food. Ask an American, and they'll say they've never heard of it.

The basic omuraisu is rice, ketchup and egg. There is usually some sort of meat in it (usually chicken, but I like bacon) and vegetables (like onions and what not), but those are not constant since every store makes them a bit differently. In almost all cases, the egg is fried into a thin sheet, and the rice/ketchup medley are mixed and then folded into the egg. It looks like this:

Image taken from:

What it is, basically, is a Japanese version of an American Omellette (Omu standing for Omellette and Raisu being Rice). It may not look good, but I have to tell you, it is BRILLIANT. I crave it almost every other day... and I don't even like ketchup!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

In search of GACHI and SHIKA NAI

It's a two for one day to make up for the days I missed last week. I must apologize for that. With my mother having broken her collar bone, I've had to spend half of my day doing the farm work, and the other half doing house work. Needless to say, it has not been conducive to studying for the JLPT.

It has been conducive, however, to falling asleep to radio plays at night... namely Torchwood radio plays... and I'm having difficulty getting myself to think about anything other than how damn cool Ianto Jones is.

And that, my friends, is how I surreptitiously sneak my personal life into this blog. You totally didn't even notice, did you? Masterful.

But I have had a bit of a chance to do more research, so let's get on with it, shall we?


GACHI means "tends to", though it can be actually translated as a million other things. I think the idea it's supposed to present is that there is a proclivity for something, but it doesn't necessarily make it so all the time. So basically... "tends to". The page I am taking this from is from this page of her beautiful website:

It has a very simple caption:

  • 夢見がち
  • Yume Migachi

and if you look at the image and assimilate what I told you of what the word GACHI means, you can see the inherent beauty and loneliness to this scene. There are a lot of commonly romantic images in Japan, one of which is sharing a scarf. Another is sharing and umbrella. 

In the last scene, you can see that she is just tied to a tree, and not her lover.

The phrase, then, is a comment on her life.

  • I tend to dream

Though I must admit, in this case, I thought I might just translate it as "daydream" despite the fact that there are four perfectly acceptable words to use instead simply because there is no subject indicated. But then again, when is there ever a subject indicated in Japanese? I decided against it in the end because it doesn't quite have the same feeling to it as "I tend to dream".

How to use GACHI:

  • Pre-masu form+ GACHI
    • because it's a tendency and it will continued to happen, do not worry about tense! No past tense, okay? :)

  • Noun+ GACHI


I wish I could tell you more about the wonderful artist. There isn't really much to say. She does a fantastic web comic about a girl named Mikako which you can find here.  From what I can tell, it's a part of Morning Manga, which is a branch of Kodansha publishing (I think!). It seems that you can buy the manga at stores these days, and I'm sorely tempted.

Our phrase comes from the PV for the manga, though it does appear in the manga itself. I'm being a bit lazy and not searching for it though, so I hope you'll forgive me. I'm also hoping I can sort of nudge you to check out the website yourself and take a look at her amazing work. The scene I will be talking about starts at 0:45.

The phrase I'm interested in is at 0:53:

  • 「大丈夫」って答えるしかなかった。
  • "Daijoubu" tte kotaeru shikanakatta.

I suppose, though, I should explain how to use SHIKA NAI first before translating the phrase and explaining the context.

SHIKA NAI basically means "no other way", or "have to". I tend to think of it in terms of something that had to be done because there was no other way, whereas other "have to" phrases such as NAKEREBANARANAI can indicate being forced to do it, as well as not having a choice in the matter. SHIKA NAI only speaks to the latter of that, and not the former.

The context which you can watch before is that her adopted mother asks her if she's okay. When she thinks about that, she realizes that adults are always asking that. Then her next phrase is:

  • I had no other choice but to answer with "I'm okay".

  • 「大丈夫」って答える (To answer with I'm okay) + しかなかった (I had not other choice)

You'll notice this particular phrase in the past tense. That is perfectly possible to do. Since she's narrating the story from some unknown future point, she will of course use SHINAKATTA.

How to make a SHIKANAI sentence:

    • Please remember that depending on the situation, you willl have to change SHIKANAI. For example, if you want to be polite, it's SHIKA ARIMASEN.

Both of this mangaka's works are pretty easy to understand due to the purposefully simple language she uses, and they are a great way to practice reading more artistic Japanese and absorbing cultural phenomenon. Please, please, please check them out!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

In search GIMI

I should say, that right off the bat, I have a little trouble with GIMI, even if I have a great mnemonic device for it.

GIMI (Gimee) a little! That's how I remember it! Why? Because it means "little bit" like... "He looks a little bit tired". It sort of means that something has a tendency to be something, or that if seems like something.

Learn Japanese Free suggests that it means that whatever it is, the feeling of the sensation is very low, which I think is sort of a helpful way of thinking about it. Like... he's-not-fat,-it-just-looks-like-me-sort-of-be-on-the-way-towards-it kind of feeling. Or maybe, I'm-not-really-that-tired-but-I'm-sort-of-starting-to-feel-it kind of feeling.

Where I found it is on a great website that I'm now in love with. It's called Hitotsuna which is a really interesting site where you write a message, take a photo of you holding it, and someone responds to it in the same way. Then that person, in turn, asks a question or makes a statement. There is a cute explanation written in very simple Japanese with English translations here. I found our grammar point in this little exchange:

So the first message is:

  • 夏バテ気味です。
  • NatsuBATE gimi desu.

There is a translation provided there, which says "the heat is getting to me" which I think is about as close as you're going to get to a comprehensible English sentence if you're going to translate it. This blog, however, isn't necessarily about translation, so I'm going to try and work out the mechanics of what this grammar point is really saying.

  •  夏バテ= Summer heat (associated with suffering in the heat)
  • 気味です= vague sensation

So what this is really trying to say is that he's starting to feel the heat. Is it hot yet? No, but it's getting there.

The answer, which I love, is from that adorable office lady who says: Let's fall in love!

Haha! I think this also funny because his phrase indicates that it's not quite summer yet (it's just starting to feel like it) and spring is associated with love. So, the ladies response is funny on its own, but there's a little extra layer of hilarity there too.

Anyway, browse the website! It's amazing! It's fun! And sometimes there are some really profound exchanges.

I, for example like:

  • Beer is too delicious.
  • It's a good thing if it's delicious!
Or my favorite:

For the most part, the translations are spot on, so if you're Japanese isn't as good as you'd like it to be, you can rely on those a bit.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

In search of KURAI / GURAI

Wow. Day number five of manga related posts. I really am on a roll.

Today, we are going to talk about one of the longest running manga group, and one of their most famous stories, so I think it’s okay indulge myself for one more post, eh?

CLAMP is famous. When I say famous, I really mean it. They have done everything from Cardcaptor Sakura to Tokyo Babylon, to Angelic Layer to… the list really goes on. They do very serious works filled with blood and gore, and fun uplifting ones where people don’t die tragically but fall in love. They are sort of the Shakespeare of Japanese comics, really.

The only manga I own in Japanese by CLAMP is X/1999, one of their most epic, and most controversial pieces. Truthfully, I’m not overly fond of it. Why do I own it? Because this, even if it takes thirteen volumes of mind numbing repetitiveness to get through his story line, is one of the greatest characters ever created.

I did purposely scan the whole thing just to give you an idea of how cheap it is to buy used manga in Japan.

Subaru Sumeragi. He is originally a character in Tokyo Babylon, which is a bit more light hearted than X/1999. It’s not necessarily a prequel, but it does have a lot of the same central themes as its successor. In any case, Subaru is one of the most believably developed characters I have ever read. It’s too many spoilers to go into, but his transformation into a teenager who wants to protect everyone to a person with a love/passion for a man he wants to kill is just… amazingly well done!

Sadly, while Volume 12 (where we find our grammar point) is very Subaru heavy, our scene today will not deal with him.

But first, a quick run down of X/1999. The idea is that the end of the world is in the hands fourteen people, seven on the side of Earth, and seven on the side of Heaven. The Dragons of Earth (as they are called) are trying to protect the people of the planet, whereas the Dragons of Heaven are intent on destroying it so the Earth can take back what is its. There are many bloody battles, gratuitous decapitations, and torture scenes with the trials of relationships filling the gaps.

Which is.. a lot different than something like says this:

Oh, how I love Cardcaptor Sakura.

In any case, this series has been made into an anime and a movie, but no one actually knows how it ends. Yes, the movie has an ending. Yes, the anime has an ending. The problem is neither of those were written by CLAMP, and they will only reveal it if they can publish it exactly the way they would like. Essentially, the manga was deemed to violent and ASUKA (the publisher) told CLAMP that either they censor themselves, or they stop printing the manga. Seeing as nothing new has been published, and the last chapter is a cliff hanger filled with the likely death of at least one of the main characters, you can guess how that standoff went down. It is pretty unlikely we will ever see how this story ends...

But on to grammar!

KURAI/GURAI means “about” but not in the same way as NI TSUITE.  More like “It’s about (around) nine o’clock"(9時ぐらい). In fact, you usually hear it when it is in relations to numbers. “There are about seven hundred people” (700人ぐらいいる).

What it is, in this case, is an estimation or a guess. But, actually, in Japanese it’s not actually that at all. It’s time for another episode of Lots of Different English phrases for One Simple Japanese Word!

The context of this page is that someone's kekkai (protection seal) failed and the smiley guy's mom happened to be there when it did. Sadly, she is no longer with the living, and Kamui (the main character) is listening to what his friend has to say.

  • 葬式の時目が溶けるくらい泣いたから今度は二人の分までいっぱい笑えるように頑張らなきゃ。
  • Soushiki no toki me ga tokeru kurai naitakara kondo ha futari no bunn made iappi waraeru you ni ganbaranakya.

The thing with KURAI is that you need to think of it at as "as" "or as much as". It's used to say "about" and "around" because it's not a very exact phrase. It's supposed to give you indication of "how much" without it actually being that. We will see that in this sentence translation, but we are going to stop at the KARA, and just focus on the beginning of the sentence.

  • 葬式の時目が溶けるくらい泣いた
  • At the funeral, my eyes melted I cry so much.

That is the most literal way to translate it. Seriously, I would probably add a bit of English in in order to get the idea across properly:

  • At the funeral, I cried so much I thought my eyes would melt away.

Now for the whole sentence, just in case you're having trouble.

  • Because I cried so much I thought my eyes would melt away at the funeral, I'm going to try my best to small enough for both of them (my mom and dad).


It's not that easy... I hope that gave you some indication of how to use it. I also found this as a nice example sentence:
  • 死ぬくらい笑えた。
  • He made me laugh so hard I thought I would die.

If you need more, please visit JGram. They have a lot of great example sentences.

Before I leave though, I figure I should quickly go over the difference between KURAI and GURAI is. There isn't any, except for you use one after one type a sound, and the other after another. It is sort of like how sometimes you have to change a SHI to a JI depending on what sound is before it. If you would like, I could do a post on what sounds follow what sounds, but it would be a bit too long to get into at the moment. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

In search of MAI

My god, this will be post number four involving manga. Don't get me wrong, I do love manga, but I'm not really as obsessed as I seem. I really love art and writing, so comics tend to be the perfect medium for me. But four posts in a row? I'm on a roll, that's for sure.

Today we'll be looking at another one of my favorite mangas, and it is unquestionably my favorite love story involving alien babies who float around, Daa! Daa! Daa!

Daa! Daa! Daa! (UFO Baby) Volume 4 by Kawamura Mika

This is another one of those mangas I bought long before I could read Japanese. I spent hours looking up kanjis just trying to figure out what was going on. Since I didn't know how to use a kanji dictionary, it turned out that looking at pictures was really my safest bet.

But seriously... I love this show. So much so that I have most of the DVDs (which are really hard to get a hold of), the manga, the sequel manga, a few shitajiki, and some postcards. I don't even buy that much for shows I really like. That's the level of love I have for this series.

Daa! Daa! Daa! is named for the sounds babies make. If we were to literally translate the title, it would probably be "Goo goo ga ga" but that seems rather silly. In English, it's usually referred to as as UFO Baby, which is a bit odd because it's never been officially released in America. If it ever gets slated to be translated for the United States, I pray fervently that I would be the one to do it. I've read it a million times, and I could do it in an instant!

The story is really silly. So silly it's embarassing telling people about it because it's hard to get them to believe in the fact that it is great after I explain the plot.

It's like Dean Koontz's Watchers.That book legitmately scared me, but when I try to tell people it's about a genetically altered baboon bent on murdering a super intelligent dog because it felt the dog got all the love, I just get funny looks! I can sense you're doing it right now! Stop it! It's really scary!

In any case, the story revolves around the blossoming love affair of Miyu and Kanata. Miyu's parents go away to America to work for NASA leaving Miyu with a family friend who's son is Kanata. Said family friend is a Buddhist priest, and he is offered a once in a lifetime chance to study with a guru in India. Miyu, unable to stand the guilt trip, consents to let him go and finds herself sharing a house with his surly son.

And yeah... they're fourteen.

So, it's sounds horrible so far right? What if I told you that night, a UFO crashed in the temple grounds, and from the craft emerged a floating baby and its babysitter, a giant talking cat. Now it's fun! The baby thinks Miyu and Kanata are his parents, and Miyu and Kanata can't stand the thought of making it feel sad, so they go along with the charade as best they can. The whole premise of the show is a comedy of errors as they try to hide the baby's alien origins from everyone, and they fact they are not related to one another and living together in the same house. It's fun. It's cute. And, it has a satisfying ending.

But on to grammar!

I'm a little confused about MAI because I thought it was used primarily by old men. That's why my friend Aki told me, in any case, and I don't like to think her a liar. But in the example I have, a fourteen year old girl is clearly using it.

  • 「少女まんが」じゃあるまいしっ。。。
  • "Shoujo manga" jyaaru mai shi... 

So, the context of this scene is that Miyu had a very embarrassing dream where Hanakomachi Kirita confessed to liking her and moved in for a kiss. She's still very much bothered by it at breakfast time. Kanata, who is consistently perceptive in the story, states that this is because she saw him without his glasses and she realized his true beauty and has now fallen in love with him

Our example sentence is her rejection of this idea.

MAI, in this situation, means ないだろう, and I put that in hiragana because it's not an easy concept to translate. I figure it you're at JLPT II level, you know what DAROU means and I don't have to struggle to define it as "an ambiguous phrase to imply that one isn't necessarily sure, usually used to soften the phrase and make one sounds less jack-assy". I should put that in a dictionary....

The translation, then, would be:

  • This isn't a romance comic!!!

As I said, this is not really used very often. I want to believe in Aki when she tells me old men use it. Or, I could believe a website that says it's for formal writing. Both, sadly, seem to be not be in favor of cute little teenager Miyu using it. Above, I mentioned that it usually means NAI DAROU, which is only really half true. It's a negative form, for sure. You can use with a pre-MASU form to say someone will not do something with a hint of "probably" in there.

I'm going to have to go on a much more extensive search to really figure this out. Stay tuned, eh?

Monday, October 17, 2011

In search of WARI NI

It's time for WARI NI! This is awesome because I get to use this manga as an example:

Futsuu no Renai by Konomi Shouko

For those of you who are a bit squeamish about love between the manlier sexes, I will tell you ahead of time that this is not a yaoi (boys love) manga, despite its looks. For those of you are like that sort of thing, bummer for you! Maybe next time? I do have lots of interesting things to say about the yaoi culture both in and outside of Japan.

That, though, is really an entry for another day.

The title of the story is Futsuu no Renai(フツーの恋愛) or "A Normal Love". I'm not going to go to into depth about it because neither it, nor its author, are particularly popular. Its publisher, Hana to Yume, however, is! I think it would be remiss to just gloss over the publishers in favor of the artists as I have been because they are integral to what sort of mangas get published.

Hana to Yume is an fairly old furoku (phonebook manga) that does only shoujo comics. A furoku is a cheap way for manga publishers to get stories out and decide on which ones they will keep and publish into tankoubons and pedal for animes.  They are a big phonebook-sized collection of manga chapters written by various authors. Usually, they are accompanied by a survey so the readers literally decide which stories they want to continue or not. This, is probably why SOME mangas/animes go on forever (*cough* Naruto *cough* Bleach*cough* Inuyasha). They are made with very cheap paper, and each story has its own color of ink (blue, red, purple, pink, etc). You're supposed to throw out your furoku after reading them.... Supposed to... Some waste space saving them however... Okay, mainly me. They also try enticing you to buy things by adding little goodies. I, for example, own a charming Gentleman's Cross Alliance muffler.

Since Hana to Yume deals with young love, it's read primarily by females, and in that group, it seems to be mostly high school girls. Granted, that's through my experiences, and I don't have any facts to back that up aside from what I saw. It's also been, in my experience, that they tend to be rather porny in nature. Hooray! Porn!

Okay, and by porny, I mean very, very soft porn. Still, definitely sex is involved.

This is not always true though. One of their most famous serials is Fruits Baskets, which is about as innocent of a love story as you can get, even though it is a bit like the Dragonball Z of emotional drama. Every time Tohru solves on huge emotional disaster, there is an even worse one waiting around the corner!! Seriously, how traumatized can we make these characters?

But, I'm not here to talk about Fruits Baskets today. I don't even own manga or the anime, despite the fact both have made me cry. Instead, I'm going to talk about Futsuu no Renai which is a one-shot volume of manga about a guy who looks like a girl and a girl who looks like a guy. Needless to say, their renai (love) is less than futsuu (normal).

I should say, before I start, that this is a very unusual story for Hana to Yume to publish. The main character is not a high school girl, and it deals with love in a not-strictly heterosexual way, both of which are staples to the Hana to Yume franchise. It's a credit, then, to the story that it made it into at least one tankoubon.

The story starts with a tall and very handsome Akira asking a small and very cute Kazui out. Of course, Kazui immediately freaks out because he's not gay, and how dare a guy ask him out on a date! The people watching this exchange at the bus stop are also flabberghasted to learn that he is a boy. Later, he finds that Akira is actually a girl, and he consents to go out on a date with her after he runs away very dramatically and needs to be rescued. Okay, that is pretty Hana to Yume...

Then... he finds out that she's actually transgender and he immediately regrets the decision to date her. In his wonderfully politically incorrect way, he thinks someone like that can't be normal and all he wants is a normal love. The love story follows him coming to grips with falling in love with Akira despite her surgery to remove her breasts, and the fact that she's more welcome in the male onsen than he is (he even gets escorted out once because they think he's a girl).

It's a fun story, even if it seems ethically questionable in its addressing the topic of transgender love, and slightly inappropriate in that Kazui is still a high school student and Akira is a full fledged adult when they start their love affair.

In this scene, Akira has convinced Kazui to come back to her flat where he tries to come to grips with feelings he may or may not have. The sentence in question is the lower right frame.

  • お前 私立の学校で働いているワリに妙に生活レベル低くない?
  • Omae. Shiritsu no gakkou de hataraiteiru WARI ni myou ni seikatsu reberu hikukanai?

In order to really understand this phrase, I want you to look at her apartment in the lower right frame. Cracks in the wall. Things in boxes. Patches on the blanket for the kotatsu. The lamp doesn't even have a shade! This is really going to help understand the grammar point.

WARI NI means "for a" or "considering". I like the description given on JGram best, so I'm going to steal it real quick:

「AのわりにB」*This grammar expresses a judgement in which the situation expressed by B does not meet the expectations of A or seem like what A implies.
The A in my example sentence is:

  • 私立の学校で働いている
  • Working at a private school

B is:

  • 妙に生活レベル低くない?
  • Your standard of living is strangely low.

So, this can be translated in one or two ways:

  • Considering you work at a private school, your standard of living is strangely low, isn't it?
  • Isn't your standard of living is strangely low for someone who works at a private school?

If you are at all curious after that, he finds out that she has really expensive things like Dreamcasts (wow, this is old) though she doesn't have a TV because she wins things by listening to the radio. I assume she calls in every time they give something away. Oh Akira, I almost want to like you despite your stalker tendencies.

WARI NI is pretty easy, though, right?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

In search UCHI NI

There is no doubt in my mind that you people have heard of Sailor Moon. If you are at all familiar with anything Japanese, I'm sure one of these three things pop into your mind: 1.) Hello Kitty 2.) Pokemon 3.) Sailor Moon. Maybe Dragonball Z, if you're a guy, or a woman who is madly in love with Vegeta like myself.

As a woman who likes to be respected by men, there is no reason I should love him the way I do >.<

Did I just admit to that? I suppose I could just use the old delete key, but... I don't care enough.

Anyway, Sailor Moon recently (and by recently, I mean about four or five years ago) had a reprinting that involved the original colors for most of the colored pages, unique stickers, and new cover illustrations. I totally thought I was over Sailor Moon until this special edition little beauties caught my eye. Needless to say, I left the store about four thousand yen poorer.

Isn't that a well prettier cover than the original. Of course, I could only find this super low quality version of it on the net, but here you are:

Coincidences of coincidences, I was at the bookstore last night, and I discovered they are rereleasing Sailor Moon as the special editions in English (with the full color pages, but no stickers)! What a blessing! The original translations were absolutely horrid!

In any case, we're going to go over the incredibly easy grammar form, UCHI NI. Hooray! It's nice because it's useful, and that's all I really care about when it comes to learning grammar points. Utility. There are so many I learn and forget simply because it doesn't come to mind fast enough.

UCHI NI means "while A ~ A/B is ~"... which is a little vague. Basically it just means "While". The way I like to remember it is that the word UCHI has two different kanji that have a very enclosed feeling to them. So, 内 means "within" and 家 means "house". So I imagine that housed in one action, is another. Or within an action there is also another. Perhaps that is just my weird way of thinking, but it's worked pretty well for me so far.

There are actually two separate grammar points in my book called UCHI NI, though I'm not entirely sure why. Once we get into, we'll see that they are pretty much the same, even if they are translated different.

But first, let's do it as "while" before I confused with a wily word that goes by the name of "before".

A typical UCHI NI sentence may go like this:

  • 勉強するうちに平井堅を聞くのはいいね〜
  • Benkyou suru uchi ni Hirai Ken wo kiku no ha ii ne~

Was that my facebook status a few days ago? Why yes it was, and I mean every word of it...


No matter what you think I'm not going to digress into how cool Hirai Ken is (though I desperately want to).

Strong, Boom. Strong. Okay, this is how you make a UCHI NI sentence.

  • A(action) + UCHI NI + B(action)
  • A(Studying) + UCHI NI + B (Listening to Hirai Ken)

  • Listening to Hirai Ken (B) while studying (A) is nice.
  • While studying, listening to Hirai Ken is nice.

The next is way to use UCHI NI is stay say "before an action is completed, this is done/should be done". While in English, these are two very separate phrases, they are quite similar in Japanese.

  • 暗くないうちに、帰ったほうがいい。
  • Kurakunai uchi ni, kaetta hou ga ii.

It goes like this:

Within the confines of it not being dark, it's best to go home.

Now let's think about the first one:

Within the confines of studying, it's nice to listen to Hirai Ken.

Do you see where I'm going with this? We would never speak like this in English, though, so the second UCHI NI is essentially:

It's best to go home before it gets dark.

That's right. UCHI NI means the same thing, and yet it is translated as "while" and "before". I'm sure some of you must think this is beyond irritating. I, being such a grammar lover, think it's awesome!

So, the example I'm going to give you from the manga doesn't translate very neatly into English like the ones I provided above, but I like it because it shows just how it can be used without strictly confining you into English contexts.

What? I've hooked up a scanner to my computer? No more crappy photos of manga pages?! Happy days!

  • マーズ ーそして マーキュリーまで 目の前で一瞬のうちにつれさられた。 ーーーブラックムーン。
  • MAAZU -- Soshite MAAKYURII made   Me no mae de isshun no uchini tsuresarareta --- BURAKKU MUUN.

Ok, for those who want to know where I am in the series, the first story line is over. Now we have the Black Moon story line, where we are introduced to Sailor Moon's future daughter with a daddy complex, Chibi Usa. If you don't want to have plot spoiled, I would suggest you ignore this post altogether.

You gone?

No. Okay. So, it's not a big spoiler, but Mars and Mercury have been taken away by the Black Moon, and Usagi is struggling to grasp any sort of victory against this mysterious enemy. See, not too bad, right? 

Let's go over the grammar, and translate it the way I say it usually is translated:

  • "While a moment, they were kidnapped before my eyes."
  • "Before a moment, they were kidnapped before my eyes."

So doesn't work, right? That's why my brief and annoying story about how I remember UCHI as something that is within the confines of another action comes into play.

Obviously, the way this should be translated is:
  • "In a moment, they were taken right before my eyes."
Within a confines of a moment, a blink of an eye, Sailor Mars and Sailor Mercury were taken. Suddenly it all makes sense, right?