Minus One. (#1-7)

Heya!

Before I start this nutty comic, I’m going to add some context for those who are unaware:

This is a comic about weight loss. There’s this study being done at my school, where participants use their cell phones to help them lose weight. They use this program called the CITYapp, where they can input their food and exercise to track the amount of calories they’re consuming. In addition, the phone also prompts them several times a day as a reminder. It’s kind of like using Weight Watchers or Livestrong or My Fitness Pal on your phone, except your phone is also constantly pestering you.

And, as this study is for two years, your phone is pestering you for two years. 

People get sick of it.

That’s where I come in. The professors in charge of this study wanted to give this app some pizzazz. Something that would make it interesting enough for people to keep using it. Therefore I was hired to draw comics for the CITYapp, in the hopes that it would make people want to use their phone. I came in when there was a year left in the study– and since the participants use their phone every day– I was told to write a comic for each day, for a year.

These are those 365 comics.

365 comics about weight loss. 

Changes to the phone– such as the addition of this comic.

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I’M BACK. And I’m so done.

I’m back in America.

I’ve been back for about a week now, since the 20th. I haven’t been able to blog even then, however, because I’ve had to wrap up my part-time cartooning job, which, by the way, I kind of suck at.  So, for the past week, I’ve powered through the remaining 43 comics in queue (out of the 365 that needed to be done) and I can now proudly say…

To clarify, I’ve been working on this comic for about nine months.

So I’m somewhat pleased to announce that I will be releasing my somewhat awful weight loss comic, Minus One, online! On this blog, no less.

So check back here every Saturday to see this ridiculous weight-loss comic unfold! Oh, but first: some disclaimers:

Thus my mediocrity will finally be unveiled to the world.

In better news, however, I’m finally able to start blogging about Japan! Coming soon!

JAPAN!

I’mma tantalize your tastebuds, Japan style

I have no free time here. It’s past one in the morning already, and I have class tomorrow.  Between class and touring and hanging out with our Japanese friends and homework and my god… everything, I have not been able to blog. I feel awful about it, and I have to apologize– I don’t think I’ll be able to blog about to Japan until, well, I return from Japan on the 20th. I have so many stories to tell, and I want them to be good– is that okay?

Until then, please enjoy these photos of food I’ve been eating here. Hopefully they last until I can write about my experiences in full!

Donuts at a Mr. Donut in Tokyo.

Eel (unagi) at a sushi shop next to Tsukiji Fish Market.

Chankonabe, a traditional dish associated with sumo wrestling.

A green tea bagel.

Okonomiyaki, a type of savory cabbage pancake, in Kyoto.

A cake at a bakery in Sapporo Staion.

SAPPORO RAMEN IS THE BEST IN THE WORLD

Pancakes at an adorable cafe near our host university.

Takoyaki from a truck by our host university.

Sushi at a conveyor belt sushi shop in Otaru.

A hamburger steak in Furano.

So it might not be soon– but I will blog about the crazy places and things and people I’ve been able to experience here in Japan! For now– I hope this is enough.

 

Nihonglish

Bridging languages can be problematic. We’ve all seen Engrish. Things get lost in translation. And as a college student learning Japanese, I find communicating somewhat difficult.

As a result, I’ve been resorting to something my group has coined “Nihonglish,” a portmanteau of nihongo (日本語、meaning Japanese) and, obviously, English. It looks kind of like this:

And I’ve had to communicate quite a lot. I mentioned it before: here in Sapporo, we’re doing a short-term program with a local university. On most weekdays we meet up with various Japanese college students to hang out and speak Japanese with them. It’s a great experience and really good for practice—but definitely hit the language barrier.

Luckily for us, most Japanese kids start learning English in middle school, so most of our college kids are able to understand a bit of English. I also have a habit of gesturing wildly, which usually helps me get my point across. However, my vocabulary is extremely limited. Heck, I don’t even know the word for “to open:”

(As an explanation to those who don’t know Japanese: “Janai” is a common suffix used to make adjectives negative. For example, kirei (clean) turns into kireijanai (not clean))

I’ve even starting doing it while talking to my fellow Americans.

My group has taken it to the point of coming up with our own nihongo slang. For example, a common phrase in Japanese is daijoubu (大丈夫, meaning are you okay? Or, I’m okay.) Except we decided to shorten it to

Or even worse,

Which is all a bit incomprehensible to our conversation partners. But, hey. At least we’re trying. Anyway, even our sensei fell victim to the Nihonglish trap:

 But I feel as though I’ve improved, though only a bit. I’ll keep trying my best!

 

Putting flowers in vases is actually a difficult process

The internet here is very variable… I apologize. I haven’t been able to access internet for the last four days. But I’ll try my best!

My group is in Sapporo now, where we’re actually doing the real learning part of our trip. In Tokyo and Kyoto, we mostly ran around trying to visit every attraction possible. In Sapporo, we’re actually going to class every morning. (3 hours straight!) Afterwards, we go out to experience more Japanese culture, and then in the evening we speak with various Japanese conversation partners. In other words… we’re still ridiculously busy.

One of these “cultural experiences” was ikebana, (生け花, literally putting life into flowers) the Japanese art of flower arrangement. Basically, you put… flowers… into vases… so that it looks nice. There’re actually several different styles and rules, with the composition depending on the shape of the vase, the season, and the flowers available.

It’s more difficult than it sounds.

At our host university in Sapporo, we attended an ikebana demonstration with one of the professors. She explained the basics of ikebana, about how it needs to be an asymmetrical triangle, needs to suggest 3D space, and is meant to be viewed from only one angle. Of course, this was all in Japanese, so I understood about… zero.

Then, each student was given a vase and a bunch of flowers to have at it. Now, I understand these concepts now—after I had our sensei translate for me—but at the time, I was perplexed.

Well, whatever. I had at it.

I eventually hit a roadblock, right around here:

There was nowhere to go. And then I found help from above, from one ikebana sensei:

She started trying to fix it.

After a couple minutes of frantically trying to revise my ikebana, she finally had to call over the other ikebana sensei.

So for the next five minutes, my ikebana received the full treatment.

Then, when they were done…

And then I had a huge case of déjà vu the next day when we tried shodo, the art of Japanese calligraphy.

After practicing about ten times with the shodo sensei watching my every move, though, I did manage to write a pretty decent ai, the character for “love”:

Welll, I’m trying. And I totally loved both arts, shodo especially. Now to find a brush and ink to bring back to the US…