Monday, September 14, 2009

Random Manga Characters Speaking Chamorro

For those of you who may not already know it, I'm a big fan of manga and anime. This doesn't mean I'm an otaku or anything (although normals sometimes call me one), but just that there are a handful of titles or franchises which I really read carefully and follow closely.

For instance, in July I wrote a long post about how two of my favorite mangas to read, Gantz and Berserk were going on hiatus for a few months. My geek guts started showing when a simple post about how much I'll miss them ended up being a discussion about the aspects of killing God or Gods in the mangas, or the way in which the main characters seemed to be challenging the very order of things, and how exciting it was to try and see an author make that possible. (Este mina'hasso yu' na hu nisisita umespiha kao esta mana'fanhuyong i nuebu na issue Berserk. Esta maloffan dos meses gi iyo-na hiatus, pues sina esta makpo'.)

For a few years now I've been translating manga, most notably Naruto into Chamorro. Unfortunately, this hobby hasn't been one I've been enjoying lately, especially since I went into hyperdrive to try and finish my dissertation earlier this year and have spent the last few months preparing for teaching at UOG. I've got one that I've written, Chapter 274 of Naruto, but have yet to cut and paste into the scanned pages.

One of the most geeky ways in which manga and manga characters have wormed their way into my life is through the spectre of Kakashi. He is my favorite character from Naruto, and probably one of my favorite fictional characters ever (rivaled by others such as the progressive version of Barack Obama and Optimus Prime). An image of him was my avatar on this site for more than a year, and I've carried around since 2007, a small plastic figurine of his. I regularly refer to Kakashi as my Patron Saint of Dissertation Finishing. He is so closely associated with me that even i hagga-hu Sumahi knows who Kakashi is, and relishes in saying his name when she sees his covered mouth and eye and white hair.

In my December 2007 post Kakashi Sensei, I wrote about some of the reasons why Kakashi is such an appealing character to me. a character I was always drawn to, because of the way he always seemed to carry an impenetrable visage and unfathomable burden. He was a
friendly, happy character who obviously seemed to care for the three main characters who became the members of his ninja cell team. But at the same time, there was este ti komprendeyonna triniste, this incomprehensible sadness, that he always seemed to take with him whever he went. Yes, Naruto, Sakura and Sasuke, meant plenty to Kakashi, hunggan ha guaiya i tres, ti bei kepuni, but at the same time, it seemed that his affection for these three, just trembled delicately above a tragic and deep loss.

When Sasuke is mulling over leaving Konohagure, prior to being attacked by the Sound Four, he threatens Kakashi, saying that in order to make him understand what the young ninja feels, he will kill all of the people close to Kakashi. For those who don't know, Sasuke's entire clan was killed when he was younger by his older brother Utachi. Sasuke lives and fights to become powerful enough to destroy his older brother. Kakashi, with his characteristic closed eyes, smile and responded that everyone close to him, is already dead.
I even decided this semester in my Guam History classes, to forcibly share my affinity for Kakashi with my students. I put together a pretty makkat na course reader for my students, with plenty of articles on political status, different kinds of colonization that Guam has been afflicted with, all meant to help them understand the lectures for the class and help give them some resources for the class assignments. After compiling together the readings I wanted, I was faced with the dilemmia of what sort of cover my reader should have. I could have taken the easy way out and simply typed in big bold letters "HI 2111: Bevacqua. GUAM HISTORY."
Instead I wrote "HI 211: Estorian Guahan" and then revealed my geek side by complementing the title of the class with two random manga characters speaking in Chamorro. The first of which was of course Kakashi, the second Rurouni Kenshin, from the manga of the same name and anime Samurai X. I'm not sure why exactly I decided to do this. I think that one of the characteristics of being a geek is the inability to stop yourself when your being silly, or be unable to comprehend that other people may not know the things you do or get the jokes or the references you might make. I probably chose to put these two characters speaking in Chamorro on my Guam History readers, just because I'm un gof dongkolu na geek and I couldn't help myself.
In the first image, a cute mini-version of Kakashi is reading a book (most likely one written by Jiraya), a heart flutters near his face, as he says "Despensa na atrasao yu'! Bai hu fana'gue hamyo put i Estorian Guahan despues di este na chapter." For those of you who don't speak or read Chamorro that means "Sorry I'm late! I will teach you (all) about Guam History after this chapter." For those Naruto fans out there, the first line where Kakashi apologizes for being late is meant to be an inside joke, a play on his being habitually late for the meetings of his ninja cell.

In the second image, Rurouni Kenshin is preparing to draw his sakabato (atlibas na damang samurai), and first says his trademark exclamation, "oro?" and then follows that up with the sentence, "Lao ya-hu (de gozaru) ta tutuhun i klas pa'go ha'" In English that means "But I want to start class right now!" The insertion of the "de gozaru" is because I've read that Kenshin speaks in a polite form of Japanese, which I've seen referred to as "de gozaru form," and I wasn't quite sure how that would translate in Chamorro. So for all you super-geeks out there who love both the Chamorro language and Rurouni Kenshin, that awkwardly placed "de gozaru" was meant for you.

In another instance of random manga characters speaking Chamorro, I decided to put the following image in an assignment that I gave to my English 111 class today. I called the assignment a "Random MARC research paper" which meant that they would be given a random research topic, and they would have to find a number of sources from the Micronesia Area Research Center at UOG, and then write a paper on that random topic and its relationship to colonialism in Guam.

Given that most of the students in my class are either Freshmen or Sophomores and probably don't have much indepth knowledge of Guam history (especially when given a random topic), I created this image, to help put their anxieities or fears at ease. The text of it reads "An hinassosso-mu na ti nahong i tiningo'-mu put i asunto-mu, faisen ha', ya para bai hu ayuda hao. Bai hu sangani hao hafa maolek na lepblo para un espihayi pat maolek na taotao para un kuentusi." What this translates into (which I translated for my class) is that "If you think you don't know enough about your topic, just ask and I will help you. I will tell you what are good books to look for, or good people to talk to."
Although maybe half of my students are Chamorro, I'm still not sure if they appreciate all the Chamorro language that I am constantly sneaking into everything. I even had one student tentatively complain to me the other day about whether it was appropriate to use Chamorro in an English class. I said it was very important to use Chamorro in an English class, and that it is frankly sad and pathetic that you can only learn Chamorro as a foreign language at UOG, and that there are no classes that teach people how to write, think or create in it.

Contrary to what some may think, decolonization is never a comforting process and always requires a period of discomfort or awkwardness. Such is case with language, and the relationship between English and Chamorro, and ideas of progress, communication, value, etc. Since decolonization is something which intervenes into the fabric of the world, or the unseen ways in which we place certain values on things and devalue others, see one thing as being the cornerstone of how we perceive our lives, while the other is the poison that can destroy everything, it will always involve feelings of anxiety and nervousness. It can be small, such as my ridiculous ways of forcing Chamorro into my classrooms and the minds' of my students, or it can be larger and more spectacular, but it is never possible without this period of strangeness or discomfort.

Speaking of creating in Chamorro, before I go, here are some more random manga characters speaking in Chamorro:

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