Starting now! So, shadowing is this activity whereby you make your Japanese sound more natural. I did it religiously for a little while, then I stopped. Why? Partly because I just wasn't watching anything interesting enough. I found my interest caught instead by Korean dramas. Then I felt guiltier than I usually do for watching television, because at least when it's Japanese I can say that I am studying. Feeling the urge to once again delve into some shadowing/listening comprehension, I gave myself over to watching one of the dramas that recently came out: フリーター、家を買う。Or in a very very very free translation, Mr. Can't Keep a Job Buys a House. (That's what I call it, anyway.) It broadcast in Fall 2010 to good ratings.
Hm, this photograph is very ominously torn.
Also, I think the father is Streseman from Nodame Cantabile.
It has a Johnny's Boy in it, if you're interested in that kind of thing. Actually, it's Arashi's Ninomiya, who acted in Letters from Iwo Jima.
I often don't feel like I'm well-versed enough in Japanese to accurately gauge if someone is doing a good job of acting in that language. Here Ninomiya strikes me as a good actor, but that may just be because it seems very un-exaggerated and naturalistic. Except the one scene at the end of episode one where he's crying in the mud. And it's raining on him..
Now that I've told you the end of the episode, I'll give you the event that's going to kick the whole series off. Ninomiya plays Seiji, who begins by saying: 俺の人生、いつもそこそこだった。He is getting into society now with a そこそこのjob and thinking he'll live a そこそこのlife, and like most soon-to-be/recent college graduates he's just thinking "What is the point of it all?" We see him at a company retreat in the first scene. Being beaten with a shinai.
The truth about "real life" jobs, college seniors.
You get hit. With sticks.
I was unsure if I had actually heard "Michael Jackson".
Then this happened.
If I was made to act like Michael Jackson and crawl like a turtle for the sake of employee solidarity or something, I guess I would think "What is this shit?" too. Well, enough is enough and Seiji abruptly quits his job, thinking he'll be able to get another one. His father is completely pissed by the idea but his mother is very sweet and supportive. Seiji doesn't plan to be jobless for long but all of his applications are sent back to him. He goes to an employment agency, trying to get the job he wants, but eventually he has to lower his standards and get into part-time jobs, quitting those in rapid succession.
Boss: I'd like you to be nicer to the customers.
Seiji: I QUIT.
His father gets increasingly angry, and though his mother doesn't show it she's experiencing a lot of stress as well. Seiji becomes a shut-in to escape his father's rants (才能のない, etc). He sleeps late into the day, plays video games, and eats all of his meals in his messy room. Worse, he starts turning on his mother, who tries her best to pull him out of his depression.
Eventually his mother does smack him out of his funk... by having a mental breakdown. Seiji is there when it happens, technically. But he's up in his room playing video games. Naturally his father, and his older sister (who came in a panic to the house after hearing 38 messages of her mother repetitively saying ごめんなさい、今日もすみませんでした) are upset with him. The doctor recommends that Seiji and his older sister (Ayako) who has a household of her own, do their best create a happy environment and to make sure she takes her meds; she is in a very depressed. The stress of having a rude husband and a rude son will do that to a person, you know? Since Seiji lives at home, and his Dad always works (and besides is always angrrrryyyy), it follows that he will have the most responsibility for his mother. Realizing this, Seiji resolves to get a job and contribute to the household. He gets a job at a construction site where a pretty girl is stronger than him.
I'm assuming this job and this girl will prove essential to reshaping his character/world view, and serve as the main thread of the story. Overall it's pretty interesting, but it seems like it will be the "Find yourself and your place in the world" kind of story. But, here are some words and phrases that you can learn from watching it:
そこそこ alright, so-so
X才能ない don't have the capacity/ability/brains to do X
フリーター someone who works odd part-time jobs
ふるい落とす to be selective; sift out; screen candidates
書店バイト part-time work at a bookstore
「のんびりにしている」 being careless, lazing around
そもそも in the first place, to begin with, from the beginning
なさけなX pitiful X
就職活動 job search
「時間の無駄」 a waste of time
「再スタートできる」 "you can make a new start"
Since there a bit of mumbling, etc, it may be hard to make out a lot of things. There were some words I wrote down which I have no idea about. Try your hand at watching a show without subtitles and speaking along with it. Even if you don't catch everything, you'll find some benefit if you're shadowing at the same time. I'll write a bit about shadowing another day; this entry has become long enough!