Sunday, October 18, 2015

Options for Watching Japanese Shows in Singapore - Hulu and Netflix

With the closure of Hello! Japan, we are back to subscribing NHK World Premium which has some good quality drama but is very limited in terms of variety.

Torrenting shows can also be rather mendoukusai (bothersome) and I am past the phase whereby I keep every single episode of stuff that I watched by torrenting - I now watch and forget. What's left are the usual channels like Youtube and Daily Motion where you can get some very good and latest bangumi before the copyright owners make complaints and the videos are taken off. Youtube also has regional locks on exclusives like promotional music videos.

However, if you are not adverse towards paying for services, there are 2 ways to get excellent programmes online - Hulu and Netflix. You will need either a VPN service or UnoTelly to watch them.

Access Method/ServiceHulu.jpNetflix.jpYoutube (Region Locked Content)Nico Douga
VPNYesYesYesYes
UnoTellyNoYesYesUnknown

VPN

The good old VPN where you subscribe to a service that "tunnels" you into Japan, giving you a localised IP address where the service providers will think you are another Japanese user. This is the best method to fool the service providers but it has its downsides.

VPN service are typically more expensive for the really reliable ones if you want a decent speed at the end of the tunnel. You will almost never hit the top speed but a reliable one should get you reasonably fast enough to watch HD content. There are also peak periods where you might hit a problem connecting to the server. 

However you should be able to use the VPN service to also access other countries (i.e. US or UK) to watch local live content. For example, I had been using VyprVPN which costs USD$9.99 per month and could get me 20Mbits to Japan on a Saturday night.  I can also use it to watch UK content like rugby matches. 

This is a strange concept when I heard about it but the idea works well enough. What UnoTelly does is mask your DNS requests and fool the content server into thinking the incoming request is from a local server instead of an overseas one. This idea works well on several regional services including BBC in the UK and various providers in US as well. Most importantly, it works on Netflix Japan and for regional locked content on Youtube. 

It does not, however, work for Hulu or any services that checks your IP address since UnoTelly does not and cannot change your IP address. 

UnoTelly also has a very big advantage over regular VPN service - since it does not force you onto one of their servers, it also does not restrict your connection speed and allows you to use your ISP's full speed. 

UnoTelly costs just USD$3.94 a month (SGD$5.45, based on a 12 months subscription) and if you pay a dollar more a month, you get the UnoVPN service which is a nice addition but I do not know the maximum speed. Also their VPN service is restricted to just US and UK servers (but is helpful if you want to watch Hulu Plus based in the US). 


Hulu vs Netflix

Hulu and Netflix are both big in Japan now with each coming up with huge libraries of exclusive content + the latest shows, dramas and bangumi. Personally I feel Hulu has quite a bit more Japanese variety content as there are a lot of partners working with Hulu like Nippon Terebi. They will usually run a regular program on TV and then post additional content (that are equal in length and production value) exclusive to Hulu subscribers only and you get to watch both with a Hulu.jp subscription.



On the other hand while Netflix is not as big into the latest variety shows, it has its HUGE library of international content to backup their exclusives in the Japanese market. Those exclusives include dramas and tele-movies that, I feel, are as good or even better than the productions made by national TV studios. They also have a larger back catalog of Japanese dramas, movies and documentaries available. And that huge library of international content has a very important feature that is helpful for Japanese learners - those Hollywood productions are either subbed or dubbed in Japanese.


As of this writing, Hulu costs 1007 yen per month (SGD$12) while NetFlix costs 702 yen (SGD$8.20) for Standard Definition or 1026 yen (SGD$12) for High Definition screens which allows an additional connection per account so your spouse or kid can watch something else on their own screen. ALOT cheaper than subscribing to Starhub!


Most Economical Combo - UnoTelly + NetFlix

If you are just going for pure viewing pleasure, a UnoTelly + NetFlix is going to be the best economical combo for approximately SGD$14-$17.50 per month. You get no reduction in speed and UnoTelly actually has a very special service that is useful for Netflix users.

Netflix uses a standard account for all their subscribers worldwide (currently). That means, if there are content not available in a certain country, you can actually use your Netflix account to watch it from another region. UnoTelly has a service named Dynamo which helps to switch your connection to the country of choice and through Filmefy (a search engine that tells you which Netflix region has a show that you want), you can easily locate your desired content and then use Dynamo to match the switch. 

The option to upgrade and get VPN service for only 1 US dollar is also an option that is nice to have. 


** All information are correct as of writing. Do remember that internet routing and regional IP locking mechanisms update with time. Service providers can and will change when they feel the need to. 

EDIT: As of July 2016, UnoTelly is no longer providing smartDNS services on a stable basis. Filmfy is also no longer working. The most stable option now is using VPN.

EDIT: Nippon Television had tied up with Hulu Japan to screen all their programs. For the 1st week after a program had been screened, you can also watch it for free (no subscription needed) at http://cu.ntv.co.jp although you must have a Japan IP address.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Translated Favorite Quotes

"人は壊れやすい。強いと思われている人ほど壊れやすい。" from #DrRintaro  #Dr倫太郎

My translation - 

"People are fragile. People who seem strong are even more fragile."

壊れやすい = ます-form of 壊れる+やすい = "easily broken"(lit.)

強い = strong, "quoting" と indicates the concept being quoted for 思われる
 
思われている = passive form of 思う = "seems like" in ている-form

ほど = expresses extent and in this case, "even more so"

皆さん、正しいですか。

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Things I Learned From Japanese Manga - Gian Effect

Gian (ジャイアン, 技安) is a character from the classic "Doraemon". Well known as the neighborhood bully and the instantly recognizable antagonist of most of the regular stories, Gian came to become the iconic representative of every bully known to children, like Brutus of Popeye. So how does a classical cartoon bully become a phenomenon? Well, that's because Gian's role always changes in the movie versions of Doraemon.



Gintama was the first manga to coin this term although it was later used by others to depict this nuance found in the Doraemon world. Originally, it was called "ジャイアン映画版の原理" or loosely translated as "The Concept of Cinematic Version of Gian".

Movie versions of Doraemon will always feature all 4 kids (Nobita, Shizuka, Gian and Suneo) together with Doraemon himself although others may make guest appearances (i.e. Doraemi). Due to the fact that the movie versions always come with its own antagonist, Gian (and his "sidekick" Suneo) will, at some point during the story, drop their antagonism and become friends of Nobita. The resulting effect of this oft-used plot device also sees Gian sacrificing himself as some sort of cannon fodder in the face of on-coming enemies so his comrades may escape and fulfill their missions.

And suddenly, Gian doesn't look so bad any more. His past crimes are forgiven. Everybody thinks he is a good boy at heart with his friends being his top priority. Until people watch next week's episode on TV and he goes back to tormenting his "friends" but by then, most people already have a different opinion of him. Gian is capable of good! He just needs the right situation to draw it out!

I guess you can see where this is going now and how "Gian Effect" can be used to describe situations in life - if you had been a bad person all your life and you do 1 good deed, people will think there is some redeeming values in you. However, if you had done good all the time but losing sight for a single moment in a lapse of judgement, and you may be branded a treacherous person, a snake and someone who hides a dagger behind smiling faces. Think Thor vs Loki at the animal shelter adopting a dog - who will win in terms of charm factor?

Have you ever encountered such a situation in life? I had probably seen more than my fair share, especially after I started work. These days, you might even be photographed and your "deed" plastered online and all over the papers - the years of good and honest living destroyed by a single moment of misunderstanding.

Ok, my train of thought is getting a little too depressing. Anyway, some of you probably didn't know that Doraemon is French and that Nobita is still being tormented by Gian even after they had reached adulthood. Here's proof. ;)


Monday, December 30, 2013

Patty's Anime of the Year (2013)

For many people, the anime of the year would probably be Shingeki no Kyojin (進撃の巨人) or Attack on Titans.



It's undoubtedly good - fast flowing action with animated sequences that are rarely seen outside the quality standards you find only in movies. Furthermore, it had a deep and thoughtful story line despite all the grotesque imagery of half-eaten humans and excessive blood. Due to its "adult" story line and imagery, it was broadcast at 1.58am Sunday mornings  in Japan (the original manga was published as "seinen" or mature-themed) but that did not stop it from gaining attention and a cult following, both in and outside Japan, that just grew and grew and grew. The fan movement got really huge worldwide and the costumes became one of the most widely cosplayed series of the year.

 

I like Attack on Titan and I am waiting for more next year. But there had been weeks in between that I did not feel the need to go back and continue watching it. In fact, there had been more than a couple of times I returned to watching it simply because I was bored and that wasn't during the series' hiatus. I get it that it's a fantasy series and some plot elements didn't need that big an elaboration but I get slightly pissed when the series attempts to tell a story "seriously" and then didn't think it's necessary to explain why the need for all those emotional investments made by the characters.

My friends know me as a (mostly) shonen (少年) manga fan. I think it's a genre I go to often in order to revisit my youth. Characters are allowed to say nonsensical battle cries and be overly optimistic just because the sky is in a soothing shade of blue. Well, all I can say is when I was a kid, I read (and watched) shonen manga (anime) because that was the reality I wanted and as an adult, I went back to escape the reality that isn't. But I read many good seinen manga of course - I Am A Hero (アイアムアヒーロ) for one is a seinen manga series I read diligently and collect every tankoubon.

 Ok, time to announce my anime of the year *drum rolls*

It's 銀の匙 (Silver Spoon)!


The story is about a boy, Yuugo Hachiken, who, having lived in the shadow of his over-achieving brother and over-bearing father, had an off-screen meltdown before the start of the series and upon the advise of his teacher at cram school, decided to enroll in a high school in Hokkaido specializing in agricultural studies - Ooezo Agricultural High School. The series gets its name from an encased silver spoon placed at the entrance of the school's canteen that sends a message to its students - when they graduate, they are going to be knowledgeable in the craft of food production. So much so, it's like having born with a silver spoon in their mouth and never having to go hungry again.

Now, being the slice-of-life genre, it naturally deals with everyday life of the characters. Despite being born in Hokkaido, Yuugo was still pretty much a city boy, and initially it amazes him initially how easily everyone else fits into the agricultural life. Feeling slightly resentful how everyone is pretty much a jock or a redneck (no one chooses agricultural studies if they have a smart head or isn't already born into a farming family), he is at first depressed and regretful of his choice. Eventually though, he realizes most of his classmates truly love life as farm-hands even when not everyone can chose the life they want.

Of course, most of the comedy centers around main character Yuugo and his city-boy-in-the-country adventures. From the joys of raising a runt and heart-wrenchingly  killing it for food (no Wilbur and Charlotte), or making pizzas with the help of people from every faculty (food processing for bacon, dairy specialists for cheese, agronomy for flour, etc), the stories even manage to slip in interesting facts like pigs having as much or even lesser body fat percentage than humans!

Yes, I am also a sucker for feel-good animes and this is one that you can finish every episode feeling inspired by the youthfulness of the characters (even when you are not youthful). Feel good and learn new stuff - reasons enough for you to watch this and enjoy it as much as I did. :)


Friday, September 27, 2013

Homecooks Rejoice! CHEF Catalog Offers Free Delivery! (Until 31st October 2013)

Good crockery and cooking utensils do not come cheap. Some brands offer excellent conductivity of heat like All-Clad, others preserve the taste of the food by covering the core layer of steel/iron with enamel like Le Creuset. Hence, they are usually very expensive and some are very heavy as well.

Last year, after spending 2 years learning how to cook, I decided to take the plunge by investing in a 20 piece cookware set by Le Creuset. I did a lot of study and shopping around to conclude that CHEF Catalog had the best offer - of around SGD$900. Ok, I am hearing gasps and screams of "atas" and "rich"... I can assure you it's not - they cost at least 4-50% more if bought here during sales (and if you can get all the items), perhaps 100% more if bought outside of sales period. Also, they offer lifetime warranty and are usually passed down the generations like family heirloom due to their excellent build and quality.



Anyway, on top of the 20pc set, I added a 6qt dutch oven and the total weight was in excess of 20kg. The delivery fees? $450 bukaroos. It was still cheaper than getting it locally but the discount had shrunk to just 15%.

This year, VISA came up with a partnership with 8 US retailers to organize an online event call Borderfree US Shopping Promotion and CHEF Catalog is one of the US retailers! If you had been thinking of buying crockery from US but had been put off by the hefty delivery charges, now is the time to do it! All you have to do is pay with a VISA credit card and make purchases of SGD$130 or more with the same retailer. I tested and it definitely worked - I just bought a new enamel-over-cast-iron cocotte (cost over $350 here) and a pizza stone today and they are sending it over with free shipping! My total savings? Over 25% not including delivery!



A word of caution though - electrical outlets are rated at 110V in the US while it is 230V here in Singapore. If you buy electrical products from US, you will need a step-down transformer in order to be used here which can be a hassle and potentially dangerous if you know nothing about electrical currents. 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Most Stupid Property Tagline Ever

I usually junk most of the flyers I get in my postbox (except fastfood discount coupons). But this one caught my eye with its lame attempt at being eye catching...


Look, if I am desperate at trying to be atas, I will work harder on my job or learn to trade like a 股神 or buy Toto or whatever. This, however, just put the L in Lame.

Oh? It's common? So next time when I decide to sell my small Woodlands flat, I am going to use the same tagline...

Your Dream Home... LESS THAN 16km from Orchard