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a card game

In Japan at New Year's, one traditional pastime is to play a poetry matching game involving the Hyakunin isshu, a collection of 100 highly regarded poems from the classical period. I've never actually played it, but it's done by reading out the first portion of the poem and then having people compete to be the first to grab the card that completes the poem (... except when I look online it seems that maybe what you're grabbing is just a version of the poem with an illustration? ... Not sure how this actually goes down...)

Anyway: the principle is that everyone knows the poems so well that if you read just the first portion, everyone will know the second portion.

In our family, we have something like that, but it's not poems. It's the dialogue from Warriors of the Wind, a translation of Hayao Miyazaki's movie Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (風の谷のナウシカ). It edited the movie badly, removing some of the most important scenes and inexplicably changing the names of the characters. Which is all to say, it's not a great film--at all. And we're pretty big fans of the actual film, which we saw originally in Japan (though nearly a decade after its release).

However! The dialogue of Warriors of the Wind has an over-the-top, overacted delightfulness, with exchanges like this [not present in the original script]:

"I don't believe you're as evil as you pretend to be, Queen Selena"
"ah-ha-ha, oh, but I am!"

And some of these lines have become real family touchstones. For example, when Nausicaa (called Zandra in this version) falls beneath the Swamp of Corruption (called in this version the Toxic Jungle), she has a thought monologue that begins "The endless ironies of life" (not what she thinks in the original). So, we often will say that to one another when something ironic comes along.

You get the idea.

So I thought it would be fun to make a matching game with the dialogue. We'd say one half of an exchange, or one portion of a monologue, and people would have to race to get the second half.

I didn't have it ready for New Year's, but I've got it ready now. Here are what some of the paired cards looked like before I glued them to backing and cut them out:

And here's the endless-ironies-of-life card and its mate, on the backing, but before I've cut them out:

I'll try to take a picture of all the cards when we play. I'm realizing as I type this that it's pretty much the innest of in-jokes, and therefore kind of inaccessible, but ... I'm going ahead and sharing about it anyway.


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 15th, 2016 12:57 am (UTC)
Ah, but I loved this post!
Jan. 15th, 2016 12:58 am (UTC)
I'm so glad! [bonus gladness because of your bonus riff on the dialogue]

(I honestly thought, as I finished posting this, "This is incomprehensible and long... who will read this?!"

Thanks for reading!
Jan. 15th, 2016 01:00 am (UTC)
No, no! It made my brain irrupt in the most magnificent ways! First the bit of historical stuff (going into a book, immediately)--it's fascinating to hear how people play games and that poetry used to be a game playing thing and that it had a physical component even though poetry doesn't need one, and possibly a visual one.

Then this delightful segue into how games evolve, because of particular and intimate contexts? With photos!

*drifts in haze of fascination*
Jan. 15th, 2016 01:05 am (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2016 05:46 am (UTC)
Not at all inaccessible - it sounds great fun! :) (and rather like a Victorian parlour game - like something the March family might have played!)
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:41 pm (UTC)
Yes, I can imagine this being a sort of Victorian thing--the thing is, you can do it with anything, hi-brow or low-brow, that you share as intimate knowledge. It could be jingles from advertisements, or lines from War and Peace--anything, so long as everyone knows the lines.
Jan. 15th, 2016 07:41 am (UTC)
The best games are those that evolve from the people who play them, I think. I may have mentioned how my (ex) sister-in-law introduced us to her version of Time's Up, in which the cards (slips of papers with sayings, names, etc) are created at the beginning of the game, by the players. When I saw the "real" Time's Up it was not near as interesting or fun.
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:42 pm (UTC)
I don't know the real game--now I want to find out about it. But yeah, things that are personally tailored have a unique charm.
Jan. 15th, 2016 09:21 am (UTC)
I love it! Looking at the sample cards, some of the non-pairings seem just as appropriate...

"I wish I could change your opinion of me" - "But at least you're our devil"

"Help us to revive this creature. Command him to burn the jungle and you'll rule the world." - "I have a good explanation for feeling as I do about the toxic jungle"...
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:43 pm (UTC)
I was thinking the same thing! When I was showing the cards to the ninja girl, who's currently in Japan (I was showing her via Facetime), we were mixing and matching in just that manner. It was fun.
Jan. 15th, 2016 01:22 pm (UTC)
Oh, I enjoyed hearing about that! And seeing cards!
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)
Yay! Glad. Next entry I'll post some more of the pairs (text, not photos).

First I want to go look at your translation, though.
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:52 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2016 01:56 pm (UTC)
I love the idea ;o)
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:44 pm (UTC)
It would be a great thing to do with, e.g., The Princess Bride.
Jan. 15th, 2016 05:44 pm (UTC)
Galaxy Quest.
Jan. 15th, 2016 05:47 pm (UTC)
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:33 pm (UTC)
Heh. Good project.

(I have a set of the poetry cards. My Japanese neighbor wants to play sometime, but neither of us remembers enough of the original poems to get anywhere. More's the pity.)
Jan. 15th, 2016 03:46 pm (UTC)
Yeah, you really need to be fluent in whatever-it-is. I feel like you, in particular, could quickly get back up to speed on the hyakunin isshu, but it's hard when you have a delightful but completely time-consuming young one in your life.
Jan. 15th, 2016 06:03 pm (UTC)
Yeah -- studying even modern Japanese has fallen by the wayside for the moment. (As has origami :((( )
Jan. 15th, 2016 07:21 pm (UTC)
Heeee! I'd heard of the Japanese poetry game, but I love the idea of doing it with other shared quotational touchstones for a family or friends group.
Jan. 16th, 2016 01:29 pm (UTC)
It really could be done with anything that's got lots of good, memorable exchanges. It does need to be exchanges (or at least a quote that can be divided into two parts) to work, though.
Jan. 16th, 2016 02:23 pm (UTC)
I loved your post. It was totally comprehensible because so many families have shared jokes of some sort, though not all would lend themselves so well to that type of game.
Jan. 16th, 2016 03:56 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad! I like hearing about other people's family jokes, too.
Jan. 17th, 2016 12:20 am (UTC)
I’ve seen the poetry matching game on NHK. It was amazing to see the snatching speed of the top players.
You should make one for the X-Files too.
Scully: I called him Ahab and he called me Starbuck. So I named my dog Queequeg. It's funny, I just realised something.
Mulder: It's a bizarre name for a dog, huh?
Scully: No. How much you're like Ahab. You're so... consumed by your personal vengeance against life, whether it be its inherent cruelties or its mysteries, that everything takes on a warped significance to fit your megalomaniacal cosmology.
Mulder: Scully, are you coming on to me?

Jan. 17th, 2016 01:19 pm (UTC)
Hahaha--yes! The X-files certainly has enough consecutive lines of good dialogue/monologue to make it work.
Jan. 17th, 2016 09:35 am (UTC)
I think im going to steal "I have a good explanation for feeling as i do about the toxic jungle"! It will make no sense to anyone, but it's such a great line of bad dialogue and i feel it :)
Jan. 17th, 2016 01:18 pm (UTC)
Please do!! That's the exact spirit!

I wish I could play you that line of dialogue.
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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