By Alexx Thompson
Recently, I’ve attended the J.LIVE event for the second time! J.LIVE is an annual speaking competition for university students studying Japanese. This event is held annually at the GW campus. The competition is comprised of three levels – Level I, II, and III. Three students compete against each other in each tier.
I arrived in time for the second level, and I was really excited to watch the presentations. Since I’d gone the year before, I had a general idea of what to expect when I came, and I was grateful to find the setup was still the same. During the presentations, students usually have a slideshow prepared, and explain their topic all in Japanese. Then afterwards, they open up questions from the audience, and then the judges in Japanese as well.
There was one presentation that caught my eye however. Usually most projects I’ve seen while attending are experiences with Japan, or something relating to a research project. It’s a bit harder for me to grasp the concept of what they’re explaining since I’m usually not familiar with the Japanese terms, but one presentation was different!
A girl named Yiman Wang stepped up, and instantly my mind clicked in recognition as her title popped up, paired with the image of a gacha card from an idol game. Her presentation was called “Virtual Idol, Sena-kun.” I leaned forward in my seat, and watched as she explained that Izumi Sena, a virtual idol from the game Ensemble Stars (Enstars), was her inspiration. She displayed pictures of her making friends and even cosplaying as ways the game has helped her branch out and have fun in life. All because of one virtual idol.
I don’t know much about Enstars, as I don’t play it, but I have friends who like it a lot! I could also understand more of the vocabulary she used, as it’s something I’m very familiar with, as I’ve played idol games similar to it, like Love Live and Idolmaster (both which focus more so on girl idols). It was really nice to hear, and I also found myself agreeing with her presentation points, as in what makes us happy in life. What drives us to be great? Even something like loving a virtual idol can help us all get through the day! I could relate, as I find using fictional characters as encouragement is a great way to push through, and find happiness in the things you do in life!
Recently in my struggles in school, I was losing motivation, didn’t really feel like coming as it stressed me out too much. But I had started reading a new novel and found myself daydreaming scenarios of the characters urging me on, helping me find the strength to keep going when I felt like it wasn’t worth it anymore. I experienced a life-changing turnaround. I frequently showed up to school early and started becoming motivated to finish my assignments despite having none before! I know the idea seems rather silly, to rely on fictional characters for support, but it can help in more ways than you can really imagine.
After the presentations, the rest I could understand the basic idea, but not any specific details. We went to go browse the expo booths, in which there were various Japan related companies and colleges! I even saw Kinokuniya there to sell books and manga! They even had a copy of Kimetsu no Yaiba (Demon Slayer), which is one of my favorite mangas that recently spiked in popularity, having sales that outsold One Piece which has been the long standing #1 for years! I really wanted to buy a copy, but unfortunately, by the time I’d circled back around, all the copies were gone! さすが鬼滅の刃ですね!
I got to see a lot of familiar faces, and some people had even recognized me from seeing me at various Japan events, which I was quite surprised to know they’d recognized me! At the end of the competition, and all the winners were announced, they introduced the new J.LIVE competition, now open for high school students! I really hope I can participate in it!!