Dianna Balint


                       Hi, my name is Dianna Balint and I am a freshman majoring in undeclared with a double minor in exploration and discovery (Meaning I have no idea what I want to do). My interest in Japanese culture began at the tender age of six when my brother turned on the TV before school one morning and we discovered a strange show with a boy, a yellow mouse-thing, and a caterpillar thing. We quickly learned that these animal things were called “Pokémon” and the rest is history. I became fascinated by the TV shows (Pokemon, Digimon, Sailor Moon), the video games (All hail Nintendo), and most importantly THE FOOD. When my family moved to Williamsburg we discovered Kyoto Restaurant (On Richmond Road, check it out). I was enchanted by the Koi Pond, enthralled by the fans, screens, and lucky cats that decorated the place, envious of the hostesses wearing beautiful kimono, and most of all in love with the food. Tuna rolls, soba noodles, green tea ice cream (ok maybe not the green tea ice cream but Mr. Ken, the sushi chef, told me it was Wasabi ice cream and since then I been wary of eating it), the list goes on and on. From then on I knew I wanted to study this culture that could create such wonderful food. My dream is to one day visit Japan to study the culture, eat the food, and maybe find a way to create a real Vulpix.

Alexandra McPhee

Hello, everybody! I’m Alexandra McPhee, currently a student at the lovely College of William and Mary. As of now, my major is undecided, but I’m interested in logic, psychology, and, not so recently, Japanese!

My curiosity probably stems from the good old days of Sailor Moon and Pokemon (surprise, surprise). Posters, figurines, and various other rainbow and pink paraphernalia  dotted my room as a kid, invariably planting a seed inside my young, developing mind. Nowadays, it seems that such bits of Japanese media have successfully nestled themselves comfortably in my life and style.

I pick up the occasional anime (Baccano!, for instance) and manga (Bakuman, anybody?), but after some ten years, I now realize there’s more to this Japan business than meets the eye. In taking Japanophilia, I think it’ll help to broaden my perspective, show that it ain’t all I thought it was. Which is refreshing. And maybe, if I play my cards right, studying abroad in Japan will seem like a real possibility, too.

Wait, I totally forgot about these cool little figurine-things I picked up from KB Toys! They’re so exciting! You can, like, rip apart their bodies, pull out their eyes, and put them all back together again! And they’re so colorful and cute!

So you go from THIS:


Three cheers for Japanese innovation!

Andrew Cook

I’m Andrew Cook, a member of the class of 2014 with intentions to get into business school.  I grew up in the nineties/early 2000s, so anime was just a regular part of the Saturday morning line-up; being interested in it never struck me as unusual until publications started running features on “otaku” and the spread of Japanese culture in the West.  Then I was all, “Hey, how about that,” and went back to watching Digimon.

These days, I thrive mostly on doujinshi, Vocaloid, and indie games, most of which are inspired by innovations created or made famous by the Japanese.  I think it’s really amazing how a fandom can grow to the extent that it eclipses the actual thing that it’s based off of; these days, Touhou doujins draw more from other Touhou doujins than they do from Touhou itself.

Pictured: Touhou. Not Pictured: Sappy shoujo-ai seen in every other Touhou doujin.

David Loebman

It's me!Konnichiwa minasan! My name is David Loebman; I am a freshman set to graduate in 2014. I am currently on track for an Studio Art major, though I am considering either a major or minor in East Asian Studies.

Interestingly enough, I was inspired to become an artist because of anime. About six years ago, I set up an online account on deviantART, an art sharing website, with learning how to draw anime in mind. From there, I grew to understand and appreciate all different sorts of artwork; I began to explore traditional Japanese artwork along the way, too. Before I graduated high school, I wrote a 20 page “Extended Essay” about anime, emakimono, and sumi-e art styles.

I intend to study abroad in Japan in either my Sophomore or Junior year. I don’t know quite yet whether I will be staying for a semester or a year, but I know I will enjoy it regardless!

I hope you enjoy all the website has to offer!

Nich Schools



When I was young, I was fascinated with cultures other than my own. I caught glimpses of China, of Russia, of Italy with every step I took. Little china dolls and pizza shops advertising authenticity seem to pervade every city, every town, every square mile of inhabited land in this melting pot called the United States. But what’s melted into this pot is no more than bits and pieces, generalizations and stereotypes. And when I realized this a few years ago, it ignited a desire in me to seek the truth of these cultures.

One, in particular, became the forefront of my obsession: Japan. Japan is a country often thought of and rarely understood (from my experience). As a child, I was enthralled with English dubs of Japanese anime and translated manga in bookstores. I loved their art, their values, their eccentricities, and most all, how foreign they were to my daily experience.

But as I researched more into this place called Japan, I also began to realize how misunderstood it really is in today’s culture. It’s generalized to the point where it becomes no more than a few meaningless words. It loses its real value more every day, every minute. And that saddens me. Because I find Japan one of the most fascinating places on Earth.

But I knew, that even within my own mental image that I’d conjured up from years of watching, reading, and searching, that my view of Japan was just as inadequate as the average person’s. I could witness no more than the average American, learn no more than the average child. And it humbled me to think that I was, in fact, one of the countless many who stereotype–without reprieve–the cultures that are foreign to them.

To dismiss my initial perceptions of Japan would be a mistake. I must build on them, transform them, and use them as an example of my own mistakes in relation to the misconceptions of others. So that’s exactly what I’m doing. I sit in class now, looking back at my old dirty slate of stereotypes and misconceptions and correcting those mistakes on a clean slate laid by its side. I seek to remedy my old delusion of Japan by replacing it with a more informed perception.

That, in effect, is why I’m here today taking Japanophilia.

I hoped this class would allow me to critically engage upon the misconceptions of Japanese culture that permeate so deeply our own, that cause us to solidify a false image of such a rich and wondrous culture. So far, it’s done just that. And I look forward to furthering the experience more.


But, for a moment, allow me to take a lighter tone. Below is a simple biography of myself, first written in Japanese, and then translated. It’s not quite as critical a look as I’ve already taken in the “depths of my soul”, but I think a little fun is in order here.

There are a few lists of my likes and dislikes that I’ve come across in everyday life, as a well as few random details about myself and my personal effects.

So, now you can relax, take a breath, and have a little laugh!




(This is the view from the driveway of my house.)


English | Japanese







まいしゅうまんがをよみます!ヂーグレイマンまんががだいすきです (いま)。でも、めったにあにめをみません。にほんのぶんかはとてもおもしろいです!さむらいときものととうきょうとにほんのたべものと。。。ああ!とてもおもしろい!

















(My Cat)


(PS: I’m very excited to be at William and Mary. All my professors seem like amazing people (thus far =P). I’ve made some awesome new friends in my first few weeks, and I sincerely hope the trend continues. I already can’t wait for second semester classes! After I pass all my first semester ones, of course. Anyway, it’s great to be here; the William and Mary community is amazing!)


{Random Links}

My Blog

My Facebook Page

Victoria Witt

This is (from left to right) Lizard as Sailor Jupitar, Zumreta as Sailor Mars, and myself as Sailor Moon

Greetings and Salutations! I’m Victoria Witt and I hail from Richmond, VA. I am a Freshman at William and Mary and I plan on being a Psychology major. I first became introduced to Japanese culture at a young age when I became obsessed with Sailor Moon and Pokemon, similar to many of my peers. I was then drawn into manga and my sister and I would illustrate our own stories. As I grew older, I was fascinated with Japanese films such as and not limited many Miyazaki movies (Princess Mononoke being my personal favorite), Battle Royale, Suicide Club, and many others.

Wolf, I want it.

I saw the opera Madame Butterfly with my sister a few years ago, and this also sparked my interest in Japanese culture. Japanese cuisine is delicious as well. Although I didn’t learn too much in high school, which is one of the reasons I wanted to take Japanophila, I was interested in Japan’s history of isolation and uniqueness.

Maximillian Nikoolkan

Narita International Airport - thousands of people walk through this area daily eating Japanese fast food, analyzing business over smartphones beyond our comprehension, and drinking teas you never knew could have been brewed.
As a bypassing traveler through Narita International Airport, processing the myriad of clashing imagery, buzzy bees, and white intercom noise always seems hard at first. When you feel as if the “Look, Don’t Touch” policy applies to everything it’s only natural feeling hesitant – of things, people, and shops. In some respects, you should. In a different place and time (a 12-hour difference) filled with polar opposite lives you just tilt our head and bat your eyes lashes. It is likely your mouth is agape. So much is bizarrely alien. But, so much is frighteningly human. Gummis of lychee, melon, and plum flavors exist in packaging tailored with so many sharp, criss-crossed colors you thought Picasso himself came back from the dead. Rice balls (onigiri) you saw Ash Ketchum eating in episode one of Pokemon really do exist – in delicately perfect labels and wraps – tasting nothing like you’ve ever had before. It seems off, you think. Everything. The modern and the traditional subtly clash everywhere. A tiny restaurant offers black-lacquered bowls brimming with sushi-rice layered with fresh fatty tuna and shredded rectangles of crisp seaweed.

One step away a patron demands an “Iced Venti Americano” from Starbucks . For some, this is just some weird layover before the next big thing, another stop through before Bangkok or Budapest. “It’s just some weird country where the adults, children, and teenagers devour manga, collectively bathe together, and eat raw… things,” one can say. For otaku, its a religious sanctuary where J-Pop, anime, and everything just “sooooo friggin’ amazingly amazing” come from. But, for me, it’s different. Narita International Airport is and has always been a personal microscope into the vast expanse called Japan. I’ve always felt a small holistic sense of a much broader and quirkier culture walking through the halls of Narita.
That is my Japan.


Nathan Traceski

Nathan’s life changed when he was 7. A genetic mutation allowed him to develop a superpower…the ability to become a Pokemon master! Or so he thought. This virtual world enthralled him and he spent a grandiose number of hours staring at a 2D screen, with his thumbs twiddling to no end. Cast all illusions aside; he did have a life in the real world as well. OK, you’re right. He did spend most of that time with friends who also lost themselves in the phenomenon, working toward the ultimate goal of catching them all. How he wished he could sick his Lv. 100 Mewtwo and Dragonite on the bullies at school. Hyper Beam would have demolished them! Nathan’s parents admired the imaginative spirit of their son. He had fun.

Reality check: Middle school – angst, puberty, first crush, friendships lost and found. Pokemon moved to the backseat as a hobby; no longer a lifestyle. Other passions emerged including art, baking, poetry, and mathematics. He had indeed become more learned as he matured. Success in school was easy. He could regurgitate facts to please his teachers. High school was another level to beat in the fickle game Nathan played. He realized that at this age, innocence gets tossed out the window like a cheating ex’s junk. Sexual awareness kicked in, clicks formed, and the world turned against those who weren’t, heaven forbid, cool. Nathan cowered on the sidelines, ate lunch alone, and kept waiting for the 3 o’clock bell to ring. What did he truly appreciate of the immense world around him? He couldn’t even answer that. Was he happy? No.

Out of complete and utter boredom, he once took a Pokemon Personality Quiz. This was the result:

Sad Karp

Evidently, something was wrong. How did a feverishly giddy child end up so lame? So normal. College was next. Hold up, what?! Nathan was pessimistic and apathetic. College is the land of freaks who want more of life. They seek understanding and don’t need approval to be content. Passion is the smell of the air. This was no place for someone who used up his childhood in a fantasy, and regarded everything else in vain seriousness. During the fall of 2009 after Nathan graduated, he boarded a plane and flew for 20 hours across the Pacific Ocean to a little island called New Zealand. He spent the next 2.5 months in an apartment with four strangers, and spent his days as a zoo volunteer. Where did this courage come from? It emerged from the necessity for Nathan to find clarity. Soul searching can begin at any age, and is a perpetual experiment. Nathan was introduced to fresh perspectives and he was able to interact with real-life Pokemon: the animals of the Wild Kingdom. When he returned home, his family could sense immense growth in him. He even wanted to do more and more. Next destination: Puerto Rico. Deep in the jungle he sweat out the two best weeks of his life. He aided in the research of indigenous frog, lizard, and tree species with a dynamic group of individuals. He loved it so much that he did the same thing in New York!

So you think Nathan is ready for anything? Not hardly. But now he can be one of those passionate kooks who goes to college and has the desire to be a part of something bigger than himself. All right, so what the hell does this have to do with anything? Some cheap way to give an inspirational pep talk? Nah. Expressionistic catharsis.

Nathan still plays Pokemon. Yet Nathan doesn’t know much about Japan. He knows that people are fascinated by its futurism and that it has created abstractions of empirical status such as anime, Hello Kitty, pop art, and Pokemon. He would love to know more. He has faced both relatable and unique circumstances thus far in his life. He is ready to soak up what he can. Japanophilia is new and exciting to Nathan, so bring it on!

Squirreltle omnoms Pokeballs.

They are out there!