Mark Zuschlag

I’m Mark Zuschlag, a computer science major and senior here at William and Mary. I’ve always had a love of a variety of cultures, but Japan has been of special interest since I’ve entered university. I hope to continue my study of Japanese after graduation, where I’ll be teaching English in the JET program somewhere in Japan.1383477_1081940785154116_632082206340257621_n

My name is Khauri (Ka-Ha-Ri) McClain and I am a Freshman at The College of William and Mary with a passion for computer science and sleeping past noon on weekdays. “But why would a hopeful computer science major be interested in Japanese culture?”, no one in particular asks. Well, my interest perhaps stems from a love of learning new languages, whether that be programming languages like Java and C++, or spoken and written ones such as Japanese and Spanish. Though, I won’t claim to be good, or even proficient at any of these, I will say that I am focused on finding a way to synthesize all that I’ve learned so far into a way to make money the world a better place.

Pic unrelated: Me out of focus

Pic unrelated: me when I’m not focused

Siqiao Zhang

Hi, I’m Siqiao Zhang and I’m a junior double-majoring in psychology and public health at the College of William and Mary. I am from China and I’ve been studying Japanese since my junior high school and I continued to take advanced Japanese language courses in college. I am in this class because I always have an interest in Japanese movies, musics, and literature. And I want to develop a deeper understanding about Japanese popular culture by taking this photo

Michael Le

As a current senior majoring in Hispanic Studies with a minor in Japanese Studies, I aspire to gain a mastery of both languages with the hopes of becoming a translator. My interests in Japanese culture began at a young age when I watched Pokémon and Card Captors (the American localized version of Card Captor Sakura). However, I didn’t really pursue these interests until middle school when I met an exchange student who introduced me to her favorite music artists, including Hamasaki Ayumi, Utada Hikaru, and Spitz. With the rise in the popularity of YouTube, I spent most of my adolescent and teenage years exploring international bands, a hobby that sparked an insatiable love of languages (and grossly melodramatic telenovelas, but that’s another story). Now, I hope to expand my understanding of Japanese contemporary pop culture while also exposing myself to new experiences.

Jordan Cheresnowsky

10502096_811359175540882_5257088338524052679_nHello, my name is Jordan Cheresnowsky and I am a senior at the College of William and Mary. I am getting a distinct feeling of deja vu typing this, as I was a contributor to this blog my freshman year. Looking back on that bio now I am amazed at how much has changed in four years. Currently I am finishing up my self-designed major “Literatures of the Modern World,” a mashup of different cultural and literary classes that provides me with the necessary knowledge to become a media writer. As of two months ago I am a contributing writer for the “nerd culture” website All That’s Epic based out of California. There I write reviews, news, and features covering a wide variety of subjects such as film, television, and anime.

Though my current ambitions differ from those I posted on here my freshman year, I am still passionate about Japan and Japanese culture. When I was in middle school I was exposed to the Japanese culture through manga, opening my eyes to cultural differences I was unable to see living in a small town. From there I consumed all the information about Japan I could, from manga to anime, light novels to travel blogs, and even the occasional historical account or textbook. For the past four years I have taken a variety of government, history, literature, language, and film classes that have broadened my knowledge about Japan.

Lexie Lucero-Carter

note: not actually cool

Greetings, I’m Lexie Lucero-Carter. Sophomore at The College of William and Mary. Linguistics major. Japanese minor. I’ve been studying the Japanese language since my freshman year of high school, and have been more or less aware of Japan through means of anime, manga, and video games since elementary school. Since attending college, I’ve taken several Japanese language courses, a course on Japanese monster mythology, and a course on Japanese modern/contemporary literature. As these courses have given me new background on Japan that I couldn’t receive through Japanese pop-fiction alone, I hope to take more in the rest of my years at the college.

I enjoy drawing, and have been (unsurprisingly) influenced by various anime and manga styles. I like learning things about comics as a means of storytelling.



Andrew Kim

579796_357613410964550_966681175_nAs a senior at the College of William and Mary studying Asian and Middle Eastern Studies with a focus on Japan, it’s hard to imagine a time when I wasn’t surrounded by items or symbols from Japanese culture. Like many people, I grew up playing video games on Nintendo systems, listened to many a song on a Sony Walkman, and fell asleep in the backseats of my family’s Toyota brand cars.

However, it wasn’t until my father showed my child self an episode of Astro Boy recorded on a VHS tape that I finally caught the Japan bug that influences my academics to this day. My research interests are in Japanese “new media” which include such forms as video games and anime and how they are so easily consumed by worldwide audiences despite Japan-specific cultural references or imagery. I can’t wait to share some of my research findings with you all and I hope it’s as interesting to each of you as it is to me!

Victoria Mikolaski

Hi! My name is Victoria Mikolaski and I’m currently  a junior majoring in East Asian studies at William and Mary. I have a passion for foreign languages and have studied Spanish for 6 years, French for 7 years, and have now been studying Japanese for 3 years. My interest in Japan started when I was young with Japanese popular culture in various mediums: music, manga and anime, and fashion.  I have a diverse number of interests, and often I’m doing something creative with my hands like making art or playing instruments. Once I started college, I acquired a new hobby, cosplay, that brought me closer to some subcultures that have strong connections to Japan. I’m going to Japan for study abroad soon and hope to learn even more about Japanese culture and language! 

William Penix

Windforwings playing BOTB

Windforwings playing BOTB

Wie geht’s? My name is William Penix and I am a senior majoring in Film & Media Studies at the College. What drew me to the class was my experience with the Japanese Cinema class, and I was excited by the prospect of learning about the cultural context for Japanese film and film in Japan. Among my favorites in the Japanese Cinema class were “Rashomon,” “Harakiri,” and “Branded to Kill.” I love reading film theory, watching all sorts of films, analyzing them, but mostly writing about them. Whether it is writing film reviews for The Flat Hat’s Reel Talk blog or writing a research paper about “The Cabin in the Woods” and its relationship with modern surveillance, writing is something I enjoy the most. I have interned for German film production company Constantin Film, was an editor for the Galway documentary that premiered at this past Global Film Festival, and served on the Public Relations committee for the festival, as well. Additionally, I enjoy theater, dance, and especially music. For the first 2 1/2 years of being at the College, I was involved in an avant-garde metal band called The Funeral Games as the lead vocalist. Currently, I am the lead vocalist/lyricist for a melodic hardcore punk band called Windforwings. At the present moment, it seems like Windforwings will be my last musical endeavor, so it’s time to go out with a bang. In my spare time, you can find me obsessively reading about and watching matches for my favorite European football clubs: Werder Bremen, Chelsea, Olympique de Marseille, and Celtic.

Anastasia Rivera

On the plane from Japan, smiling to hide the pain...

On the plane from Japan, smiling to hide the pain…

Hi! My name’s Anastasia Rivera and I’m a sophomore at the College of William and Mary. I hope to graduate double-majoring in Philosophy and East Asian Studies. I’ve always been interested in Japan, from when My Neighbor Totoro was the most played VHS in my house to manga  hidden in my high school textbooks. It wasn’t until I came to college that I realized I can learn so much about Japanese society. Now, I’ve spent the past year and a half discovering various cultural traditions in literature, anime, and in-person as I studied abroad last winter. And I definitely want to return soon! I’m excited to understand how Japan’s been able to create a distinct presence worldwide as we work through this class material.