OK, I have to get organized because this topic is getting pretty long.
Here are the general story ideas so far. There have been discussions on many of them, but you'll have to go back to find them.
At this early stage the story starts with the player (or reader, or whatever you want to call them) being woken up in a park in Tokyo, with no recollection of how they got there, and absolutely no Japanese skill.
Lets say....the protagonist could be a young bussinessman who was on a trip, and something goes wrong with the plane, forcing it to land on the nearest airport which happens to be the one of Tokyo. The protagonist totaly wasnt planning to stop to Japan, he was actualy quite ignorant of its existance untill this event, so he has no knowledge, nor guides nor anything related to japanese. Its all an unforeseen accident. And because of the plane defection, he can no longer get to a bussiness meeting on time, which means the deal's off ( he had competitors ). He's tired, frustrated, has no further plans, and next plane leaves only in a few days ( - or maybe he just hasnt got enough money left on him to affort a new ticket, and the plane company he flew with are just giving him excuses. That could be some sort of ' one trouble atracts another' situation ) , so he decides, first thing, to go for a walk, and clear his thoughts, or maybe search for a place to sleep.
On the way, ....something could happen to pick up his interest, and get him ....involved in a matter. . ...Or it could be that he simply gets lost, and the only thing he's got on him thats both in japanese and english, is some promotional paper he's recieved on the airport.
And perhaps the reason for his bussiness trip was to find "something", and he, somehow, gets to learn, maybe from someone, that, that certain "something" might also exist in Japan, and that would be the plot, the interest that drives him, and along with him, the player, further in the game.
I know that sounds very vague, but cant think of anything more precise atm.
What about a person who just wanted to start a new life again. Buying a one way ticket to another random country, which happen to be Japan. He has to adapt his life in Japan and learn everything.
Or a story where the player received a letter from a diseased/lost/whatever person from Japan. Out of curiosity the character went there without any proper preparation and find clues about the person during the scenarios.
Or the character happened to be a unfinished pre-programmed android finding his creator. Making him a self adapting and learning robot haha.
A teenage boy (or girl) has an uncle who lives in Japan who has recently gotten ill. The boy/girl's parents send their child there to watch after him for the summer. The boy/girl reluctantly heads to Japan without knowing any Japanese, and not knowing his/her uncle well. To make a long story short, the uncle enrolls the main character in a 1 hour-a-day summer school where he/she can learn Japanese. The other students at the summer school stay there much longer as they learn other things besides Japanese. The uncle also might teach the child some Japanese grammar every once in a while which could be a very emotional moment for the players because of how ill he is.
Other Major Characters:
A Japanese boy who attends the summer school and who knows very good English. He quickly befriends the main character and is a genius. He constantly mentions random facts which can be annoying. The main character wonders why he is at a summer school considering he is so smart.
A girl who appears friendly to the main character, however she knows very little English. She is often sarcastic and says what she thinks and wants immediately, without thought or embarrassment.
A girl who is a know-it-all in some subjects such as social studies, but awful at others like Literature. She is friends with the other girl. She is average at English, and okay at Japanese, but her main languages are Hebrew and Turkish as she spent most of her life in Turkey with her dad and Israel with her mom. Personality wise, she is a shy girl, however she often gets into lot of trouble with the police for pranks she does.
There is a mute boy in the class who you rarely see in summer school because he cannot speak so he doesn't go to Japanese class. He does Japanese sign language, and carries a notebook with him which he uses to communicate with others by writing Japanese in it. NOTICE: He is not deaf, just mute. He could have a small section (if the character becomes friends with him) where he teaches the basics of Japanese sign language.
The teacher is a female who believes in creativity and going at your own pace without being graded.
The assistant teacher, a male, feels very differently about this and is harsh and rude to his students. If the character gets to know him well (and has pretty good Japanese) they could learn about his backstory and how hard his life is.
What about the wealthy uncle is (for some reason I haven't think about yet) looking for someone to inherit for example his possessions, house or company? But of course the uncle will choose the most suitable candidate.
The characters must show the uncle why they earns it and compete against each other. (maybe a score and ranking system with points which can be earned by answering the questions of exercises correctly? Maybe at some different points during the game a quiz or paper test to let the player review what has learned from previous scenarios?)
The main character, being one of the candidates, has to find his own way to live in Japan. I think he will be alone most of the time, or at least at the start of the game, to let him experience the awkwardness as you said before. He might meet the other competitors during the story. With some of them he might become friends and help each other, and with some of them become rivals and trying hinder each other. Since the main character don't know when the uncle decides the winner (probably at the end of the game), he has to find work to get money to survive and will finally go through all the scenarios.
I strongly doubt anyone would, without any money nor preparations, leave his life behind, and go flying to Japan just out of pure curiosity for an email, when you recieve the most bizare spams every day. As for letter....if its from a random person from Japan....it wouldnt even make it to the border I reckon. Even if arrived, it would rise more questions, how did that person know your name ? why you out of all ppl on this planet ? its more likely to be a stupid joke, there are many jobless trolls.
Most ppl would just ignore it. . In the worse case, they'd contact police.
However, if that person was in fact a very close and important person to the protagonist, like his sister, it could work, even well.
He leaves everything he's on to and flies to Japan to search for her...where she used to live, what ppl she interacted with, also goes to police but they seem to be on a wrong lead, or refuse to share anything with him . He also meets ppl who offer to help him, like , maybe a very close female friend of his sister, who's just as affected by her suspicious dissapearance as he is , and maybe, some guy, with a very strong sense of justice, the embodiment of the japanese traditional values of a samurai, champ at kendo, who has once been helped by the protagonist's sister, and hasnt been able to repay that debt, now he wont rest untill he sees her in one piece again. Altho otherwise , he's a pretty silent and expressionless person, but with a very deep interiour, and huge valor. He prefers to stick away from the other two, and do his own search, but they eventualy end up in the same places, during the search.
The search would lead him from the mid of cultural festivals , to all kinds of places, and meet lots of other ppl, and make lots of friends on the way.
That, resuming most of the actual plot in a couple words. It would be a mature storyline.
Now for my own previous idea : instead of a bussinessman , the protagonist is ...
: 1. A young artist.
( So the plane has a defection, protagonist goes for a walk )....and on that walk, he spots some old colegue of his, that now lives in Japan, and they recognise each other. They were close way back, so she'll eventualy make him speak up about his misfortunes, and then tells him, that she's heard of excellent old artists, in that particular art style, who live in the countryside of Japan, and shows him a cool piece. But the thing is, they would never share his knowledge with someone who isnt good enough, and who wouldnt know japanese and have the manners and grace of a japanese.
The artist then becomes anxious to spend some time in Japan and eager to learn, and fortunately, his friend will lend him a bit of money, untill he gets a job, and also knows a place for him to sleep for a start.
And she also offers to give him some beginner's tips, she works as an english teacher, but she also started teaching japanese for total beginners, in a more unconventional way, altho she isnt very skilled at it either . This is where jibproduction's characters could kick in, but instead of the classical - wake up -> go to school -> go to part time -> sleep ; ....it changes into a more ... free and laid back environment.
2. : A young detective
...an ex genius prodigy, youngest detective ever, but now he's made a horrible mistake in one of his cases, and his career went downhill , and when on that walk, he spots a very dangerous criminal that escaped him a couple of times, and who's fault is that he's been demoted and in this pathetic state . He leaves everything to catch the damn guy and clear his name.
His search and questioning ppl will take him from traditional festivals, to the undergrounds of the japanese society , in his attempt to find clues about his nemesis, who seems to be plotting something big .
In his search will also be able to redeem his tormented soul, being touched by the incredible japanese culture, something like in " the last samurai "
But this would be much harder to implement, it would make the game exclusively story driven
Someone needs to transfer to Japan for their job.
A university student has an opportunity to travel to Japan through a student exchange program.
Someone was planning a short holiday in Japan with their girlfriend/boyfriend, but breaks up just before leaving. Seeing as they already have a ticket, and feel like they need a life change, they decide to do a working holiday instead.
Someone wins a competition with the prize being a trip to Japan. Because of bad circumstances in their life (lost a job, broke up with partner, other problems) they decide to stay longer.
A couple of good friends have come to Tokyo for an adventure, or whatever other reason (could use other ideas from this topic). This would enable us to use the friend as a kind of narrator, as well as a helpful study tool, by providing some explanations and reminders.
I don't think ideas 1 and 5 are really suitable.
Maybe a combination/variation of 6, 7 and 8 might work. Although that could sound a little like the plot to The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.