Wednesday, December 31

Aya Hirano in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian fans reaction





So on the lazy afternoon on last day of 2008, I stumbled on Low Yat Forum and guess what, someone noticed that Aya Hirano, the famous VA of Haruhi and Konata is in Kuala Lumpur doing photo shoots for her upcoming DVD. In space of 2 hours, the thread has spawned 8 pages and dozens of reply which looks like an infection of super Ebola or something.

The thread and subsequent madness

Funny as hell but I do sincerely wish my fellow Malaysians good luck in searching for her. Just don't freak her out if you people do see her.

Pictures of her in Kuala Lumpur can be seen here in another blog

Edit: The thread has been shut down and it reaches 30 over pages. Even the famous Sankaku Complex note it and few Malaysian posters were not too happy with the tone of mockery attached to the entry.

Sankaku Complex

As Joker said, "Why so serious?"

Tuesday, December 30

Street Fighter the Move: Legend of Chun Li



Kristin Kreuk is hot but, but this trailer put me in despair.....

History of TYPE-MOON anime DVD sales

Here is the quick breakdown on DVD sales of famous TYPE-MOON inspired works. For any series to be considered a success story in industry, 10,000 DVD sales is the benchmark figure as I was made to understand (some say 20,000 units though). Some series sold on average of 3000 volumes got sequel(s) made so it is kinda confusing (ex: Zero no Tsukaima).

Shingeshutan Tsukihime / 真月譚月姫

Prologue - 14,581
Vol 1 - 19,519
Vol 2 - 15,788
Vol 3 - 15,165
Vol 4 - 10,573
Vol 5 - 12,910
Vol 6 - 11,338

Fate/ Stay Night / フェイト/ステイナイト

Curtain Raiser - 13,364
Vol 1 - 26,637
Vol 2 - 26,702
Vol 3 - 26,344
Vol 4 - 23,692
Vol 5 - 25,512
Vol 6 - 26,036
Vol 7 - 25,892
Vol 8 - 27,564

Kara no Kyokai / 空の境界

Movie 1 Special Edition - 69,771
Movie 2 Special Edition - 66,093
Movie 3 Special Edition - 65,892

Movie 1 Normal Edition - 11,770
Movie 2 Normal Edition - 9,382
Movie 3 Normal Edition - 9,749

Source

Small wonder A-1 Studios (which is indirectly Sony) willing to spend shitloads of money for Kara no Kyokai adaptation based on previous sales figure of Fate/Stay Night.

Long live TYPE-MOON.

I will edit this entry to record sales for rest of Kara no Kyokai series much later.

The story of Crunchy Roll


As the new year fast approaches, the news across the anime industry looks persistently bleak: downward-spiraling overseas DVD sales coupled with decreasing profits at home, a shrinking domestic labor force combined with an ever-expanding menu of file-share freebies--and, of course, an anemic global economy for all.

But there is a silver lining on the horizon, and you can test its brightness and durability beginning exactly one week from today.

Next Friday, Jan. 2, California-based Crunchyroll.com, one of the largest and most popular of the so-called "fan sites," or Internet portals for free anime uploaded exclusively by and for fans, is going legit: legal and fully licensed for producer profit.

If you follow this column, this is not the first you've heard of Crunchyroll's foray into unchartered bandwidth. In September, I conducted a phone interview with Vu Nguyen, the site's cofounder and vice president of business, development and strategy. Nguyen recounted for me his team's trips to Japan at the start of 2008 to obtain digital strategies directly from the front offices of Japan's anime producers.

The result? They had none.

"So we decided to give them strategies," Nguyen told me. "Because they're frustrated, too."

I was impressed by Crunchyroll's proactive approach to an industry whose upper management tends toward intransigence. In many of my interviews with anime executives, the mere mention of hemorrhaging profits via the Internet inspired winces at best, and at worst, outright antagonism--as if I'd inserted an obscenity into the conversation.

No doubt, Nguyen and his colleagues have benefited from their timing. While DVD sales figures have been slipping in all media, for anime, North American numbers have dropped precipitously, by an estimated 200 million dollars or more from their peak roughly five years ago.

The news isn't much better inside Japan. Years of declining birthrates have produced a shrinking youth consumer demographic, one that can hardly pick up the slack of their otaku elders. Young Japanese, distracted and enthralled by their ubiquitous high-tech cell phones, are no less Web-savvy than their overseas counterparts. And recent changes to Japan's employment and corporate structures mean that many of them are working longer hours for less money than their parents did. Why pay for what's free?

Which is exactly the question I put to Nguyen earlier this week. If it was difficult convincing Japanese producers to provide official content to a foreign-based fan site, how hard will it be to persuade foreign consumers to pay for that content--when it was nothing more than a mouse click away days earlier?

Crunchyroll's approach is firm, if not outright draconian. "By the end of this year [next Wednesday], we are disabling user uploads for anime and dramas and removing any content from those sections for which we have not obtained rights. We are transitioning the site from a user upload model to a licensed model, working directly with the producers in Japan."

On Jan. 2, the site's content rollout begins in earnest: "We will be airing several new simulcasts every week," Nguyen continues, "with titles including Naruto Shippuden, Gintama, Shugo Chara, Skip Beat and more. We will also be launching our subscription plan that gives members earlier access to the shows, great video quality and no advertisements. The episodes will be available the same day with English subtitles an hour after Japan broadcast, exclusively on Crunchyroll for subscribers. Episodes will also be available for free with advertising support for everyone up to a week after."

The gamble is obvious: Fans will value quality content and immediate access over the contents of their wallets. Crunchyroll also plans to offer various social networking opportunities to entice subscribers. But here's the rub: "The fans genuinely want to support creators and the industry," Nguyen claims. "They just haven't been educated on how the industry works. We're doing our best to inform them."

In 2009, the Crunchyroll story could prove a fascinating test of the Internet's capacity for self-monitoring behavior, whatever the content: Can human beings in a virtual world put group survival and sustainability ahead of short-term self-gratification?


Source

Personally I think this is future of anime, more and more Net consumers preferred to stream shows rather than using torrents to download them and then watch it while at the expense of the HDD space. The industry might be watching this effort since they are truly worried that declining youth population in local market forced them to "outsource" market so they can stay in business. Some commentators noted that current Japanese anime industry is bloated (50 series a year, unprecedented rate) might suffer another bubble burst just like Japanese real estate scene soon. Economic depression might just do the job.

Interesting concept so far.

THE scene of 2008 for me is.....



I can watch this scene again and again!

"I can kill anything alive, even God."

(Kara no Kyokai, 3rd movie)

Thursday, December 25

MMA Anime fighter fighting Bob Sapp




I still have yet subside from laughing but yeah, Bob Sapp, one of the famous MMA fighter in K1 and Pride Japan will be fighting an anime character (masked) Kinniku Mantaro in upcoming bout. Look at the picture to judge for yourself.

LOL.

Source

Who the hell is Kinniku Mantaro?

Tuesday, December 23

Eve no Jikan / イヴの時間 and Pale Cocoon / ペイル・コクーン creator in interview

Eve no Jikan OVA

Pale Cocoon OVA

Yasuhiro Yoshiura is that rarest of artists: He comes across as humble and unaware of the many layers of depth to his work. His most recent anime, Time of Eve, is, according to the series' director and writer, only what it appears to be--a story of humans living alongside near-human androids.

But there is so much that can be read into the tale, which is centered around a unique cafe--called Ibu no Jikan (Time of Eve)--where androids and humans intermingle on the condition that they do not attempt to determine who is flesh and who is not. Within the cafe, the androids have no identifiable characteristics that distinguish them from the human customers; they look the same, sound the same and act the same.

Outside the cafe, however, the androids speak in a more mechanical manner and have digital halos--a particularly beautiful effect--that identify them as robots. One idea, Yoshiura explained to The Daily Yomiuri in a recent interview at his Tokyo studio, had been to identify them with writing on their bodies, unintentionally reminiscent of Jews who were forcibly tattooed during the Holocaust.

The metaphors could be extended to any sort of prejudice--racial, sexual or religious--seen in human relationships. The silence that penetrates the six-part series (and his award-winning 2006 film, Pale Cocoon), too, seems to refer to loneliness or a disconnection with society.

But, that was never the intention, Yoshiura says. "I wasn't out to try and make this some sort of social statement. It's just about a guy who's got this beautiful woman he lives with, and he's thinking, 'She's cute, but I can't do anything 'cause she's not human...ah, what should I do?'"

"There probably aren't that many Japanese who would look any deeper than that to see the issues of racism or social problems," he says with a laugh.

This is not to say that Yoshiura has not found an equally interesting social problem based in science fiction, one that also has shown up in works such as mangaka Naoki Urasawa's Pluto or episodes of Star Trek or Alien Nation: Can--and should--humans treat nonhumans as equals?

"In Japanese anime and manga, it's pretty much a given that robots and androids are treated just as other people. But if there was really a robot standing here next to me, would it really be that easy to interact with him? I don't think so, no matter how much he looks human. I wouldn't know what to do," the 28-year-old says.

Time of Eve, the third installment of which is out now on timeofeve.com and also at streaming.yahoo.co.jp/p/t/00502/v05087/, is not Yoshiura's first film to deal with this social interaction. Mizu no Kotoba (Aquatic Language, 2002), which Yoshiura completed while studying at what is now Kyushu University's School of Design, has a surprise, if unnecessary, twist at the end involving robots. Here, too, the storyline is more about inter"person"al relationships than anything to do with robots.

So, why all the robots and androids?

Yoshiura says he has been a big fan of Isaac Asimov, particularly his Three Laws of Robotics, from his I, Robot, ever since middle school. In fact, the Three Laws are referred to in Time of Eve, which also deals with android prostitutes, much like Spielberg's A.I., in the latest episode, which is available free for this month.

Outside of the literary world, Yoshiura has found inspiration in the films of Terry Gilliam--Pale Cocoon was an homage to the lonely, desolate society of Gilliam's Brazil--scriptwriter Andrew Niccol (The Truman Show) and The Simpsons, among others, though the humor found in those materials does not transfer well to animation, according to the director.

An obvious comparison, one Yoshiura does not seem to mind, is to anime auteur Mamoru Oshii, who has tackled both the issues of sentience in androids (Ghost in the Shell) and the use of silence to portray loneliness and disassociation (The Sky Crawlers).

Made with a combination of 2-D character designs with 3-D backgrounds, Yoshiura's films look contemporary, high-quality and engaging. For the young director, who has won awards at numerous international film festivals, this method was born out of practicality more than aesthetic reasons.

"I didn't have the ability to really draw very well, so when I was making the films by myself, that combination of 2-D and 3-D was what gave me the best results," he says.

"There are very few people who can just toss off a drawing of a character and a beautiful background," he says as he flips through a book on the making of Hayao Miyazaki's Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away). "Japanese audiences have a thing for hand-drawn characters...If everybody was a great animator, then I think fewer people would use 3-D, and that would result in much more 'Japanese'-looking films."

Unlike his earlier works, Yoshiura is making Time of Eve with the help of a team of artists, making it possible for him to make this Internet-based series, as well as to consider the possibility of extending it in the long-run style of a U.S. TV show.

But working with others has drawbacks, such as communication challenges, he explains.

"I had always wanted to work with other people, but for practical reasons wasn't able to," he recalls. "When it was just me, it was just me. But just because I'm working as a group now...it's not as if it's five or 10 of me working together."

Maybe Yoshiura should consider investing in some androids of his own. But how would he treat them?

Source

Both Pale Cocoon and Time of Eve are excellent works that is completely out of mainstream anime which I loved so much. As the article above mentioned, he is focus on themes of dissonance and social diaspora through high technology. Not as obtuse as Oishii, he able to convey the narrative effectively.

Kannagi's most hilarious moment for me is...



This song is titled Soya Bean Song. I couldn't help but keep laughing at this absurd scene.

Friday, December 19

428 the Animation now renamed Canaan


Canaan Official Site

The series now renamed Canaan. Still the same setup though.

Trailer



Beretta 92F. Nice handgun.

Viper's Creed/ ヴァイパーズ・クリード



Official Site

A hardcore sci-fi show from Shinji Aramaki, director of the Appleseed movies, with production from AIC. The story focuses on a PMC/ private military corporation (like Blackwater USA) in the late 21st century after the war. Just like what happened to Blackwater USA in Iraq, soon this PMC has some relationship challenges with regular armed forces after the war ended.

Soon in January 2009.

That's all I know so far.

Druaga, Sword of Uruk/ ドルアーガの塔 ~the Sword of URUK~sequel

Official Site

I liked the main picture showing Jill carrying Fatina while the reflection below is Kaaya, the cleric. Needless to say, it is one of better GONZO anime offering besides godawful (coughs)...I mean popular Strike Witches.





Slightly longer Preview.

One of sleeper hits of 2008, the sequel should be be as consistent. Will wait and see if I am was right.

Madhouse new anime for Jan 2009, Rideback/ ライドバック




Set in future, the story talks about a female student who is close to her bike/mecha, embroiled in a ongoing student political movement. Madhouse is responsible for this thus gained my attention.

Based on 8 volume manga by Kasahara Tetsuo.

Second vid

Official Website

Original Work: Kasahara Tetsuro
Director: Takahashi Atsushi
Character Design & Chief Animation Director: Tazaki Satoshi
Animation Production: MADHOUSE

OP: MELL

Tuesday, December 16

Tytania's Darwin Garden significance in episode 10.

Historical Trivia:

Tytania's Darwin Garden is similar expression of power like ancient Persian King's garden in Persepolis and Imperial Kew Gardens of United Kingdom.

By able to bring plants from all corners of their empire, it is a gesture of power and prestige to impress any visitors. One of compulsory subject for all ancient Persian Kings is gardening. It is often said, that all foreign dignitaries were invited to walk with the King to look at the gardens. Anyone with a good brain will realize it is a subtle hint of the mighty Persian Empire and the King is just showing off in style.

Hence the interesting significance of Darwin Garden, built on hanging garden orbiting in space, just like Persepolis garden that is irrigated by massive waterway construction which is not too far from Hanging Garden of Babylon, built in middle of desert.

Source

Sunday, December 14

Soft Power Discussion no 5

SOFT POWER, HARD TRUTHS / From anime to action


Michael Arias, the first and so far only American to direct a Japanese animated feature film, 2006's award-winning Tekkonkinkreet, once told me that animation, live action film and video game technologies were fast uniting, and that the remaining differences between the three would soon become imperceptible.

Arias' singular achievement is an exemplar of the cross-cultural phenomena about which I frequently write. Born in California, Arias has lived on both U.S. coasts, working primarily in film, computer-generated imagery (CGI) and software development. A trip to Japan to help develop a Back to the Future ride for Universal Studios Japan led to an eventual residency, and a devotion to the Japanese culture and its approach to movie making.

"There's not as much money to be made [in Japan]," he conceded to me years ago. "But there's a lot more freedom."

Among other prizes, Arias's animated version of Tekkonkinkreet, based on the original manga by Taiyo Matsumoto, won Japan's Academy Award for Animation, despite competing against domestic giants like Hideaki Anno, director of the revived Evangelion 1.0.

In the mid-1990s, Arias developed a software program known as "Toon Shaders," which integrates traditional hand-drawn images with CGI. It was used by no less than maestro Hayao Miyazaki in Mononoke Hime (Princess Mononoke) and the Academy Award-winning Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away).

I caught up with Arias recently, while preparing to introduce and screen Tekkonkinkreet at universities and museums across the United States next year for the Anime Masterpieces (animemasterpieces.com) project.

And what is he up to now? Live action.

Arias's new film, Heaven's Door, will be released in Japan on Feb. 7. At a screening in Roppongi, Tokyo, last week, I was struck by the parallels with Tekkonkinkreet. Like its predecessor, Heaven's Door features a pair of misfits attempting to survive in a crumbling world. One is older, presumably more experienced; the other is a naif. And in both films, they are attempting to reach resolution by the sea.

Also as in Tekkonkinkreet, 360-degree shots make the viewer move with the camera; brightly colored settings punctuate scenes of artful static; and a sense of apocalyptic dread adds urgency to every little act.

I asked Arias about these parallels earlier this week. "A lot of that stuff I only realized seeing the movie finished," he told me. "There's no doubt that Tekkonkinkreet and Heaven's Door share a lot of the same DNA. But a lot of it just kind of crept in."

What didn't just creep in are the big-name Japanese stars headlining the film, including TOKIO lead singer Tomoya Nagase and Japanese-Russian-American model, actress and singer Anna Tsuchiya. They and others should guarantee a big roll-out early next year.

Arias says he's drawn to emptiness and longing, exploring the "missing limb" in our interconnected lives. His younger brother died when Arias was 8 years old, he told me.

"I guess I'm drawn to these stories of some kind of perfectly matched partner who's gone. Some kind of strange sense of absence," he said.


Source

Tekkon Kinkret is surreal and unusual anime experience, a fusion of 2 cultures can be felt here strongly. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who is looking beyond mainstream animes have to offer. Not as obtuse as Oishii's work but not that simplistic either.

Gonzo being restructured and bought over


GDH/Gonzo continues to trim down, in response to being on notice for a year by the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Having recently been purchased by Iwakaze Capital KK, the company's restructuring is now well underway.

On Friday, November 28, GDH announced that it was asking 50 employees of the GDH and Gonzo divisions -- about 25% of the GDH workforce -- to retire voluntarily, effective January 31, 2009. Those who choose to go along with this request, and agree to it between December 1 and 12 of this year, will be given a one-time bonus, equivalent to one month's salary. While this staff reduction applies to the Gonzo anime studio as well as to its parent company, GDH, it is not going to affect the Gonzo Rosso online gaming division.

In another announcement on Friday, GDH revealed plans to sell another subsidiary, GDH Capital. This financing arm of the company was established only three years ago. But since it was worth about US $3 million in 2005, and is now worth US $2.
2 million, GDH seems to have decided that it's a good time to get out of the financing business, considering the current world economic situation.


Source
Source no 2

I wonder if some people going to use this to illustrate the damaging force of illegal digital copies responsible for anime industry woes. I do really wonder.

Well I hated Gonzo for some really lame anime series but they do have good stuff like Last EXILE, Yukikaze and Blue Submarine no 6.

Looks like the economic problem is biting very hard.

Kannagi Mangaka is on recovery, manga will resume soon.

The latest update on Eri Takanashi story.

She apparently afflicted with a serious condition and went into operation which was successful. ComicRex has announced in rather suspicious manner that she will resume her work as soon as possible after announcing the suspension of Kannagi in January issue. Something is amiss here, I felt.

Ah well.

Annoucement

Earlier entry on her sickness

Eden of the East / 東のエデン


Studio I.G. and Kenji Kamiyama is coming up with new series " Eden of the East"; this winning combination has produced GITS: Stand Alone Complex and best chambara anime series, Seirei no Moribito/Guardian of Water Spirit. I am very, very sure that I want to follow this one very closely, so far I am not disappointed with these 2 forces.

Official Site

Shangri La/ シャングリ・ラ


New GONZO anime coming soon, with same team setup that produced largely successful Last EXILE few years ago. It is called Shangri-La and it is based on the novel by Ikegami Eiichi.

Looks interesting, I will check it out pretty soon.

Official Website

Original Work: Ikegami Eiichi
Director: Bessho Makoto
Series Composition: Oonogi Hiroshi
Creative Producer: Mori Takeshi
Character Design: RANGE MURATA
Creative Supervisor: Takeba Shingo
Design Works: Kusanagi Takuhito, Satou Hajime, Iida Umanosuke
Animation Production: GONZO

Phantom Requiem Anime series announced


If some old timers remembered, one of Nitroplus most famous work is Phantom of the Inferno which a story about an unwilling assassin in wilderness of America brainwashed to be perfect top killer for underground organization by evil German scientist. There is a brief but largely forgettable anime OVA treatment ( I hated it pretty much) and right now there is a new series coming soon in 2009. The art looks good so far and I hope they will not tone down the violence since it is an integral part of the storytelling.

Official Site

Oh no, it is by Bee Fucking Train. Bleh!

Phantom 〜Requiem for the Phantom〜 will feature the director Koichi Mashimo (.Hack franchise, Blade of the Immortal, Noir) and series script supervisor Yousuke Kuroda (Demonbane, Gungrave, Mobile Suit Gundam 00).

Yoshimitsu Yamashita (Blade of the Immortal, Murder Princess), Mutsumi Sasaki (Murder Princess, .hack//Roots episode animation director), Yoko Kikuchi (Arc the Lad anime, Noir, .hack//Legend Of The Twilight) and other artists will adapt the game characters for anime. The anime studio Bee Train will be in charge of production.


ANN piece

Friday, December 12

Berserk mangaka is taking a break


In a news that bound to piss some readers of Berserk off, the mangaka, Kentaro Miura is taking a break to play a game called "Idol Master". His reason is that he is "lonely". (sweats)

Source

Saddening news



Sad news of a kid died trying to imitate something from Naruto.

RIP.

More stupid people "Death Note"



Ami Kawashima/ 川嶋 亜美: ToraDora! muse of multiple facets





Ami Kawashima, a part time model/actress is one of the main female character from hit series ToraDora! Very beautiful and socially refined, she is considered by many fans as one of the most interesting girl thanks to her multiple personality and enigmatic intent in the story. She is the chief rival to Taiga since Taiga disliked her deceptive personality MO and Ami loathed Taiga for being too crude to her. Many fans have wondered if the multiple personality is her defense shield in approaching Ryuji since she declared her interest discreetly in episode 10.

This is my take.

She is in profession of modeling and acting which required a lot layers of mask. You cannot be honest or 100 percent pure in these line of work, most people in this industry are pretentious and has a lot of front to it. I am struck by so many fans did not see her profession is the major force which might shaped up her "mask", not just her natural personality (the old nurture versus nature). In the line of work where a simple malicious rumor can be the end of your career, Ami somewhat has to able to adopt a very high standards of self preservation and conduct to survive.

I knew this since I do have a good friend who is in the modeling/acting line who acted very different with other people and me. She is a typical fun loving girl who giggles a lot with me but in front of other people, she is a prim, courteous, professional and yet distant.



In this narrative despite her disdain for Taiga who can see thru her and call her bluff, she is actually envious of Taiga for her lack of need to be put up fronts. You might recall her irritation when she mentioned she has a lot of work during her holidays, it could be after meeting up Taiga....she find it difficult to maintain her facade like last time since she find more self honesty is more refreshing than old guarded self. It is noticeable too that Ami actually willing to put up with Taiga's sharp tongue despite her backlashes so there is a disgruntled yet resonating admiration between these 2 forceful females.

Since ToraDora! characters were flawed people, psychological profile for her will be:

Narcissism describes the trait of excessive self-love, based on self-image or ego.The term is drived from the Greek mythology of Narcissus. Narcissus was a handsome Greek youth who rejected the desperate advances of the nymph Echo.As punishment, he was doomed to fall in love with his own reflection in a pool of water. Unable to consummate his love, Narcissus pined away and changed into the flower that bears his name, the narcissus.

A Boeotian hero whose archaic myth was a cautionary tale warning boys against being cruel to their lovers.

In psychology and psychiatry, excessive narcissism is recognized as a severe personality dysfunction or personality disorder, most characteristically Narcissistic personality disorder, also referred to as NPD.

A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy, beginning by early adulthood and present in a variety of contexts, as indicated by five (or more) of the following:

1. has a grandiose sense of self-importance
2. is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power, brilliance, beauty, or ideal love
3. believes that he or she is "special" and unique
4. requires excessive admiration
5. has a sense of entitlement
6. is interpersonally exploitative
7. lacks empathy
8. is often envious of others or believes others are envious of him or her
9. shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes.

Source


She is the main reason why I sticking to this anime series, honestly.

Saturday, December 6

Lucky Star manga and stupidity



As much as I hate the series, this is really dumb and wasteful act in my opinion. Burning it won't make it go away, stupid.

This is what I think:

Kannagi Manga is on Hiatus, Eri Takanashi is sick?



In summary, the mangaka is taking a break until indefinite date citing illness. Sounds like she is retreating after being so harshly criticized by Kannagi "fans" for chapter 36 on "second hand" issue to me. Poor thing. I hope she will recover soon.

Also reported in ANN

The issue in nutshell

Das Kapital in manga format


One of the most famous book in modern history, Karl Marx and Frederich Engels "Das Kapital" will be published in manga format soon in Japan. I can't imagine this manga will be popular with international manga fans but as noted in this article, the manga was published amidst the troubled economy in capitalist nations around the world now.

I wonder the significance though.

Japan used to be home of a notorious socialist extremist terrorist group known as Japanese Red Army / 日本赤軍 which terrorize the world around 70s and early 80s (mainly for Palestinian cause)so there is a strong undercurrent of socialist ideology history in Japan which not widely known now. One of the members were featured in Black Lagoon as antagonist leader.

It also explains why there is a viable market for this manga in question.

Times Online
Japanese Red Army history

WiiWare Manga


Well a new service for Wii owners in Japan and it will be available only to Japanese in beginning stage. Soon, it will creep overseas judging on how popular the Wii is.

I wonder if you have to nunchuck to turn the pages.

Original Artcle

Another rant from Miyazaki

Nostalgia is one of the moods frequently associated with the works of anime director Hayao Miyazaki, but in a lengthy press conference late last month in Tokyo, he showed complex feelings on the subject, sometimes criticizing nostalgia and sometimes appearing to indulge in it.

Miyazaki is the director of animated masterworks such as Kaze no Tani no Naushika (Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, 1984), Tenku no Shiro Laputa (Castle in the Sky, 1986), Tonari no Totoro (My Neighbor Totoro, 1988), Kurenai no Buta (Porco Rosso, 1992) and Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi (Spirited Away, 2001).

Some of his films are set in the near or distant past, while others are set in storybook-style fantasy worlds filled with cozy, antique trappings. So it is natural that the topic of nostalgia would come up when the director agreed to take questions at the Foreign Correspondents' Club of Japan.

Miyazaki said he has pondered "which period [of Japan's history] was best...to find out where we should have stopped. And I realized it was not possible to stop. For example, there are people who feel nostalgia about the 30s of the Showa era."

The Showa era (1926-1989) took in most of the 20th century, but the Showa 30s (1955-1964) have become cherished in popular culture as the end of the postwar era, when Tokyo Tower and the first Shinkansen were built, the nation hosted its first Olympics, and hard-working families strove to obtain the "three sacred treasures" of a television, refrigerator and washing machine.

Miyazaki, 67, remembers the time firsthand. "People have the delusion that things were good in those days. But actually, the fact was that it was a very unhappy period," he said.

"There was much frustration at that time, and there was a violent impact that people created on the nature of Japan, such as in the seas and in the rivers and in our mountains. Much rubbish was piled upon the environment by us...I recall in my boyhood, friends around me who were not able to attend school or eat properly," he recalled.

He went on: "And if people think that the Edo period [1603-1868] was a good period, there were many unfortunate things about that period as well, except that people were able to give up and bear things, but we have forgotten how to do that."

Miyazaki said he has come to realize that "paradise is memories of our infanthood. In those days we were protected by our parents and we were innocently unaware of the many problems around us."

Seeing modern children immersing themselves in a "virtual world" of manga, anime, video games, television and cell phones, the director seemed to long for the infancy of society itself--the Stone Age.

"In our country, a sense of balance seems to have crumbled down so that there is no place where we can take care of sheep or cattle or run around barefoot. Rather, we are surrounded by a virtual environment," he said.

"I think there are things that children have to learn before they learn to read and write. And these are the things which people during the Stone Age were able to do. In other words, to create fire and to be able to maintain that fire or to extinguish that fire, and also to understand the nature of water and to climb up trees and be able to use ropes and be able to use a knife," Miyazaki said.

He said that the government should take responsibility for teaching children such skills, adding: "Rather than have the government do this, this is something which parents and local communities should be doing. However, in pursuit of economic growth, what Japan has done is to destroy such local communities. So this is something which we must regain."

Yet at another point in the press conference, he said: "We should not just think about...the ridiculous things that the government says, but rather we should liberate our children from nationalism."

When he was asked to expand on his comment about nationalism, Miyazaki said: "The problems of the world come from the fact that nationalism feels that the world's problems are due to multiethnicity. So at least in my case, I will not create films in which when there are people who destroy evil, peace comes about.

"In other words, I feel that when making films it is necessary to be aware of the fact that all problems that exist, exist inherently within yourself, within your society and among your family members.

"In regard to the town we love or the country that we love, there is the possibility that they may turn into something which is not good for the world as a whole. This is something which we learned from the past war, and this is a lesson which we should not forget," he said.

Part of the international goodwill Japan currently enjoys comes not from military strength but from the worldwide popularity of Japanese anime, manga and video games, especially among young people. The phenomenon is known as "soft power."

Miyazaki's Studio Ghibli is a major source of such power. But when he was asked to comment on the topic, the director waxed enigmatic: "In our studio, we often talk about it, and although steamboats have disappeared from the seas, there are still vessels that are powered by diesel and turbine engines. But what we talk about is the fact that even in such an environment, one sailboat can be allowed to exist."

At the moment, the nation's most prominent manga and anime fan is Prime Minister Taro Aso. On that topic, Miyazaki was less enigmatic: "It's embarrassing."

"That is something that he [Aso] should do in his private time," he added.

Miyazaki said he did not envy the prime minister's job, especially when it comes to environmental problems, about which the director feels alternately optimistic and pessimistic.

"The thing I would not want to become the most is the prime minister of Japan," he said. "It's truly an unrewarding job because you cannot tell the truth to people who do not want to hear the truth. So I believe that people will not learn until things become tremendously horrible.

"This country consumes more than it produces. What our country can produce is only able to support the lives of 32 million people...That structure whereby we do not have food self-sufficiency, or the fact that the underwear we wear is made in China, is at the core of the uncertainty of our nation."

Miyazaki said dramatic changes in economic structures would be impossible, but that gradual change was necessary. Slipping into pessimistic mode, he said, "But if we go slowly and take time to make those changes, then I am not confident that we will make it safely to be able to stave off the end of civilization."
(Dec. 5, 2008)


The article

Another sign of his increasingly schizophrenic stance towards something he is famous for and himself. I have to confess this, it is confusing.

But Ponyo rocks.

Seiyu /Voice Actress Award vote now opened internationally

A sign of increasing globalization of anime, the award now opens to foreign voters for their favourite voice actress/actor award in Japanese anime industry. Cited from their site:

The Seiyu Awards was established as an annual award to honor voice actors and actress for their achievements in memorable voice acting performances and creative works. The Tokyo Anime Center, in cooperation with the Japan Audio Producer’s Association and representatives from the animation industry, aims to contribute to increasing the status of voice actors and actress by providing the largest scale award show in the industry.

The official site

So any of you feel strongly about the voice acting, go to the site and vote. I haven't make up my mind yet on who yet, personally.

Sunday, November 30

The Economist "Infantile Capitalism"


At the centre of Takashi Murakami's new exhibition is a shop. Even Andy Warhol never went that far

AMONG the many rooms that make up this grand retrospective of the work of Takashi Murakami, Japan's best-known contemporary artist, one is especially provocative. It is not the gallery with the wide-eyed cartoon-like figures in bizarrely erotic poses. Nor is it the atrium, with its towering sculpture of a colourfully grotesque, pointy-headed alien, surrounded by adorable marshmallow-like sentries. The biggest buzz is about the space right in the centre of the Brooklyn Museum's 18,500 square-foot (1,700 square-metre) show: a fully operational Louis Vuitton shop, where visitors can buy their very own luxury handbag covered in Mr Murakami's playful designs for upwards of $650.


Full Article

A thought provoking article and worth to read. Basically Murakami thrives on this but yet making strong statements against the pop culture of Japan especially anime aspect since he felt it gutted the very soul of Japan. His most salient point is lament that Japan have lost its masculinity and it is manifested so strongly in the pop culture notably anime/manga output.

Bubble Gum Crisis Live Action Movie.


Another anime adaptation is given a green light, Bubblegum Crisis. It is a sci fi anime comprises of few female operators in power armour fighting rogue robots in future city. The first 6 episodes OVA is cool, the sequel suck donkey balls. The new, reimagined version, BGC 2040 is a modest success but not memorable work. It has spawned another series, AD Police. The old OVA is considered a cult hit, until today it has a small of veteran admirers despite the troubles plague the production.

So far what I knew is AIC has give a go to Hollywood and ready to pump in money for the making of the film. No director has been chosen and so is the actor and actresses.

News

Ponyo on the Cliff of Seas dubbing crew.


A star-studded cast is set to dub an English language version of Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, the latest animated movie from Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki, Empire reports.

Tina Fey, Matt Damon, Cate Blanchett, Liam Neeson, Cloris Leachman, Lily Tomlin and Betty White will all lend their vocal talents to the film. The siblings of certain teen sensations are also involved; the youngest Jonas brother, Frankie, and Miley Cyrus’s sister, Noah, are also part of the cast. The dubbed version is due for release in the UK next April.


Article

Here is the list for Ponyo of the Cliff, Miyazaki's latest opus. Quite impressive.

Voltron Live Action


Fox-based New Regency has put Voltron: Defender of the Universe into turnaround, reports Variety.

The trade says that Ryan Kavanaugh's financing and production venture Relativity Media is in negotiations to back the property, though on a more moderate budget, utilizing the type of cost-effective technology employed in films including 300.

The Mark Gordon Co. still is attached to produce "Voltron," which is based on the popular Japanese animated TV series of the 1980s.


Article

This is quite cool, I am looking forward to it. I hoping for Transformers style of fun. But set in New York and New Mexico? Erm...yeah sure.

Dragon Ball Live Action (2009)



The official trailer is out.

Weirdest anime OP for me still is....



Moonphase / 月詠 "Nekomimi Mode". Holy damn, it has to be made when they are drunk or high....maybe both?

Damn Akiyuki Shinbo. His stuff is very trippy.

2 Japanese anime movies for Oscar nomination

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Fourteen films have been submitted to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences in hopes of securing one of the three nominations available in the best animated feature category.

The contenders are "Bolt," "Delgo," "Dragon Hunters," "Fly Me to the Moon," "Igor," "Kung Fu Panda," "Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa," "$9.99," "The Sky Crawlers," "Sword of the Stranger," "The Tale of Despereaux," "Waltz With Bashir" "WALL-E" and "Dr. Seuss' Horton Hears a Who!"

Because there are at least eight but fewer than 16 submissions, a maximum of three movies can share the spotlight when Oscar nominations in all categories are announced January 22.


Full article

Sky Crawlers is a critically acclaimed but box office failure whereas Sword of Stranger have some limited success commercially but it is considered a very brilliant anime movie (including me). I was very surprised that Ponyo of the Cliff did not get in, perhaps Miyazaki already won it so his works were now off limits? Ah well.

Monday, November 24

Miyazaki telling Taro Aso to shut up about being an otaku

TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese animation guru Hayao Miyazaki wishes one of his industry's most famous fans -- the prime minister -- would just keep quiet about his avowed love of manga comic books.

Prime Minister Taro Aso, a conservative and often gruff political veteran, has tried to soften his image by casting himself as someone who understands the culture of "otaku" (geeks) whose hobbies border on obsession.

But Miyazaki said Aso had no need to advertise his earnest reading of comics.

"I think it's a shame. It's something that he should do secretly," the 67-year-old Oscar-winning animator told reporters Thursday when asked about Aso's public declarations of admiration for Japanese comics and animation.

Aso chose Tokyo's Akihabara district, a noted centre for Japan's comic book subculture, for his first street speech after taking office in September, hailing comics and complaining he could not find enough time to read them.

Miyazaki said Japan should create a proper environment for children rather than building bridges and roads to stimulate the economy.

He warned Japanese children today were surrounded by virtual reality such as television, video games and e-mail.

"I feel a big contradiction as what we are doing may be depriving children of their power," he said. "But I want to continue this job, believing it is also a happy experience that a child has an unforgettable movie."


Source

Miyazaki constantly railing against increasing otakudom in Japan is contradictory. Either he is scared of what his works has done to audicene or simply he getting senile.

Taro is current Japanese Premier who is famous in Japan being an avid Rozen Maiden fan. He even got his doujinshi.

Saturday, November 15

Itasha / 痛車, Supercars and Otaku Blend.



Japan Manga Girls, Loved by Aso, Adorn Nerd Ferraris

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Masaya Taniguchi has a ``heartache'' plastered across the hood of his flaming red Audi AG TT Roadster.

Her name is Mashiro Mito, a teenage character from his favorite computer game with melancholic eyes and pink ribbons in chestnut hair. Taniguchi, 28, is an ``otaku,'' a Japanese term for nerd, who combines a passion for cars with affection for cartoon girls in ``manga'' comic books, movies and video games.


Source

For some reason, this part made me laugh very hard, " Maurizio Raffone, a director at Dresdner Kleinwort (Japan) Ltd., feels the pain. ``As an Italian, and a car guy, living in Japan, I have to say, I almost cried when I saw the photos'' of manga-adorned cars, he said"

I think the artwork were beautiful but some people will consider this is as criminal as shitting on some holy book. Worse of all sacrilege on the Italian supercars. I waiting one day for someone to paste Initial D character on the car. It will be ironic as hell.

This article also speaks of Taro Aso, current Premier of Japan and known for his avid following of Rozen Maiden manga. He was featured earlier in this blog as Foreign Minister, trying to promote "Japan Cool" image as part of marketing campaign to the international market.

He even featured in one of fan made manga/doujinshi.

Earlier entry on Premier Aso

Soft Power Discussion no 4

SOFT POWER HARD TRUTHS
Hollywood's new respect for anime sources

This March, I had dinner in Los Angeles with two producers from U.S. animation studios making American versions of anime originals. One, a Chinese-American, was from Imagi, the company working on next year's computer-graphic Astro Boy, a film based on Osamu Tezuka's 1960s classic. The other, a Filipino-American, was with Gonzo Digimation Holdings, the company that produces Afro Samurai, an original manga turned international anime series featuring the voice of Samuel L. Jackson.

Both producers were jovial, if anxious about the ongoing decline in U.S. anime DVD sales. But they were also quite keen to share their experiences of working with their counterparts in Japan.

"We showed a preview to some focus groups in Tokyo," said the Imagi producer of Astro Boy, "and the results were disastrous. Our Astro Boy was too snarky, too mature. They wanted to reclaim the original character's innocence."

The staffer on Afro Samurai said this: "We originally thought the collaboration would be, you know, 50-50, between Japan and the U.S. But, to be honest, the final product is more 80-20, with the Japanese input at 80. They knew what they were doing, and we didn't want to screw it up."

In both cases, smart young Asian-Americans were conceding that they needed the Japanese input to make their projects succeed.

This was news to me. In my book Japanamerica, I cite several cases of Japanese artists or producers mishandling (or failing to handle) their intellectual properties once they left the archipelago. Even the original Pokemon franchise first funneled its millions of profit dollars into the bank accounts of its U.S. distributor, a company called 4Kids.

The story was painfully simple: Japanese producers would receive a phonebook-sized contract from the United States, couldn't read all the legalese in English, but recognized a minimal up-front payment in the millions--and would sign away all of their subsidiary rights. I wrote about the absurdity of Japan's losses, wincing as I did so.

A week before the U.S. elections this month, NHK aired a program about recent encounters between anime companies and Hollywood studios called, fittingly, Anime vs. Hollywood.

Included in the show were scenes from the forthcoming Astro Boy movie and Afro Samurai, promoting both projects in the relatively somber tones of a documentary.

And guess what? There was David Bowers, director of the Hollywood Astro Boy film, traveling to Tokyo to seek the approval of Yoshihiro Shimizu, executive producer of Tezuka Productions, for Imagi's latest version of Tezuka's creation.

There, too, was Gonzo's Shinichiro Ishikawa, palling around in Los Angeles with Samuel L. Jackson, laughing and working hard on the newest version of Afro Samurai, which will also include the voice of newly signed Lucy Liu, the Asian-American Charlie's Angel.

In other words: Japanese producers were shown flying to the United States to control their products, and Americans were seen in Tokyo, seeking the approval of the original artists.

The scenes of mutual engagement and respect between anime and Hollywood felt groundbreaking, especially given the history of willful ignorance on both sides. Combined with the comments made by the two Asian-American producers in Los Angeles last spring, they produce a portrait of soft power finally working its mojo--motivating people to work together across national borders largely because they want to.

When Barack Hussein Obama, another hybrid American, was elected president of the United States last week, I and a lot of my friends were deeply moved, regardless of party affiliation, political slant or even passport designation. Obama has a lot to live up to, and an awful lot of hard work to do. But we were stirred by the mere suggestion of a 21st-century America that might reach out to others in a spirit of collaboration, as he has promised to do, seeking advice and counsel and offering strength and support rather than unilateral force and coercion--especially since the threat of declining fortunes long facing the anime industry is now being shared by the rest of us.


Source

Daily Yomuri has annoying habit of deleting the articles so I am forced to copy and paste the entire thing here just in case it happened again. This is basically a running theme of soft power concepts and how it affects US-Japan relations.

Cheers.

Ninja Scroll Live Action

Leo Di Caprio. I used to loathe this guy out of sheer jealousy because Titanic. The girls are singing lullabies and want to have sex with this guy for the damn ship movie. But...

He is a real big time anime fan and his company, Appian Way already go full time production on adaptation of Ninja Scroll and Akira anime into live action.

I have confidence in him. Despite my earlier dismissal, I later on watch Basketball Diary and Blood Diamond which impressed me a lot. Not forgetting Gangs of New York. Ah well.

This time though he is not acting in either of them.

Source

Wednesday, November 12

Singaporean Anime Downloaders being sued

Nov 11, 2008
Anime downloaders being sued
By Chua Hian Hou
FIVE Japanese anime studios are suing people accused of downloading their videos without permission, marking an unprecedented step by a rights owner against end-users.

Four writs of summons were filed last week by law firm Rajah & Tann on behalf of the studios, namely Showgate, Geneon Entertainment, TV Tokyo, GDH KK and Sunrise.

The studios are behind anime series such as Devil May Cry and Bleach. The writs did not specify which series had been downloaded.


Source

Perhaps it is first step to stem the fansubbing scene? Interesting case to follow. It could be crucial for the fandom as lots of fans download digital copies of the Net for their anime fix.

Kannagi latest manga chapter "controversy"





According to this site, the Japanese Kannagi "fans" denounced Nagi because she is not pure (Asian euphemism for virginity).

To me, they are bunch of fucktards. She is just a character in a story, not a property. They got a bit too obsessed, really really too deep into her.

She is a good character and main driving force of the story but most of these "fans" treated her like an object of adulation (moe), disregarding the creator's vision of the story.

This is very dangerous trend, when creative force of anime/manga being subverted to niche otakudom that have their heads far too stuck up in their own ass. Heh.

I just hope the mangaka did not surrender to these people unreasonable demands.

Saturday, November 8

428 the anime


So far all I knew is it is thought to be a game at first by SEGA with story writing and art by TYPEMOON duo but turns out to be it will 2009 TV anime series now. I have no idea what is the synopsis is all about nor what is based on. But as a diehard TYPEMOON fan, I welcome this news very heartily. One of the main character surely looks like Arucied Brunestud from Tsukihime. 428 if pronounced fast sounds like Shibuya, it is sequel to famous game "machi" by this company called Chunsoft. However it is puzzling to me as to why they decided to risk an anime adaptation straightaway.

PA Works, studio behind True Tears will be responsible for the anime.

Announcemnt
The official anime site

More Details on 2009 release; Akira




Warner Bros. will turn anime artist Katsuhiro Otomo's six-volume graphic novel "Akira" into two live-action feature films, the first of which is being fast tracked for release in summer 2009. Legendary will co-finance with WB.

Each feature will be based on three of the books in Otomo's series. The story takes place in New Manhattan, a metropolis that was rebuilt after being destroyed 31 years earlier. Otomo will exec produce the films.

Graphic novel was first adapted for the bigscreen in 1988 as a popular animated film which Otomo directed.

Studio has closed a seven-figure rights acquisition deal with manga publisher Kodansha and has set Ruairi Robinson to direct a script by Gary Whitta ("Book of Eli"). Andrew Lazar's Mad Chance will produce with Appian Way's Leonardo DiCaprio and Jennifer Davisson.

WB had the "Akira" rights several years ago only to let them lapse and then recapture them in a spirited bidding battle.

Robinson, an Irish helmer who has been Oscar nominated for his short film and commercials work, is making his feature debut.

The project was brought in by exec veep Greg Silverman, who has supervised "300" and "Batman Begins."

Lazar is producer on the WB comedy "Get Smart," and he's about to start production on the Jim Carrey starrer "I Love You Phillip Morris" for EuropaCorp.

Appian Way is producing the John Cusack starrer "The Factory" for WB and Dark Castle.


Source

What else can I say? Yeah baby!

Tuesday, November 4

Otoyome-Gatari




The stage is a rural city next to Caspian Sea in 19th century, Amir Khargal, 20 year old nomad woman, married a 12 year old boy, Karluk Aphon. It's about a life of newly married couple, an aggressive nomad woman and a peaceful farmer boy.

Mori Kaoru said she fancies cavalry battles so she decided to write this story. She is well known for her works in Shirley and Victorian Romance Emma. What I admire is her meticulous detailing and research on culture, clothing of the era she is writing on. As the picture above shows, the costume of the plain nomads of Central Asia is intricate and very beautiful.

Source

Tuesday, October 28

Miyamoto Musashi/ 宮本武蔵



Mamoru Oishi from his praised but not commercially successful Sky Crawlers will be directing Studio IG movie on most famous Japanese duelist, Miyamoto Musashi. Musashi who wrote treatise on swordmanship known Book of Five Rings, said to have won 60 duels against famous martial artists in Japan. Studio IG has made excellent chambara series "Guardian of Water Spirit" or Seirei no Moribito should be able to rival another excellent chambara movie released last year, Sword of Stranger animated by Studio Bones.

Due for release in early summer 2009, the title would be 宮本武蔵―双剣に馳せる夢― / Miyamoto Musashi - Futaken ni Haseru Yume (Miyamoto Musashi – A Dream of Victory with Two Swords).

Perhaps this will talk about his exploits when he fought the Yoshioka school where he is forced to use dual sword in mortal combat against whole school. The ending might be where he went one on one against a renowned rival, Genryu Sasaki Kojiro.

Wikipedia entry
Anime movie site

Monday, October 27

Hetalia Axis Powers/ ヘタリア Axis Powers




New Studio DEEN's television anime version of Hidekazu Himaruya's Hetalia - Axis Powers web manga has been announced..

What is this all about?

It is about a "cynical gag" story mainly recounts the era between World War I and World War II, with the stereotypical description of each participant country or region (particularly northern Italy) anthropomorphized as pretty boys as opposed to female friendly Strike Witches. For example, Italia Veneziano is into pasta and women whereas Deutsch (Germany) loves potatoes and sausages. The manga's title comes the Japanese words for "useless" (hetare) and Italy (Italia).

Basically it is a geopolitical historical discourse in pretty boy analogy format.

Source

Saturday, October 25

Kannagi OP by Jam Project



Another way to look at the now famous OP.



The piano version of the song.

Sunday, October 19

And to the finale



The parting scene between Archer (Future Emiya Shirou) and Rin Tohsaka. Pretty touching if you know how bitter Archer is before he remembered why he has the ideals again when he is dueling his younger self.

Pretty well done.



Opening for Realty Nua 1.



Opening for Realty Nua 2.



Opening for Realty Nua 3.

What we miss from Fate/Stay Night?



The awesome scene of Unlimited Blade Works versus Gate of Babylon where Shirou tapped into the world of blades to counter the ancient king's room of treasure.

It is sad that this scene only seen in the game, not the anime.

Friday, October 10

Japanese Righteous Gentile in Anime Movie Treatment: Chiune "Sempo" Sugihara



'Japanese Schindler' cartoon in works

Animated film to honor diplomat Sempo Sugihara, who risked his job to save thousands of Jews in Holocaust.

Japan's largest film company, Nippon Animation, is producing an animated film on Chione (Sempo) Sugihara, the Japanese diplomat who saved thousands of Jews in Europe during the Holocaust, and who became known as the "Japanese Schindler."

The film was specially animated for television stations in Japan and around the world. The plan is to market the film in 2008, marking 60 years since diplomatic relations were established between Israel and Japan.

The Japanese company asked Israel's ambassador to Japan, Eli Cohen, company to help in making the film.


Japanese "Oskar Schindler" full article

I am surprised that such serious topic as this is animated in anime movie. Guess there is still people who see the medium in level of seriousness as I did, not gushing in mainstream style of anime that seem to be overrun with schoolgirls and giant mechas.

One thing for sure, I am looking forward to it since I love history and focus a lot on Holocaust. Sadly though, most of us did not learn from this as Rwanda, Cambodia and Bosnia has shown lately.

Sunday, October 5

Soft Power Discussion no 3

An old article from CNN, talking about Japan's soft power; a sort of continuation from previous entry.


'Soft power' part of balancing act

By Geoff Hiscock
CNN

(CNN) -- Soft power, or the art of influencing people to like you, is a growing part of Japan's perennial balancing act with the world.

For a taste of Japan's soft power, look no further than "Gedo Senki" (Tales from Earthsea), the blockbuster animated movie that has just knocked "Superman Returns" from the No. 1 spot in the Tokyo box office stakes.

The Earthsea stories come from the pen of American fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin, but it is Japan's anime (animation) world that has most fervently embraced her characters.

Anime and its print sister manga (comics) are part of Japan's huge otaku (think fan or nerd) culture that is fixated on fantasy, robots, dolls, swap cards, video games, role playing, costumes and other such accoutrements.

And while geekdom in Japan is a big business, it is even bigger globally, with scores of anime and gaming-related conventions tracked by international sites such as www.otakuworld.com.

In September alone, for example, fans can attend Dragon-Con in Atlanta, Animania in Sydney, Australia, Fumettopoli in Milan, Italy and Connichi in Kassel, Germany.

The otaku world is but one of the many projections of cool Japan. From fashion to food to film and a dozen other cultural avenues, Japan is a global player.

Fashion designer Nigo, architect Tadao Ando, novelist Haruki Murakami, baseball star Ichiro Suzuki, footballer Hidetoshi Nakata and actor/singer Takeshi Kaneshiro are just some of the skilled exports who provide a "soft power" counterpoint to Japan's underwhelming performance in the international political arena.


Full article is here

Soft Power Discussion no 2.

Akaha, Tsuneo. "Debating "Soft Power" in Japan's Security Policy: Implications for Alliance with the United States"

Abstract: In this brief analysis, we will look at the ongoing Japanese discussion on soft power and consider its implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance. We will first discuss the concept, as developed by Joseph Nye, its potential and limitations as an instrument of national policy. We will then examine how the Japanese are using the concept in discussing their nation's security policy. In the process we will identify some indicators of Japan's soft power. We will then explore the implications of Japan's interest in expanding its soft power for its security alliance with the United States.


This article discusses the correlation of cultural trade between economic and military superpowers of current day. How bridging cultural can do for expression of cooperation and collective security in the region made possible by larger acceptance of popular pop trade namely anime, jpop and movies from Japan. A bit overstretch but this Japanese interpretation of Joseph Nye's idea of soft power concept. This time, it is other way around, with Japanese soft power vis-a-vis USA exportation of rap, Hollywood and consumer goods like Levis.

Full article here

First impressions: Kannagi/ かんなぎ



Nice pacing, well placed humor and unmistakable Yamakan's touch all over the place. Dynamic camera angle and good placement of background music. It is faithful to the manga source so far. Lush animation especially the OP and main character is quite interesting. Former A class staffers from Kyoto Animation gesture of revenge against Kyoto Animation for cashiering Haruhi's director into bin after early Lucky Star fiasco.

I wonder if this series is the reason why Haruhi S2 got delayed? Remains to be seen.

Earlier entry and trailer

Haruhi Season 2 and Kannagi's relationship?

Saturday, October 4

First impressions: Tora Dora/ とらドラ


It was pleasant introduction that moves rather quickly in pacing which a rarity in anime. Rie Kugiyama sounds more matured and she brings out the darker tinge of Taiga, which enhances the character considerably. Taiga sounded menacing yet she is absurdly comical with her reactions to her surroundings. Fans of Toradora actually wanted her to take this role despite she has been repeatedly typecast into tsundere roles way too often (Shana, Zero no Tsukaima). She paid back with spades in Toradora with restrained voice acting that actually suited Taiga's characterization.

The only problem is lack of introspection especially Taiga which made the light novel a delightful read.

The team supposedly well staffed with competent people, writer (Okari Mari) who did Rozen Maiden, also responsible for Aria and Sketchbook series. Director (Nagai Tatsuyuki) crafted Honey and Clover and also helped in Mai Hime/Otome series.

Preview from earlier entry





Enjoy.

Tuesday, September 30

Moe/ 萌え

Definition: oe (萌え, Moe? /mo.e/, pronounced "mo-eh" literally "budding", as with a plant) is a Japanese slang word originally referring to fetish for or love for characters in video games or anime and manga. (Wikipedia, 2008)

It's difficult. They immediately become the subjects of lolicon fetishism. In a sense, if we want to depict someone who is affirmative to us, we have no choice but to make them as lovely as possible. But now, there are too many people who shamelessly depict (such heroines) as if they just want (such girls) as pets, and things are escalating more and more

- Hayao Miyazaki

The anime maestro like Miyazaki is expressing worry about anime fans hyper emphasize certain traits of female character while ignoring the rest. That shows how powerful demand is, to have a "moe" characteristics. That to me, is a symptom of selective viewing by anime fans which undermine the character real strength and integrity. It is tough to have normal, mentally matured female anime characters in current mainstream shows. Miyazaki style female characters are very notable for their strength, courage and believable human traits but to have him prompted such opinion means this aspect was often overlooked by his audiences.

Few like Shinbo made this a running gag in his latest series, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei. He shamelessly portrayed the girls in very compromising scenes that is designed to create the moe as form of mockery; the characters doing 4th wall jokes hitting on this at the same time.
Mikuru
Sometimes I do wonder if people watching anime for story or just more baser fulfillment of certain paradigms (hence my largely negative outlook of shows like Lucky Star). A thing come to mind when I did a review on Haruhi, I commented wryly if the most fans were watching it for sheer brilliant discussion on science fiction concepts like Singularity or powerful questions of "Why are we here?" or checking out the short skirts of their school uniform and other physical traits for moe appeal (Asahina Mikuru is good example here). Even Macross Frontier has to morphed the idol image to be more moe (Ranka Lee's signature pose) versus a more traditional idol star in mold of Lin Min Mei ( in form of Sheryl Nome). It is as if Kawamori put these 2 idols and have them fight each other as statement of his view on the issue.

Ranka Lee

Sheryl Nome

Another troubling aspect is the focus on childlike qualities to elicit the moe appeal. I do wonder if it issue of most anime fans simply refuse to grow up and the market feeds on their insecurity/fears of adulthood in vicious circle. Asian culture itself venerated youth appeal especially females as purity of essence for thousands of years. No exception here, from China to southern archipelago of South Pacific. Japan just take the step further and twist it into more sophisticated childlike infatuation art. Some social commentators even went as far that 30 something Japanese women actually has to resort to giggle like a school girl or cuddle a teddy bear in order to get hitched by guys. Seriously, WTF.

Strike Witches

Demands fuel supply and such as moe now becoming more pervasive as anime fans with money demanded it in home market of Japan. To me, it is a self made vicious cycle; studios keep churning out the moe anime at the expense of good storytelling and fans to lap it up without restraint, demanding more. "Moe" should be a bonus, not a driving force in anime storytelling. A good example is the recently concluded (when this post is made) Strike Witches. What is the point of this anime if not appealing to twisted segment of anime population that can't grow up? It is troubling enough to note that all the principal female characters are very young looking but the final nail is the fact they don't wear pants. The fact it is quite popular disturbs me even further.

I have grave misgivings for future of mainstream anime.

Miyazaki's complaint
Balanced Wiki entry