Wednesday, December 31
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.
As Joker said, "Why so serious?"
Tuesday, December 30
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
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.
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?
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.
Thursday, December 25
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.
Who the hell is Kinniku Mantaro?
Tuesday, December 23
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."
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.
Monday, December 22
Friday, December 19
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.
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.
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.
Original Work: Kasahara Tetsuro
Director: Takahashi Atsushi
Character Design & Chief Animation Director: Tazaki Satoshi
Animation Production: MADHOUSE
Tuesday, December 16
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.
Sunday, December 14
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
Earlier entry on her sickness
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Friday, December 12
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.
She is the main reason why I sticking to this anime series, honestly.
Thursday, December 11
Saturday, December 6
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
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.
Japanese Red Army history
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.
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)
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.
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.