Tuesday, September 29

Cosmology of Miyazaki movies part 1

Hayao Miyazaki, the anime maestro who is responsible for some of the most famous anime movies, incorporating all elements of nature as storytelling tool to give mood to his movies. In fact some remarked that his movies is not meant to be seen but to be felt. He uses fire, wind/air, water, wood, metal and earth as believed by East Asian mythos as 6 basic elements of nature to tell the story. Here 2 of his best known movies; Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke (1997) will be used to examine the use of these elements.

Trees played a major role in these 2 movies; Totoro and Mononoke Hime but in very opposing manner and symbolically incompatible with each other. The gentle sways of tree is beckoning and warm in Totoro, persuading Mei and Satsuki to explore their mystical world which appears to be benevolent and beckoning manner. The synthesis of wind and trees swaying in “happy” tone while accompanied by cheery soundtrack in Totoro made it look like have a dance fiesta, a party to welcome the guests into their midst. Unsurprisingly the sisters have their own version of good time in their own backyard with King Totoro as their bored and indifferent guide. This is Miyazaki's vision of nature as good force of mankind, nurturing and kind yet shy to be approached by easily corrupted humans.

It is noteworthy that Totoros can only be seen by certain people who did not have any expectations or common flaws that is associated with adult failings in modern world. Perhaps the forest itself carries the meaning of innocence and free from world failings, will open to anyone who has similar minds. The scene where Mei decided to go to hospital in search for their sick mother and subsequent rescue effort by Mei is accompanied by calming yet urgent breezy wind with the trees swaying at the same time to cheer them on. It is as if “they” are consoling the sister over their anxiety and urge them to go to see their mother instead of playing around with them.

Princess Mononoke however displayed more sinister aspect of the tree and wind elements, the former is dark and foreboding whereas the wind is there to as sign of troubled times, dark tidings ahead in the narrative. Ashitaka first encounter with demon form is fought in a stern, silent yet creepy terrain of big, tall trees. It is interesting to note when the scenes cuts into revelation of what is hiding the trees, Mononoke is a visceral and aggressive instead of friendly atmosphere as seen in Totoro. The swaying of branches in Mononoke maybe suggesting urgency and action instead of placid and relaxing aspect in Totoro, as if the trees are harbinger and silent witness of upcoming war between mankind and nature.

In one scene to illustrate this feel, the trees in concert with the gust of wind, sways around like an angry mob accusing all living things around it which accentuated by monkey spirits who were demanding the flesh of unconscious Ashitaka which San resisted their demand with her wolf god, Moro. If Totoro has a lot of life and vibrancy of the trees, in Mononoke, their actual death can be seen in form of chopped woods as the residents of Lady Eboshi's city use it indiscriminately. The indictment of mankind, gearing themselves for war in Mononoke, consuming resources is clearly shown in barren wasteland around the city while workers and lumberjacks patiently processing the trees to be transported into the city. There is also not much wind breeze in the city scenes, the viewers can see huge smog of industrial waste being pumped into the air from iron factories which an analogy of tools of deadly force (the weapons) bring the taint of death and anthropy to its surrounding (lack of wind and barren landscape). The air is dead and being “consumed” by the industrial smoke, sucking the life out of it which manifests in a lack of breeze.

Will be back soon with part 2.


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Monday, September 28

Phantom Requiem ending: My thoughts on it

I played the VN hence my disdain when I found out Bee Train (no thanks to their inept Blade of the Immortal series) is animating this series. Since I knew the story will be based on Ein/Elen's ending, I did not watch the series until the conclusion where there is little twist in the end, Reiji was shot by INFERNO assassin in the back while he is watching Elen admiring the skies of Mongolia like the ending of the route. I was pleasantly surprised by it, the ending fits the theme of the story, IMHO.

Cal story is she "born" with tainted hands of Reiji and by his hand she will "return" to him. Despite his grief, Reiji conscience is somewhat eased with knowledge that Cal will not go on killing and lived his erstwhile empty life during his time in Inferno. Her death is not in vain, she is free from path of no return and served as closure to Reiji's deep anguish as much as her's.

The theme of this story always revolves around there is always a consequence for any path despite who you are, Cal and anime unique Reiji's tragic last exit meant to show this.

Reiji succeed in saving Elen so his "debt" to her is done. But he can't escape his past so the last bullet is his absolution for his other horrible deeds. He is free but at the cost of his life.

After all, there is no more purpose of living for Cal and Reiji, to be honest. In VN where Cal is the focus, they both still living the path of blood in the end, becoming a modern version of Bonnie and Clyde which I don't consider as quality living.

However, I must add, the anime ending is bit ambigious; some people think Reiji is wounded whereas I think he is dead. Different strokes for different folks.

The ED song is lovely, KOKIA gave a sorrowful and fitting end to the story by her sad lullaby.

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Wednesday, September 23

Cowboy Bebop Live Action updates

According to this site, original script of famous Cowboy Bebop is costing too much money despite it is being "faithful and awesome" according to the star, Keanu Reeves. Apparently, the sum is around 500 million USD which is even more expensive than James Cameron's Titanic 200 million USD incidentally. In this one, Peter Craig talks on how much is not lost in translation when he adapted the series into proposed movie, only have to rewrite it when studio executives balked at the cost involved to realize his draft into proper movie.

It sounds like there is a possibility of the potential of the series will be adjusted to budget constraints, and that frankly troubled me little bit. Peter Craig consulted the original makers of the anime series in order to get it right but now he has readjust in face of Hollywood economics. According to Reeves, "all" will be in the movie. Even 2 hour movie will be hard pressed to include all of the cast, so I am already worried little bit here.

After experience of Dragonball Z ,I can understand why the movie studios were kinda worried with anime adaptation strategy so far.

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Tuesday, September 22

Kimi ni Todoke / 君に届け

2 things that got me interested in this one: Noto Mamiko and Production I.G.

I haven't check the manga yet but this setting screams of chick flick. Maybe less contrived than Winter Sonata. After all I do enjoy Nodame Cantabile. Apparently the manga won some awards and it will have a live action drama treatment soon.

Ah well, it looks interesting enough for me. I enjoyed [I]Nodame[/I] and [I]Honey & Clover[/I], so this might be in my interest too.

Anime Site

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Sunday, September 20

2001 Nights / 2001夜物語 CG Movies

Fumihiko Sori is doing 2 chapters from famous hardcore sci fi mangas, 2001 Nights penned by Yokino Hoshino back in 80s. The manga feels like a sidestory or supplementary to famous movie by late Stanley Kubrick. There is a rare, VHS/Laserdisc era anime based on 3 chapters of the manga. The books is basically an anthology of short stories on mankind's quest to space, ranging from a heart touching story of US-Soviet leader secret meeting in space station for a peace talk to ease a tense Cold War (remember it is written around 80s) to sad laments of an artificial couple sending human kids on new Earth colony from their starship after years of raising them up.

The website is featuring video comments from Sori, voice actor Jun Fukuyama (Ion), and voice actress Aya Hirano (Arina). Sori is adapting two stories from Yukinobu Hoshino's 2001 Nights manga, "Symbiotic Planet" and "Elliptical Orbit". His story carries 2 facets, either mankind will be ushered into uncertain Space Age or retreated from space and perished on overpopulated Earth later.

Awesome shit, I telling ya. No doubt that I will watch this.

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Crayon Shin Chan mangaka is found dead

One of the most successful mangaka is confirmed dead when his body was retrieved from hiking place few hours ago. Yoshito Usui started Crayon Shin Chan in 1990 and become one of cultural icon of popular Japanese culture. I kinda enjoyed the comic, never seen the anime though.

It is sad to see him go, which not long after death of Takiro Yamato, author of Kaze no Stigma on 20th July 2009.

Rest in peace.

Source News no 1

Source News no 2

Source no 3

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Thursday, September 17

Mai Mai Shinko to Sennen no Mahou / マイマイ新子と千年の魔法

Madhouse and Black Lagoon director (Sunao Katabuchi) is collaborating on this novel by Nobuko Takagi adaptation into a movie, soon to be premiered in Japan on 11 November 2009. Premise is set around 1950s, somewhere in a town located at southwestern Japan, where a nine-year-old girl named Shinko has an ancient family connection to a 1000 year old province of Suo which full of legends. Shinko joins Kiko, a transfer student from her school, on a magical adventure based on their imagination or it could be real. The novel is based on her autobiography.

If anyone wondered why this movie looks like Miyazaki, perhaps it is worth remembering that Sunao Katabuchi used to work with Studio Ghibli on Kiki's Delivery Service and Sherlock Hound the TV series. The trailer has good soundtrack, I have to say. I might check this out due to the fact I liked Black Lagoon a lot despite it feels and looks like children fantasy stuff like Eragon.

Main website

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Solid Snake is real!

Embarrassed officials were at a loss to explain how Jean-Pierre Treiber, 45, a double murder suspect, managed to elude detection in the box he had built himself at a workshop in the high security prison of Auxerre, Burgundy.
With its hidden human cargo, the box was loaded with dozens of others onto a lorry for delivery to the Yonne region, southeast of Paris.


Metal Gear Solid rocks. LOL

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Wednesday, September 16

Akira revived?

Today I read this which made many anime fans were groaning in collective pain at news: live action Akira is still on the planning, 2 top script writers (Mark Fergus and Hawk Ostby)is trying to adapt Akira for Hollywood screen. Who are these 2? Well these are the guys who did the script for Children of Men, arguably one of the best sci fi movie lately.

I for one, welcome this live action adaptation, since I have a hunch that it will be good. I definitely pay a ticket to see this movie.


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Friday, September 11

Winter Sonata / 冬のソナタ

Now I find this is weird as hell, why are they redo a successful live action series (which arguably launched the K-Wave phenomenon back in 2002) into anime series with same leads as VAs? What could they possibly able to achieve by this copy and paste project, to be honest?

I am interested to see the response to this series much later.

Official Anime Site

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Thursday, September 10

Mein Kampf / わが闘争 the manga


I guess it is inevitable since Das Kapital was published last year in manga format hence the direct opposite is just screaming for a manga treatment. Here it is and apparently it sold well in Japan (45,000 copies now). I read it few years ago and it is nothing but anti Semitic ranting and presuppositions based on flimsy, historically selective bias.

I am not impressed with the book but at the time when Germany under heavy boot of economic downturn and hyperinflation, this book sounds like a great messianic salvation for the desperate Germans who wanted easy solution for their woes. Hitler seduced and played with their human weaknesses and strength to be their Fuhrer. Ultimately the Germans paid it with their own blood in Valhalla made by themselves in 1945.

Let me made this clear, I have no intention to purchase this manga. I have enough of Nazism and whatever they represented. It sucked.

Amazon Japan.

Bavarian state reject the plans to reprint it

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Tokyology Documentary

This pop culture documentary of Japan, Tokyology hosted by a very hot Carrie Ann. This segment focused on anime and manga which I felt very instructive. It is easier to convey the culture using sight and sound instead of words. In the documentary, Carrie Ann interviewed Yoshitoshi ABe, the guy who gave us magical Haibane Reimei and brain sucking Lain.

That interview is the most interesting segment to me besides brief image flashes of pretty cosplayers. The rest pretty blah to me, lolita goth segment for example did not inspire any interest from me. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.

Gotta to confess here, some of the cosplayers in this short video are pretty good looking. Gobsmackingly good looking. The film is available at select stores, anyone with interest of Japanese pop culture discussion might want to check the documentary out.

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Friday, September 4

Chinese Animation rips off Makoto Shinkai

San Com and ANN ripped into this Chinese show that uses same background template and animation with 5cm Per Second by famous Makoto Shinkai. They already said what needs to be said but one fact caught my eye and I cannot get over it is this from ANN:

The program's introduction describes it as "a program produced for the youth of China, and animation to raise wholesome minds and teach a noble view of life."

Now....ripping off someone else work is "wholesome minds and teach a noble view of life"?

Making the female students skirt longer did not "nobly" compensate the obvious image piracy. First picture is from Makoto Shinkai and 2nd one is from the Chinese copy.

Chinese did not have to rip off people's work, they have good standards as can be seen here:

Or this one.

Oh well.

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Wednesday, September 2

Roberta The Maid and Revy The Two Hander

Ah this post is pure fanboy moment. I am not ashamed of it, this is a nice cover featuring both of them eyeballing each other out in bikini. Yeah babey! Click for higher resolution!

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Tuesday, September 1

Fancy a Masters in Anime and Manga?

Kyoto Seika University (KSU) established bachelor's program in manga & animation and became the first real, accredited university in the world to do so in 2006. Now, KSU has upgraded its manga & animation program to the graduate level. Starting in 2010, you can earn not only a bachelor's degree but also master's degree in manga and/or animation.

KSU's "Faculty of Manga" department consists of cartoon art, comic art (story manga), manga production, and animation. Professional manga artists, anime creators, producers and editors from industry teach those courses. A legendary shoujo manga expert Keiko Takemiya (Fly Me to the Moon, To Terra..., Kaze to Ki no Uta) is one of the professors.

However, all the classes are taught in Japanese so international applicants must pass Level 1 of the Japanese Language Proficiency Test for admission.

It means the applicant must have studied the language more than 900 hours, mastered 2.000 kanji characters and 10,000 vocabulary words, and is able to discuss manga & anime in Japanese. Ouch.

English homepage of KSU

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Autumn/Fall 2009 Anime Lineups.

This is lineup for 2009 Autumn batch. Nothing really caught my interest except for Natsu no Arashii 2 and Darker than Black 2. Nogizaka Season 2 and Darker Than Black 2: Comet of Gemini will be popular watch. However, I am actually very, very intrigued by Winter Sonata anime series. Why they redo it in this format puzzles me to no end.

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