The manga series "Death Note." The first volume. The adapted anime series, newly arrived on Adult Swim. The Japanese movie trailer. Spoilers: Possible origins. The early press. Interviews with writer Tsugumi Ohba and illustrator Takeshi Obata. The controversy. The collectibles. The online Death Note. The last volume, finally released in the US and reviewed.
An Identification Guide of Japanese Moths Compiled by Everyone. Well, not everyone, but a lot of people and a lot of moths.
Some countries are shaped like their economic Phillips curve. Japan bears a strong resemblance to its Phillips curve. The Czech Republic does too, a little. And Canada’s similarity to its Phillips curve it less obvious, but it’s still there.
Now that the "World Series" is over, you can enjoy Joe Posnanski's coverage of the Japan Series in the Kansas City Star (on account of Nippon Ham Fighters coach Trey Hillman going to coach the KC Royals in 2008.) It's great to see Posnanski's perspective of Japanese baseball as he compares and contrasts American and Japanese baseball. It's also interesting to see American mass media cover Japanese sports when the Japanese mass media is going ga-ga over the US World Series (due to 3 Japanese players, Matsuzaka, Matsui and Okajima being in the finals.)
The Yamanote Halloween Train vs. Japanese Netizen Rage The Yamanote Halloween Train party was planned to be held on Saturday night in Tokyo. However, sometime on Saturday morning, the Japanese megaforum 2ch.net discovered an English-language post about the event on JapanProbe, and translated the information about it into Japanese, igniting a raging storm of anti-foreign hatred and sending over 10,000 visitors to the popular English-language blog about Japan. Scroll down for an interview with a JR employee about the event. [more inside]
Garra Rufa treatment, video, before and after pics. Fish that will eat you alive and make you healthy, "when you get over the ick factor, the nibbling can have a calming affect". [more inside]
Tokyo-Ga: this excerpt from a Wim Wenders film offers an interesting little glimpse into the world of pachinko, a gambling obsession for so many in Japan. But while most are gazing hypnotically into the noisy little machines in order to win prizes or money, others are circuit bending them to make them even noisier. [more inside]
Way too much thought about tentacle porn on this page, which details the history, current usage, and 'media' coverage of what to many seems the extreme of internet porn weirdness. Also covered are Lovecraftian stories, trinkets, movies, bestiality-inspired poetry and modern pictorial porn (this is weird porn, NSFW, I'm warning you). Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to bleach my mind.
Why is anonymous group suicide so popular in Japan? From 2003 through 2005, 180 people died in 61 reported cases of Internet-assisted group suicide in Japan . . . All but two of these cases have proceeded according to a common blueprint: The victims meet online, using anonymous screen names, and then take sleeping pills and use briquettes, charcoal burners, and tape to turn a car or van into a mobile gas chamber.
In a secular age, an authentic miracle must purport to be a hoax, in order to gain credit in the world.
The Mahikari Hoax The Harvard Asia Quarterly tells the story of Fujimura Shinichi, a once-renowned amateur Japanese archaeologist nicknamed 'God's Hands' (神の手） for his seemingly preternatural talent for finding artifacts, who was caught planting planting stone tools, some of which he had fabricated himself, others he had taken from other sites, at an archaeological dig in Miyagi, northern Japan. [more inside]
Nova eikaiwa is the biggest foreign language school in Japan, teaching predominantly English through a network of over 600 branches across the county and employing over 7,000 foreign nationals. After adverse rulings to a number of complaints regarding Nova's refund policy, the Japanese Government imposed a 6 month ban from July to prevent the company from selling large lesson packages to students. The company has experienced a severe downturn in cashflow as a result and there are reports of late payment to Japanese staff and suppliers in the last two months. Foreign teachers were unaffected until salary payments for the 15th September were paid late, and more senior teachers have not yet been paid. Despite not being paid, many staff face a tough decision: quit, or continue to show up to work in the knowledge that if the company goes bankrupt they are eligible for unemployment benefits. Despite this, CEO Nozomu Sahashi declared last Friday "The dark clouds that have been hanging heavily over us will be cast aside... I said previously 'the darkest time is before the dawn,' and finally the first light of dawn can be seen". Five days later and some teachers are still waiting to be paid.
"What is so striking about the work is that EVERYONE is crossing a line: The couples who are engaged in sex in public, the Peeping Toms who trespass on that intimacy, the photographer who has betrayed his acquaintance's trust, and of course US -- so willing to look at what was not meant for us to see." See also: NYTimes slideshow Layers of Voyeurism (Via boingboing) SFW, IMHO
GTA anime mod A video of a Grand Theft Auto mod with gun toting anime girls and deadly Pikachu/Doraemon attacks. Via the ever-wonderful Japan Probe.
DJ Sara and DJ Ryusei. Sara is 8 years old. Ryusei is 5 years old. I reckon maybe those are papa's hands working the platter and fader in this clip? Also on the vinyl tip, and coming at ya outta Japan, the SOUNDWAGON.
Playboy. Cowboy. Mandom. The late Charles Bronson and his perfect chest, in one of his finest early pre-Death-Wish roles. And look out for Percy Helton. Here's a shorter version with more horse. Via here. [more inside]
It's hard to think of any music that's any more fun than The Ventures, and here they are, live in Japan, 1965, at the top of their game. This footage is really good: Walk Don't Run. Wipe Out. Apache. House of the Rising Sun. Slaughter on Tenth Avenue. Flight of the Bumblebee. The Cruel Sea . . . But WAIT! Opening for the Ventures on that steamy summer night was homegrown Ventures cover band The M-Ventures! Straight outta Tokyo! Check out their versions of The Pink Panther Theme, Surf Rider and Yellowjacket. And in case you were wondering if the Ventures' influence is still being felt in Japan, well, check out 9-year-old guitarist Chicchi's versions of The Cruel Sea, Penetration, Walk Don't Run and Pipeline.
Lake Biwa: David Attenborough's Satoyama on YouTube, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6. [more inside]
Epaksa. Or Dr. Lee (a.k.a "Sinbaram" Epaksa). Purveyor of "Techno Ponchak". It's a mixture of electronic music with "ponchak," a dismissive, onomatopoeic reference to a Korean musical style known as "teuroteu" (trot). [More inside.]
The Royal Randwick Racecourse has been locked down. At least 8 horses have tested positive for equine flu. It is predicted that 700 horses will contract the virus. [more inside]
Animated population pyramids project a steady increase in the median age. England and Wales. United States. Canada. China. Japan. "The number of older persons has tripled over the last 50 years; it will more than triple again over the next 50 years." [pdf] There will be a shortage of workers to support the retired and disabled. The looming crisis has been predicted for years. Proposed solutions include robots and immigration. [previously, previously]
The X-Seed 4000 is currently the Earth's tallest proposed structure. The project is currently on hold, due to a funding shortage^, but adventures in Arcology will probably continue.
I've been struggling for days to refrain from posting this video of a chimp taking five British bulldogs for a walk around the streets of Japan, and it looks like I failed.
Dutch East Indies. "After a wonderful youth in the Dutch East Indies, today Indonesia, my family and I went through three and a half years Japanese occupation. I lost my father, I lost the country I loved, I lost everything, but I kept my memories. ... So here I am, 79 years old, sitting behind my computer, going back to the Dutch East Indies."
The Japanese Trailer to Kokoro Scan. Japanese game trailers always seem pretty interesting and fun. And, well, most often more-or-less nonsensical. This is for the new game Kokoro Scan, which, um, looks like it might be a dating sim of some sort? Maybe? The animation and segues are pretty interesting, and, though it's 6 minutes -- awfully long for a trailer, particularly one sans any gameplay (I think) -- it's interesting/off-the-wall enough to be engaging. What do cartoon nipples, pixellated white things and bananas have in common? (via)
Time once again to pay a little visit to Japan's ever-engaging electro-mechanical music overachievers, Maywa Denki. Here's some of their latest and greatest efforts.
Following this 2005 post, this documentary on Osaka "Host Clubs", "The Great Happiness Space" [Google vid 1:15; misleading preview here] is like nothing I've ever seen. Dark and light and wrenching and weird and funny. And dark. Kafka comes to mind for a lot of viewers, but this would fail as fiction. A midpoint shift forces you to confront a reality that is staggeringly complex. It's a kaleidescope of self-awareness and -delusion; compassion and manipulation; candor and deception. Layered, nuanced, and self-referential. The chief host's blog translated somewhat idiosyncratically by google, gives you another perspective [note: not included in the spirit of "LOL Engrish"]. This insider's account of a hostess club, written by a Duke University sociologist, is a lot more predictable and straightforward.
"Pimp my rice paddy." Crop art for aliens, instead of by them.
Contemporary Japanese bamboo art.
Strong earthquake hits Japan, hundreds of homes have been destroyed, bridges have been leveled, tsunamis are forming, and most frightening, the nuclear power plant appears to be leaking radioactive water. The quake registered as a 6.8 on the Richter scale. I hope that our Japanese Mefites are safe and sound and will let us know if there is anything we can do to help.
Traffic signals! Yes, an entire page devoted to the myriad varieties of Japanese LED traffic signal. They even have a mapping feature and a traffic signal lingo dictionary. I hereby dare ANYBODY to find a cooler hobby than this.
Known as scholar's rocks or gongshi, viewing stones are rocks of complex shapes that suggest worlds within worlds, microcosms in stone. In Japan they are called Suiseki, from the Japanese characters for water "sui" and stone "seki", placed on a daiza, a carved wood base. They are at once a miniature landscape and a point of imaginative departure…
The true story of Yamamoto Otokichi (or John Matthew Ottoson, a transliteration of "Oto-san"): a Japanese seaman who in 1832 got caught in a storm off the coast of Japan and ended up floating all the way across the Pacific, becoming the first Japanese (documented, at least) in North America. And that's only the introduction to his story. To get back to Japan he traveled around the world, setting many firsts for a Japanese native, and played a part as the inspiration for Commodore Matthew Perry and his "Black Ships." Although barely a footnote in history, in 2005 half of his ashes were brought back to Japan to rest in home soil. >
The Super-K is a neutrino observatory in Japan; it is 1000 meters underground, contains a lake of 50,000 tons of pure water & every inch of the the 41 meter high walls are lined with over 11,000 photomultiplier tubes. It is also one of the most amazing man made objects I've ever seen images of. Super high res photos available here. More photos of the construction & recent restoration. Via.
In late March the body of Lindsay Ann Hawker was found in a bathtub on the balcony of a Chiba apartment. This week, with the help of UK officers, the Hawker family has returned to Tokyo, to seek help to find the main suspect Tatsuya Ichihashi, who has been missing since the discovery of the body.
The folks from Japanese public TV's excellent children's show "Pythagora Switch" have for several years been creating some of the most delightful and inventive Rube Goldberg-esque contraptions you're likely to ever see. Here's a 9 minute clip featuring lots of these little kinetic masterpieces, guaranteed to entertain.
On the cusp of DEVO's first tour of Europe since 1990, it's become clear that, though largely cast aside after their 1980 hit "Whip It", DEVO's influence is finally being felt on modern audiences, around the world. DEVO has inspired tribute bands, some traditional, some not. They've also spawned new bands, domestic [MySpace link], and Foreign like Japan's POLYSICS [YouTube], and Germany's Mutate Now [YouTube]. With musical inspiration like this, can't we forgive such missteps as Devo 2.0?
Japanese onsen are now offering fish pedicures, where little flesh eating fishes nibble your toes. It's very youtube-genic, but there's a longer video report here.