“One day, we looked around and realized that almost no one is making tokusatsu anymore,” said Shinji Higuchi, one of a handful of Japanese directors who still have experience in the genre, having directed three movies in the 1990s featuring the giant fire-breathing turtle Gamera. “We don’t want this technique to just quietly disappear without at least recognizing how indebted we are to it.” - The last days of the rubber-suit monsters.
At the dawn of the millennium, Japanese society has suffered a severe economic collapse, leading to widespread youth apathy and 800,000 students boycotting school. Adult society sought to reassert their authority by passing the Millennium Education Reform Act, otherwise known as the BR Act. - a look at Kinji Fukasaku's Battle Royale.
He is the spirit of vengeance and the wrath of God given form. But when Daimajin's rage was unleashed, it could be directed at both the wicked and the innocent alike.[more inside]
In 1982 the manga, Akira (previously) , began its run. It would ultimately spawn a film that would lead the way for the growth of the anime medium outside of Japan. An attempted Americanized remake (previouslyer) was in production before being ultimately canceled. The manga’s creator, Katsuhiro Otomo, in the meantime, had taken a 20 year break from long-form manga. It was recently announced that this break was coming to an end and that Otomo would be working on a new long-form shonen series.
Studio 4°C is a Japanese animation studio, named for the temperature at which water is most dense, which they convey in their creative manifesto: "create only works that are dense with substance and extreme quality." The studio has produced a range of works, from commercials (Honda Edix | Nike iD REALCITY) and music videos (Ken Ishii - 'Extra' [prev] | Utada Hikaru - 'Fluximation'), to animated series (The Adventures of Tweeny Witches | Thundercats reboot [prev]) and feature-length films (Memories  | Mind Game ). More on their movies inside. [more inside]
The benshi of Japan were live narrators of silent films. "To many 'silent' cinema fans in Japan, benshi were a major attraction. It was usually the film that drew people to the theater, but it was often the benshi which determined which theater a person would attend. Benshi were huge cultural stars of the time, with benshi earning as much, if not more, than many actors." [more inside]
A middle aged man sits on a chair, nervously reveals udder-like things on his chest, and descends his scrotum through a hole in the chair. Then it gets stranger. [SLYT] [IMDB]
"In Japan, animation is not seen as the exclusive realm of children's and family films, but is often used for adult, science fiction and action stories, where it allows a kind of freedom impossible in real life. Some Hollywood films strain so desperately against the constraints of the possible that you wish they'd just caved in and gone with animation." -- Roger Ebert on anime, with this excerpt being related to Tokyo Godfathers. Ebert has been a fan of anime for a while, especially the works of Hayao Miyazaki. Ebert has reviewed 6 of the 18 Studio Ghibli films released to date, and even interviewed Miyazaki with a bit of fanboy glee. More reviews and videos inside. [more inside]
"The Japanese Tradition" was a series of nine short, parody "How To" videos that gently mocked the formality of Japanese culture, from comedy duo Rahmens (ラーメンズ) and Japan Culture Lab. They're available on DVD, but nearly all of them can be seen on YouTube, including Sushi and Ocha (tea). [more inside]
On March 23, 1910, Akira Kurosawa was born. Questionable as lists may be, some great trailers and snippets are here. At least in the UK, he even got a Google doodle.
Asian Horror Movies.com. 100's of free, streaming video, full movies, which have English subtitles. Index of titles updated regularly. Japanese, Korean, Thai. Includes a wide variety of films from an eccentric fantasy like 100% Wool to a psychological thriller like Angel Dust. [more inside]
High-Kick Girl! That says it all but there's more to the story than just a kick to the head. Meet the star, teen karate girl Rina Takeda. Watch her take on a guy in a baseball uniform.
NEGADON!! "NEGADON - the Monster from Mars" is a "digital monster film", a film for the future. Similar in execution to the short film which eventually spawned "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow", Negadon is a 100% computer-generated short which has been cleverly designed to look like the old Japanese man-in-the-rubber-suit monster movies of the 50's. Even the posters look the part.
The Emperor's Bunker. "The Japanese, with sadness and irony, stressed that Hirohito couldn't even speak properly. This was partly to do with the fact that he didn't have to speak - people spoke in his name and he was isolated from real life". "The Sun", the third part in Russian director Aleksandr Sokurov's 'Men of Power' tetralogy after the gloom of Moloch (1999), about Hitler and Eva Braun, and the despairing tones of "Taurus" (2001), focused on the wheelchair-bound Lenin in his death throes, "The Sun" seems almost upbeat. This, after all, is a film about reconciliation. More inside.
Goodbye Gojira Toho decides to retire our favorite radioactive green dinosaur. Sure there were some crappy ones, but even the crappy ones were great in their own way. And if you've never seen Godzilla Raids Again or the uncut remake of Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah you owe it to yourself to get watching. Bye-Bye old Friend (snif).
Online petition to bring Spirited Away, Japan's currently largest grossing film, to thje states. Disney owns the domestic rights to all of Hayao Miyazaki's films (think Princess Mononoke) and has no plans to release Spirited Away.
Tetsuo! Kaneda! Akira on DVD!