Following the March 2011 earthquake in Japan, commercials largely disappeared from television. To fill space between the news reports and lists of missing people, the Ad Council of Japan put together a number of PSAs. Since there were only five or ten of them, the PSAs played thousands of times over the course of a few months, searing themselves into the memory of the Japanese public. Most were typical messages about common courtesy, perseverance, listening to your kids, conservation, and international support. But one PSA in particular quickly took on a life of its own, instantly being mashed up with a classic Japanese TV trope: Robot Transformation Sequences! [more inside]
"Welcome to the Zion Archive. You have selected Historical File #12-1: The Second Renaissance." So begins the short film of the same name by Mahiro Maeda [Flash: 1 2 - QuickTime: 1 2] -- a devastating yet beautiful work of animation. Originally produced to explain the backstory behind the Matrix trilogy, Maeda's project ended up telling a story far darker and more affecting than any blockbuster. Using a blend of faux documentary footage and visual metaphor, his serene Instructor relates in biblical tones the saga of Man and Machine, how age-old cruelty and hatred birthed a horrifying, apocalyptic struggle that consumed the world. Packed with striking imagery and historical allusions galore, this dark allegory easily transcends the films it was made for. But while "The Second Renaissance" is arguably the best work to come from the Matrix franchise, it's hardly alone -- it's just one of the projects made for The Animatrix, a collection of nine superb anime films in a wide variety of styles designed to explore the universe and broaden its scope beyond the usual sci-fi action of the movies. Click inside for a guide to these films with links to where they can be watched online, along with a look at The Matrix Comics, a free series of comics, art, and short fiction created for the same purpose by some of the best talent in the business. [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]
You’ve read about the best friggin’ manga ever on Mutantfrog and Wikipedia. Now watch it in Anime form (via Japan Probe) [more inside]
If you've seen the Japanese safety manual for the Wii, you might have thought it was a bit excessive. But it really isn't, if you consider how many safety warnings they left out. Via core77.