The year is 2071. Humanity has spread across the solar system and the Space Police have reinstated the bounty system of the Old West: catch wanted fugitives alive, deliver them to the cops and get paid. Cowboy Bebop
chronicles the adventures (and misadventures) of a group of bounty hunters as they try to catch bad guys and make a living. [more inside]
Heavily influenced by samurai films from film makers such as Akira Kurosawa, French/Burkinabe filmmaker Cédric Ido
produced a short award winning film, Hasaki Ya Suda
(The Three Black Samurai) set in the future. Its synopsis reads
It is 2100. In the world engulfed in chaos and war whose residents are consumed by terrible hunger, the last fertile land became the subject of fierce battles. Three warriors: noble Wurubenba (Jacky Ido), Shandaru (Cedric Ido), who wants to avenge his father’s death, and Kapkaru (Min Man Ma) craving for power, will face one another in a fight for life and death.
Watch the full 25-minute
Hasaki Ya Suda short film (available only with French subtitles at the moment) or the 1 minute teaser
. Interview with Cedric
Samurai meets Minesweeper! Defeat the Seven Daimyos and their Shogun, and restore peace to the land! As the Samurai, you will have to choose your battles carefully to overcome the enemies' forces... [more inside]
Can a master swordsman cut a bullet in flight? Isao Machii can
One of the longest-running and most-revered Samurai series of Japan, Zatoichi, The Blind Swordsman
, played by actor Shintaro Katsu
, produced 25 films and 112 episodes of a popular television series. It was a popular favorite, and concerned the titular character Zatoichi, a poor blind mendicant masseur who carried with him a deadly secret: a hidden cane sword and complete mastery of swordsmanship, despite his blindness. Zatoichi was by far the great antihero of classic samurai cinema. Often low-budget, sometimes schlocky, always thrilling, the Zatoichi series
has slowly become more well-known outside Japan in later years.
Criterion has just debuted a Hulu channel
offering six of the greatest feature-length Zatoichi classics – the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh – completely free of charge: The Tale Of Zatoichi Continues 
; New Tale of Zatoichi 
; The Fugitive 
; On the Road 
; and Zatoichi and the Chest of Gold 
is the latest American celebrity
to be featured in a TV commercial for SoftBank Mobile Corp
, a Japanese telecommunications and media company. Tarantino stars as “Uncle Tara-chan” in the bizarre and very popular “White family” commercial series
. The Whites
consist of the "Mom", the daughter “Me” (a Softbank shop saleswoman played by popular singer/actress Aya Ueto
), the "Older Brother"
(played by African American actor Dante Carter)
, and the father, Otosan
, who happens to be a white Hokkaido-ken
dog named Kaikun
Hanzo the Razor
(not to be confused with Hattori Hanzo
) is the title character of a Jidaigeki film trilogy. Like Tom Laughlin and his Billy Jack films
, Shintaro Katsu both produced and starred in the low-budget movies. Each story has Hanzo bringing down corrupt politicians with his special blend of booby traps
, rape and torture
Reviews of the trilogy can be found here
written by Yamamoto Tsunemoto in the early 1700s, is a guide to being a warrior and servant in a decadent world. It's probably known best to Westerners, at least indie-film folk and Forest Whitaker fans, as being the favorite text of the hero of Ghost Dog
. Study it well
and you could be as cool
as Ghost Dog
. (NSFW) [more inside]
In Japan haramaki
were originally worn as part of samurai armor
to protect the stomach and kidneys
. They have evolved to become a handy winter fashion accessory, which keeps the whole body warm. [more inside]
- from this
. Photographs from an exhibition at the University of Tokyo. [related]
Anime Music Videos.
Yet another remixing web subculture
, they're usually a source of amateurishly produced angst. From the competitive perfectionists
, though, come well lipsynched
, action packed
, and occasionally just filthy
stuff for cartoon nerds. Besides the usual metal, ballads, and pop rock, there's some Daft Punk
, and downtempo
accompaniment. Or you can just go to hell
. Wear headphones and no-one will know.
Restaurant crybaby lashes out at NYT's Frank Bruni (pdf).
Jeffrey Chodorow's new restaurant (where each diner is constantly threatened with impalement by samurai sword, apparently) got a (funny and) decidedly lukewarm review in the Times
. So he took out a full-page ad to complain about it (pdf linked above), price tag: at least $30k. He also whines about it on his new blog
. The word "critic" is deployed in scare quotes.
[via this Slate piece by a former NYT food critic; interesting in itself]
Animation collective Three Legged Legs' (previously
) newest piece, Samurai
(embedded quicktime here
, High Def direct download here
) is a really beautiful looking short cartoon in Japanese. Warning to those fearing advertising, the piece was sponsored by GE, although it shows no branding or GE messaging of any kind.) Via
"I heard the hammer cock," John said.
Let's say somebody breaks into your apartment at gunpoint. Let's say that they seem likely to kill you or your roommate. Let's say you happen to have a samurai sword
on hand. Here's what it looks like
when you're done. (Caution: Blood pretty much everywhere.)
- 99% fun and hilarity watching little martial-artsified kittens die in horrifying ways, 1% ad for IFC's Samurai 7, an anime about Akiro Kurosawa's Seven Samurai. I don't normally go for this stuff, but all ya gotta do is mash a few buttons, and even I got to see all 9 "Furtalities" and enter the drawing for a dvd box set. Check out the fake ads, I won't spoil them for ya.
... defeat the opposing samurai ant by clicking above, below and on your own samurai ant. Good luck, though. The other guy is preternaturally good. [note: flash]
My coming My going, Two simple happenings that got entangled...
Japanese Death Poems. Small beautiful simple poems written before death. I just discovered them and thought I would share.
A few more here
Black ships and samurai
In 1853 four ships under Commodore Perry anchored off the coast of Japan against the wishes of the Japanese. According to historian John Dower, "This initial encounter between the United States and Japan was eye-opening for all concerned, involving a dramatic confrontation between peoples of different racial, cultural, and historical backgrounds. We can literally see this encounter of "East" and "West" unfold through the splendid, yet little known, artwork produced by each side at the time." This beautiful exhibition includes many examples of this artwork, juxtaposing scenes of the encounter from Japanese and American artists' points of view. (Part of MIT's open courseware initiative.)
Kodomo no hi
: May 5 is officially Children's Day
in Japan, but it is traditionally all about boys
. On this day, Japanese households make a display
of ningyo musha
(Samurai dolls), prepare and eat special food
, hang carp streamers (koinobori
) outside the house, and sing the Koinobori Song