Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Dashing Sukeroku

I have uploaded a new recommended title to my live action recommendations. This one is the famous kabuki play Sukeroku, which happens to be available on all region subtitled DVD from NHK.

Sukeroku (1713)
Script: Tsuuchi Jihei II, Tsuuchi Hanemon
Also known as Yukaro no Edo Zakira, and Sukeroku: Flower of Edo. This is one of the Kabuki Juhachiban, "Eighteen Great Plays," of the Ichikawa family. The setting is the Yoshiwara during the cherry blossom viewing. The highly regarded courtesan Agemaki longs for her dashing young lover Sukeroku while being pursued by the old lecherous samurai Ikyû who wishes to possess her himself. Sukeroku is constantly getting into fights, however he has a reason for this which I will not go into. Traditionally some of the scenes are improvised so the audience never quite knows what to expect. The NHK DVD release is one of the few kabuki plays to be subtilted.
Order the all region DVD of Kabuki Meisaku Sen Sukeroku Yuen Kurozakura from CD Japan

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Three named Kichisa

I have added a new title to my Recommended Japanese Live Action Cinema page. This one is especially good. Sannin Kichisa

Director: Kazuyoshi Kushida
Play author: Kawatake Shinshichi II

Starring: Nakamura Kankuro, Nakamura Shichinosuke and Onoe Matsuya, along with Kataoka Kamezo, Bando Shingo, Nakamura Tsurumatsu, Keiji Manako, Hiroshi Omori, Yoshi Oida, Takashi Sasano
This play premiered at the Ichimuraza in 1860, this filmed performance was at Theater Cocoon in June 2014.

2 hours 15 minutes
Part of the "Cinema Kabuki" series released by Shochiku Co of performances filmed and edited for showing in movie theaters.
From the opening in a commoners’ neighborhood to the dramatic “final curtain” the play is a joy to see and would be an excellent introduction to kabuki for a novice viewer.
This is the tale of three thieves who share the common personal name of Kichisa. As the story unfolds the viewer discovers they share far more than a name. The play not only shows their own pasts but how those of their families are interlocked in a complex web of karmic connections. The three Kichisa are: Oshô Kichisa a priest, Ojô Kichisa a pickpocket with girlish appearance who disguises himself as a woman, and Obô Kichisa a ronin. The story unfolds in a series of acts during which the back grounds of the characters and their families are shown. The stage setting is very modern, incorporating contemporary stage lighting and effects. Many details that would normally be less, or not, visible to the theater audience were filmed and are shown. While kabuki has the famous mie pose, the use of still images in various scenes performs a similar role and adds to the drama.

Available with subtitles from CDJapan on ALL region subtitled DVD Sannin Kichisa DVD
or Region Free Blu-ray Sannin Kichisa Blu-ray.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Thoughts on: Time and Space Are Nonsense: The Films of Seijun Suzuki by Tom Vick

 Being someone who digs about piles of Japanese cinema looking for interesting titles to watch and books to help me understand the medium I was quite happy to hear of the publication of this book. When I ran into a copy of the book at the Berkeley Art Museum shop I bought it immediately.

Over the years I have read about Suzuki Seijun on occasion and was curious to learn more. I rate books by how much I learn from them and this one I rate very high. From the beginning I found material that put Suzuki's work in the context of the industry of the time his early films were made. Mainly this was that of Nikkatsu's churning out B films for double bills. Suzuki got in trouble several times for his efforts to make his films more interesting by using new and experimental effects, effects that could be jarring to the viewer, and wre disliked by his boss. I should say delightfully jarring as I have found myself more than once holding by breath as I focused on what was being presented to me on the screen. The book gave me a better perspective regarding the context of the films and how they contrasted to the works of other directors of the time. Also covered is his firing and blacklisting, successful lawsuit against Nikkatsu and popularity among members of cinema clubs at the time.

I was also highly delighted to see a section on the influence of kabuki in Suzuki's films. I have long felt that kabuki has had a strong influence in Japanese cinema, after all many of the early actors were kabuki actors and for many years onnagata played the roles of women in Japanese silent cinema. Vick's book dealt with the specific influence on Suzuki, who is a fan of kabuki theater, and other directors. There is even a reference to kabuki influences in Shinoda Masahiro's The Scandalous Adventures of Buraikan, itself a film based on a kabuki play by Kawatake Mokuami.

Then the book goes further than most of what I have read, going into the films made after Suzuki's return to the director's chair in 1977. It is these films where Suzuki had greater freedom to experiment with the structure of cinema, narration, and visual presentation and produce unique works.

If you are interested in cinema, Time and Space Are Nonsense is a book I feel you should strongly consider reading, even buying to add to your own library.

Now on to the next book in my to read pile. Edo Kabuki in Transition.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

My FanimeCon 2016 panels according to the web site.

Anime/Manga for Parents
- Friday, 4:00 PM, 1 hour - Panels 3
Suitable for All Ages

Parents, aunts, uncles, adult friends, kids who want to improve their parents' knowledge about anime and manga; this panel is for you! Gilles Poitras will discuss various aspects of anime and manga that parents should know about as well as answer your questions.

Yokai: Kitsune 1 Introduction
- Saturday, 10:00 AM, 1 hour - Panels 3
Suitable for All Ages

The kitsune, the fox, has one of the largest sets of folklore of any supernatural beast in Japan. Not only are there native tales and legends but also tales with strong influences from China and Korea. This presentation shall cover native traditions associated with Shinto shrines to Inari and several of the various types of tales shaped by continental influences. Examples shall be both from traditional tales and modern depictions from manga, anime and live action movies.

Yokai: Kitsune 2 - Kuzunoha
- Sunday, 2:00 PM, 1 hour - Panels 3
Suitable for All Ages

One of the most famous kitsune in Japanese lore is Kuzunoha, the supernatural mother of the famous onmyoji Abe-no-Seimei. In Japan there are traditional songs as well as bunraku and kabuki plays about Kuzunoha, alas the plays are not available on DVD. However she is little known in the West and this shall be a chance for you to learn about this famous fox woman and the tales associated with her.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Wind powered walker

You probably have seen the videos going around of Theo Jansen's impressive wind powered walking machines. If you haven't check them out.

 When I saw the the videos I remembered I had seen a kit you could get to make a functional scale model of one. It turns out there is more than one model kit. 

Theo Jansen's Mini Beast

These are part of the Gakken Otona no Kagaku series of build it yourself projects which include many more items.

Friday, May 22, 2015

A Scoundrel Profits From Doing Good

I have added the kabuki play Kōchiyama by Kawatake Mokuami to my recommended title list. This play is part of a larger work and is the basis for a scene in The Scandalous Adventures Of Buraikan. If you like kabuki you will love this one. The DVD is region free and has English voiceover narration.