Friday, December 25, 2020

Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan

Recently read:

Galbraith, Patrick W.

Otaku and the Struggle for Imagination in Japan

Durham: Duke University Press, 2019

If you have any interest in Japanese fan culture this work is a must read. Galbraith has incorporated years of research experience into this study of otaku culture. The volume focuses on a particular type of otaku, the male otaku from the anime fandom and dōjinshi culture that stated in the 1970s, through the development of Akihabara into an otaku holy land, the development of maid cafes and related businesses. What I found especially informative is that he covers what this meant to otaku themselves. The struggle part of the titles involves the often negative reaction to otaku in mass media, the police crackdowns on public performance in Akihabara, and attempts to turn the phenomenon into tourism and product promotion while shutting out the "weird otaku" from the process. 

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Seven new recommended movies this week.

 This week I added seven movies to my recommended titles page. Some are out of print but easy to find second hand. Disc releases of foreign films are usually on limited licenses, if they sell well the license may get renewed, otherwise they go out of print.

The titles I added are:

Aragami: The Raging God of Battle 

First Love

Hana: Tale of a Reluctant Samurai

Incident at Blood Pass




Monday, November 9, 2020

A Rampo related movie.


This recommended title is a delightful action triller inspired by the crime stories of Edogawa Rampo.  This time the Fiend With 20 Faces is plotting something and Akechi Kogoro is out to stop him. However an innocent young man, Endo Heikichi, has become caught in the middle of the action, and not in a very good way. Will Endo manage to come through OK? Will the Fiend finally be caught? will justice be served? Watch K-20 and find out!

Sunday, October 25, 2020

Gold Mask by Edogawa Rampo

Gold Mask by Edogawa Rampo

A spectre is haunting Tokyo - the spectre of the Gold Mask. An urban legend grows rapidly, spread by word of mouth to the point that the newspapers report on the rumors. A person with a gold mask, seen bundled up with hat low peering into a Ginza shop window, again at the scene of a tragic accident spotted by a shopkeeper, seen on the street by an elderly woman this time also wearing a gold cloak, again seen ...

Then a brazen robbery carried out by the Gold Mask shows that this is not a mere urban legend. Famed detective Kogorō Akechi is brought in to help the police capture the thief. But the Gold Mask is no ordinary thief, he and his gang seem unstoppable and ruthless. What follows is a cat and mouse game in which one is not always sure who is the cat.

Joining the story is a surprising visitor from France. Arsène Lupin, the first gentleman thief to go by that name, and his lover the young Japanese woman Fujiko. What role will they play in the story? I won't say as that will be far too much of a spoiler. Instead I recommend that if you are interested you get ahold of a copy of this work by the grand master of Japan's golden age of crime and mystery fiction.

The novel is available from Kurodahan Press in a translation by William Varteresian in both paperback and as an e-book.

Saturday, October 24, 2020

Of nuns and divorce?

My latest addition to my Recommended Japanese Live Action Cinema web pages is Kakekomi Onna to Kakedashi Otoko, a tale set during the early 1840s in Kamakura. Love, abuse, and fleeing government censorship all bring together the main characters to the location of the story, the Buddhist nunnery Tōkeiji which aided women in getting divorced. Don't expect much sword fighting in this historical drama, tho' naginata do end up playing a role. Do expect a fine dramatic tale with a bit of humor.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

More rakugo related material

 I now have four more entries related to rakugo. What I am doing is reading and watching the Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju / Descending Stories Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju series and taking notes. I told the folks at the Anime World Order podcast that I would concentrate on this series for awhile since they expressed interest in reviewing the series.

If you are interested you can watch it on Crunchyroll, a link to the North America page is here. Be sure to start with the Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju part as Descending Stories Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is the second season.

OK on with the entries:

futatsume 二つ目

tenugui (hand or tea towel) 手拭い

Yotarō 与太郎

zenza 前座

Sunday, August 9, 2020

More Sunset

I have added the second and third of the three Always Sunset on the Third Street movies. 

The whole set takes us through about seven years of the lives of the characters in the neighborhood from 1958 - 1964. The show is bracketed by two events in Tokyo history, the construction of Tokyo Tower and the 1964 Tokyo Olympics. I hope you enjoy these as much as I did. 

Sunday, August 2, 2020

The occupation years

I now have a recommendation for Out of This World. The cast includes: Hagiwara Masato, Matsuoka Shunsuke, Murakami Jun, Odagiri Jō, Peter Mullan, and Shea Whigham. Set between the surrender of Japan and the outbreak of the Korean War this tale of Jazz and social conditions is one I greatly enjoyed and hope others will too.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Megazone 23 liner notes

One of the projects I have worked on recently and forgot to mention here is that I did the liner notes for the forthcoming Blu-ray release of Megazone 23 from AninEigo. It took six viewings of the series, adding to my notes each time, a pile of image captures for my reference, digging through my books, and searching online magazine databases to gather everything I could find. I covered as much as I could, got led down some fun rabbit holes tracking down the significance of text on clothing which even led to contacting folks in the Japanese rockabilly scene. There are 89 entries and I'm sure there are things in the show I missed.

The Blu-ray should be out early next year. It is still possible to pre-order copies.

Megazone 23 Omega Edition

Sunday, July 26, 2020

La Maison de Himiko

My latest recommended movie is La Maison de Himiko which I picked up as Odagiri Jō has a major role in it. I was not disappointed, he is great in this one. As with many of the films I have been adding recently this one is not available in the US but the Japanese release has subtitles.

La Maison de Himiko

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Rakugo and Yose

Finally after far too long I am again starting to add entries to the Anime Companion Supplement. I hope to maintain a good speed on adding such new entries so keep an eye out for announcements.
The first two new entries are for:

Sunday, July 19, 2020

August 1945

The last days of World War II were dramatic in many ways. I have added two new movies to my recommended live action cinema title list that dramatize the same events.

Japan's Longest Day from 1967 and 2015's The Emperor in August. Both films cover the same events but with a different focus. These are not filled with the explosions and raging battles of most war films, rather they show the meetings were various members of the government and military agonized over what path Japan was to take. Do they fight to the death, do they fight until they can get terms better than in the Potsdam Declaration, or do they negotiate for surrender now?

Monday, July 6, 2020


I have an addition to my Recommended Japanese Live Action Cinema page. A new entry for a wonderful documentary on the Kabukiza theater in Tokyo. Kabuki-za Final Curtain.

Saturday, June 27, 2020

What's happening.

I have been busy with various matters for some time. I have done some redesign and clean up on the site. I hope to get back into updating the website on a regular basis, mainly adding new recommended titles on a weekly basis as well as adding a new supplement page in November. The new supplement will be for my forthcoming book Tokyo Stroll, November is the e-book release with a print release coming in February.

Today I can announce an addition to my Recommended Japanese Live Action Cinema page. A new entry for the 2007 film Adrift in Tokyo.