Oct 29

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘We Are X,’ ‘Tonoharu,’ VAMPS, Momoiro Clover Z


By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobe-shi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

From the silver screen to the stage to J-pop, November is just as colorful as the autumn leaves drifting through the air. Add these live events to the mix and you’ve got an irresistibly epic rundown.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Courtesy of Sundance Film Festival

Friday, Nov. 4, various times

We Are X

Alamo Drafthouse Downtown Brooklyn, 445 Albee Square West


East Coast premiere! This award-winning documentary debuted at Sundance and SXSW earlier this year chronicles the back story of the hard rock band X Japan, as its star drummer Yoshiki prepares for a reunion concert at Madison Square Garden. While virtually unknown to U.S. audiences, Yoshiki has sold more than 30 million records overseas, where he enjoys an A-list following. Directed by Stephen Kijak (Stones in Exile) and produced by John Battsek (Searching for Sugar Man), We Are X includes testimonials from such high-profile X fans as Gene Simmons and Marilyn Manson. See Yoshiki and director Stephen Kijak in person for Q&A on Fri, 11/4 following the 7:30 p.m. show. Director Stephen Kijak appears in person for Q&A Sat, 11/5 following the 6:30 p.m. show.

Top Shelf Productions

Top Shelf Productions

Tuesday, Nov. 8

Tonoharu: Part Three


The long-awaited final volume of the critically acclaimed Tonoharu series from JET alum Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-2006) rejoins Dan Wells several months into his tenure as an English teacher in the Japanese village of Tonoharu. As personal stresses push Dan to the breaking point, he decides to take an extended cross-country vacation to let off steam. His time away grants him a fresh perspective on his troubles, but upon his return to Tonoharu, Dan discovers that dramatic change has occurred in his absence. Will this upheaval render his new-found epiphany moot? With hundreds of beautiful, detailed illustrations that evoke 19th century line engravings, Tonoharu provides a nuanced portrayal of the joys and frustrations of living abroad.

© Hiromi Sonoda

© Hiromi Sonoda

Friday, Nov. 11, 8:30 p.m.

Sounds to Summon the Japanese Gods: Ko Ishikawa

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$20, $15 Japan Society members. A limited number of Lobby Seats are available for purchase. Please call the box office at (212) 715-1258 to inquire.

Step into a space where otherworldly sounds abound. Led by Ko Ishikawa, master player of the sho (ancient Japanese mouth organ) and internationally active contemporary musician, this program offers selections spanning from medieval gagaku (Imperial Court music) to works by acclaimed music composer Mamoru Fujieda. Ishikawa will be joined by Kayoko Nakagawa on koto and Ami Yamasaki on voice for this musical soiree, which also incorporates the sounds of fermenting shochu (Japan’s distilled alcohol), a highly sacred beverage in Japanese mythology.

Courtesy of Docnyc.net

Courtesy of Docnyc.net

Saturday, Nov. 12, 5:15 p.m.

95 and 6 to Go

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue


DOC NYC North American premiere! Filmmaker Kimi Takesue captures the cadence of daily life for Grandpa Tom, a retired postal worker born to Japanese immigrants to Hawaii in the 1910’s. Amidst the solitude of his home routines, we glimpse an unexpectedly rich inner life. As his granddaughter queries his history of love and loss, a stalled film project becomes a collaborative inquiry into mortality and how one constructs a personal narrative with memories that span almost a century. Shot over six years in Honolulu, this intimate meditation on absence and family expands the vernacular of the “home movie” to consider how history is accumulated in the everyday and how sparks of humor and creativity can animate an ordinary life.

Courtesy of Jpopasia.com

Courtesy of Jpopasia.com

Sunday, Nov. 13, 7:00 p.m.


Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place


VAMPS, the visually-arresting Japanese rock band featuring HYDE (L’Arc-en-Ciel) and K.A.Z (Oblivion Dust), are back! There is a swell of activity surrounding the band, including new songs with major guests, a fall 2016 headline tour across North America, and production on their follow-up album to 2015’s Bloodsuckers. It’s a welcome return to America for the group and the first time they will tour the U.S. since their special guest stint with SIXX:A.M. in spring 2015. For this new tour, VAMPS just dropped not one but two songs with blockbuster features: “Inside of Me” features Chris Motionless from Motionless in White, while “Rise or Die” was co-written with Emigrate and Rammstein guitarist Richard Z. Kruspe.

Courtesy of Girlieaction.com

Courtesy of Girlieaction.com

Nov. 17-18, 8:00 p.m.

Shelter Live Tour: Porter Robinson + Madeon

The Theater at Madison Square Garden, 4 Pennsylvania Plaza


Having first met on an internet message board a decade ago as young Daft Punk fans who wanted to produce music, Robinson and Madeon have pursued distinct but coincidentally parallel careers to become electronic music creators of their own. The music video for their new single “Shelter”—a brilliant collaboration of shimmering, humanity­infused electronic pop—was created by Japanese animation studio A-1 Pictures, who are best known for the anime series Sword Art Online, Black Butler and Blue Exorcist. Born from an original story by Robinson, the video follows a girl named Rin who finds out about the truth behind her placement in a futuristic simulation. Rin is voiced by Sachika Misawa, who is best known as the voice of Rayet Areash in the Aldnoah.Zero series and Kuroyukihime in Accel World.

© Seiichiro Tsujii

© Seiichiro Tsujii

Saturday, Nov. 19, 7:30 p.m.

Treasured Noh Plays from the Desk of W.B. Yeats (Program A)

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$40, $30 Japan Society members

In the early 20th century, poet W. B. Yeats (1865-1939) became highly immersed in the traditional Japanese noh plays translated by American poet Ezra Pound (1885-1972), resulting in a landmark publication of 15 English-language noh plays in 1916. One hundred years later, the distinguished Kita Noh Theater Company, led by Living National Treasure Tomoeda Akiyo, selects titles from this collection and showcases them for New York audiences. This event includes a talk on noh’s influence on Yeats and his artist contemporaries by Dr. W. Anthony Sheppard, Professor of Music at Williams College, and a discussion with Tomoeda Akiyo. In Japanese with English titles.

Courtesy of Playstation Theater.com

Courtesy of Playstation Theater.com

Saturday, Nov. 19, 8:00 p.m.

Momoiro Clover Z

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway


Momoiro Clover Z is a five-girl unit that’s been making his in Japan since their first single topped the national charts in 2010. Their collaboration with anime is especially strong and they have been in charge of the main theme for Pokemon: Best Wishes, Bodacious Space Pirates, Joshiraku and Dragon Crisis. In 2014, they were in charge of the main and the ending theme for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, whose new series have started after about 20 years and also the main theme for the film Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection ‘F’ in 2015. That same year saw Momoiro Clover Z collaborate on a single with American rock legends KISS, which also peaked on Japan’s national daily singles chart.


Courtesy of Ifccenter.com

Friday, Nov. 25, various times

Mifune: The Last Samurai

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue


Featuring interviews with fans like Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg, Academy Award-winner Steven Okazaki’s new documentary looks at the accidental movie career of the mythic Toshiro Mifune, the Japanese star and a true giant of world cinema. Mifune made 16 remarkable films with director Akira Kurosawa, including such masterpieces as Rashomon, The Seven Samurai, and Yojimbo. Together they thrilled audiences and influenced filmmaking around the world–inspiring The Magnificent Seven, A Fistful of Dollars, Star Wars and countless more.

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