Oct 5

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

The Japan-centric events of the month ahead promise to be as rich and full as autumn itself—brisk and colorful, with a dash of unpredictability.

This month’s highlights include:

Volume 1—FAIRY TAIL © Hiro MASHIMA / Kodansha Ltd.; Hiro Mashima—Photo courtesy of Kodansha Ltd.; Volume 61—FAIRY TAIL © Hiro MASHIMA / Kodansha Ltd.

Thursday, Oct. 5, 6:30 p.m.

Hiro Mashima: The Magical World of Fairy Tail

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$30, $25 Japan Society members, seniors and students

Award-winning manga artist Hiro Mashima, known for his bestselling series Fairy Tail, comes to Japan Society for a special talk in conjunction with New York Comic Con. The epic fantasy series, which has sold over 60 million copies worldwide, follows the rambunctious wizard’s guild Fairy Tail through adventures in a stunning variety of settings, with a mind-boggling array of colorful characters. Mashima, also renowned for his long-running series Rave Master, joins us to discuss the works that have captured the imaginations of fans around the world. Moderated by Ben Applegate, director of the Kodansha Comics publishing team at Penguin Random House, and interpreted by Misaki Kido, marketing director at Kodansha Advanced Media. One lucky guest will win a surprise gift from Mashima-sensei at the event! Followed by a reception.

Oct. 5-8

New York Comic Con

Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street

Limited tickets available

With a record attendance of more than 170,000 visitors last year, the East Coast’s biggest gathering for fans of comics, film, anime and manga, New York Comic Con returns with its biggest roster of Hollywood talent to date, and features exclusive screenings, gaming, cosplay photo ops, interactive booths by manga publishers including Vertical Comics and Kodansha Comics , and special guest appearances by manga artists Hiro Mashima (Fairy Tale) and Akira Himekawa (The Legend of Zelda)!

Friday, Oct. 6, 7:00 p.m.

Porco Rosso

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$13, $10 seniors and students, $5 Japan Society members

Screening in 35mm! An ace fighter pilot and ex-member of the Italian Air Force during WWI is mysteriously cursed with a pig’s face. Disillusioned with humanity, he adopts the name Porco Rosso (“Crimson Pig”) and spends his time near the Adriatic Sea, drinking at a local bar and fighting off air pirates for cash. Famous for his unsurpassable flying skills, Porco draws the envy and antagonism of an American pilot who plots to take him down with the help of the fascist Italian police. This sixth film by Hayao Miyazaki is among the master animator’s most personal and underrated, highlighting his deep love for aviation and pacifist worldview within an action-adventure story perfect for adults and children alike.

Read More


Oct 1

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘The Red Turtle’

A critical analysis couched in fiction of the Academy Award-nominated Studio Ghibli co-production (Sony Pictures Classics)

By Preston Hatfield (Yamanashi-ken, 2009-10) for JQ magazine. Preston is the English teacher you wish you had growing up. He taught in Kofu, Yamanashi on JET and later received his Masters in Education and teaching credential from Stanford University. He now teaches English at a public high school in the Silicon Valley, and is inspiring the leaders of tomorrow one dank meme at a time.

TL;DR: Directed by Dutch animator Michaël Dudok de Wit, The Red Turtle is another visual masterpiece by Studio Ghibli (making its external coproduction debut here collaborating with a European team) with a unique artistic style that makes the scenery itself a prominent character. Though it lost me in parts, the story is poignant and evokes an array of feelings, few of which are pleasant, though nonetheless lifeaffirming. In order to fully appreciate this film (which has no dialogue), you need to be in a calm, patient, and cerebral mood. Also, make sure you watch it in a very dark room, as the film features numerous nighttime scenes that are hard to see with extra light.

You never asked from whence I came, if I had a family in my own land, if I was happy in my new life. I suppose you found those details immaterial as far as we were concerned, but you should know that from the moment I opened my eyes and coughed the seawater from my lungs on that accursed beach we called home, after surveying the island high and low, near and far, and discovering no human civilization from which I could find salvation, I devoted every precious calorie in my body to escaping that forsaken rock, ocean be damned.

Let my words carry across time and space; to echo across the sky and go bounding beyond the reach of the island that tethered me. Let me communicate what I couldn’t before. Let my memory endure, because I have lost everything else. Let me go.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw you, a scarlet leviathan that decimated my rafts like waves over sandcastles. I admit I never quite worked it out. Was it your will or the island’s that kept me from leaving? Who did I enrage so with my escape plan and headstrong persistence in the face of constant setback? I guess what I’m asking is, were you the warden of the prison, or just one of the guards? There in the open ocean I gazed at you, awe-struck, sure in that moment that you were going to kill me for being so daring.

Read More


Sep 30

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘Hayao Miyazaki: Never-Ending Man’

“This tight, 70-minute documentary does not wander. It preserves a feeling of deliberate pacing and purpose through clever editing, and possibly even some deliberate misdirection, which echo Miyazaki’s personal deliberations.” (© NHK)

 

By Greg Beck (Hiroshimaken, 2006-11) for JQ magazine. Greg is a writer, producer, home brewer, and Social Coordinator for JETAA Southern California and Arizona. A former news producer for Tokyo Broadcasting System in New York, he currently works freelance in Los Angeles. For more cinema reviews, follow him on Twitter at @CIRBECK #MovieReview.

Receiving its East Coast premiere last night at Japan Society in New York, NHK’s new documentary on Studio Ghibli’s famed animation director Hayao Miyazaki offers a seemingly deep and undeniably personal look into the man’s current life, as well as his achievements and challenges, both artistically and—in his old age—existentially. True to Japanese-style filmmaking, we see a series of scenes as they happen, and are left to draw our own meaning. Still, this tight, 70-minute documentary does not wander. It preserves a feeling of deliberate pacing and purpose through clever editing, and possibly even some deliberate misdirection, which echo Miyazaki’s personal deliberations.

The film starts with Miyazaki’s retirement announcement at a press conference in September 2013. It then jumps forward two years, to an unseen and seldom-heard cameraman, whose perspective we take for this fly-on-the-wall documentary. Entering his gorgeous, countryside atelier, Miyazaki grumbles humbly, “What do you have a camera for? There’s nothing worth seeing. I’m retired.” He feeds birds, smokes, makes tea, and gripes about the complacency of Disney’s Frozen anthem “Let It Go,” but in no time shows that his creative drive is undiminished. Walking to a table covered in a pile of pages of new projects and material, he insists, “I’m a retired pensioner. I’m just fooling around now.” Read More


Sep 23

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels’

“Takahashi’s warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.” (Museyon)

By Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03) for JQ magazine. Stacy is a New York Citybased provider of top quality Japanese interpretingtranslating and writing/editing servicesStarting from her initial encounter with Japan in her teensshe has built up a consummate understanding of the countrys language and culture, enabling her to seamlessly traverse between Japan and the U.S. and serve as a bridge between the two. For more information, visit www.stacysmith.webs.com. As a writer, Stacy also shares tidbits and trends with her own observations in the periodic series WIT Life.

Having spent three years on JET in Kumamoto, home of nationwide sensation Kumamon who didn’t yet exist when I was there, I must honestly say that I approach bear characters with slight trepidation. However, I was delightfully surprised to love every minute of my encounter with Kuma-Kuma Chan, the bear who stars in the eponymous children’s book series written and illustrated by Kazue Takahashi. Her warm watercolors and relatable stories are guaranteed to entertain readers of all ages, and the latest English-language addition to this series, Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels, is every bit as enjoyable as its two predecessors.

The previous two books, Kuma-Kuma Chan, the Little Bear (previously reviewed in JQ here) and Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Home, looked at a day in the life of Kuma-Kuma Chan on his own and when a friend comes to visit. KumaKuma Chans Travels is a bit more expansive, introducing readers to his world when he takes trips. I love the details at the beginning sharing what he brings with him on his journeys, along with accompanying illustrations such as a Thermos containing hot coffee. We later see him on top of a mountain drinking said coffee while watching the sunrise. These trips take place inside his head, but the descriptive text and beautiful pictures make you feel like you are with him everywhere he goes.

The series as a whole features a strong element of kawaii, or cuteness, which contributes to its Japaneseness. Also, there is an intangible sensibility to the stories that make them feel a bit different than traditional Western children’s books. In the inaugural KumaKuma Chan, the Little Bear, we learn about his daily routine, which includes aspects such as eating a big salad for breakfast with lettuce from his garden and personal grooming like trimming his nails and hair. I particularly liked the scene which shows him during the winter, rolling around to catch the sunlight as the day progresses with the kerosene heater nearby. For many JET alumni, I’m sure this scene will be reminiscent of days spent in school offices where this was the sole source of heat.

Courtesy of Museyon

For readers seeking a creature of a different nature, the Tyrannosaurus children’s books written and illustrated by Tatsuya Miyanishi is another series worth checking out. It currently features 13 titles, four of which have been published in the U.S. For those who would like to learn about these books and meet the acclaimed author, he will be at the New York and New Jersey locations of Books Kinokuniya at 2 p.m. on October 21 and 22, respectively. On both days, Miyanishi will be reading from and discussing his works, as well as signing books for those with purchased copies. For more dates in Texas, Washington and California, click here.

Kuma-Kuma Chan’s Travels is available October 1. For more information, click here.

For more JQ magazine book reviews, click here.


Aug 11

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Bob James, Liberty City Anime Con, PLAY NYC

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

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to escape the heat in a place that’s cozy and cool. For those into Japan-related cultural events, this month offers a diverse selection of film premieres and live music—all in the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Bluenotejazz.com

Aug. 15-20, 8:00 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

Bob James feat. special guests

Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 West Third Street

$20, $35

The career of multi-Grammy winner Bob James is long, varied and continues to evolve at every turn as he continues to captivate audiences throughout the world for more than 50 years, 58 albums, and innumerable awards. While James is recognized as one of the progenitors of smooth jazz, his music has also had a profound effect on the history of hip-hop, having been sampled frequently since the early days of the genre. A longtime star in Japan, he has recorded a piano duet album with Keiko Matsui, and worked with Seiko Matsuda as a guest vocalist on “Put Our Hearts Together,” written by James and his daughter Hilary in response to the Great East Japan Earthquake of 2011. Joining Bob and his special guests for the week’s sets are trumpeter Randy Brecker on Aug. 16.

Courtesy of Renireni.com

Aug. 18-20, various times

Liberty City Anime Con

New York Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway,  610 West 56th Street

$40-$60

The best three-day anime convention in New York City returns for its third year and features over 100 events and panels, three days of cosplay, game tournaments and anime screenings, concerts, balls and dances. This year’s special guests include Tyler Walker, Heather Walker, Chuck Huber, Aaron Roberts, Brittany Lauda, Matt Shipman, Ian Rubin, Dokudel, Michael A. Zekas, Marcus Stimac, and Reni Mimura!

Courtesy of Zaczingermusic.com

Aug. 19-20, starts 10:00 a.m.

Play NYC

Terminal 5, 610 West 56th Street

$25

PLAY NYC is New York’s first and only dedicated games convention. The weekend will feature three floors of playable games for all consoles, PC, virtual reality and mobile devices from studios large and small and developers old and new. Games will include indie projects with some larger triple A titles. Get access to some of the biggest games coming later this year and discover many you’ve never even heard of. PLAY NYC celebrates every facet of gaming in a way that only the Big Apple can by uniting players, developers and industry pros at a games event like no other. Special guest speakers include multi-instrumentalist Zac Zinger of Japanese traditional/jazz fusion project KAI. Read More


Jul 15

JQ Magazine: Manga Review — ‘Kitaro and the Great Tanuki War’

The Great Tanuki War stands apart from the other Kitaro volumes because in this adventure, the stakes are higher than anything you’ve ever seen.” (Drawn and Quarterly)

 

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

A haunted house built on an ancient burial ground? That’s minor league. How about an entire nation built above an army of human-hating yokai who command a catfish large enough to cause earthquakes?

Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro and The Great Tanuki War is a manga volume that tells an epic tale pitting the titular character, Kitaro, against an army of tanuki and their powerful yokai allies. There are also a few bonus stories with Kitaro’s usual one-shot adventures. You may already be familiar with Mizuki’s famous character, but if you are not, you can brush up on his origin story featured in the first volume, The Birth of Kitaro, which JQ reviewed last year here.

This marks the third volume in the English collection of Kitaro stories published by the fine folks at Drawn and Quarterly. One of our very own JET alums, Zack Davisson (Nara-ken, 2001-04; Osaka-shi, 2004-06), has been doing his part to put Shigeru Mizuki’s timeless work on the map in the English-speaking world. He has served as translator for these Kitaro stories and also for Mizuki’s colossal four-volume manga history of the Showa period. Zack is a yokai expert in his own right and you can find out more about his career and JET experience in our vintage JQ interview with him.

As many consumers of Japanese media may already be aware, yokai are strange creatures or phenomena that originate in Japan and have become widely popular globally. Kitaro is a unique yokai who solves mysteries and fights for humans. The conflict between humans and yokai is often an issue of tension for him as he straddles both sides, but this conflict takes center stage in The Great Tanuki War, when an army of tanuki escape from their underground dwelling beneath the island of Shikoku (shout-out to our Shikoku JET alums!), to wage a war on the human residents of Japan.

Read More


Jun 13

JQ Magazine: Philadelphia LOVEs Japan

Stone lantern amidst peonies and azaleas in Shofuso’s roji tea garden. (Therese Stephen)

By Therese Stephen (Iwate-ken, 1996-99) for JQ magazine.

What many people don’t know is that the City of Brotherly Love is in love with Japan, and has been since the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, when the Japanese Pavilion became one of the most popular exhibits of that historic World’s Fair.

When you think of Philadelphia, you probably think of cheesesteaks, the Liberty Bell, Independence Hall or the Rocky steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. What you might not realize is that Philly has many ways for Japanese, and the Japanese-at-heart, to get their Japan fix for a lot less than a roundtrip ticket to Tokyo. So, whether you’re planning a quick weekend getaway or day trip this summer, or if you’re a returning Philly JET looking at your hometown with a new post-JET perspective, read on for Philly’s best Japan picks.

Let’s start with those famous Rocky steps. It’s cheesy and we know it, but everyone who visits Philly has to replay that famous Rocky Balboa moment. So once you’ve run to the top of the steps and done your obligatory fists-in-the-air-pose, head on into the Philadelphia Museum of Art (PMA) and find your way to the East Asian Galleries.

One of the most endearing and exciting things about the PMA are its period rooms. While there are plenty of rooms displaying objects on pedestals or paintings on walls, a few steps through a doorway connecting two galleries will suddenly put you in the middle of an Indian temple or the hall of a Chinese palace. Wander a little further and you’ll find Sunkaraku Tea House, the highlight of the Japanese collection in the East Asian Galleries.

Read More


Apr 7

JQ Magazine: Film Review — ‘Your Name’

“You do not have to like animated or Japanese films specifically to love Your Name. However, it is rare for any film to capture the Japanese essence and tone as this one has so expertly achieved.” (© 2016 “YOUR NAME.” FILM PARTNERS)

By Greg Beck (Hiroshima-ken, 2006-11) for JQ magazine. Greg is a writer, producer, home brewer, and Social Coordinator for JETAA Southern California and Arizona. A former news producer for Tokyo Broadcasting System in New York, he currently works freelance in Los Angeles. For more cinema reviews, follow him on Twitter at @CIRBECK #MovieReview.

Never mind that Your Name has become the highest-grossing Japanese film internationally, anime or otherwise; this creative and beautiful film written and directed by Makoto Shinkai (5 Centimeters Per Second, Children Who Chase Lost Voices) draws on everything reverent in Japanese history and culture, celebrates the modern metropolis that is Tokyo, and tugs at your heartstrings while embracing the silly and universally relatable challenges of the human experience. You do not have to like animated or Japanese films specifically to love Your Name. However, it is rare for any film to capture the Japanese essence and tone as this one has so expertly achieved.

The story focuses on Mitsuha Miyamizu, a high school girl living in a tiny, rural village in the Hida region of Gifu—or as one classmate puts it: “the boonies.” Growing up with her little sister and grandmother at the local shrine, we are introduced to a culturally rich history of weavers who connect their trade to the local Shinto god and traditions. Mitsuha feels understandably cramped by her rural routine and dreams of moving to Tokyo. Suddenly, that is just where she finds herself, inexplicably waking up in the body of our second protagonist, Taki, a boy of the same age, living in a small apartment with his father in Shinjuku.

As the story progresses, we get to enjoy both very different worlds, but there is no denying the village’s gorgeous rural landscapes rich with nature and the intimate, cultural ceremonies that take center stage. The grandmother’s patient lessons on Mitsuha’s family history grant us special access to something sacred, like a backstage pass to Japanese culture. The last film to achieve this feeling, Okuribito (Departures), later won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 2009. Your Name is similar, but surpasses it by making the cord weaving pivotal to understanding the supernatural body swapping, blending epic adventure with sublime heartache.

Read More


Feb 6

WIT Life #310: The Beauty of Washi

WIT Life is a periodic series written by professional Writer/Interpreter/Translator Stacy Smith (Kumamoto-ken CIR, 2000-03). She starts her day by watching Fujisankei’s newscast in Japanese, and here she shares some of the interesting tidbits and trends along with her own observations.

20170204_160148

One of Suzuki Sensei’s amazing works: 以花為師 (“Life lessons from flowers”). It reads from right to left, but is slightly cut off at start.

This weekend I had a chance to sit in on a culture class at the Nippon Club for the purpose of writing an article in Chopsticks.  We were studying calligraphy, but specifically practicing this art on 和紙 (washi or Japanese paper).  Sensei Mori Suzuki was visiting from Japan just for this class, and in addition to guest teaching we got to enjoy an exhibition of his work and other washi delights in the 7th floor gallery.  Entitled 「和紙・伝統と創造」 (Washi: Dentou and Souzou or “Washi Paper: Cultural Heritage and Artistic Creativity”), this exhibit introduces the history of traditional handmade washi, the aesthetic beauty of 切金(kirikane or metallic foil cut into strips or other shapes to form decorative motifs) through the subtle light reflected from foil, origami artwork, modern washi sculptures, and Suzuki Sensei’s calligraphy creations on handmade washi. It runs through February 24 with free admission, and the gallery is open every day but Sunday so make sure to check it out before it closes!

 


Feb 5

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Your Name’ Premiere, Hougaku Quartet, ‘Girl X’

 

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.

Stay warm this winter with some hot local events, from an exhibition that will transport you to another time and place, some new an classic anime screenings, and a mash-up multimedia performance you won’t want to miss.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Cmom.org

Courtesy of Cmom.org

Now through May 14

Hello from Japan!

Children’s Museum of Manhattan, 212 West 83rd Street

$12 children and adults, $8 seniors 

Back for the new year, this exhibit highlights how old and new traditions coexist in Japan, giving visitors a family-friendly window into Japanese culture. Children will have fun learning about life in present day Japan in this playful, immersive environment. Hello from Japan! is a new interactive exhibit in the Museum’s Lower Level Gallery. It will transport families to two distinct areas of Tokyo that exist side by side: the serene and exquisite Shinto Shrine Park, and the too-cute-for-words Kawaii Central.

Courtesy of Citycinemas.com

Courtesy of Citycinemas.com

Feb 7-8

The Ghost in the Shell

City Cinemas Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

$15 

Before the release of next month’s live-action adaptation starring Scarlett Johansson and Takeshi Kitano, catch one of the greatest anime films of all time (based on the manga by Masamune Shirow and directed by Mamoru Oshii) on the big screen! In the near future, an elite group of police cyborgs called Section 9 works to stop hackers from commiting cyber crimes across the globe. However, there skills are put to the test when they come up against a hacker known as the Puppet Master. The pair of Feb. 7 screenings will be in Japanese with English subtitles; Feb. 8’s screening is English dubbed.

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

Thursday, Feb. 16, 8:00 p.m.

The Hougaku Quartet

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

Free, tickets available here.

Re-envisioning Japanese traditional instruments for contemporary music, the Hougaku Quartet explores everything from traditional Japanese music to cutting edge new compositions, all performed on traditional instruments. The quartet is made up of a group of young virtuoso musicians who graduated from Tokyo University, who have mastered the art of creating music for today and for the future, through traditional Japanese instruments. The Hougaku Quartet carries out its mission through commission, revival performance of masterpieces composed after the 1960s, and performance in the traditional “Sankyoku” ensemble style. A group of young musicians who are committed to both sustaining and expanding tradition, Hougaku Quartet is a fresh approach to Japanese music. With a special guest performance by Ralph Samuelson.

Read More


Jan 2

JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Anime films, Final Fantasy Live, Yoshiki at Carnegie Hall

 

 

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.

Start 2017 off right by heading down to your local concert hall, cinema, or arts center for some fantastic new year’s fare. Whether you enjoy movies, travel, or orchestral performances classic video games, treat yourself and catch a break from the cold.

This month’s highlights include:

GKIDS

GKIDS

Now playing through Jan. 5

Ocean Waves

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue

$15 

New 4K restoration! Rarely seen outside of Japan, Ocean Waves is a subtle, poignant and wonderfully detailed story of adolescence and teenage isolation. Taku and his best friend Yutaka are headed back to school for what looks like another uneventful year. But they soon find their friendship tested by the arrival of Rikako, a beautiful new transfer student from Tokyo whose attitude vacillates wildly from flirty and flippant to melancholic. When Taku joins Rikako on a trip to Tokyo, the school erupts with rumors, and the three friends are forced to come to terms with their changing relationships. As the first Studio Ghibli film directed by someone other than studio founders Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata, these new screenings of Ocean Waves are paired with Ghiblies: Episode 2, a unique 25-minute short film from Studio Ghibli, featuring several comedic vignettes of studio staff as they go about their day. Utilizing new animation techniques and software that would then be deployed on the production of My Neighbors the Yamadas, Ghiblies: Episode 2 made its North American debut in December 2016. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

GKIDS

GKIDS

January 5 & 9, 7:00 p.m.

Princess Mononoke: 20th Anniversary

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$15.99

A two-night event! Princess Mononoke, the classic animated film from groundbreaking writer/director Hayao Miyazaki and the legendary Studio Ghibli, returns to movie theaters in celebration of the beloved historical fantasy’s 20th anniversary and director Miyazaki’s birthday. The first Studio Ghibli film to receive an uncut U.S. theatrical release, Princess Mononoke returns to cinemas subtitled on Jan. 5 at 7:00 p.m. and English-dubbed on Jan. 9 at 7:00 p.m. The celebration will include a special bonus screening of the music video directed by Hayao Miyazaki, Chage and Aska’s “On Your Mark”!

Courtesy of Publictheater.org

Courtesy of Publictheater.org

Jan. 5-9

Club Diamond

The Public: Martinson Hall, 425 Lafayette Street

$25, $20 members

Part of the 2017 Under the Radar Festival! Tokyo, 1937: An American silent film about a Japanese immigrant is introduced by a celebrated narrator whose existence is being threatened by the impending arrival of the talkies. Ten years later, he will survive under U.S. occupation as a street performer, desperately attempting to finish this story. Admiration and resistance, dreams and survival, Club Diamond is a modern take on the immigration tale. Its creators are Nikki Appino, an award-winning filmmaker, Saori Tsukada, who has been described as a “charismatic mover” (Backstage) and a “startlingly precise dancer” (The New York Times), and has been developed in collaboration with violinist Tim Fain.

Read More


Dec 29
"This graphic novel series arrests your attention, from the immersive quality of the art, to the highs of self depreciating humor, to the lows of isolation and despair that run through it. Those who have lived abroad will find a lot to relate to." (Top Shelf Productions)

“This graphic novel series arrests your attention, from the immersive quality of the art, to the highs of self depreciating humor, to the lows of isolation and despair that run through it. Those who have lived abroad will find much to relate to.” (Top Shelf Productions)

 

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

Everyone has felt out of place at some point in their lives. People who choose to live abroad sometimes make that their everyday. In Tonoharu, cartoonist and JET alum Lars Martinson (Fukuoka-ken, 2003-2006; Kyoto-fu, 2011-2016) illustrates a story exploring themes of human relationships through the experience of an English teacher in Japan on a journey of self-discovery. Told in three parts, the final volume was released in November and represents many years of work for Martinson that began to see fruition when he received the Xeric Grant for Comic Book Self-Publishers in 2007.

Tonoharu is a tale of several non-Japanese teachers of English living in the titular rural town outside of Fukuoka City, mostly from the viewpoint of a young American named Dan Wells. Wells feels out of place in Japan, but claims to have felt the same way back home without having the excuse of being a foreigner. The reader climbs in the back seat for an intimate road trip with him through his pursuit of purpose and success in his job and social life, privy to all manner of encounters from intimacy in the bedroom to traditional parades with locally made floats. In just one year, Wells encounters unique challenges in his work, frustrations with seemingly unrequited romantic interest for another American, confusion and alarm at the mysterious activities of other foreigners in Tonoharu, and worst of all, the inability to replace light bulbs in his apartment!

Tonoharu is full of quiet moments that when described may come off as unimpressive, but they are always captivating and powerful in the way the words and imagery captures the moodiness of imperfect exchanges between people that are not usually seen in glossier fiction. This quality is enhanced by a lack of narration—the framing story of Dan’s successor (also named Dan) features his narration, but in the main story the characters only express themselves by speaking to one another. Often the things they don’t say, their expressions and their body language, and the things they choose to say while alone, speak just as powerfully as the introspective autobiographical style of narrative-driven graphic novels such as Persepolis.

Read More


Nov 19

JQ Magazine: Manga Review — ‘Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon’

"If you are a lover of the weird or irreverent comedy mixed with supernatural horror, manga, and Japanese folklore-inspired fiction, then find the spiritual world portal of your choice to get your hands on a copy of Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon." (Drawn and Quarterly)

“If you are a lover of the weird or irreverent comedy mixed with supernatural horror, manga, and Japanese folklore-inspired fiction, then find the spiritual world portal of your choice to get your hands on a copy of Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon.” (Drawn and Quarterly)

By Julio Perez Jr. (Kyoto-shi, 2011-13) for JQ magazine. A bibliophile, writer, translator, and graduate from Columbia University, Julio currently keeps the lights on by working at JTB USA while writing freelance in New York. Follow his enthusiasm for Japan, literature, and comic books on his blog and Twitter @brittlejules.

Imagine coming home to find a stranger in your house. He acts like he owns the place, eats your food and drinks your beer, before leaving you reeling in confusion! Better send a letter to the Yokai Post for help from Kitaro, a charming character made by manga legend Shigeru Mizuki. Kitaro investigates strange phenomena and protects humans from ill-intentioned yokai.

Shigeru Mizuki’s Kitaro – Kitaro Meets Nurarihyon is a manga volume collecting seven more of Kitaro’s paranormal adventures. While this book can be enjoyed as a stand-alone dive into the classic character’s adventures, your enjoyment can be enhanced by checking out Kitaro’s origin story featured in the first volume, The Birth of Kitaro, reviewed last year by JQ here. This book is one of several entries in a list of literary delights from Japan that Drawn and Quarterly has been bringing to America for affordable access. This volume was also translated by JET Alum and Shigeru Mizuki expert/JQ interviewee Zack Davisson (Nara-ken, 2001-04; Osaka-shi, 2004-06).

Like it says on the tin, in this book Kitaro encounters a uniquely urban yokai: Nurarihyon. This creature takes on the appearance of an unsettling-looking and self-important man to stealthily wreak havoc as mundane as forcing you to serve him your best snacks and as extreme as explosions in cities.

Many of the yokai Kitaro encounters cause trouble because it is in their nature, some have a need to feed, or have a human-like impulse that persists beyond the grave, but Nurarihyon is cut from a different cloth. He is simply cruel and makes mischief because of his hatred for humans. He also stands apart from others in Kitaro’s rogues gallery because he finds it repulsive that Kitaro helps humans and targets him for that reason. You’ll have to pick up the book to find out just how Nurarihyon plots Kitaro’s demise, and how he very nearly gets away with it!

Read More


Nov 8

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘I Want That Love’

"I Want That Love is a very enjoyable read that teaches the importance of friendship, love and tenderness. Young readers will also learn how life’s most important lessons can be passed down from generation to generation." (Museyon)

I Want That Love is a very enjoyable read that teaches the importance of friendship, love and tenderness. Young readers will also learn how life’s most important lessons can be passed down from generation to generation.” (Museyon)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

During your elementary school days, you surely read about the primordial creatures you know as dinosaurs. But if you haven’t been reminded of the creatures that roamed the earth roughly 65 million years ago in some time, you might not realize that there’s more than meets the eye. Case in point: Tatsuya Miyanishi’s I Want That Love.

I Want That Love (the third book in Miyanishi’s Tyrannosaurus series of 13 titles that have sold more than three million copies internationally) tells the story of a Tyrannosaurus, who is described by the author as “the strongest of all the dinosaurs.” Not surprisingly, everyone is scared of him as he never fails at getting his way by force. But the good times don’t last—the Tyrannosaurus (whose name is revealed to be Mr. Rhadbodon)—is somehow sapped of his strength after being bitten in his tail by a Masiakasaurus.

As expected from someone whose identity is clearly tied to brute force, the Tyrannosaurus loses all sense of who he is, so he’s desperate to find any solution to the disaster that has befallen him. Fortunately, he receives help in the form of berries given to him by fellow creatures and he uses his newfound energy to protect his friends from other dinosaurs.

Read More


Oct 1

JQ Magazine: Book Review — ‘Are You an Echo?’

"This is an outstanding collection of poems that reflects a wide variety of emotions and observations while giving readers new and colorful images of Japan." (Chin Music Press)

“This is an outstanding collection of poems that reflects a wide variety of emotions and observations while giving readers new and colorful images of Japan.” (Chin Music Press)

By Rashaad Jorden (Yamagata-ken, 2008-10) for JQ magazine. A former head of the JETAA Philadelphia Sub-Chapter, Rashaad is a graduate of Leeds Beckett University with a master’s degree in responsible tourism management. For more on his life abroad and enthusiasm for taiko drumming, visit his blog at www.gettingpounded.wordpress.com.

As we might take for granted the ability to research anything and everything quickly, it’s easy to forget how much of a struggle it has been (and still might be) to discover fascinating aspects of history. But when those discoveries are made, it’s satisfying not just for those who make the extensive effort—it’s rewarding for those who have benefited from the discoveries.

Thanks to fellow author Setsuo Yazaki, English-language speakers from all over the world now have the opportunity to read Are You an Echo? The Last Poetry of Misuzu Kaneko, a collection of poems produced by the late lauded children’s writer. Yazaki was a young student when he read Misuzu’s poem “Big Catch,” and he was automatically intrigued by her. So he wanted to discover more of her works and immediately started trying to find them—only to run into run one obstacle after another. Finally, Setsuo made a breakthrough when he was able to reach Misuzu’s younger brother Masasuke (then 77 years of age), who handed Yazaki a set of diaries, which included poems Misuzu wrote.

A prolific writer, Misuzu’s works regularly appeared in popular magazines. She wrote 512 poems, but only a few of them appear in Are You an Echo? Even so, that small sample size is enough to give you a glimpse into her life. Misuzu grew up in a fishing village in western Japan, and she loved being around water (she wrote one poem about an island she visualized but couldn’t reach). She also had a very vibrant imagination, and everything she encountered had feelings, like snowflakes (she’s actually concerned about their well-being) or telephone poles (which at one point, got sleepy). Even cicadas wore clothes in Misuzu’s world.

Read More


Page Rank