I enjoyed doing my past blog matsuri research for nice independent animations on the internet made by Japanese people. I should keep posting them from time to time. Here’s an adorable one I just saw, which is actually Taiwanese:
In February, Jun Seba passed away — accidentally, in a car accident (caused by an earthquake?). Most people didn’t know until about a month later. People like you and me knew him as Nujabes, and perhaps started listening to his music more after seeing Samurai Champloo for the first time. For everyone, it was amazingly sad; you’re never prepared to hear about someone with influence in your life, someone still so young, just up and leaving this world, and you’re never sure what to do afterward. You don’t think of such people as invincible, but you do think things like “someday I may meet them, even briefly.”
With his record label, Hydeout Productions, he collaborated with people from all over, music that could touch souls from all the way across the sea. He produced music like no one else had. His enlightening hip hop beats helped me get through a rough patch in my life… not all music can do that.
It’s people like him I look up to — real innovators, with real passion, inspiring all who hear his music. People like that are of real value to the world…
…which is why it comes as a shock to most of the world, especially the creative world, that now, just Wednesday, Satoshi Kon has also died. Prevalent in the famous director’s work was a real unconventional approach to heady topics in animation, much different than anime and movies in general.
His last words, posthumously publicized, have been unofficially translated. I cried…I felt emotional for a good part of the day. No one knew about the nature of his condition until nigh the very end; understandable, as he had his reasons… I especially respect someone who admits his own flaws, who obviously has reverence for other people, with maturity in coming to terms with things. I want to cry again…
This has lit a fire under me to finally see more of his works. I’ve been intending to see the rest of Paranoia Agent for ages… Kon’s work is intriguing in a way that snags me, questioning the perspectives of characters, of viewers, of people, probing the mental, the subconscious, the emotional. I watched Paprika with friends the other day, and I can recommend it to anyone.
At least, that’s what I just heard. Pending the success of the American release of its next film, Arietty the Borrower , they could keep going, or they could tank.
As one of my favorite animation studios, this could be a tragedy! I want to see Studio Ghibli stand firm and produce classic feature animations long until my great-grandchildren have their own kids.
This is a call to all my Totoro-loving, cutbussing friends: see this movie when it comes out! See it twice in the first week! Tell all your friends — even the ones that still dismiss animation as “kid cartoon stuff”! American celebrity dubbing can only do so much as far as nabbing a wider audience is concerned. I’m more than willing to throw some extra cash at Ghibli to keep it going, and you’ve got to be, too! So keep that in mind!
Such a rare post just within hours of the last. It has stricken me! I must tell all!
If you’ve got any familiarity about Japan or even just anime, you already know about the Japanese rhinoceros beetle (ç”²è™« ~ Trypoxylus dichotomus) and the exciting fights they often engage in for money. That’s right, two males are pitted against each other, and people bet on which one will push the other off of a log or table first. Apparently it’s very popular to do in Ryukyu. (For some reason, I couldn’t find any video of this. Figures.)
Something you might not have known: The beetle has a fan page on Facebook. Only 18 people are fans as of this posting! C’mon people, these beetles are awesome. I actually owned the shell of a similar-looking beetle when I was a kid, but I lost it in a move. It was pretty awesome, though. It was as big as my hand. (I used to keep giant bugs’ shells after they died.)
Another much more horrifying mushi is the Japanese giant hornet (å¤§é›€èœ‚ ~ Vespa mandarinia japonica). Like the rhinoceros beetle, it looks pretty awesome, and I’m pretty sure there are some vehicles themed off of its appearance.
I say they’re horrifying only because they are awful mass-murdering bastards, and on the off-chance you get stung by one you’ll probably be hospitalized.
What happens when a terrifying killer engages my favorite insect? It’s not pretty. (This saddens me, as I only just found out that praying mantises can eat snakes…and I think birds, too. Holy crap, nature.)
Apart from being the enemy of bees, they’re a fine part of the balance of nature… I guess. Hey, who am I to question how nature works?
Some Household Mushi
Here in the US, bugs + indoors usually don’t mix. Me, I can’t get enough bugs, personally, but in Japan there are a handful of good-luck bugs that actually enhance the home. Bugs such as…
The huntsman spider (Sparassidae), which is actually harmless to people, and comes in varying levels of cute and fuzzy.
And this gejigeji bug, Scutigera coleoptrata, the household centipede. Every kid is informed at a young age that centipedes (or was it millipedes…?) can freaking kill you, so I guess it becomes ubiquitous that avoiding them is necessary. However, these things are also cleaner-uppers for homes and actually won’t kill you. I love giant bugs that won’t kill you! Yay!
Miscellaneous Things About Mushi
Those insanely popular and/or infamous mushi, as well as others, are constantly featured in Japanese media.
The manga series Mushishi obviously takes its influence from little things crawling around in the ground, with its ubiquitous supernatural spirits (also called…”Mushi”) that have existed since time’s dawn.
The place where I grew up [in Machida, a western Tokyo suburb] was still rural back then. There were rice paddies, rivers, forests. It was full of nature. Then development started taking place, and as it grew, all the insects were driven away. I was really interested in collecting insects. Every year they would cut down trees and the population of insects would decrease. The change was so dramatic. A fishing pond would become an arcade center.
If you recall how the original two games played, there were always a lot of simple bug-catching kids in the beginning, and to this day there’s still lots of wading around in grass, looking for things… even if the pocket monsters these days have grown to ridiculous proportions.
There are several tokusatsu series with bug-themed heroes, such as the Kamen Rider series.
Anyhow, bugs are awesome, and they’re a big part of Japan. Should I ever get the chance to go there, I want to go bug-watching. (I also want to hunt bugs in Australia, except I know I’ll probably definitely die over there.)
I don’t have time to do a big recap on a decade of released anime, since I only just now thought to post, and since I didn’t watch that much to begin with.
But, 10 years ago, I discovered Japanese animation. I, in fact, discovered that a lot of the things I was already a fan of, like Super Mario and Zelda, are also of Japanese origin, and from there I went to learn more and more about the phenomenon of Japanese media and more things in general.
I started out watching anime like this…
…and also this.
Of course, things like Tenchi, Dragon Ball, and Rurouni Kenshin became a regular part of the routine. (Didn’t they for everyone? Totally gateway anime.)
After years, I began pursuing anime like this…
…and also this…
…sometimes to the chagrin of some of my friends. I always had strange tastes. But, as with anything, as long as it’s good or entertaining, I will look, watch, read, and listen.
I’m a fan of Japanese animation because it manages to be so distinctive while being varied, like a pool of all possible styles and genres. Even some of the most common and low-budget series manage to be very well-animated and expressive in their own way. Of course, it could also be that I never “grew out of” cartoons like some people expect you to. Must be the artist in me. I’m an animation geek in general.
If you haven’t seen it, here’s an amazing animated short done by a team of what I believe was 5 people: