Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sayonara Keikoku

Based on the 2008 novel of the same name by celebrated author Shuichi Yoshida (吉田修一). Sayonara Keikoku (Farewell Canyon さよなら渓谷) tells the story of a mother, Satomi (An Suzuki 鈴木杏), who is accused of murdering her young son after his body is found discarded along side a picturesque mountain stream. Her arrest brings to light her relationship with her neighbours Kanako (Yoko Maki 真木よう子) and Shunsuke Oszaki (Shima Onishi 大西信満). Directed by up and coming director Tatsushi Omori (大森立嗣).

Sayonara Keikoku is the second work by Shuichi Yoshida to see a feature film release this year. The first released earlier this year was Yokomichi Yonosuke (横道世之介) staring Kengo Kora (高良健吾) and Yuriko Yoshitaka (吉高由里子), directed by Shuichi Okita (沖田修一).

But it was the Japanese Academy Award winning Akunin (悪人) that brought the writing of Shuichi Yoshida to a worldwide audience. With a masterful performance by the lead actor Satoshi Tsumabuki (妻夫木聡), co-staring Eri Fukatsu (深津絵里), and directed by Saniru Li (李相日).

Friday, June 28, 2013

Space Brothers #21

If you grow up watching The Simpsons there is that moment when you realised that the star of the show wasn't Bart, it was Homer, and it was a deliberate decision by the writers. Similarly it seems to me, that even though the title is 宇宙兄弟 (Space Brothers), the focus of the story is Mutta (六太), Hibito (日々人) is just a supporting character.

It's great to see another cameo by the Ghostbuster inspired scientists, and a mustachioed Peter Venkman/Bill Murray adding a bit of humour.

I'm not sure if I mentioned this last time, but it must be difficult to write a science fiction in the near future when the pace of current technology, and political maneuvering outpaces the events in the story. 3D printing which has made such rapid advances in the past few years, features heavily. And with the manga originally appearing in 2008, NASA has since seen drastic cuts, especially in its manned space mission, that make the future envisioned in Space Brothers difficult to realise. I wonder if these real word changes have lead to the current story line that seems to be scale back the ambition of the earlier volumes. Now we see Mutta attending budgetary meetings, and campaigning to continue the International Space station in an environment of decreased space spending.

Space Brothers is a series that is slowly losing momentum, it would be nice to see Hibito return after a fairly long absence, or to see Mutta finally realise his dream of heading to space, but at the current pace of the series it may not happen for a while.

Friday, June 14, 2013

neon - Special Others

Special Others have a new single out to commemorate their first solo show at the Nippon Budokan. And they have released a nice little clip to go along with it. But be warned, the clip is only available until June 30th! It's called neon, check out while you can! And if you're in Tokyo on the 29th, you should definitely go check them out, they put on an amazing live show.

Special Others website:
Special Others Twitter:

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Family Gypsy

Family Gypsy (ファミリー・ジプシー) is the latest photobook, travel journal from Ayumu Takahashi (高橋歩).

I first became aware Takahashi's work with the Japanese-English bilingual release of LOVE & FREE (I think it's called the NY Edition). I found the book when I was at the point where I was confident enough in my Japanese to try something a bit challenging. But having the English translation made it easy to navigate.

The story of Ayumu Takahashi is an interesting one, at 26 years of age, as an extended honeymoon, he and his wife decide to spend 20 months traveling around the world. Along the journey, Takahashi wrote about the adventure, and combined with poetry and a camrea. That journey became LOVE & FREE. After the success of that work, Takahashi has also traveled around Japan by himself, and now on their tenth wedding anniversary, and with 2 small children in tow, the Takahashi family once again journeyed around the world finding peace and happiness in the little things. Through North, Central and South America, Antarctica, Australia, Asia, Europe, Africa and back to Japan, this is Family Gypsy.

Ayumu's Website:
Ayumu Takahashi on Twitter:

Kaiju no Kodomo

Kaiju no Kodomo (海獣の子供) was published in the monthly magazine IKKI between 2006 and 2011. It was drawn by the very talented Daisuke Igarashi (五十嵐大介). I originally read the first 3 (of 5) volumes, and was drawn in by the beauty of the seascapes. The story tells of two mysterious children, Umi and Sora, who share a mystical bond with the ocean. An ominous meteorite falls into the ocean causing balance and unrest.

I just picked up volumes 4 and 5 this week, and I'm looking forward reading them. I also picked up volume 1 of an earlier series by Iragashi called Witches.

A lot of Igarashi's work is publish on the IKKI imprint, a small label owned by Shogakukan that publishes some alternative comics that don't appear in the major monthlies. It's definitely worth checking out for some rare manga gems.

IKKI's Website:
Daisuke Igarashi's Blog:

Monday, June 3, 2013

Overground Acoustic Underground + Brahman

This song from a biscuit commercial caught my attention today:
It's the latest single from Overground Acoustic Underground. The band formed in 2005 and has featured at many of Japan's summer music festivals. Four of the six band members also form the hard rock band Brahman which formed in Tokyo in 1995. If anyone knows these guys and can recommend which albums I should be checking out, let me know! Here is a track that I'm loving from Brahman:

Overground Acoustic Underground website:
Brahman and Overground Acoustic Underground on Twitter: