Monday, September 23, 2013

Asymptote + Three Percent

As I find myself drawn toward translation theory, specifically Japanese literature and it's interaction with English, there are a few websites that I've begun to thoroughly enjoy.

Asymtote is a quarterly journal that focuses on contemporary world literature and translation. I stumbled across the interview with David Mitchell discussing his translation of the Naoki Higashida's the Reason I Jump. I've mentioned this work in an early post, and it's definitely worth checking out for anyone with an interest in Autism.

But what brought me back was the translation of selected text from Ramo Nakajima by Sayuri Okamoto and Sim Yee Chang. And for those interested in digging a bit deeper, Asymtote also provides the original Japanese. Whilst I'm not familiar with Ramo Nakajima, this translation has definitely whet my appetite for his work, and the Naoki Award winning The Night of Human Models has been added to my to-read list. Asymtote is a quarterly journal. The next edition should be available in October.

The other site recently added to my bookmarks is Three Percent, a website from the University of Rochester for readers, editors and translators interested in international literature. It features reviews of a wide range of literature and translations, and is a great place to search if you are looking for great world literature.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


The fourth movie directed by comedic icon Hitoshi Matsumoto (松本人志), R100, hits cinemas in Japan next month.

Nao Omori (大森南朋) is a furniture salesmen who seeks a bit of adventure in his life. After joining a enigmatic bondage club, he realizes it is not something that he is too interested in. But the club refuses to cancel his yearly membership, and he finds himself pursued by a series of increasing persistent dominatrix. 

This week also marked Matsumoto's 50th birthday, and he has stated in interviews that he has become increasingly aware of his advancing age. He has even questioned how long he can continue with the wildly popular slapstick of the yearly Gakki no Tsukai (ガキの使い) TV specials. This week was also the final episode after 8 years of the TV series Lincoln (リンカーン), a vehicle for Matumoto and his Downtown partner Masatoshi Hamada (浜田雅功), and their friends. It's definitely worth checking out some of the best of clips of Lincoln if you can, especially their sports carnival specials:

Peeping Life Wonderland

The latest collection of Peeping Life (ピーピング・ライフ) shorts are a collaboration between creator Ryoichi Mori (森りゅういち), Tetsuka Productions (手塚プロ), and Tatsunoko Productions (タツノコプロ).

Founded by Osamu Tetsuka, the home of Astro Boy, Black Jack and a mountain of animation that has influenced Japanese children for generations.

Tatsunoko Productions are equally a massive force in Japanese animation. Western audience will know them through Speed Racer, Gatchaman (which has recently received a live action remake), Samurai Pizza Cats, and Robotech. They also provided animation assistance with the original 1995 series of Neon Genesis Evangelion and 1998s Akira.

This collection of shorts delves into the back catalogue of both production houses to provide a hilarious new look at some beloved anime classic. From Testuka Productions there are appearances from a rebellious teenage Astro Boy who dyes his hair and complains about his iconic but unfashionable choice of clothing, and from Black Jack who finds that his lack of a medical license is not too reassuring to potential patients, Princess Knight, Ambassador Magma, Triton of the Sea, and The Three-Eyed One.

From Tatsunoko Productions there is Casshan, Yatterman, and The Genie Family.

If like me, you're not to familiar with some of the earlier anime from the 60s and 70s, here is a collection of clips from the various anime.

Casshan (新造人間キャシャーン)

Yatterman (ヤッターマン)

The Genie Family (ハクション大魔王)

Princess Knight (リボンの騎士)

Triton of the Sea (海のトリトン)

Monday, September 2, 2013

The Unforgiven

Yurusarezarumono (許されざる者) is a remake of the Academy Award winning 1992 Clint Eastwood classic, Unforgiven.

The movie gives some completion to influence that Japanese cinema has had on the Western genre. Starting with Akira Kurasawa's (倉澤明) Yojimbo (用心棒) that was adapted by Sergio Leone in A Fistful of Dollars staring Clint Eastwood. Samurai films had a huge impact in shaping the Western genre, specifically the work of Sergio Leone and Clint Eastwood, who both have left a lasting impression on the history of cinema. Eastwood's 1992 masterpiece, which he directed and starred in, was dedicated to the memory of Sergio Leone. And now completing the cinematic mobius strip, Unforgiven has now been remade in Japan as a period samurai drama.

Directed by Lee Sang-il (李相日), award winning director behind 2010's Akunin (悪人), and 2006's Hula Girls (フラガール). Starring Ken Watanabe (渡辺謙) in main role as a retired samurai who has given up his brutal past as a government swordsman looking to live a peaceful life in rural Hokkaido. It also stars veteran actor Akira Emoto (柄本明), young rising star Yuya Yagira (柳楽優弥) who won the Best Actor award at Cannes for 2004's Nobody Knows, young Sydney born Shiori Kutsuna (忽那汐里) who I know from the movie adaptation of the Beck manga and My Back Page with Kenichi Matsuyama (松山ケンイチ), and Eiko Koike (小池栄子) who appeared in the acclaimed Youkame no Semi from 2011.

The excellent casting is matched by the scenery of Hokkaido which makes a beautiful backdrop befitting the story. I'm expecting this movie to clean up at the Japanese Academy Awards this year. Definitely one to check out. Yurusarezarumono will be shown this month at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, and is to be released in cinemas in Japan on September 13th.