Feature Foto #7: Yosakoi Matsuri

The topic of this Feature Foto post is a style of dance called よさこい (Yosakoi). It has only been practiced as a dance form since the 1950s, but is a modernisation of a much older, traditional Japanese summer dance.

Every summer, people get together within their community to put a dance performance together, featuring clothing and symbols from their home neighbourhood, set to modern music. Each group of performers choreographs and practices their routines and then assembles together to take part in a huge celebration to present their performances at Yosakoi Matsuri which takes place in different places in Japan. This photo was taken at the スーパーよさこい祭 (Super Yosakoi Matsuri) held on the beautiful grounds of 明治神宮 (Meiji Shrine) in Tokyo. This particular dance troupe playfully calls themselves Baka Tokyo (Foolish Tokyo). I really liked the excitement and energy that I captured in this picture, which is why I chose it for this post.

Aside from the awesome dances, costumes and music that makes this colourful event so much fun, there is also an abundance of vendors selling delicious food, treats and drinks. One of the top selling snacks on this day was the cold and fluffy shave ice, mainly because the Super Yosakoi Matsuri takes place in August, and it must have been over 91˚F / 32˚C outside, with 95% humidity under a cloudless sky! I was sweating profusely just watching the show; I can't image what the performers must have felt.

Despite the intense heat, going to Super Yosakoi Matsuri was SO much fun and I think it's something that should not be missed!


Haruhi in Gothic Lolita outfit!

Let's have a look at one of the most recent additions to my figure collection! Most of my readers probably recognise 涼宮ハルヒ (Suzumiya Haruhi) so I won't go into detail about this famous and awesome anime/manga series by 谷川 流 (Tanigawa Nagaru). Haruhi is seen here in her goth lolita outfit courtesy of Griffon Enterprises.

As soon as I heard about this figure for the first time, I knew I had to have her and that she would turn out to be one of my most treasured additions to the family. Haruhi looks incredible in her gothloli attire and sculptor/designer 山本雅弘 (Yamamoto Masahiro) did some incredible detail work with her. The only complaint I have is that the production work done by Griffon is not *quite* up to standard. A close inspection of Haruhi is bound to reveal some imperfections that aren't normally present in a Kotobukiya or Max Factory product. There are a couple of irregularities in the paint work and she's got a *tiny* dent/knick on her dress that suggests hurried factory production, although I don't feel the end result takes away from the overall impact of this lovely figure. I am very happy that she's here!


Japan Prime Minister's new budget includes Manga Provisions!

President Barack Obama is not the only world leader focusing on new strategies to renew his nation's economy, deploying new strategies for raising revenue. Prime Minister Aso Taro today revealed his new ¥15.4 trillion plan for revitalising Japan's stuggling economy. The two leaders have some common themes in their approach such as reduction of dependency on carbon, provisions for retirement and health care, reform of the private financial sector and stimulus packages for their nation's citizens.

Prime Minister Aso also announced plans for heavy investment in Japan's "soft power" businesses such as anime, manga and fashion! The Prime Minister recognises the increasing popularity and power of these businesses, especially in the overseas markets. His plan calls for the creation of 500,000 new jobs in these businesses/arts over the next 12 years in hopes of tripling or quadrupling their revenue-generation.

This is awesome news for anime/manga addicts everywhere including Aso-san himself who is a self-proclaimed enthusiast. To think that the hobby interests of so many people like me are going to help rebuild Japan's economy is totally kool! It's wonderful in fact. Perhaps this will even help to increase the Prime Minister's diminished approval rating; he's already gained a few points in my book. Way to go Aso-san, keep up the good work!

AFP News
Japan Today

***Please Note that I shopped this image for dramatic effect. I am definitely NOT poking fun at Prime Minister Aso, I think he's kool! But... this pic is entertaining, is it not?


Chicago Music Scene: Lady Sovereign!

Coming straight from North London to the Metro Chicago on Thursday, 14-May at 20:00-- UK Grime artist Lady Sovereign! Opening for the S.O.V. are Chester French and local boy Hollywood Holt.

Lady Sovereign released her first full-length, "Vertically Challenged," in November of 2005, and in October 2006 she followed up with a second release entitled "Public Warning." In the meantime she created a slew of other singles and EPs as well, forming a growing list of outstanding accomplishments, not to mention establishing herself as a respected artist in the black-dominated UK Grime scene and becoming the first ever non-American female to be signed with US powerhouse hip-hop label DefJam. Finally, just yesterday (07-Apr-09) the long-awaited full-length "Jigsaw," released on her own label "Midget Records," hit record stores everywhere.

This show is gonna be shiznit y'all so come on out and check it. For reals.

Her official website is http://www.ladysovereign.com
For some SOV sounds, check her out on Last.fm.
She is also on MySpace.


Hollywood Anime/Game Rape - Updated List

The Hollywood rape of Japanese Anime, classic Film and Video Games seems to be more than just a passing fancy. In fact, the trend is quickly picking up momentum into a sickening pace. It seems like an industry that is completely devoid of original ideas has found a whole new world of "inspiration," and intends to continue down this disgusting path of systematic Americanisation of classic Japanese entertainment and art and casting these monstrosities with crap Hollywood actors that make me want to wretch.

Here is an updated list of what's in store or has recently been produced:

Anime and Film

  • Death Note
  • Ghost in the Shell
  • The Seven Samurai
  • Akira
  • Speed Racer
  • Cowboy Bebop
  • Ninja Scroll
  • Full Metal Panic
  • Dragonball
  • Sailor Moon

Video Games

  • Metal Gear Solid
  • Shadow of the Colossus
  • Street Fighter
  • Tekken

All hope is lost.


Wormgear's Anime Pick - Kino's Journey

I just recently started watching the series, キノの旅 (Kino no Tabi / "Kino's Journey") after my wife picked it up randomly during our shopping spree at the recent Best Buy 50% off anime sale. Since neither of us had ever heard of the series before, we had no idea what to expect. Much to our surprise and excitement, Kino no Tabi is spectacular.

The focus is upon a young traveler named Kino キノ and her companion, a talking motorcycle named エルメス Hermes. Visually, the anime is quite stunning with wonderful artwork and outstanding colour. The stories come to life through the duo's dedication to a life of exploration in which they move from country to country learning what they can of the new lands they encounter and the people and cultures within them. Each visit is based on the principle that the two must stay just long enough to give meaning to their stay but also just short enough that they have no chance of becoming involved with the individual countrymen and their ways.

For viewers of Kino no Tabi, the magic begins almost immediately when we easily become involved with the lives of Kino and Hermes and share with them the experiences of each new country they visit. Each episode is somewhat of a complete story that can stand alone but which obviously exists as an element of the greater theme of the series. Each story is abundant with rich visual and cerebral imagery that paints a complex, insightful perspective on humanity. The interaction of Kino and Hermes with the world around them is a microcosmic portrayal of the vivid beauty, excitement and delight that life brings to us, as well as the dark and sometimes frightening tragedy, brutality and loneliness that inevitably ensues. The traveler's tales of Kino and Hermes are fantastic illustrations of the human condition that are both absorbing and humbling.

The anime is based on 時雨沢恵一 (Shigusawa Keiichi)'s manga of the same name, is produced under the direction of 中村 隆太郎 (Nakamura Ryūtarō) by studios A.C.G.T and Genco, and was originally run in Japan during 2003. With a total of only 13 episodes and a short-story format, this might be a great choice for readers who lack the time to devote to regular viewing. Kino's Journey has something very special that gives heart and soul to the story. Highly Recommended!

Onimusha on the silver screen!?

What is THIS? A movie is going to be made, based on one of my top favourite video game series of all time-- Onimusha? This is crazy! My initial reaction is one of both excitement and wariness. I mean-- an Onimusha MOVIE?? That is *awesome* but... can it really be good? It seems I am a little late with this "breaking story" as there has been talk of this for nearly two years already! Somehow, I completely missed it and just now found out about it for the first time.

The movie will be directed by Chrisophe Gans, who also directed the film-adaptation of Silent Hill. It has also been said that Gans has managed to cast Kaneshiro Takeshi-- the actor who was both the inspiration and voice actor for the Onimusha series' lead character - Samanosuke. The film was originally supposed to hit theatres at the end of this year, but doesn't it seem odd that there hasn't been more information available about it if that's that case? Well, other sites on the web seem to have new information that the film has been delayed until 2011. Other sites have claimed that production of the film is on indefinite hold. Damn... What's going on, I wonder?

If anyone has heard any concrete information about this, I would really appreciate some comments!