Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

new Ghost in the Shell…SAC_2045

Sat ,20/06/2020

Didn’t even know about this until a friend mentioned it, so naturally had to bing-watch the first season (only 12 episodes avail. at the moment).

So here’s my take on it so far (some spoilers, so be forewarned):

1) Same characters as Stand Alone Complex – they spend the first couple episodes ‘getting the gang back together’ as it were. As seen near the end of the previous series (because ARISE was a prequel to SAC if memory serves, will have to go watch that again now too I guess 🙂 ) the world has been divvied up into four major ’empires’, and Japan is kind of an also-ran country now as primarily allied within the American Empire.

2) The animation is much more like a videogame this time around, no longer 2D cartoon-drawn-style. I have to say I prefer the earlier style, but this isn’t bad. I think they start to hit their stride a few episodes in – the first few to me looked way too ‘Playstation’ like but it improves over time.

3) The Tachikomas are back, albeit there are a bit fewer of them. Otherwise largely the same, very capable but more comic relief in some ways – there’s also a new character, a PhD math wizard chick (Purin) who in some ways is similar, other ways much smarter. While she has a cyberbrain like the others, she is more akin to Chief Aramaki and Togusa – not a cyborg.

Some additional comments:

a) like the reviewer comment from the IMDB page, the plot takes a bit to really get going, so looking forward to next season given it’s nowhere near resolved by the end.

b) while they are minor characters in the other series too, both Borma and Paz show up only later and I don’t think Paz even has one line of dialog that I can remember – yet.

c) like all GITS shows – barring the lamely-executed American movie with Scarlet J, which was about as effective a ‘translation’ to live action as the Aeon Flux movie was (in other words, fairly major disappointment) – it’s far better to watch these in Japanese with subtitles, IMHO. Same as with Initial D and other anime i’ve watched – you just get a much better sense of the characters and the way that here too – the ‘posturing’ goes on between them, here mostly for Batou but the Major does a bit of it from time to time too.

d) another nit: I’m not sure on timelines here, but I’d have thought that Solid State Society was the last Stand Alone Complex series/movie/etc. (again, ARISE is a prequel so it predates Section 9 being created, kind of a Major Motoko ‘origin story’?) – but acc to IMDB that’s set in 2034, whereas this is supposedly 2045? I realize most of Section 9 are cyborgs so no issue, but Togusa and Aramaki? Hmm…..

So, all in all i’m eager to see more, the premise here (which I didn’t spoil for you) is actually pretty great, lots more to explore here.


Takumi would approve….

Mon ,22/07/2019

BaT Visits GT-R Mecca: Garage Yoshida, Osaka


Wild schtuff….

Sun ,25/01/2015

Iron Giant: Up close with Kuratas, the $1.4 million, 4-ton mech robot



End of an era……Initial D

Mon ,01/09/2014

Discovered they finally finished Initial D – and watched the last four episodes (Final Stage). Very glad they kept with it. These start a bit slow and go a bit overboard on backstory, but all the things we love about Initial D are still there:

– ridiculous, over the top posturing (although less than in past Stages);
– crazy mountain driving without apparently any hint of fear, parental control or police;
– ‘mental monologuing’ throughout where people are constantly explaining things to each other out loud (or through narration);
– and last but certainly not least – Takumi Fujiwara and his amazing AE86 Trueno…..

Enjoy. I am not supplying a link because if you simply do a search, you’ll find it. 🙂 In case you missed Fifth Stage (immediately precedes Final Stage, there are 14 episodes) – you’ll want to search for and watch that first. And if you haven’t watched ANY of them, what were you thinking (and get to work – Funimation has Stages 1-4 online!

According to Wikipedia, there is also a three-part movie remake coming….woo hoo!



Wed ,04/12/2013

Yeah, it’s viral for good reason – wow. For those too scared, watch the fake Simpsons Mr. Sparkle ad below instead…. 🙂


American Shaolin – a great read!

Mon ,14/01/2013

So this past holiday, I purchased a book for my brother called American Shaolin, and started reading it at the same time myself. It documents the story of an American (barely) twenty-something, Matt Polly, who decides to drop out of college for a couple of years midstream and study kung fu at the famed Shaolin Temple in China. The events in the book take place in the early ’90s. Mr Polly toughs it out over the course of two years in training to ultimately gain considerable skill in kickboxing and in speaking Chinese, despite the intervention of corrupt landlords, dysentery, (some) arrogant Shaolin monks, administrators and local townspeople who are fascinated by and yet often look down him at the same time, and the infrequent nags of homesickness and libido (he was barely 20, after all! 🙂 But he certainly prevails in the end, and despite dramatic differences in culture and mentality, shares several real, human connections with the reader he made along the way.

I liked this book. In part because of the fish out of water aspect, in part because of the ’98 pound weakling’ central character that the vast majority of American males growing up can certainly identify with (especially nerdy males like myself), and in part because over the past few years I have become far more interested in learning a lot more about Asia than I ever was in the past. I have spent some time overseas (Europe) at roughly the same age, and while my experience was in a student group, not by myself, there are definite similarities I could remember while reading Mr Polly’s story.

It’s also interesting to contrast this book with the Tokyo Vice book I read in November. That book takes place in largely the same timeframe, although I think Mr. Edelstein was slightly older, and of course he was in Japan, not China. But some of the same situations occurred, and it’s interesting to see how they both reacted to them, despite one being a reporting job and the other several years of martial arts regimen. The human element across both books has many common points, in other words. And certainly in both cases, it’s an interesting change to see a society that is more open about one-upmanship to each other. Here in the States, we like to pretend that sort of thing doesn’t exist and everyone is on the same playing field and competes with similar opportunities, but it’s simply not true. In these books it’s clear that in Japan and China (at least in the 90’s, may have changed a bit since) – you acknowledge those who may have power over you, but you are also allowed to work towards challenging and eventually replacing that same people. And it’s expected. Now certainly Mr. Polly points out many situations where this hierarchy system works to prevent nearly ANYTHING from getting done, and that’s a bad thing. But it’s still interesting to see how it works in practice vs. how we live here in the USA.

Check it out – you won’t be disappoointed. I think I may have to read Mr. Polly’s next book about MMA soon, too!


Tokyo Vice…

Sat ,10/11/2012

Came across Tokyo Vice as referenced by a Daily Show interview with its author some years ago, and had the book on a list to get from the library, finally got around to it. This is a very interesting read, although like the author, I was a bit jaded by the subject matter by the end. Jake Adelstein was a reporter living in Japan in the 90’s/00’s and tells many a tale of being on the police beat, and then later, the yakuza (Japanese Mafia) beat in his reporting responsibilities.

On the one hand, it’s interesting to watch his gradual ‘indoctrination’ into the hard-boiled lifestyle of a big-paper reporter in Japan, and as he navigates a culture that doesn’t welcome outsiders easily or consistently. Eventually due to his dedication and commitment to near-complete immersion in the Japanese language and culture he wins out and is accepted by his regular circle, but still relates how many times he’s still considered an outsider ‘gaijin’ by most daily encounters, and this doesn’t change.

On the other hand, as we see Mr. Adelstein move from regular reporting, then the conventional police beat, then into harder-edged vice and sex and drugs-related reporting, it’s clear that he’s been changed, and he admits as much several times throughout the book. But in some cases it’s hard to feel sympathetic, either, given who he spent most of his time with (hookers, drug lords, pimps, etc.) as opposed to his new family and children. He is really drawn into the seedy world and it almost (literally) does him in when his reporting intersects with the Yakuza world directly.

Reading a book like this brings out that age-old tension between regular civilian life – like most of us lead – and the seamy underbelly of most societies. Here Mr. Adelstein is talking directly about Japanese culture but I’m pretty sure there are elements of these issues in nearly every human culture, Asian, Western, or otherwise. There are definite heroes and villians in this book, and Mr. Adelstein arguably becomes a little of both through his travails. I hope the end result wasn’t near as hard on his family as it sounds like it was….

A very interesting read…..


Rodan, rival of Gojira!

Tue ,10/01/2012

After all the monster movies I’ve seen over the years (many multiple times – after all, WWGZD?) I finally got around to watching the original Rodan movie yesterday. They reissued it on DVD with both the original Japanese version (english subtitles) and the dubbed American version and conveniently, the SPL had it.

My review here is going to be short – simply stated, there wasn’t near enough monster/destruction/mayhem! So rather than try to write more words about too little action – I give you a far better Rodan review (word and wit-wise) courtesy of Stomp Tokyo! Other reviews by these maniacs are linked off the blogroll on the lower left. Enjoy!