Friday, April 11, 2014

On AnimeJapan 2014 for my Japan Times column

Anime industry reunified at expo, satellite events
BY ROLAND KELTS


AnimeJapan 2014, the rebranded and reunified annual industry trade show, exceeded organizers’ expectations last month, hosting 110,000 producers, publishers, journalists, cosplayers and public visitors. What a relief.

Since 2010, the anime industry’s political divisions meant two separate shows: one in Chiba called the Anime Contents Expo (ACE), the other in Odaiba, the original Tokyo International Anime Fair (TAF). Dashing between the two had become an annual headache. AnimeJapan brought domestic and overseas players together again under one cavernous roof at Tokyo Big Sight on March 22 and 23.

It wasn’t perfect. “AnimeJapan was a huge success as a B2C (business to consumer) event,” says Yuji Nunokawa, chairman of the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA). “From B2B (business to business) aspects, however, there were some unsatisfactory elements, such as meeting-space shortage and lack of preparation.”

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Tilted on tour in Toronto for Japanamerica

Toronto Japanamerica tour interview, via Torja magazine.

『Japanamerica』著者、Roland Kelts氏に訊く日本と北米のマンガ・アニメ産業


Roland Keltsさん

Roland Kelts
日本のポップ・カルチャーがアメリカに及ぼした影響、そして互いに切磋琢磨しながら変革するマンガ・アニメ業界を鋭い視線で分析した『Japanamerica』の著者。他にもThe New YorkerやThe Wall Street Journalをはじめとする数多くの新聞・雑誌に記事、エッセイなどを寄稿。

東京大学や上智大学などの客員講師を務め、東京とニューヨークを行き来する生活を送る。スタジオジブリの宮崎駿監督や、作家の村上春樹など、日本の作家へのインタビューも多く行っている。

日本マンガとの出会い
私が初めて日本に行ったのは幼稚園の時。母方の祖父母が住んでいる盛岡を初めて訪れた時でした。テレビを点けるとウルトラマンや仮面ライダーなど、いわゆる特撮ものがやっていて、それを夢中で観ていました。さらに祖父母の家にはマンガもあって、少しだけですけど、パラパラとめくって読んでいました。それが初めてのマンガとの出会いです。中学・高校生の時も、夏休みなどで日本に行くと、電車の中によく置き去りにされている読み終わったマンガ雑誌を集めては読んでいて、友人に見せようとアメリカの自宅にも持って帰ったりしていました(笑)アメコミのスパイダーマンなどと比べても、日本のマンガは格段におもしろいと感じ、友人に見せては、みんなで「すごい!」と興奮したものです。日本のマンガにはアクションシーンもたくさんあるし、セクシーな女の人も出てきて。それらの描写方法やデザインが、とても興味深かったのです。アメコミはどちらかというと絵柄が大きくて、ダイナミックなのに対し、日本のマンガは細かい絵が多く、フレーム使いも面白い。マンガに本格的に興味を持ち始めたのは、この頃だと思います。さらに今度は、川端康成に谷崎潤一郎、そして大学の時には村上春樹といった日本文学も読むようになりました。日本文学は私にとってとても新鮮なものでした。そうして、日本の物語というものにも興味を持ち始めたのです。後に、(映画監督の)フランシス・フォード・コッポラの会社にライターとして雇われ、日本の文化やライフスタイルを書くことになり、数年間大阪に住みました。この出来事が私の視野をより広げ、日本文化に関わり始めた出発点となりました。

Thursday, April 03, 2014

Haruki Murakami tells me about American literature

>an excerpt from my interview w/Haruki for A Public Space.


Haruki Murakami’s translations include: Raymond Carver’s short stories, Truman Capote’s short stories; F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Mikal Gilmore’s Shot in the Heart, John Irving’s Setting Free the Bears, Tim O’Brien’s The Nuclear Age, Grace Paley’s Enormous Changes at the Last Minute, J. D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye; and Mark Strand’s Mr. and Mrs. Baby and Other Stories.

ROLAND KELTS You and I once discussed how difficult it is to be an individual in Japan, how lonely.

HARUKI MURAKAMI It’s still very difficult, but things have changed drastically in Japan over the last ten years. You know, when I was young, we were supposed to join a company, join the office or the academy. It was a very tight society. You had to belong to someplace. I didn’t want to do that, so I became independent as soon as I left college. And it was lonely.

But not these days. People graduate and immediately become freelancers. There’s a good and bad side, but I look at the good side. It’s a chance to be free.

RK Do people need to look to America today-—or can they stay at home?

HM These days, young Japanese are also looking to Asia and Europe. America isn’t the only one any more. When I was in my teens in the sixties, America was so big—everything was shiny and bright. When I was fifteen years old, I went to see Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, in Kobe. That was my first encounter with jazz; I was so impressed. Those were very good days for American culture.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Toronto & silence

>latest column for Paper Sky magazine. 


I spend most of my time in cities – big ones.  Mostly New York and Tokyo, the biggest in their respective countries, but also Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston, where my parents have a home. I have visited cities throughout Europe and Asia, and in Australia and South Africa. I have lived in London, San Francisco and Anchorage, Alaska.

In the 21st century, most cities share common elements: taxi and public transit systems, vast and anonymous airports, traffic jams, tall buildings, hotels, tony restaurants and cheap eateries.  I often tell friends that there is less culture shock to be had in flying between megalopolises like Tokyo and New York, London, Singapore or Shanghai, then there is in driving from any of those cities a couple hundred miles into rural environs.

My life didn’t start with cities.  Though I was born in one, I was raised in small towns in upstate New York and New England.  When I first lived in Japan as a six year-old, I stayed with my grandparents in Iwate, on the outskirts of the relatively small northern city of Morioka. My childhood memories are of countryside exploits – netting insects in summer fields and yards, ice-skating on ponds and rivers, fishing still lakes, hearing raccoons and rabbits scurry beneath porches at night, June bugs and moths fluttering into screen doors, crickets, loons, and silence.