Monday, June 30, 2008

Speed Racer, Tokyo, Emile Hirsch, and Japanamerica

The Kano breasts were on hand.

Screen was huge--maybe too huge--and Emile showed up from LA, to hang with Sonada-san.

The film buzzed and dazzled. And, weirdly, it was all too earnest.
More on this soon.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Monster Manga Jammer

Caught this monster of a manga artist (pictured above, w/acoustic guitar) performing with his band last night in a lovely theater in northeast Tokyo--and was privileged to be invited backstage to meet him. We are working on a forthcoming interview/profile. Hopefully you'll hear more from him (and me).

Courtesy of pals at Warner Bros., tomorrow night I'll be in the media section for the Japan premiere of the Hollywood "Speed Racer" film.

While its reception has been less than rosy in the US, the film will screen in Tokyo on Sunday night on what's billed as the largest screen in the world in Tokyo Dome.

We shall see. Literally.

Finally, a few reflections on last weekend's Temple University conference and digital living in my latest column for the Daily Yomiuri here.

Also: Another Akiba stabbing? Otaku are flocking to Nakano.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Friday, June 20, 2008

Digital Life (and death) at Temple University Japan, Tokyo

I will be participating in a panel of presentations under the rubric "Digital Dysfunction and Exclusion" as part of Temple University Japan's Digital Youth in East Asia conference this weekend (detailed info here).

My panel will be held this Sunday, June 22, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. Tomohiro Kato's behavior in Akihabara exactly two weeks earlier has raised the urgency of such topics a notch or two.

An international roster of scholars, writers and their ilk will be on hand, and I am honored and humbled to be appearing alongside Duke University Professor Anne Allison, author of Millennial Monsters among other fine books.

The conference is free and open to the public. If you're in Tokyo, please join us.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Japanamerica jive at Seijo University

A vast and attentive audience--with sterling queries--on a sufferably humid Tokyo afternoon.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Seijo University Speech, Tuesday, June 17

This Tuesday, June 17, from 4:30 to 5:30, I will be giving a talk at the behest of Seijo University in Tokyo entitled: "Transnational Desires: The Meanings and Methods behind Japan's Global Appeal."

Naturally, I've revised my comments somewhat in light of last Sunday's events in Akihabara.

The talk is open to the public and will be in English (by default, I'm afraid). The official announcement is here--in Japanese, of course:


日時:2008年6月17日(火) PM 4:30-5:30
会場:3号館1階 311教室
講演者:ローランド・ケルツ(Roland Kelts)

講演タイトル: "Transnational Desires: The Meanings and Methods Behind Japan's Global Appeal"  [トランスナショナルな欲望:日本のポップ・カルチャーが世界にアピールするもの]

著書Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop CultureHas Invaded the U. S.(邦訳『ジャパナアメリカ:日本発ポップカルチャー革命』) でケルツ氏は、アニメ・漫画・文学・芸術・オタク文化等の日本のポップ・カルチャーがいかにアメリカに浸透していったかについて論じています。この講演で は、Japanamericaの内容を紹介しつつ、執筆後の進展を踏まえて日本文化の国境や文化を越えての魅力と欧米人たちが熱望するものとの関係を解説 します。(パワーポイントやDVD使用。)

アメリカ出身の作家でジャーナリストでもあるケルツ氏の著書Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U. S. (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2006) は、2007年に『ジャパナアメリカ:日本発ポップカルチャー革命』(永田 医 訳 ランダムハウス講談社) として邦訳されました。ニューヨークの文芸雑誌『ア・パブリック・スペース』の編集者や『デイリー・読売』紙のコラムニストとしても活躍なさっています。 ケルツ氏のフィクション、書評、インタービュー、エッセイなどは『ヴィレッジ・ヴォイス』、『プレイボーイ』、『サロン』、『ゾーイトロープ』、『ヴォー グ』、『ジャパン・タイムス』に掲載されて、アメリカのラジオ局ネットワーク『ナショナル・パブリック・ラジオ』にも出演なさっています。

主催:成城大学 文芸学部 英文学科

お問い合わせ:成城大学 文芸学部 共用研究室 tel.: 03-3482-9412

Friday, June 13, 2008

Akihabara, anime and today's Japan

Making sense of the senseless in today's Daily Yomiuri column--here.

Across the Pacific, comments for today's LA Times--here.

Japanese money quote: "Lots of mothers were like Kato's, and lots of Katos are out there now."

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Join Together with my Band, this Sunday, June 15

I play drums for a band called ALi-MO. We've been performing in and around Tokyo for nearly 5 years. Yeesh.
We're back onstage this Sunday night, courtesy of Amnesty International Japan. If you're in Tokyo, we'd love to see you there:
"Rock For Human Rights"
Admission: 1000 yen
Doors open at 5:30 p.m.
ALi-MO Music :
7:30 p.m. till 10:30 p.m.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Found Poetry Amid Akihabara Brutality

The absurdity and sadness of random murder, and the inconsolable grief of the beloved of the dead and injured, is the story--and it's not a story, per se, but a reality. As of this writing, seven people are dead, and 10 injured, for no reason other than being in Akihabara, Tokyo's mecca of electronics and pop culture, at midday on Sunday.

The man who caused this sadness, Tomohiro Kato, is not a nobody, though he apparently felt that way, at least on Sunday morning.

What follows is a translation of Kato's account of the hours and minutes leading up to his acts of violence. It breaks off approximately twenty minutes before his Sunday attack (o:20)--and it reads like a bit of untreated found poetry, a narrative of the mundane and the obscene, with lines that speak of other lines, other sensibilities, not unlike a serious poem.
(Thanks to blogger Patrick Macias for the post.)

am 5:21 I'm going to kill people in Akihabara. I'll crash into them by
car, and when the car is down, I'll use my knife. Goodbye everybody
am 5:21 sleepy
am 5:34 I still have headache
am 5:35 weather man says it's a rainy day. Worst.
am 5:44 The worst case is that I'll get caught during(the killing spree)
am 6:00 I'm not being cheated, maybe I am the one who cheats
am 6:02 I'm used to play a good guy. Everybody believe it so easily.
am 6:03 Adults liked me, since I am "a good kid".
am 6:03 Couldn't make any friends
am 6:04 still, there were few who got along with me
am 6:05 Some of them kept me in their mailing list, that makes me feel
good a bit
am 6:10 The road I was to take is sealed. Everything is against me
am 6:31 It's time. Let's go
am 6:39 I have to fight my headache
am 6:49 and the rain
am 6:50 and the time
am 7:30 I did my homework perfectly and look at this rain
am 9:41 I hope the weather gets better
am 9:48 Now I'm in Kanagawa. resting. Everything is fine so far
am 10:53 Heavy trafic jam. Dunno if I get there on time
am 11:07 Shibuya sucks
am 11:17 It is sunny around here
am 11:45 arrived on Akihabara
am 11:45 Hokoten (pedestrian day) today, isn't it?
pm 0:10 Now it's the time

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Friday, June 06, 2008

Self (re)Invention

Last month, when I attended a talk in Tokyo by Dr. Frenchy Lunning, who edits the Mechademia anthologies of academic essays on anime, manga and so on, I couldn't help but reconsider Takayuki Tatsumi's Full Metal Apache, a book I reviewed for The Journal of the American Literature Society of Japan. (**Clicking on the pages above ought to render them readable.)

Lunning was in Japan briefly on a Fulbright fellowship and spoke of her investigation of confluences between Western and Eastern cultures--the principle argument in Tatsumi's book, which finds numerous creative synergies among artists from both sides of the planet.

More tantalizing--to me, at least--was Lunning's self-professed queries into the sexual relations between cosplayers, convention-goers and their ilk. She said she visits chat rooms to find out what's going down.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

japanamerican perversions ...

... to be celebrated?

Someone sold cheap Japanorama videos in the back pages of Rolling Stone and comic books in the 90s.

Now, ABC is set to air this series this summer.

Look out.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Japan Day in Central Park, June 1

Kudos to Okuyama-san and his staff at the Consulate General of Japan in New York, and to Michael, Kumiko and their crew at Gorgeous Entertainment for assembling the second annual "Japan Day" in Central Park.

All relevant info can be found online here.

On the sterling list of performers and activities is an afternoon concert by Gaijin a Go Go, the groovy, multi-cultural band that rocked the Manhattan book launch party for Japanamerica.

If you're in or near the city today, come visit Japan--in the Park.