Friday, December 18, 2015

Hatsune Miku to tour North America in 2016, for The Japan Times

My 2015 kicked off with a January concert by Hatsune Miku, Japan’s digital pop star, in Las Vegas. It is wound down with a visit to Miku’s creator, Hiroyuki Itoh, at his company’s head office in Sapporo, Hokkaido.

I’ve long learned to temper my skepticism toward Japan’s cultural presence in the United States. As a half-Japanese American kid, I never thought I’d see sushi in supermarket aisles, manga in malls, or Pikachu and Hello Kitty balloons soaring over Manhattan in the annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, as they did again last year in that distinctly American matsuri (festival).

I also never imagined that a Japanese virtual singer (Miku) would be the featured musical act on an iconic American TV talk show (“Late Show with David Letterman” in 2014).

Now the resilient Miku, an 8-year-old piece of musical software whose content is user-generated, is about to headline her first North American tour.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Jake Adelstein on the death of Shigeru Mizuki

Goodbye to Japan's Manga King

My comments:
<<“I’ve always thought of Mizuki as an innovator and something of an outlier in the history of modern manga—a striking combination of a cartoonist in the more conventional manga-ka mode, largely established by Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy), and an illustrator more akin to Dickens’s Boz or Hogarth, incorporating their stinging critiques of societal hypocrisy and historical violence. His backgrounds are often meticulously detailed and almost photorealistic, while the main characters, or narrative witnesses, are drawn in more simplistic outlines and minimalist designs.

“I attended an exhibition of his World War II works in Yokohama a few years ago and came away feeling that he was sui generis—there’s simply no one like him, in Japan or elsewhere. His obsession with spirits and the supernatural can be found embedded in later manga and animation like Pokemon and (Hayao) Miyzaki epics Totoro and Spirited Away. And his recently translated magnum opus, (which chronicles Japan’s history up to and after World War II) Showa: A History of Japan, will likely remain unsurpassed as a graphic storytelling document of an entire historical epoch.”>>