Mirai

Mirai-jpFrom acclaimed director Mamoru Hosoda (Wolf Children) comes a daringly original story of love passed down through generations. When four-year-old Kun meets his new baby sister, his world is turned upside down. Named Mirai (meaning “future”), the baby quickly wins the hearts of Kun’s entire family. Kun becomes increasingly jealous of her, until one day he storms off into the garden, where he encounters strange guests from the past and future – including his sister Mirai, as a teenager. Together, Kun and Mirai go on a journey through time and space, uncovering their family’s incredible story, in this magical and emotionally soaring adventure about the ties that bring families together and make us who we are.” (From Universal website)

Mirai (未来のミライ / Mirai no Mirai / lit. “Mirai of the Future”) is a beautiful story about good parenting and loving our siblings or family. Kun is a young boy who is jealous of his newborn sister Mirai. However, the genealogical tree that sits in the courtyard of their small house in Yokohama shows him scene of past and future life of his family members (his teenage sister, his mother, his great-grand-father, even the family dog!) so he can relate to them and learn to appreciate them better. Or this is a boy with an extraordinary imagination!

The animation is excellent and offers very realistic background illustrations that you would think it’s CGI but they are actually hand-drawn (although there is CGI in the movie). In fact, it is so crisp that it feels a little cold. For such a story about family I would have preferred a style that evoke more warmth. I particularly like the design of the modern house, conceived by the father (who’s an architect), that takes advantage of the narrow space and the hill to build in several level, with lots of steps.

Animated by Studio Chizu and distributed by Toho (GKids in North America), Mirai was created, written and directed by Mamoru Hosoda (The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars and The Boy and the Beast), with character designs by Hiroyuki Aoyama, animation direction by Ayako Hata & Hiroyuki Aoyama, art direction by Takashi Omori & Yohei Takamatsu and music by Masakatsu Takagi. The voice cast includes  Haru Kuroki / Victoria Grace as Mirai, Moka Kamishiraishi / Jaden Waldman as Kun, Gen Hoshino / John Cho as Father, Kōji Yakusho / Victor Brandt as Grandfather, Kumiko Asou / Rebecca Hall as Mother, Masaharu Fukuyama / Daniel Dae Kim as great-grandfather, and Mitsuo Yoshihara / Crispin Freeman as Yukko the dog. 98 min., rated PG (for thematic elements including some scary images). It was favourably received by the audience (rating of 7.1 on IMDb and of 92% / 83% on Rotten Tomatoes). It’s a fine exemple of Japanese animation that everyone should see. stars-3-5

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ AmazonANNGoogleIMDbOfficialWikipediaYoutube ]

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Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern

My wife read an interview of Waki Yamato in Fujin Kōron (a Japanese women’s public opinion magazine) where she was talking about a recent anime adaption of her manga Haikara-san. My wife, who enjoyed the manga when she was a teenager, told me she would like to see this animation. Therefore I obliged.

Haikara-san_ga_toru-manga

Excerpt from the manga (from Frederik L. Schodt Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, p. 90).

Haikara-San: Here Comes Miss Modern (はいからさんが通る / Haikara-san ga tōru) is one of those shōjo manga published in the 70s that I wish would be one day translated either in French or English so I could read them. This traditional shōjo style might not be very popular amongst today’s manga reader, but it was beautiful in many ways and their stories were always quite compelling. The manga was serialized in Shōjo Friend between 1975 and 1977 and compiled into 8 volumes by Kodansha. The manga was first adapted into an animated TV series (TV Asahi, 42 eps, 1978-1979), then into several live-action TV movies (on KTV in 1979, on Fuji TV in 1985, by Toei in 1987, and on TBS in 2002) and was even the subject of a Takarazuka revue in 2017. Finally, it was adapted into two anime movies: Gekijōban Haikara-san ga Tōru Zenpen – Benio, Hana no 17-sai  [劇場版 はいからさんが通る 前編 ~紅緒、花の17歳~ / lit. “Theatrical version, Here comes miss modern, first part: Benio, 17 years’ flower”] (November 2017, 97 mins, already available on Blu-ray from The Right Stuf) and Gekijōban Haikara-san ga Tōru Kōhen – Tokyo Dai Roman [劇場版 はいからさんが通る 後編 ~花の東京大ロマン~ / lit. “Theatrical version, Here comes miss modern, second part: Tokyo great romance of flower”] (October 2018, 105 mins). 

[ ¡ WARNING: The following MAY contain traces of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing/reading the story themselves are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further ! ]

Haikara-San-Movie1-bluRayIn the first movie, we follow the life of 17-year-old Benio Hanamura who was raised by her military father. She is a tomboy who likes to practise kendo with the girly neighbour Ranmaru (who was raised to become a kabuki actor). The story is set in the Taishō era, when Japan is trying to “occidentalize” itself. She wants to be “modern” and believes in a woman’s right to have a career and to marry for love. Unfortunately, her father want to arrange a marriage with one of his young subordinate, lieutenant Shinobu Ijuin, because their grand-parents were in love but could never marry and made the pact that the Hanamura and Ijuin families would be one day reunited. Benio refuses and tries to elope with Ranmaru, who is secretly in love with her. She also discovers that her best friend Tamaki is in love with Shinobu. She is nevertheless sent to Shinobu’s household to help and learn the domestic duties of a wife. As she is finally falling in love with him, she infuriates her father’s superior and Shinobu is sent to the front in Siberia. Not long after, he is reported missing in action or maybe dead…

The movie was written and directed by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, with character designs by Terumi Nishii, art direction by Kentaro Akiyama and music by Michiru Oshima. The cast includes Mamoru Miyano as Shinobu, Saori Hayami as Benio, Asami Seto as Tamaki, Yuuki Kaji as Ranmaru, and Unshō Ishizuka as Major Hanamura.

In the second movie, Benio tries to go on with her life and hopes that Shinobu might come back one day. In the meantime, she keeps taking care of his grandparents household and tries to find a job. After many unsuccessful attempts she is finally hired as reporter by a small newspaper headed by Tosei, a handsome but misogynistic editor (he’s literally allergic to women due to issues with his mother). She goes to Manchuria to investigate a band of rebels supposedly headed by a Japanese deserter. She meets with him and discovers he is Onijima, a friend of Shinobu in the army, who tells her how Shinobu got missing after saving his life. Later, back in Tokyo, she is covering the visit of a Russian noble couple in exile, Count Michaellov and countess Larisa. Benio is shocked to see that the count looks exactly like Shinobu. Actually, it’s him but he suffers from amnesia. Larisa saved and nursed him to replace her dead husband Sasha (who was in fact Shinobu’s younger half-brother, because Shinobu’s German mother left to marry a Russian noble—yes, I know, it’s complicated). When Shinobu eventually recovers his memory, he cannot marry Benio because he is now married to Larisa and feels indebted to her as she is dying of tuberculosis. Heartbroken, Benio decides to marry Tosei instead (who has discovered that he actually loves her). But on their wedding day the great Kanto earthquake occurs and Larisa finally dies of her disease. Benio and Shinobu can finally be reunited…

The second movie was directed by Toshiaki Kidokoro, with a script by Kazuhiro Furuhashi, character designs by Terumi Nishii, art direction by Kentaro Akiyama and music by Michiru Oshima. The cast includes, besides the cast from the first movie, Kazuya Nakai as Shingo Onijima, Maaya Sakamoto as Larisa, and Takahiro Sakurai as Tōsei Aoe. 

[ ¡ END of possible spoilers warning ! ]

Haikara-San movies are beautifully animated, with crisp, up-to-date quality animation (quite different from the style of late-70s anime, which tend not to age very well—although the TV series is now also available on blu-ray in Japan). The story offers typical Japanese romantic drama filled with lots of comedy. However, despite the funny antics of the characters, the story tackles very serious subjects like feminism and war. I enjoyed it a lot and I highly recommend you to, at least, have a look. If only someone would translated the manga… stars-3-5

For more information you can consult the following web sites:

[ ANNGoogleIMDbOfficialRight StufWikipediaYoutube ]

 

© 2017 Waki Yamato, Kodansha / “Haikara-san” Partners.

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Star Trek Discovery

StarTrekDiscoverySeason2First, I must say that Discovery is definitely one of the best Star Trek TV series I have seen in a long time. If we don’t count the animated series and the movies, it is the sixth Star Trek series (after Star Trek The Original Series (1966-69), The Next Generation (1987–94), Deep Space Nine (1993–99), Voyager (1995–2001), and Enterprise (2001–2005)). After The Original, none of these series were really satisfactory (in imagination, plot and action) until Discovery.

For the first time, with Discovery, the main character of a series is NOT the captain of the USS Entreprise. The series focus on Michael Burnham (played by Sonequa Martin-Green [The Walking Dead]) who is the First Officer of the USS Shenzhou in the beginning before becoming Science Specialist on the USS Discovery. Born in 2226, she is a xenoanthropologist raised on Vulcan by her adoptive parents, Vulcan ambassador Sarek (James Frain) and his human wife Amanda (Mia Kirshner). She is therefore Spock‘s foster sister! Her biological parents were killed during a Klingon raid on Doctari Alpha.

The first season, set a decade before the Original series, focuses on the FederationKlingon war. During a rare encounter of the Shenzhou with the Klingons, Burnham uses her knowledge of Klingon and Vulcan strategy to try preventing the war but act against her captain’s orders. She fails and Georgiou is killed in the ensuing battle. Burnham is sentenced to life in prison for mutiny, but during a prison transfer her shuttle is damaged and she is rescued by the USS Discovery, commanded by Captain Gabriel Lorca (Jason Isaacs), where she is given a temporary position of Science Officer. The Discovery uses an experimental spore drive which, after sabotage, brings them to a parallel universe where Captain Georgiou is the Empress of the Terran Empire! After multiple trials and betrayals, the crew succeeds to end the war.

In season two (which is not over yet, as three more episodes remain to air), the captain of the USS Enterprise, Christopher Pike, takes emergency command of the Discovery from interim-captain Saru (Doug Jones) in order to investigate a series of mysterious signals. Spock (Ethan Peck), who appears to have suffered a mental breakdown, has had foreknowledge of those signals, which seem linked to the apparition of a mysterious Red Angel. They must find Spock before Section 31 to try to unravel the mystery…

The latest episode (“If Memory Serves”, 8th episode of the 2nd season and 23rd episode of the series, which aired on March 7th) was particularly impressive. It starts with “Previously on Star Trek” and then shows scenes from the pilot episode of the Original series (“The Cage”, produced in 1964-65 was never aired but later partly used in episodes 11 & 12, “The Menagerie”). In the original pilot, the captain of the Entreprise was not Kirk but Pike and Spock is the only crew-member who remained in the series. In Discovery, Spock brings Burnham to Talos IV so the Talosian can read his mind and show crucial information to Burnham, therefore both healing him and their relationship. That episode was quite something.

It has been relatively well received (with a rating of 7.4 on IMDb, an overall Rotten Tomatoes critic rating of 82% [but an audience score of 48%, are they mad? !!!] and the same 82% for season 2 [this time with an audience score of 29%! Unbelievable !!!]. In my point of view, it is a series that is well worth watching, even if you know nothing of Star Trek. It is simply very good science fiction. And a third season has already been commissioned. stars-3-5

Apparently, more live-action series are planned including one with Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) and one with Captain Philippa Georgiou (Michelle Yeoh) focusing on the activities of Section 31. 

To learn more about this title you can consult the following web sites:

[ CBSGoogleIMDbOfficialSpaceWikipediaYoutube ]

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Coeur de glace

Pour la première fois cet hiver j’ai du abandonner une randonné dans le parc parce que les conditions du sentier étaient vraiment trop mauvaise. Tout était complètement glacé. Ce genre de situation est arrivé quelques fois par le passé mais cette année les conditions des sentiers du parc sont systématiquement mauvaises. Il faut croire que la ville confie l’entretien des sentiers à la même équipe qui s’occupe de l’entretien des patinoires! J’ai essayé de marcher sur les côtés du sentier mais comme il y a eut de la neige fraîche récemment je renfonçait trop et marcher dans ces conditions était trop pénible. Il semble que cette année je doive abandonner le parc aux skieurs et aux raquetteurs. Alors je suis simplement rentré à la maison en passant par les rues (dont les trottoirs sont maintenant un peu plus praticable que la semaine dernière car il y a maintenant moins de neige mais encore beaucoup de glace et de flaques d’eau plus ou moins gelées—et glissante!).

Quand j’ai acheté un duplex dans VSP, la proximité du parc Frédéric-Back était une importante considération. Je trouve qu’il est important pour ma santé (et sur recommandation du médecin) de prendre de fréquentes marches (des problèmes de genou et de cheville m’interdisent le jogging) et de faire des randonnées occasionnelles à bicyclette (l’été seulement). Jusqu’à l’an dernier les sentiers du parc étaient suffisamment bien entretenus pour être utilisé en toutes saisons par les marcheurs, joggeurs et cyclistes en plus d’être accessible l’hiver aux skieurs et aux raquetteurs. Étrangement, cet après-midi j’ai remarqué un couple qui faisait du jogging en avançant sans difficulté sur la patinoire du sentier polyvalent alors que j’essayais moi-même de progresser en enfonçant jusqu’à mi-mollet dans la neige. Je me demandais “mais comment réussirent-ils cet exploit?” jusqu’à ce que je remarque qu’ils portaient tous deux de solides crampons à leur chaussures. Je crois que demain je vais aller m’acheter des crampons (et, pourquoi pas, je vais en réclamer le coût à la ville — car le mauvais entretien que la ville fait du parc m’empêche d’en profiter et d’y prendre ma marche de santé !)…

Difficile de marcher dans les sentiers du parc où l’épandage d’abrasif a été trop parcimonieux. Ayoye! [Damn you VSP !]

Comme je l’ai mentionné récemment, l’entretien des rues et des sentiers du parc est déficient ces dernières années (depuis l’arrivé de la nouvelle administration de Projet Montréal, ce qui ne semble pas être une coïncidence — non, ce n’est pas juste à cause du climat). Cessez donc de faire des économies de bouts de chandelles en étant trop parcimonieux avec l’épandage d’abrasif (ce qui est très évident dans le parc) et avec l’utilisation de sous-traitants peu motivés ou inéfficaces et donnez donc le service que vos citoyens méritent! Je ne suis pas contre de constantes augmentations de taxes (je viens d’ailleurs de payer le premier versement sur mon compte de taxe pour cette année) mais cela ne doit pas aller de pair avec une DIMINUTION constante de service! On est vraiment mal servi dans le quartier par nos politiciens qui semblent avoir l’habitude de briller par leur absence (au cours des derniers cinq ans je n’ai jamais réussi à rencontrer mon représentant de quartier, Frantz Benjamin, et je n’ai pas encore vu une seule apparition de son remplaçant, Josué Corvil; même notre député fédéral, Nicola Di Iorio, semble se foutre complètement des citoyens de sa circonscription!)… J’avais beaucoup d’espoir en voyant Projet Montréal détrôner Coderre et c’est pour cela que j’avais voté pour les mairesses Plante/Fumagalli mais jusqu’à maintenant j’ai été extrêmement déçu.

Un petit effort SVP ! Car à Montréal il n’y a pas que des automobilistes : il y a aussi des piétons et des randonneurs (qui votent…) qui aimeraient bien pouvoir utiliser trottoirs et sentiers sans risquer trop de blessures, fractures et ecchymoses !!!

Et il n’y a pas des carences seulement dans le déneigement (de la rue, des trottoirs ou des sentiers du parc — voir les billets du 01/06, 01/21 et 02/13), il y a aussi les fois où la ville ne ramasse pas le recyclage (soit parce que ça tentait pas à l’employé ou parce qu’il trouvait qu’il n’y en avait pas assez dans le bac?). Je paie toujours mes taxes alors je m’attends à ce que la ville me donne toujours du service — pas seulement quand ça leur tente! Il ne faut pas oublier non plus le manque de respect et de considérations de la ville envers ses employés — mais ça c’est une autre histoire… Maudite ville de merde!

Il ouvre le bac et le replace sans le vider !

 

[Mise à jour] Pour suivre l’état des choses dans le parc, voir les billets suivants:

 

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Snow storm aftermath

This week-end we had the first real snow storm of the season (about 20~30 cm) as well as some very cold temperature (in the -20s °C or in the -30s °C with the chill factor). Apparently, it is the first time that we have this combination of snow storm and extreme cold weather since 1920!

Here is a time-lapse video of the storm taken between 2019/01/19 16h00 and 2019/01/20 16h00. So there you have twenty-four hours fast-forwarded in a little less than a minute:

Of course, the borough is in no hurry to pick the snow. Like I previously mentioned, in early January, the snow had not been picked up at all since the beginning of the season which caused piles of ice to form on he street making it quite challenging for the car to park. And when they did try to pick up the icy snow piles in the second week of January, the ice was so hard that it was practically impossible to remove it all, leaving an ice layer as high as the sidewalk (4 to 6 in.)! And when it snows on that, try not to get stuck when you park your car. I understand now why so many people have SUV despite living in the city!

The borough also had trouble removing the snow from the sidewalks. Yesterday I have seen the sidewalk tractor actually working only early in the morning — it passed in front of my house around 7h29. With the wind drift, the people cleaning their driveway or cars and putting the snow on the sidewalk (with total disregard for their fellow citizen who are walking) the sidewalks quickly became completely unpassable for pedestrians. I did see a sidewalk tractor around 15h37, but it was driving in the middle of the street without any snow-plow in the front or even a salt-spreader in the back. In the evening, the sidewalks had not been cleared for over twelve hours and I was worried that my wife would have trouble walking back from the bus stop after work, so I called the city’s public works to let them know and a sidewalk tractor did the job around 22h45…

It really seems that this new administration in city hall is either incompetent or inexperienced or too eager to save money. I don’t mind paying more taxes year after year if the quality of service is maintained or improves. However, if I paid more taxes and the quality of service decreases (and the quality of services has clearly decreased since the beginning of this new administration), then I am really not happy. And since, on top of that, this administration has not been treating its workers well, I seriously regret having voted for them…

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SDL: Entrevue capsule avec Francine Pelletier

entete-communique-02-300x148Dans le cadre du Salon du livre de Montreal 2018, je voulais faire une série de mini (capsules) entrevues avec des auteurs (surtout de science-fiction) de chez nous. Malheureusement, l’ambiance sonore du salon n’était pas adéquate pour des entrevues, alors celles-ci ont été faite hors-site. Le principe de l’entrevue capsule est de s’en tenir à deux ou trois questions de base et que l’entrevue ne dure pas plus que trois à cinq minutes. Cela doit être compacte et bien se digérer!

Voici donc la première de ces entrevues capsules, réalisée avec Francine Pelletier. Pour en savoir plus sur cette auteure de science-fiction — à ne pas confondre avec la journaliste homonyme — et de polar (sous le pseudonyme de Catherine Sylvestre) vous pouvez consulter sa bio/bibliographie sur le site des Éditions Alire ou sur Wikipedia.

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