Thursday, September 23, 2010

Friday, September 17, 2010

Japanese Green Acres.

a while back, at my favorite noodle place niko niko, i met a well-to-do businessman who also happened to be a guitar enthusiast. after a while of talking i convinced him to bring his guitar around and play sometime. it was late, so i think we both forgot until the owner reminded both of us at separate times. he never played, but when we ran into each other again it gave us something to talk about. i ran into him a few more times sporadically and unexpectedly, until the meeting became more planned and expected.
it, being a ridiculously small world (or small town), turns out that his daughter is one of the girls in the sakura video i made last spring. and this fellow also happens to be the head of the PTA, which actually means something in japan.
anyways, this new friend of mine's name is imamura. he is an amiable guy, who laughs easy and works hard. he owns his own glasses shop and is an all around good guy to know.
after many late night discussions imamura learned of my love of riding horses. he knew of this little ranch themed park north of town where he had heard one could ride a horse called makai no bokujo. so i said it was on. i even had a cowboy hat.
imamura's daughter, norie and her friend shiori (who was also in the ohanami video and is a friend on facebook) wanted to come so who was i to stand in their way. us two old geezer's could use the reminder of youthful enthusiasm.
so we went. and the following video is the result. both myself and imamura proved to be less than camera friendly, so it serves mostly as a keepsake for the high school girls. i hope they enjoy it, and i also hope you can find some vicarious release.

ps. wait until after the credits for a special guest appearance from yours truly.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Giant Robots in Japan

There are a few stereotypes about Japan that manifest themselves to be a true thing. Sometimes this is good and sometimes its not. This is about one of the good ones.

In Japan, it may surprise a few of you to learn that manga and anime, while extremely popular and far reaching with genres ranging from ninja to pro-golfers, there is still a slight stigma of geekdom and social awkwardness associated with those that openly express their love of J-pop culture.
However, if there was any question as to the validity and strength of these "otaku", then a giant life sized Gundam robot erected in celebration of 30 strong years of nerd love should be a rather decent indicator.
Gundam started off as an anime series set in the future where mankind found it necessary to create giant humanoid type war machines called Mobile Suit Gundams to protect them from perceived dangers. Since the first series there have been numerous adaptations and alternate versions set in other universes.
In Japan, even if you haven't seen an episode it would be impossible to escape being profoundly familiar with these giant robots. Their image is everywhere, from instant ramen packages, pachinko machines, and it is interlaced in every facet of popular culture. Comedians use the familiarity of it for easy jokes, other anime pay homage to it, even Gackt is a huge fan.

Oh Gackt.

The closest equivalent to its popularity would be how important Star Wars is to the American culture. Even if you've never seen it, you probably know the familial ties that exist between Luke, Leia, and Darth.

So after thirty years they built a life sized Gundam statue, with light up eyes, moving head, and spewing smoke all making for an impressive bit of otaku ingenuity.

Part of Gundama's virility is due in part to the popularity of the plastic models based on the eponymous machines. Shortened to "GunPla" (GUNdam PLAstic models), this bit of marketing has lasted in popularity for 30 years giving BANDAI a competitive foothold in the hobby world.

After the robot stood vigil in Tokyo for a season it was then moved to Shizuoka, home of BANDAI. Which, i hope you remember, is right in my backyard. Since it came here i've been trying to get out to it, but it seems i have a hard time turning people down, and my schedule was constantly full.
Finally however, i pulled away, and witnessed a GIANT ROBOT IN JAPAN in all its glory.
Please enjoy the video. You will notice at the end i dedicated it to john rosenwinkel, because we had talked about going together, but you know how life gets all up in your grill. Now he's back in America but hopefully the video will help.
Also the music in the video is from Chiaki Kuriyama's debut single. The main song was from the new incarnation of Gundam, Gundam Unicorn. (really it was just excuse to include her music)
She is a whole other blog.
Also i used another song from nick montelone (or is he professionally going as Nicholas now?) so check out his website.