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Dolphin Hunts on the Big Screen

The Cove is a new documentary about the dolphin hunts in Taiji. Read the synopsis:

• Wednesday June 17, 2009 • SocietyAdd Comment

Mexican Flu in Kobe and Osaka

Over 170 patients have now been infected with H1N1 in Kobe and Osaka. The worst hit area is Kobe. About 80% of the people here are wearing protective masks, and over 4000 schools as well as many businesses have been closed. This Associated Press report is already outdated, but gives some of the basic info. The quick spread may persuade the World Health Organization (WHO) to raise its pandemic alert to the highest level.

Associated Press • Tuesday May 19, 2009 • SocietyAdd Comment

Cat Shit One — These Bunnies Ain't So Cute

Cat Shit One is an animated movie hitting movie theaters some time in early 2010. It is based on a manga series, known in the US as Apocalypse Meow, written and illustrated by Motofumi Kobayashi. In both the manga and the anime, Americans are depicted as cute rabbits, a pun on the Japanese word for rabbit, usagi (USA + GI). Does it bother you to see cuddly animals shoot each other up?

• Thursday April 2, 2009 • Art and DesignAdd Comment

100 Days of Concerts to Re-Open Akihabara's Pedestrian Heaven

It is 8 months since Akihabara’s popular pedestrian heaven was closed because of the murder spree. Fuji News Network reports on a group of Akihabara fans who are holding concerts at a small venue in Akihabara for 100 days to encourage re-opening the pedestrian heaven. I hope they succeed. We already lost the pedestrian heaven of Harajuku, and now only Ginza’s is left in Tokyo.

• Monday February 2, 2009 • SocietyAdd Comment

A Moe Boom for a Small Japanese Country Town

The small town of Ugo in Akita Prefecture, like many small Japanese towns, struggles with graying and depopulation. In the past ten years alone, the town’s population declined ten percent. But it has found a remarkable solution to its problems, it has given the town a moe takeover. Wikipedia describes moe as a Japanese slang word originally referring to fetish or love for characters in video games or anime and manga. Local products are now sold in packages that feature bishojo illustrations. The effect was amazing. Sale of rice, for example, doubled. Interestingly, a young man interviewed in the clip didn’t buy the rice to eat it. He displays the bag of rice in his room, next to his huge collection of anime figures…

Asahi TV • Tuesday January 27, 2009 • Trends

Godzilla and Postwar Japan

In this 2005 gem, William M. Tsutsui (Univ. of Kansas) explores the role of the Godzilla film series in popular culture. Despite Godzilla’s remarkable public presence, it is surprising, Professor Tsutsui observed, “how little scholarly attention this giant radiation-breathing reptile has received, either in Japan or in the West.” Donald Ritche, whom Tsutsui described as “the dean of American film critics of Japan,” once damned Japanese cinema as “‘a plethora of nudity, teenage heroes, science-fiction monsters, animated cartoons, and pictures about cute animals.’” Only a handful of scholarly essays on Godzilla have appeared, and few “have attempted to contextualize the film historically.” In his talk, Tsutsui set out to correct that: “I would argue,” he declared, “. . . that the Godzilla films can provide us valuable insights into Japanese culture since World War II.”

UCLA International Institute • Tuesday January 27, 2009 • Art and DesignAdd Comment [2]

Top LDP Politician Explains Why he Left Governing Party

Former top LDP member Yoshimi Watanabe stepped out of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) this week. In this clip of an ANN interview of Jan 13, he explains why he was about to take this step (sorry, no subtitles). “Kasumigaseki has too much control,” he says. Kasumigaseki refers to the Japanese bureaucracy. His dramatic divorce from the governing party was approved by 60% of the voters according to an opinion poll. Watanabe is a former Minister of State for Financial Services and Administrative Reform of Japan (2007-2008) and former Minister of State for Regulatory Reform of Japan (2006-2007). When an important person like Watanabe leaves, the downfall of the LDP can’t be far off.

ANN • Thursday January 15, 2009 • PoliticsAdd Comment