Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Kazumi Zatkin Stars in Madame Butterfly

For many people, the Opera of Madame Butterfly conjures up the music of Puccini and the strange appearance of kimono clad western actresses donning Edo Period wigs singing in Italian. What many people are not unaware of is the actual short story written in 1898 by John Luther Long that appeared in Century Magazine. More so, is the original one act play written by David Belasco that resulted from Long’s work that first debuted at the Herald Square Theater in New York on March 5th 1900. Belasco’s play would later make its way to London where on opening night at the Duke of York's Theater it  captivated and inspired Puccini to create his own epic opera based on Belasco's production. Though not entirely lost to history, Belasco’s original play is rarely performed in theaters.  Fortunately for us, we were lucky enough to catch this exceptionaly rare beautiful performance of Madame Butterfly at The Ventura Court Theater in Studio City California.

This recent limited production was the work of student actors of The Ventura Court Theater with Alejandra Cejudo directing. This starred the lovely Kazumi Zatkin (War of the Wolves, Repercussions, Memory of Mother) as Cho-Cho San aka Madame Butterfly who is supported by the hilarious antics of Chihiro Kawamura as Suzuki, John Maraffi as the sympathetic American Consul Sharpless, Daniel Park as Yamadori, the young Ace Thor playing a convincing Nakado, the old marriage broker, Lt. Pinkerton Michael Miller, and finally steely determined role of Kate by Marissa Cole played with the absolute seriousness of her character’s resolve. Played so well in fact I swear I heard someone unintentionally whisper “Bitch!” during her dramatic exit from her scene. But hey, that’s what happens when actors perform to a high degree of realistic intensity that you forget that these are just characters and not the real personalities of the actors on stage. To that, I say Bravo!

Continuing on with great performances, we have seen Kazumi shine before on previous Japanese film and stage productions. She has been more than ready to star in her own play and is co-credited with her co-star Chihiro Kawamura as producers in this production of Madame Butterfly. Kazumi delves so deeply and convincingly into her characters she instantly mesmerizes her audiences with her moving performances. Co-star Chihiro Kawamura literally steals many of the scenes with comedic antics and then returns to dramatic prose. Her range is quite remarkable and not understated.

This sixty minute production that was held over a five night engagement which left no dry eye in the house as it entertained and moved the audience to the most Japanese of dramatic endings. It was quite refreshing to see actual Japanese actresses play these roles and insert what Nihongo where situation found it appropriate. This added to the dimension of realism and the tragic fatality of Japan's cultural taboo's of the Meiji Era Japan that was enacted in Puccini’s opera
but never truly realized in the pure Japanese sense that could only be accomplished by Nihon-jin they portrayed. We at American Mishima would like to congratulate the cast and crew of Madame Butterfly for a most memorable and moving performance. We would also like to personally send a well deserved arigatou to Kazumi Zatkin for inviting us to attend the closing night performance.
おめでとう ございます!
To all the student actors we wish them great success in their future productions.
がんばって ください!

To find out more about Kazumi Zatkin please visit:

Monday, June 27, 2011

ありがとう! US Women's Soccer Team for Japan

This video was made prior to this year's FIFA 2011 Women's World Cup in Germany. The USWNT cares much for their friends on the Japanese National Women's Team and for the People of Japan as do we. Here at American Mishima we would like to offer them a heartfelt ありがとう and ask that they like many of my fellow countrymen & women continue to do so. ありがとう ございます!

Friday, June 10, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

In this photo taken at Nagoya Airport, Japan hangs twin Lufthansa Scroll Ads featuring our fellow friend, & aspiring actor Yoshi Ando.

なに? Love & Other Drugs for Real? ばか!

Like many men in this country, I really hate watching sappy chick flicks that always end up sucking in the end. But if you are in a relationship like me they become quite unavoidable. Recently, Tina and I watched the film Love and Other Drugs which centered around a pharmacutical rep and the questionable practices they employ to promote and in some cases corrupt the medicinal prescription process in doctors offices via free samples and other scrupulous means. And just like the movie I have seen stunts like this in the Cedars-Sini parking structure by female pharmacutical reps hiking up their shortened skirts and unbuttoning their blouses to entice a prospective male physicians into a clients. Sounds sleazy? It is! Worse, it's not only sad, it's true!

Now you are probably wondering what the hell does this have to do with the American Mishima blog that is focused on the happenings of the Japanese-American Community and other Cultural happenings of Japan? Well I will tell you. Since the release of Love and Other Drugs more people have become aware of the corruption in the medical industry. It so happens that many medical offices no longer allow sample displays out in the open. But since we love all things Nikkei and just happen to go to "Asian" doctors who we will not mention names in this article, we found it amusing to see carefully placed products from the makers of Cialis - an erectile dsyfunction boner drug found convieniently around the doctors office. As you can see from the photo Cialis makes sanitizing hand soap placed at the sink supplanting the normal hand soap purchased by the doctors office. Talk about blatant product placement! I had no idea Cialis made hand soap! But oh it gets more blatant!

Now check this out! Cialis makes latex rubber gloves! And look how they are placed by the Cialis rep right on top of the gloves used by the doctor. Is this because our doctor is from Japan or because they assume no one is paying attention?  Is it safe to say reps are deliberately targeting Asian doctors or is the problem worse than the movie implied? Or is something racist going on here? We asked the staff about this and they were suprised to see these products there and were not happy about it given that they have on more than one occassion chased out female reps out of their office. Now don't go looking for Cialis hand soap or latex gloves because they are not sold to the public and as a result you are just not going to find them. On one level it is funny that a company that makes penis errection drugs also supplys their clients with latex gloves and hand soap. And on another level it's kind of insulting to see such blatant product placement and the assumption of the rep that no one would notice. What's next Cialis? KY Jelly to go with those gloves and soap after that artificial erection? Seriously!

Well going back to Love and Other Drugs, it was the first chick flick Tina picked out that didn't completly suck for it made us aware of the sleazy tactics of the pharmacutical industry. For that we only have one word in Nihongo to say on this matter: ばか!