Wednesday, August 24, 2011

地震!The Great Quake That Wasn't

If you live in California or Japan, you know about earthquakes and the dangers they bring about. In earthquake zones and particularly on along the Ring of Fire they are a fact of everyday life and in many cases no laughing matter. Any quake over a 5.5 is a cause for concern but not for dire panic. On the otherhand, in the general sense of US East Coast residents more accustomed to hurricanes, earthquakes register on the bottom of expected natual disaters to hit the region. In fact there are no earthquake drills or any preperations of any kind there. So when the reports of the US Pentagon being evacuated and hundreds of paniced calls to emergency service after a 5.8 quake hit the news, it amused those of us living in earthquake country how much panic this non-tragedy caused.

The media here has a knack for over sensationalizing minor non-tragic events. But before anyone has laugh at the expense of people unaccustomed to earthquakes under 6.0 or higher, take into consideration that in Japan and in California buildings are constructed to meet strict earthquake building codes which are non-existant in the US East Coast. Whereas in the West Coast or in Japan where a building would roll and sway with the quake as designed, the buildings in the East Coast are more likely to shake violently. As rockstar Sansei physicist Dr. Michio Kaku pointed out on ABC News, plate tectonics of the region differ from California whereas a quake would run along fault lines, the East Coast is on one big solid sheet meaning a relatively small quake could be felt as far away as Georgia to Toronto Canada. Luckily no one was hurt and only minor damage was reported. Compared to the recent quakes in Japan, Chile, & Haiti which brought about much death and devestation. We are happy that no one lost their life and damage was realatively minor. But with the way the media has overplayed it here, this minor quake will be remembered as The Great Quake That Wasn't.

Friday, August 19, 2011

ばか! Baka in America

Baka in America! Yes, that's right! On a day that saw a 6.8 magnitude quake hit Fukushima Japan, a brutal military crackdown against pro-democracy protesters in Syria, and a day that saw the release of the West Memphis Three; what most important news occupies ABC's Good Morning America? The Kardashians! No, not those hideous villans from Star Trek but those annoying E! Entertainment Channel reality "stars" famous for doing absolutely nothing that contributes to society. Shame on GMA for calling the Kardashians upcoming wedding the "Wedding of the Century" and referring to them as "American Royalty." Seriously GMA? I could imagine the newlywed Duke & Duchess of Cambridge having a good laugh at that the notion of being trumped by some trash tv personas from across the shallow end of the pond. Being a useless t*** whose fame is solely based on making sex tape's and endless self gratification that benefits no one but themseleves on endless shopping escapades on reality TV does not make them "American Royalty." Just because they are making sickening amounts of cash from all the "haters" out there as one of the Kardashian sisters is quoted saying in her own E! Channel reality tv promo doesn't buy them an ounce of class. If this is the new standard for "American Royalty" then may I borrow from an old Japanese curse and say: If this is what it is today to be called American Royalty then may the Kennedy's of Camelot look down and weep from heaven.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

うちゅ せんかん ヤマト – Space Battleship Yamato Movie on DVD

Earlier last year we had announced on American Mishima news of the making of the 2010 Live Action film of the 1974 anime Space Battleship Yamato. Not to be confused with the 2005 Japanese war epic Otoko Tachi no Yamato, this $23.9 million dollar film debuted on Japanese screens to awaiting die-hard fans that helped knock out Harry Potter 4 out of its first place rankings for that week.

Now why all the fuss about a kids space movie? We’ll if you were a kid like me during the 1970’s, this was your first introduction to both Japanese anime and Sci-Fi drama. Up until that point animated films were largely harmless cartoons to entertain children. This of course was not the first anime to arrive from Japan. Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer, and G-Force had already screened to American audiences. But when Space Battleship Yamato appeared, the game changed in ways no one could have expected or anticipated.

Just prior to the first Star Wars and subsequent Battlestar Galactica films mesmerized audiences starved for Sci-Fi Action Adventure, Space Battleship Yamato appeared bringing with it a drama set in space for survival of the human race whose storyline was previously unheard of. After its initial reception it was repackaged as the anime soap-opera Star Blazers which was heavily imitated by later anime shows. Sure, there had been Star Trek on television but what Space Battleship Yamato did was to usher in the first Sci-Fi Soap Opera 35 years before Battlestar Galactica had been re-envisioned. It had a story of desperate survival. death, epic battles, and a continuous plotline previously unheard of in any science fiction drama or anime. And this was made for kids of all things!
Ok, so we have given you enough background and now let’s go back to the 2010 Live Action Space Battleship Yamato that just arrived in the USA on DVD with English Subtitles. Now taking a kids story to the big screen is a risky proposition hence I cite the horrible Wing Commander film from 1999. Then there is that old anime saying “Everytime you drag real physics into a debate about Sci-Fi anime, God Kills a Cat Girl.” Well, I am pleased to say that God didn’t kill a Cat Girl but my have spanked her once or twice in this film. Inspired by the original design of the famed Imperial Japanese Battleship Yamato, Space Battleship Yamato does a careful dance around real physics and real life history. They never explain how they came to the ship’s design unlike the anime which suggested that the original Yamato was dredged up from the sea bottom and rebuilt as a space battleship. Of course that is impossible considering that Yamato sits two miles on the ocean bottom split in two. But then again they didn’t know that back in 1974. But to tie into the original Yamato that for generations has conjured the imagination, Kodai Susumu (played by Kimura Takuya) makes a speech where he invokes; “On April 1945, The Yamato was sent on a desperate suicide mission to save Japan.” In this speech he compares their desperate mission to save the Earth from the deadly radiation that has forced Earth’s population to seek shelter underground pushing mankind to the brink of extinction at the hands of the unknown enemy the Gamilas. Their only hope for survival lies in a message from the planet Iscandr the promises to restore the Earth. But to get there, the decimated Earth Defense Force must send a skeleton crew aboard Earth’s last space battleship, Yamato.
Joined by Mori Yuki (played by Kuroki Maisa) and a crew of young volunteers and the survivors of Black Tiger Squadron, Kodai Susumu inherits the Yamato from their ailing Captain and embarks on their interstellar journey to Iscandr in the faint hopes to retrieve the device that can restore the Earth. There will be a lot of comparisons to the new Battlestar Galactica right down to the Yamato’s Hangar Deck and story for survival against incredible odds and little hope. It is possible to say the new Space Battleship Yamato may have been inspired by the new BSG or the other way around. I’ll leave that up to you. If you are a fan of the original anime classic you will love this. Sure there are the real physics errors such as sounds in space but at the same time they do show spacial decompression scenes which are never pretty no matter how big the budget. But what they do get right is the narrowness of Yamato's hull and the issue of power supply. In order to "warp" or to fire their main weapon the "wave cannon," they can only use one at a time and must recharge before using either which leaves the Yamato vulnerable in battle. Now on an engineering scale this makes for a believable scenario. The film starts off strong and at times gets typical Japanese on the human drama lines and will make you think of films like the Matrix and the new Battlestar Galactica. But if you carry the nostalgia for the original anime film you may truly enjoy this. As far as Science Fiction films go I will give Space Battleship Yamato a B+. This film is now available in the United States on DVD. Check Ebay and other Japanese sources for listings.


Sunday, August 14, 2011

二世ウィークリトル東京 - Nisei Week 2011

Little Tokyo in Los Angeles is the heart of the Japanese-American Community. This year Little Tokyo celebrates the 71st annual Nisei Week & Tanabata Festival. No summer is complete without this generations long tradition that has survived both wartime and economic turbulence. Throughout the years, this ever growing festival has grown and continues to be a popular event in the City of Angeles. Within the Nisei Week festivities is the traditional Tanabata Festival 七夕 aka Starlight Festival which brings about some of the most colorful tanabata streamers outside of Japan.
During Nisei Week one can sample Japanese food, take in beautiful Ikebana Displays, Samurai Yoroi Displays (from the Samurai Store), Martial Arts Demonstrations (including Shinkendo), Edo-Period Re-enactors, Cosplayers, Lolitas, scores of people in Yukata, and of course the Grand Nisei Week Parade featuring the proud surviving veterans of the 442 Infantry Regimental "Go For Broke" Combat Team of WWII. We didn't stick around for this years parade in consideration of Tinahime's health in the summer heat while carrying our unborn child but we can at least show you what we experienced in the photos below. Enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

A serene view of the floating lanterns at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park ( 広島平和記念公園) from August 6th 2011. It is a sobering reminder of the casualties of war and of the nuclear horror that no other nation had suffered prior or since that fatefull week of August 1945 when both the historic cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were reduced to ashes with their civilian populations vaporized in a flash. This particular yearly comemoration memorializes the memory of the over 140,000 victims of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in 1945 before Japan's catastrophic defeat in the final days of WWII. Similar memorials also take place in Nagasaki. May no other nation ever experience nuclear war again. - American Mishima

*Note: This photo was reposted from Japan Today.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

原子記念 66th Hiroshima-Nagasaki Memorial in Little Tokyo

Sixty-Six years ago, a new horror of unimaginable proportions was unleashed one sunny morning over the beautiful city of Hiroshima, Japan. In an instant, countless people were vaporized in a flash and the historic city reduced to ashes rained down upon with deadly radiation. Every year since then memorials have taken place in memory of those who have past on both in the blast and the time that followed. It is not for us to say what was right or wrong but it is for us to keep the memory of these tragic wartime events that must never be repeated again. It is said there are fewer than 1000 A-bomb survivors still among us here living in the United States. Over the past three years we have been both fortunate and honored to come to know these witnesses to absolute anihilation by an atomic weapons. Together we have prayed with them and offered candles to the fallen at the Los Angeles Koyasan Temple in Little Tokyo. No matter how many times we partake in these memorials, we can not be any less moved by the stories and the warm faces that still bear the scars that still welcome us of those two fatefull mornings in August of 1945.The survivors have done their part to educate us to the horrors of nuclear war. As many of the WWII generation embark in their final journey it is our responsibility to continue to educate the generations that follow to never allow such tragedies to ever occur again. Our hearts and prayers will continue to go to the survivors and those who left us so long ago.

Friday, August 5, 2011

突然死 Former Samurai Blue 2002 World Cup Star Dies.

2011 has been a rollercoaster year for Soccer in Japan. First being the triple tragedy in March. Then  came the Victory of Nadeshiko Japan in the Women's World Cup final. But once again tragedy has returned to Japan. We are saddened to announce the passing of one of Japan's Blue Samurai Blue defenders Naoki Matsuda. It is reported that he suffered a heart attack and collapsed while training with his current team Matsumoto Yamaga FC. Matsuda was rushed to a hospital where he slipped into a coma and was pronounced dead two days later. During his career with the Japan National Team the Samurai Blue, he played 40 caps with one goal to his credit in a friendly match against Kazakhstan played in Yokohama, Japan. Matsuda's sudden death has left many grieving in the Japanese Soccer Community and a world wide outpouring of sympathy and support have been sent including one from FIFA President Sepp Blatter. We at American Mishima would also like to send Matsuda's family our most sincere condolences. Matsuda was a popular player and too young to die. Matsuda was only 34 years old.

Monday, August 1, 2011

お盆の写真 Photos of Obon

These photos were taken July 31st 2011 at the Higashi Honganji Temple, Little Tokyo-Los Angeles, California. Enjoy!