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Archive for February, 2010

Tokyo Zombie

Imagine George A. Romero’s Land of the Dead fused with Simon Pegg’s Shaun of the Dead and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this movie is about. However, based on the manga by Hanakuma Yusaku and written and directed by Sato Sakichi (the man responsible for the Ichi the Killer adaptation), Tokyo Zombie is inescapably Japanese.

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Blood + Spandex = Sexy

One of my favorite horror movies of all time is Neil Marshall’s 2005 film The Descent. Like Pitch Black, The Descent proves that a movie doesn’t need a complicated plot to be completely fantastic. The movie is about six cool athletic chicks that go spelunking, get trapped, and subsequently eaten by mutant cave people. That’s about as straightforward as a horror movie can get and I admit that I wasn’t too impressed by the concept the first time I saw the trailer. Upon closer examination, however, The Descent also proves that first impressions can be deceiving.

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Why can't Earth have a view like this?

In my opinion, Pitch Black (2000) is one of the best science/fiction horror movies out there. Sure, the film isn’t going to win any awards for being the best movie ever made, but for pure entertainment value it’s hard to beat. It’s a little underrated, probably because it stars Vin Diesel. As an actor, it’s a little hard to take Vin Diesel seriously, but the role of a feral psychopath brings out the best in his robotic acting skills – the character Riddick is easily Vin Diesel’s best role. The rest of Vin Diesel’s acting career can be summarized by watching either The Fast and The Furious or one of the horrible xXx movies (and I don’t recommend you watch any of those movies).

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'Pigeon Mountain'

In Japan, there is a form of poetry called 落首, which literally means ‘the head fell off.’ This can be read as ‘ochi gaki,’ ‘ochi kubi,’ or ‘rakushu.’ Though it began in the Heian period, it was extremely popular during the Edo period. Because the Tokugawa shogunate fiercely restricted free speech, people used these poems as a form of political criticism. The name ‘the head fell off’ came from the fact that by writing these poems the author was literally risking having his head cut off. These were usually written on walls as graffiti, think Bansky but during feudal Japan. These poems were always anonymous and also very witty.

Here is a modern rakushu about Japan’s current Prime Minister, Hatoyama Yukio.

Below is a translation. Inside the “quotation marks” are the names of various birds and inside the (parenthesis) are the second meanings of those birds’ names. Line by line, here it goes:

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日本には謎の鳥がいる。正体はよく分からない。

We have a mysterious bird in Japan. We don’t really know what it is.

中国から見れば「カモ」に見える。

Chinese say it is “Kamo” (stupid person is can easily deceived)

米国から見れば「チキン」に見える。

Americans say it is “Chicken” (chicken, as in scared or afraid)

欧州から見れば「アホウドリ」に見える。

Europeans say it is “Ahoudori” (ahou = aho, or idiot)

日本の有権者には「サギ」だと思われている。

Japanese think it is “Sagi” (liar/cheater)

オザワから見れば「オウム」のような存在。

But Ozawa says it is “Oumu” (yes-man, as in the guy who always says yes to Ozawa) [Ozawa here is obviously Ozawa Ichiro, the current head of the DPJ]

でも鳥自身は「ハト」だと言い張っている。

But the bird itself says he is “Hato” (Pigeon, helpless and unsure of where to go, as in Hatoyama)

それでいて、約束をしたら「ウソ」に見え

When it promises something, it ends up with “Uso” (lies)

身体検査をしたら「カラス」のように真っ黒、

During inspection, it becomes as black as “Karasu” (crow, as in corrupt)

釈明会見では「キュウカンチョウ」になるが、

In front of reporters, it becomes “Kyuukan-chou” (naive/plain person)

実際は単なる鵜飼いの「ウ」。

In reality, it is merely a “u” (U is a bird that catches fish for people, IE a slave.)

私はあの鳥は日本の「ガン」だと思う。

But I believe it really is a “Gan.” (cancer)

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Here is the link to the original article (in Japanese): http://www.iza.ne.jp/news/newsarticle/politics/politicsit/351425/

And massive thanks to Hide for showing me this in the first place and helping me understand it!

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It’s February, which means that the Japanese school year is nearing an end. Last week, I had my final class with my 3 third year Advanced English students. These three boys are a really amazing bunch of kids, I was constantly impressed by their English abilities and interest in Western culture. They all wrote me farewell letters, which were funny and sweet. Here they are:

When I met you first, I just took a rest (lunch-time). Since I was poor at speaking English, probably I think you couldn’t understand it. But you managed to interpret what I said. When I knew you like horror movies, I thought you were a dangerous person. In fact, you are a good teacher. I remembered your making chocolate apples for us. We ate sashimi together in the library didn’t it? I remember well. You may forget us but I would like you to remember that we are your students. Thank you until now. That’s all.

When I first listened to you speak English, it was too fast for me to listen to your English. So it took me long time to make out what you say. But by you speaking English at natural speed, I have brought up my listening ability. This is so good for entrance examinations and my future. And I also had my essays checked by you. When I first had my essay checked, you added a lot of advice to my essay and a lot of English rules on another sheet. I have never had a teacher like you who inquired into it so closely. Thank you much, I sincerely appreciate it. Come to think of it, I regret not having my essays checked since you came here. But what I did makes for me a great deal. You like Japanese so much, and there are many Japanese cultures and many what Japanese made. I would like you to find them. The day will soon come when I learn a lot of your country’s cultures. So I have to study a lot. I hope you will succeed in everything and make your dreams come true. Thank you very much.

When you came to the school, I thought a model maybe came to it at first. When I was taken the first class, I was surprised because you learnt about Japan and Japanese things very well. Then, you showed us your home and the way you live in America. I was impressed with your stories that was different from Japanese ones in scale. The class looked like a party Halloween week was especially interesting. I enjoyed the special apple you made very much. I’m not a good student. I haven’t been what you expected to be. The only half-year has passed since we had met, you made me feel happy and motivated to improve my English. Thank you very much.

Awww, damn these kids, they make me want to cry.

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Crossbows - Locked and Loaded

The premise of Daybreakers is simple – vampires are real and have become the dominant species on the planet. But it’s not all sappy teen romance and glitter in the sunlight (thank god). As a result of the over-expansion of their population, vampires now suffer from a Malthusian curse. In other words, they’re about to drain the dwindling human population dry. Unlike humans, however, vampires don’t just quietly starve to death. Prolonged blood deprivation turns them into Nosferatu-like homicidal maniacs. Ethan Hawke plays Dr. Edward Dalton, a hematologist who is trying to develop an acceptable blood substitute, ideally one that doesn’t induce projectile vomiting and bloody, spontaneous combustion. Meanwhile, vampire society is undergoing an all-too-human transformation towards fascism (and clearly fascist society demands its citizens to dress in a melodramatic film noir style reminiscent of The Maltese Falcon circa Blade Runner). The new corporate-fascist society is run by none other than Sam Neill.

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