News and Opinion

From Kon Satoshi to Kawamoto Kihachiro

I, like many others, was shocked at the sudden death of the animation director, Kon Satoshi, director of such challenging and influential works as Perfect Blue and Paprika. His passing was all too soon and his bravery in the face of death inspiring. 

But it would be a shame if we don't equally mourn the passing of another animation giant who passed away the same week, Kawamoto Kihachiro, who died on August 23rd of pneumonia. He was 85. Kawamoto was one of the deans of puppet animation alongside Okamoto Tadanari, having learned from greats such as Mochinaga Tadahito and Jiri Trinka. His brilliant work is often ignored in the craze for "anime," but that is the loss of those who have not viewed his wonderful legacy. A few works have come out on DVD, such as The Book of the Dead and some of his short pieces in the The Exquisite Short Films of Kihachiro Kawamoto (1968-1979) collection. I urge everyone to take a look at them. Please also check out his wonderful homepage at Sakura Eigasha. 

Japanese Cinema Is Alive (1)

Sounds a bit odd for the title of a post on a Japanese film blog, but this is actually the English translation of the title of a new book set published by Iwanami Shoten, one of Japan's preeminent scholarly publishers, that aims to account for the current state of Japanese film studies and point to future directions. While I am not a big fan of the title, I am actually on the editorial board of this set and submitted a couple of articles. 

In some ways, Nihon eiga wa ikite iru 『日本映画は生きている』 is a successor to Koza Nihon eiga, the very important 8-volume set that Iwanami put out in the 1980s that represented some of the best film scholarship done in Japan at the time. The "koza" tradition is a long one in Japanese publishing. It literally refers to a lecture series, and in fact the first ones were just publishing the texts of lectures. It has now come to mean a coordinated scholarly introduction to core issues in a field. It's a big thing for a field to have a koza published by Iwanami, and it can often define the discipline. 

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