News and Opinion

Happy Mochinaga Day

Happy holidays to everyone!

I may be peculiar, but Christmas always reminds me of Mochinaga Tadahito, who was in charge of the puppet animation for the classic holiday TV show, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Most people don't know this (he was not prominently credited on the show), but the show that scared me a lot when I was young (I hid behind the sofa every time the Abominable Snowman appeared), was animated in Japan. So for me, while most people talk about anime and the superflat and limited cel animation - a tradition that for most Americans goes back to Speed Racer and Kimba - Japanese animation has always also been puppet animation. That's a strong tradition, carried on by Okamoto Tadanari (who worked under Mochinaga) and Kawamoto Kisaburo, but it is unfortunately ignored. The anime otaku who create lengthy entries on the Japanese Wikipedia about Tomino Yoshiyuki (the director of Gundam), have not even created one on Mochinaga, one of Japan's greatest animators. (That's one thing I have against Wikipedia.)

America as J-Horror?

Now that the US Federal Reserve has reduced the interest rate to near zero, duplicating what happened in 1990s Japan, Crooks and Liars' John Amato, a self-described J-Horror fan, perspicaciously wonders whether Miike Takashi should not make a horror film about the American economy. If the Americans are doing remakes of not only J-Horror but also Japan's economic horrors,  maybe Miike (or Nakata) should counter with Ring 0 Interest Rate or Sukiyaki Economy Paulson?

End of the Semester

Only finals week remains at Yale, so we are nearing the end of the semester. It has been a very busy term for me - thus the lack of posts here - but productive. I finished all the proofs for the Page of Madness book, which should be coming out in January; I did a final rewrite of the Taisho film culture book for the University of California Press; and I am going over the proofs now for the Reference Guide to Japanese Film Studies that Markus Nornes and I are doing, which hopefully should be out in February.  I proofed my article on Miike Takashi for the Canadian Journal of Film Studies, and delivered an early version of a paper on Otokotachi no Yamato, trauma, and postwar (not just wartime) memory.

At Yale we did not have a whole bunch of events, but the Ozu retro was a moderate success. We had a good audience for Yale (it's hard to get big crowds here), but one night was a bust because we were going up against the Palen-Biden debate. You betcha Joe Sixpack is better than Ryu Chishu! (I don't think so.) We concluded with a nice roundtable talk after the screening of Good Morning with Michael Baskett of Kansas (who earlier in the day gave a great talk on Nagata Masaichi and Cold War ideology in the postwar Japanese film industry's export strategy), and Richard Suchenski and Ryan Cook of Yale. A lot of the audience stayed for that and we had a good discussion on the political dimension of Ozu's work. 

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