The Deer Hunters

Hitting the doormat today, a trifle late thanks to Britain’s third-world postal system, is my latest “Talking Book”, Robin Hood: The Deer Hunters, featuring Sam Troughton who manages not only to play his character, Much the Miller’s Son, but pretty much everybody else, including a remarkable impersonation of Jonas Armstrong.
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Political Noodlings

Oh, you’ll miss him when he’s gone! It was the beleaguered Taro Aso, back when he was Foreign Minister, who stood up to the French presidential candidate Segolene Royal when she suggested that manga was responsible for Japan’s social ills. During the same period, it was Aso who pushed for “contents” (films, games, anime, manga) to be acknowledged as one of Japan’s most virulent exports. When he became Prime Minister, he wooed the otaku vote by proclaiming his love for manga. It was Aso who supported the controversial National Media Arts Center, lauded by some industry figures as a saviour of anime, although many others (myself included) regard it as a likely disaster: a “national manga café.” And, behind the scenes, I am sure that his influence must be at least partly responsible for the new animated political adverts on Japanese telly ahead of the national election.
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Back from Locarno

At last, I’m back from the Locarno Film Festival. Even though anime was only one of several strands, it still saw more incident than several conventions combined across ten-days of multiple screenings and events. There were hundreds of anime on show, including screenings of Summer Wars, Musashi: Dream of the Last Samurai and an open-air screening of Ponyo.
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Instant Gratification

There’s a new way of watching television. It’s the one that doesn’t involve television at all. TiVos and smart boxes have changed some viewing habits, while online downloading has completely turned them on their head. People have stopped trusting broadcasters and started making their own choices about what’s going to be on the box on a weekday.
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Selfish Genes

“Nowadays it is getting difficult to create cool, global science fiction. It is because reality has surpassed the future we imagined. Cool SF stories turn up just before the big bang of a new social infrastructure. This time, it was the Internet. Ghost in the Shell was the forerunner and a favourite.” — Kenji Kamiyama
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Swiss Roles

Today I am in Switzerland, at the Locarno Film Festival, which has dedicated an entire strand of programming to Japanese animation. Specifically I am going to be talking onstage with film archivist Akira Tochigi about a subject close to my heart – the modern renaissance in pre-war anime and the problems of restoring old cartoons.
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