The Devil General

“…a dozen native English speakers were co-opted into the propaganda scheme in December 1944, which happens to be when Sacred Sailors was completed and submitted to the censor. They began broadcasting the Hinomaru Hour later that month. The men read out carefully curated messages from prisoners, performed skits and radio plays, and even songs, including a ditty about ‘the daring young men of the flying Japanese.’ They also did everything they could to subvert their captors’ intentions, including selecting as much British music as possible, because they hoped American servicemen would hate it.”

Over at All the Anime, I discuss the possibility that the first English-language voice-actor in Japanese animation was a prisoner of war.

Millennium Actress and Film

“‘I am not really familiar with Japanese films,’ [Satoshi Kon] commented in an interview at the time of the film’s release. ‘I think I get more from the combination of memorable films that I saw in my childhood, rather than particular scenes from particular films.’ In other words… Kon’s movie references are a set of impressions of certain movie types – a fantasy of what the films might have been, rather than what they actually were.”

Over at All the Anime, I write about just some of the dozens of movie-history easter eggs in Millennium Actress. Another extract from my long essay in the new Blu-ray release.

Best Book 2020

“If I had to pick a single general martial arts history book in English, I would recommend A Brief History of the Martial Arts by Dr. Jonathan Clements.” Over at the Martial History Team blog, my book gets a nod in their “Best General Martial Arts Histories in English” category.

“This is the book I recommend if you want a single volume on martial arts history based on sound evidence and sourced research,” wrote Richard Bejtlich in his review of the book last month. “I highlighted so many sentences in my Kindle edition that I ran over Amazon’s limit! …it’s an absolute steal and would make a great gift for any martial artist.”

Millennium Actress and History

“The 1990s saw the retirement of the generation that had created post-war entertainment. In the anime world, multiple studios were merging, folding or changing ownership as the surviving founders and primary shareholders cashed in their chips and went off to play golf. A new generation of bright young things, including Kon himself, was taking over – either with a sense of sympathy and respect for the old guard (like the character Genya) or with a blithe dismissal of them (like his cameraman Kyoji Ida).”

Over at All the Anime, I write about Satoshi Kon’s Millennium Actress as a point in time within movie history. This is an excerpt from a much longer piece I wrote as part of the Blu-ray booklet.

Summer Days with Coo

“Flickering at the edges of Hara’s script treatment is a melancholy consideration of how much has been lost of the Japanese past. Recalling similar musings in Isao Takahata’s Pom Poko (1994), Coo the kappa is a part of priceless Japanese heritage, hounded out of his natural habitat, orphaned by monstrous humans, and hunted through the streets with a price on his head.”

Over at All the Anime, I write up Keiichi Hara’s overlooked Summer Days with Coo.

Cyber City Oedo 808

“From the opening shot, in which the camera pulls back from the view in Sengoku’s orbital prison cell, the production is marked out unmistakeably as a work by director Yoshiaki Kawajiri, much beloved by foreign audiences in the 1990s for his moodily lit, flashily shot works of urban gothic, and who would go on to make the fan-favourite Ninja Scroll.”

Over at All the Anime, I write up Yoshiaki Kawajiri’s fan-favourite Cyber City Oedo 808. Pretty sure this is the largest and most comprehensive article anyone’s ever written on this, and this is but the prelude to the 50-page book that Anime Limited are including in their forthcoming Blu-ray collection. For more details, check out Andy Hanley’s wonderful one-hour documentary here.

My Heart Sutra

“This is not merely a book about the Heart Sutra. It’s about the stories that grew up around it, its journey through human civilisation like a self-replicating meme, a scrap of wisdom whispering in temples, shopping malls and movies. It includes the tale of Xuanzang, the monk who ducked out of 7th-century China on an impossibly long journey through the desert and over the mountains in search of Buddhist scriptures. It’s the story of the story about Xuanzang, not merely the historical reality of his life in the Chinese capital translating his hoard of sacred texts, but of the novel written about him by Wu Cheng-en.”

Over at All the Anime, I review Frederik L. Schodt’s latest book, which starts with a car crash and ends with Buddhist robots and John Lennon.

An Introduction to Eromanga

“The book is a translation not only of Nagayama’s original 2006 book, but of its 2014 re-issue, which added an extra chapter on, among other things, the controversially restrictive Bill 156. Opposition to this 2010 piece of legislation was entertainingly diverse, as were its targets. In one incident that ably demonstrated the dangerously broad remit of its crusade against ‘harmful’ works, one Japanese politician tried to use it to ban Winnie the Pooh.”

Over at All the Anime, I review Kaoru Nagayama’s forthcoming Erotic Comics in Japan, with time out for bra engineering, censored canoes and vanilla smut.

Warning: very NSFW.

Wasn’t me!

I’ve just caught Mike Toole’s terrifying Dubs That Time Forgot panel at Cloud Matsuri (which everybody should definitely watch through their fingers), and discovered that he has been telling people all over Christendom that I was the ADR director of the UK version of KO Century Beast Warriors. Worse still, Anime News Network’s database seems to be backing up this claim! I have sent a message to correct them so that such slanders may cease.