Preview Time!

The other day at the mall, I picked up a slew of mini-posters and I'll get to them post-haste. But first, I'll introduce you to a movie that'll be coming out here soon. On August 2nd, we'll be treated to スカイ クロラ (Sukai Kurora) or The Sky Crawlers.

Here is a brief synopsis:
The youngsters are called Kildren, who are destined to live eternally in their adolescence. The Kildren are conscious that every day could be their last, because they fight war as entertainment, organized and operated by adults. But as they embrace the reality they are faced with, they live their day-to-day lives to the full.

I suggest you click on the picture below to go to the Sky Crawlers site. It has about a 5 minute preview that is pretty slow-going but pretty nonetheless. Directed by Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell), it stars Rinko Kikuchi of Babel fame & Chiaki Kuriyama, our favourite Go-Go girl from Kill Bill. The theme song is also quite haunting and beautiful.

This trailer has some English Subtitles for the less Japanese literate (like me):

While we're in an animated mood, let's check in on Gake no Ue no Ponyo. From what I've read and seen so far, it is a beautifully rendered hand-drawn movie (in your face CGI!) by the Miyazaki crew.

As he yet again threatens to retire, if he does so this time, he'll be bowing out on top. The story of "An animated adventure centered on a 5-year-old boy and his relationship with a goldfish princess who longs to become human" won't have the spookiness of his previous efforts, but promises more to be like Totoro II.

Not exactly anime, but a sequel to the live action version of GeGeGe looms on the horizon.

ゲゲゲの鬼太郎 千年呪い歌 (Gegege no Kitaro: Sennen Noroi Uta, which sort of translates as Thousand Year-old Cursed Song)

You know I'll be in line to see it (not necessarily to comprehend it, but I will see it.)

I won't be running out to see the live action version of DMC but it might make for a good view on the tube in a few years.

Apart from the new Pokemon, Naruto, Kamen Rider and Go-onger movies that I likely will NOT be seeing, that's it for the Japanese flicks on the horizon. I'll mention something about the Hollywood blockbusters later...


Pandamania Prolifigates.

Japan loves their pandas and I have to admit that what they do with the ursine creatures here is pretty cute. I finally acquired the 6th Panda stamp, so now I can blog about several of the pandas in my collection. The most recent acquisition are the oolong-cha pals.

Here are the bunch of them in all their pre-packaged glory.

As you can see, each of them has been named after a different snack and each packs a different saying.

First up is ゴマ団子 (goma-dango or sesame dumplings) declaring, "OK!"

Next is ちまき (chimaki which is a sweet cake wrapped in a rice leaf) telling you "よくできました" = "Yoku dekimashita" roughly translated as, "Good job!"

#3 is 桃まんじゅう (Momo-manju which in this case is a peach-flavoured manju with the obvious DATE.

Now we've got that perennial favourite, the マンゴープリン (mango pudding or purin as it's known here) exclaiming, おかえり "o-kaeri" which is, sort of, "Welcome home!"

My scan of 小籠包 (Shoronpo/ a Chinese-ravioli concoction) is not very good which is appropriate since the stamp proclaims, ごめんな = "gomen na" which means, "Sorry!"

Finally we have your basic 饅頭 (manju) stating ありがとう = "arigato" and if you don't know what that means, you shouldn't be reading this blog!

Way back when, I mentioned a certain Pandamodia with all sorts of pandas done up in different gear. Since then I've acquired a few more, but I'm sad to say I don't have complete sets. These guys may have been from that initial collection but I'll be darned if I can tell you where they're from. I do like the guy in the onsen and the mountain climber though.

Here are a quartet of pandas with a crab, a deer, an eel and a cat. I don't know if they are pets or meals!

Pandas are supposedly 99% vegetarian but this foursome is eating various dishes of the local quisine. I don't think they adhering to their strict bamboo diet.

Based on the label, the direction of use or the website, I still couldn't figure out what these are. 生茶 translates as "Raw brown" so that isn't very useful.

I figured it out by the holes in the tops of their heads: they are salt & pepper shakers. I'm not sure why the pepper is crying or maybe it's a cop-killer!

I got a handful of these sports-playing pandas but I wasn't about to track down all 24, even I can't drink that much tea.

What I did get was #s 2, 4, 10, 13, 20 & 22. (Swimming, tennis, basketball, handball, shooting & baseball.) I wonder if they ever played against the Gachapin players?

Finally, I have a couple of pendants (pandants?) promoted by some Japanese celebrities that I don't know. I never completed these sets either yet I don't think I'll be the worse for wear.

More crap tomorrow!
Fie, Bet a Kappa!

We indulged in a few brew last night and Franz was given the previously mentioned heart attack-inducing package. He slowly opened the envelope and

all of a sudden a whirring sound occurred

and lo & behold appeared the dismembered paw of a Kappa!

(As you may have guessed, it is but a tightly wound elastic band surrounding a mockup of a Kappa's hand. But it was good for a giggle. No one was really startled, but one of our party jumped when the instruction card fluttered out of the envelope!)

I retired early so I could get up early for my weekly sojourn out to the sticks to teach a few engineers a thing or two about English. Afterwards, I had the rest of the day off, so I decided to pop into the Diamond City Mall near Natori. There wasn't much happening and I'd seen all the movies playing, so I just picked up an Indy Jones cup which came with a lovely little leather Indy key chain. (It's a little difficult to ascertain from the picture below, so be sure to click it to make it bigger.)

Because it was a nice day, I decided to walk several kilometers to Natori and check out a few shops along the way. I'm glad I had a huge cup of CC Lemon for 90 minutes later I'd overshot that station and eventually made it to Minami-Sendai station. The good news is that I'd saved 210¥!


Open It Quietly!

I don't really know what this is, but it's sold in the 100 shops so the price is right! I'm off to meet an old colleague of Alex's and hoist a few and we'll open it at our little soiree. I'll keep you posted of its contents but it appears to be the hand of a Kappa!

I'm a little worried for I don't know the state of health of our guest, Franz. I hope he doesn't have a heart condition!


I'm Indiaka Jones!

Several years ago, I actually went to a gym and pretended to work out. I occasionally trekked to the Kirin Sports Facility near my old stomping grounds, Tokiwagi Gakuen HS, where I lifted a few weights, ogled the ladies, played a bit of racquetball, ogled the ladies a bit more and even played in their softball league (and ogled the ladies, natch.) But on Saturday nights, it was my opportunity to shine when I played the sport called Indiaka. Sort of hybrid between volleyball and badminton, the object of Indiaka is for your team to hit a large shuttlecock (snicker) over the net and score points a la volleyball rules. Whenever it was my turn to serve I would hum, "dadadadaaa, dadadum..." and refer to myself as "Indiaka Jones". Jocularity ensued! (It was not until last weekend that I discovered that nobody in Japan referred to Henry Jones, Jr. as Indiana Jones, he is known as Indy over here. I was a victim of false chortling!) The sport though was a ton of fun and I was getting pretty good at it. Alas, I lost my gig in that High School and was forced to move to Soma where my athletic prowess was left to rot.

Witness this copy of the bonus material from my Indy boxed set and you'll see that it does indeed read, "インディー・ジョーンズ". Why am I bringing this up? Well, Alex & I saw the Japanese premiere last Saturday of インディー・ジョーンズ クリスタル・スカルの王国 (Indi Jyonzu kurisutaru sukaru no oukoku). I enjoyed it immensely and Alex even admitted to having a good time. Sure there are plot holes big enough to drive a truck through and the CGI gophers & monkeys are really annoying, but it kept me amused throughout.

While there, I picked up a ハートアート (sort of solid plastic sheets you place between pages of your notebook for the purpose of memo-taking) with this on the front...

and this on the back.

While wandering through the fields of
カプセル (capsules), I came across this set of 7 (hmm, I wonder what the seventh mysterious シークレット/secret item is?) Considering I'm lacking in funds right now, I decided to only buy one.

But I scored the coolest one, the



Another comic pioneer passes away. Last month it was Harvey Korman, this time it is George Carlin who is one of the funniest men who ever lived. Everyone is going to comment on his "Seven Dirty Words" (see this post's heading or click here for an impromptu English lesson), but my favourite monologue is his Place for my Stuff bit.

Am I Blue?

Not really. We had a rip-roaring roustabout on Friday with our special guests Blue III who entertained the crowd in their own inimitable fashion. I took several photos, mostly crappy but some turned out well. I'm not going to comment on them and just randomly place them on the page. Make of them what you will...

Thanks to the band and djs, the 150-plus people who showed up had a terrific time. Can't wait until next month!


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