Tag Archives: Japan

Japan is Too Cool with this Latest Update!

24 Mar

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Tim Craig’ss Cool Japan 2nd Edition is a very welcome update to looking at what’s trending, and how it affects the industry. The term was coined circa 2005 and when this look “Inside Japan’s Cultural and Creative Industries” can change overnight due to many influences–be it on a global scale or amid crisis–the effects are often longer term than a return to form.

The fast and furious industries in the business side of Japanese side entertainment–ranging from anime fandom to J-pop to manga and sumo (to name a few)–are not the only industries affected by change. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry coined the term.

Like the original edition, it’s written for folks who want a deeper look into the industry and it’s a perfect textbook to use not only in a high school level but also academic. Two new chapters–”Shesha and the Manga Industry Face a Midlife Crisis” and “Japanese Comedy: Entertainment Powerhouse Yoshimoto Kogyo Shaken by Scandal”– fill in the years between this edition and last. For the other chapters, addendums and what’s happening now are added to reveal whether or not projects like the Cool Japan strategy works.

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How to Celebrate Hungry Ghost Festival Aug 15th

14 Aug

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Ghost Month will reach its perigee on August 15th. At the Hungry Ghost Festival (盂兰盆节), these once human souls are permitted to visit the living world and some may visit their descendents to see how they are doing. On this day, we venerate them with happiness and acknowledge their existence. We save the first row in any performance venue for them to sit there. Anyone who tries may well feel a chill!

This time of the year is a different sort of Halloween. As for what believers can do in preparation is to beware of certain practices lest the spirit attaches itself. This can range from avoiding wearing clothing that is red or black to not killing insects crawling around–they may be someone’s grandparents reincarnated. The best thing to do with the latter is to catch and release the critter outside.

Superstitions aside, some fans of horror cinema may opt to get into the mood. Instead of scaring ourselves silly, we may opt to look at supernatural comedies. My choices have to fit the criteria of how the spirit world interacts with reality. Instead of a top five, I have six on my list. In my culture, we consider this number lucky. Amongst my favourites that are distinctly Asian and PG-13 in tone are:

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[Fantasia 2019] The Stardust Brothers are Back and Where to Find Them

25 Jul

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

The Stardust Brothers has no relation to Ziggy, and nor it firmly rooted in 80s nostalgia. The Legend of the Stardust Brothers (星くず兄弟の伝説) is a movie that’s simply bonkers. I found a sprinkling of inspiration from Spinal Tap, a weighty nod to The Blues Brothers and a zaniness ala The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. I’m more inclined to say The Monkees, because I watched too much of this television show when I was a wee lad.

Relative unknowns, a crooner Shinga (Shinga Kubota) and a punk rocker Kan (Kan Takagi) from rival pop bands are paired into a hilarious manzai synthpop singing duo. To understand their rise to fame is far too gonzo to make sense of it all. This film is an experience–beginning with a black and white sequence until colour is splashed on screen–about these two parading their music to unimpressed lounge patrons. Where these two are performing now is ironic, and if the audience they are singing to care, I’d be surprised if they get an ovation. As any band will tell you, life after that initial moment of fame is different.

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[From the Archives] From Baseline to Big in Japan – Tennis Pro, The Interview

17 Jun

By Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Originally published in 2015 on Vivascene
This interview I conducted has since disappeared.
Revised edition June 2019

Ask any musician, and you will hear that breaking into the music scene is tough. To get the recognition that matters is even harder. Seattle-based band, Tennis Pro, found that they had to take their act to another country because in the good ol’ United States of America, their local music scene was quite stagnant.

“I think that Seattle, after the 90’s explosion [with grunge music], has struggled to find its identity musically,” said drummer Sean Lowry. In his opinion, the city had fallen into a melancholy folk-rock wasteland.

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