Update! Larceny Is Part of Family Love in Cannes Winner “Shoplifters”–Showing With English subtitles on June 21 (木)

『UPDATE: There will be a showing of the film with English subtitles at 7pm on June 21, at the Roppongi Hill Cinema. There will be a Q & A with the director afterwards. Details of the showing are after the review』

The titular family in “Shoplifters” give a new slant to the term “living in squalor.” (The film is partially based on true events)  Their house looks more like a bizarre crime scene than an actual dwelling for normal people but – and this is a crucial point in “Shoplifters” – the family is HAPPY. They enjoy the kind of freedom that one rarely sees in Tokyo families. The 10-year old son doesn’t go to cram school (or any kind of school for that matter). The dad is not an over-worked salariman whose only solace is the company drinking party. The mom couldn’t care less about keeping up with the Tanakas. And grandma – she’s an entertaining but cantankerous piece of work who drives well-meaning social workers up the wall.

1) One Big Happy Family – clockwise from right, Mayu Matsuoka, Kirin Kiki, Lily Franky, Jyo Kairi, Miyu Sasaki and Sakura Ando.
Title: The Shoplifters
©️2018 Fuji Television GAGA AOI Pro.
Distributed by GAGA

Amid the filth and debris they huddle together for warmth and comfort. At mealtimes, they poke chopsticks into ramen tubs and food cans. The catch in this cozy utopia is that they must steal almost everything they need. The other catch is that dad has just kidnapped a 5-year old girl named Yuri. She had been neglected and abused by her biological parents, so the dad just had to rescue her. “We’ll return her to her folks in the morning” he says, but then he doesn’t and Yuri joins their little clan, adding another item to their history of crime.

“Shoplifters” just won the Palme D’Or at the Cannes Film Festival – a first for a Japanese director in 21 years. The last time this happened was back in 1997, when Shohei Imamura came out with “Unagi,” and put leading man Koji Yakusho’s name on the international map. In Japan however, “Unagi” didn’t exactly break box office. It was artsy, dark and posed too many philosophical questions. While these ingredients worked wonderfully at Cannes, the general feeling in Japan was that everyone would rather watch Keanu Reeves.

“Shoplifters” is another animal. Keanu Reeves isn’t in it (too bad) but the director is Hirokazu Kore-eda: a constant contender at Cannes and other major international film festivals for the past two decades. He’s also a former TV documentarian with a shrewd sense of business. Shohei Imamura was an auteur of the old school, but Kore-eda has a nose for what sells. In his films, art never overwhelms commercialism and on the other hand, it’s not all business either. Kore-eda knows that in the international market, the biggest appeal of a Japanese film is its Japanese-ness and in “Shoplifters,” he adopts a Zen-like approach, letting the characters do their thing at their own pace, in their own space. A lot of things are unexplained or left for the audience to surmise. And pretty soon, the squalor of that awful house starts to grow on you. The ancient and no doubt odorous tatami mats, the wild, unruly shrubbery that grow all over the garden, the stained and mildewed bathtub – somehow, these things begin to assume a patina of Japanese charm. After all, we’re so used to seeing spanking clean Japanese homes inhabited by perfectly manicured people, at least in the media and after awhile, the hypocrisy of this set-up just gets to you. Such a house and family appear in the story for about 5 minutes and the contrast between them and the Shoplifters is jarring.

The Shoplifters’ house is a real one, sleuthed out by Kore-eda’s staff who combed the northeast wards of Tokyo for weeks before hitting upon the perfect specimen. Surrounded by high rise apartment buildings on all sides, the house is a tiny, crumbling Showa era relic. In the movie, it belongs to the grandmother, Hatsue played by Kirin Kiki. Divorced before becoming a widow, Hatsue still keeps her ex-husband’s photo on the ‘butsudan (miniature buddhist shrine)’ and takes out his pension every month to supplement her own. It’s the only steady source of income the family has, since the mother Nobuyo (Sakura Ando) and dad (Lily Franky) earn minimum wage doing part time work and even that’s jeopardized when their employers install a workshare program. “What’s work share?,” asks the son and the dad’s response – “ahhhm, it’s when you share the work.” It also means less pay and less income to share with the family.

Nobuyo’s younger sister Aki (Mayu Matsuoka) works at a ‘JK (short for ‘Joshikosei, which means high school girl) sex shop, which entails dressing in a school uniform and opening her legs in front of a two-way mirror. Aki’s wages are 3000 yen per session and upon hearing this, grandma Hatsue lets out a sigh of real envy. “That’s such a well-paid job!”

Of course, even working an honest job at minimum wage or a shady job at 3000 yen per hour, isn’t enough for a family to survive on and so shoplifting supplements their income. The movie was partly inspired by real events.

Partners in crime – the son Shota (Jyo Kairi) cases the joint with dad Osamu (Lily Franky).
Title: The Shoplifters
©️2018 Fuji Television GAGA AOI Pro.
Distributed by GAGA

The film is full of dark humor but it is also a biting criticism of modern Japan. Kore-eda is not a fan of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. The film references how the rights and wages of workers keep deteriorating and a growing number of people live in poverty, while “Abenomics” only benefits the elite.

The Japanese family has cultivated a certain image – that they revere their elders, that fathers work themselves to the bone, that the kids are models of scholastic excellence and good manners. In real life, that image is shattered again and again – consider that 1 out of 6 children live in poverty while the number of abused kids have been on the rise for the past 20 years. In the movie, Yuri’s biological mom is beaten by a rat of a husband and she takes out her anger on her daughter. And for all the love they show the son, the Shoplifter parents think nothing of depriving the boy of his future by keeping him home and teaching him to steal. The son, played by Kairi Jyo, is a compelling figure to watch – he loves the couple who have raised him, but at the same time he knows theirs is not a sustainable relationship. They have good times together but the son comes to realize that they’re bound more by crime and money than blood and love.

So, like a Bruce Springsteen song, it had to end. For me, the final scenes were blurred by a blizzard of tears, triggered by a longing for a raucous, uproarious, hugger-mugger childhood that never happened.

Shoplifters (万引き家族) opened nationwide in Japan on June 8th. 

The English subtitled screening and Q&A session of “Shoplifters” will be taken place on Thursday, June 21st.

【Date】Thursday, June 21st
【Time】19:00~(Q&A session after the screening)
【Venue】TOHO CINEMAS ROPPONGI HILLS
【Guest (tentative)】Kore-eda Hirokazu (director)

<How to buy the ticket>
・By PC & smart phone : Ticket site will be opened from Saturday, June 16th 0:00 at internet ticket vit (https://www.tohotheater.jp/vit/)
・Ticket counter at the theater : Ticket will be on sale from the opening on Saturday, June 16th at the theater (if the tickets are available.)

<Price>
Standard price *This film is rated PG12
※Additional costs will needed for Premium box seats. Please check the theater website.
※Movie tickets can be used.
※Free admission tickets can not be used.

<Caution>
※The screening is with English subtitles.
※Press will cover the Q&A and there will be a possibility that the audience could be on camera.
※The guests and Q&A session are tentative and are subject to change without notice.
※Reserved seating only and the ticket is for only 1 screening. You must obtain the seat for this screening to attend the Q&A.
※Resale is strictly prohibited.
※No camera (including by phoens) shooting or recoding are strictly prohibited.
※Once paid, ticket fees are non-refundable/non-changeable.

 

Shonen: How A Young Japanese Gigolo Learns To Love Life Via Hard Work (film review)

You’ve heard that foodie movies trigger your appetite. Love stories trigger tear ducts. Documentaries will cause political rants. In that vein, “Shonen,” a film about a male prostitute pleasuring his women clients with relentless energy and single-minded dedication, will…

Okay, well “Shonen” doesn’t exactly have that effect, because as a line in this brilliant film goes, “women are not simpletons.” Still, some segments were evocative.

For Japanese women viewers, the film may be a catalyst for some um, deeply stirred soul searching, if only because most Japanese women are conditioned from birth to cater to the needs of others, specifically men and ignore some basic physical needs of threir own. Confusing women further is the mixed and murky, societal message. Yeah, women are taught to appease and please men but at the same time we’re constantly warned against casual sex, couched in terms to make us feel like either victims (rape! groping! being dumped before marriage!) or sluts (self-explanatory). Men called all the shots and were the enemy but women couldn’t live without them because we’re women. It’s an image that Japan’s male-dominated culture has thrived on. As for sexual pleasure equally enjoyed by both parties? Ahhh, didn’t get the memo on that one.

(C)石田衣良/集英社 
2017映画『娼年』製作委員会  
●公開表記: 4月6日(金)、TOHOシネマズ 新宿 他 全国ロードショー
●公式HP: http://shonen-movie.com/ Twitter @shonen_movie
●企画製作・配給: ファントム・フィルム  ●レイティング: R18+

“Shonen” however, urges women (and by implication, men) to explore their pleasure spots and revel in the fleeting moment because hey, what’s wrong with things being a little transitory sometimes? And to ease any apprehensions, the film proffers a cute young guy, not so much as a seducer but a persuader or a guide, who happens to be unclothed for the majority of the film’s nearly two hour duration. Not surprisingly, the screening room was crammed with women and more were waiting in line on the sidewalk, only to be turned away with promises of additional screenings the following week. Months before “Shonen’s” official release date was announced, online rumors heralded it as the Japanese “Fifty Shades of Gray,” but with a much better cast and specially tailored for a female audience.

Indeed, only the bravest of Japanese men could sit through “Shonen” without feeling massively out of place, unwelcome, inadequate and dismally uncomfortable. The warning is written into the title: the kanji character “sho” means prostitute and the “nen” points to a young male, and in this case he’s played by none other than resident sweet boy-next-door Tohri Matsuzaka whose adorableness is matched by a good-sport, non-threatening vibe. The movie shows us that both traits are assets in the world of male prostitution because the work is One client is a 70 year old lady in a kimono (played by Kyoko Enami, who’s actually 76). Another is an older, wheel-chair bound husband (Tokuma Nishioka) who requests Ryo to rape his young wife (Kokone Sasaki) in an onsen (spa) inn, so he could video-tape the whole thing and watch it later.

In one scene, Matsuzaka’s character Ryo is recruited by the glamorous Shizuka (Sei Matobu) into her “club” of male prostitutes. Ryo assumes he is to have sex with Shizuka, but in fact, he’s ordered to perform with Sakura, a young deaf woman who happens to be Shizuka’s daughter. After it’s over, she quietly places a 5000 yen bill on the bed, telling him matter-of-factly: “your sex was worth 5000 yen.” And then Sakura plonks down another 5000. “She’s taken a liking to you,” says Shizuka, indicating that he passed the test. As far as job interviews go, this is probably more pleasurable than most and the initial pay isn’t bad: 10,000 yen an hour and any tips are Ryo’s to keep.

Just in case you’re shocked, shocked!, like Claude Rains in “Casablanca,” male prostitution in Japan has been around as long as female. Historians have written that the original kabuki actors were homeless gay prostitutes, performing on the banks of Kyoto’s Kamo River by day and selling sexual favors by night. Currently, the rumor is that there are 30,000 “hosuto (escorts)” working in Tokyo and roughly 40% are into prostitution as side hustles. Tokyo’s male escort industry is ruthless – stories abound about how they will bleed their female clients dry and when the money runs out, sell them off to Chinese sex traffickers.

“Shonen” isn’t a sweat and tears documentary about the underside of Tokyo’s sex industry. It is in fact, a fairy tale that showcases the sexual prowess of Tohri Matsuzaka, who at 29 can play an alluring 20 year old who routinely cuts classes at a posh Tokyo university.

(C)石田衣良/集英社 
2017映画『娼年』製作委員会  
●公開表記: 4月6日(金)、TOHOシネマズ 新宿 他 全国ロードショー
●公式HP: http://shonen-movie.com/ Twitter @shonen_movie
●企画製作・配給: ファントム・フィルム  ●レイティング: R18+

The very first scene shows Ryo hard at it, grunting and gyrating on the splayed body of a young woman moaning with pleasure at appropriate intervals. It’s a one night stand and the girl leaves in the morning after ascertaining that she just did it with a guy from a top-ranking university (“Wait till I tell my girlfriends!”) but Ryo can’t get no satisfaction. Later, when he meets Shizuka for the first time, he describes the sexual act as a “hassling exercise routine with all the moves already mapped out.” But as soon as he’s paid by his first client, Ryo feels more alive than he ever did. By turning his back on the normal world of sex with girlfriends, one door closes but a new one opens, one that inducts Ryo into the business of pleasuring women. It’s to director Daisuke Miura’s eternal credit that none of it is demeaning for any of the characters, even though he defies every taboo in the book of mainstream filmmaking. Audiences may find hard to stomach how Shizuka deploys her daughter to test the sexual abilities of new recruits, as she stands not three feet away, watching impassively with arms folded over her chest like an inspections officer.

In the end, a certain melancholy hangs in the air like an invisible pinata. Ryo couldn’t enjoy sex when it was free, but as a source of employment and act of labor, he begins to love it, and commits to the job like any dedicated salariman. He couldn’t be bothered to talk or be civil with casual girlfriends but with clients, he’s willing to have meaningful conversations and be kind, considerate and gentlemanly. Is work the all-controlling, always-defining core of Japanese life? One of the questions to ponder, in the midst of all that panting.

CICADA by Yu Shibuya Limited Screening with English Subs

CICADA

Yu Shibuya is a quiet force to be reckoned with. As a rare bilingual and exceptionally talented playwright, screenwriter and director he has won multiple awards with his shorts and features across the world. His works are often painfully tragic yet peppered with subtle humor, resulting in a poignant and hopeful aftertaste. His ability to depict Japan with a loving gaze of one that knows it from the inside and out, uniquely teases out the mundane and obscurities alike, creating a distinct and irresistible world.

His latest feature CICADA(千里眼) is no exception. It was made in 2014 in Japan with a Japanese cast but with an entirely American crew. The director Dean Yamada is a Japanese American whom Shibuya teamed up with in 2009 to create the short “Bicycle” which was chosen as an official selection at major film festivals, including the 66th Venice Film Festival and Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival.

CICADA has won many awards including three Grand Prizes at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, Guam International Film Festival, and the Pan Pacific Film Festival and is now showing for a limited run at Ikebukuro Humax Cinemas with English Subtitles. Shunji Iwai, legendary director of  90s New Wave films became a fan of Shibuya’s work after watching Bicycle and flew to LA to watch CICADA, subsequently casting Yugo Sasou the leading man in his own films.

JSRC recommends film lovers in Tokyo to seize this opportunity to enjoy his work on the big screen while they can.

STORY (TRAILER: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YJc2iQdfKSw)

Cicadas live underground until their final stage of adulthood. When they surface, they attach themselves to a tree bark, shed their skin and fly away, leaving behind their exoskeleton still clinging fully intact to the tree.
Much like the cicada, Jumpei, a mild-mannered schoolteacher, is sheltered. Introverted almost to a fault, Jumpei has finally found a woman he is ready to marry. Ever weary and careful, Jumpei decides to take a series of premarital tests and finds out that he is infertile. Devastated, he keeps the news from his girlfriend.
In the meantime, Jumpei’s nine-year-old nephew is being bullied in school, and his distraught mother and clueless father are at their wits’ end. Jumpei is enlisted in helping out the family. While Jumpei’s prospects of having a family of his own seem to be non-existent, despite attempting several alternative cures, he is forced into his sister’s dysfunctional family life, and what transpires is a series of comical and heartbreaking events.

IKEBUKURO HUMAX CINEMAS

〒170-0013 Tokyo, Toshima, Higashiikebukuro, 1 Chome−22−10

Limited run until 2/23 at 20:20 every night, with post screening talks with Yu Shibuya and guest.

http://senrigan-movie.com/

If you cannot make it to the screening, enjoy his work here

The Apology (100年の謝罪)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kPr6wH2VwWY

Bicycle(自転車)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8I_rok_FMW0

 

6 murderers are paroled in a small Japanese town. Will they bring the place back to life or bring more death? See “The Scythian Lamb”

Rural depopulation is a serious problem in Japan, so much that for the past decade, media fiction has devoted an entire genre into telling its stories. Bankrupt shops with their shutters permanently closed, desolate mountain and sea landscapes, no one out on the streets but a handful of old people. These are both metaphors for, and the hard facts of, most Japanese rural areas. Regional governments have been desperate to bring in new residents and to this end, they’re offering stipends, free housing, even matchmaking parties – on the governments’ dime. Rumor has it that since the early nineties, rural towns have been recruiting parolees to become part of the local populace. This information cannot be verified. The people involved will never admit to such a program even existing. But it’s there, and “The Scythian Lamb” is a brilliant fable about what happens when this program kicks in (pun fully intended) on a sleepy little coastal town. A town where, “the people are kind and the seafood is delicious.”

© 2018『羊の木』製作委員会 ©山上たつひこ、いがらしみきお/講談社

With its slow burning violence and small town melodrama, “The Scythian Lamb” is mindful in many ways of “Fargo” (the TV series) but without the broad streak of snarkiness and splashy bloodletting. Most of all, the dystopian despair that make up much of “Fargo” (and like-minded others) is missing from “Scythian…”

This isn’t a spoiler but the ending is hopeful, even happy. The final scenes close on a rural town whose residents are marginally more joyous than they were last year and there is absolutely no mention of the violence that erupted briefly like fireworks, then disappeared into the night sky. However, the journey to the peaceful end is not easy.

Six ex-cons, all who had served time for murder and now on parole, are selected to live in a fictional seaside town called Uobuka (which means ‘fish deep’). One by one, they arrive – four men and two women between the ages of early 30s to mid-60s – and are given a welcome by the city hall worker Tsukisue (played with breezy finesse by Ryo Nishikido). They are allowed to live in the town, on the condition that they take jobs provided them by city hall, and that they stay for 10 years. In other words, they’ve exchanged a shorter prison sentence for another kind of penance. Already, one of them (Kazuki Kitamura), who represents Japan’s new breed of criminal, has started to complain that he will be “bored to death” here.

Tsukisue is still young, lithe and naive though his high school pal Sudo (Satoru Matsui) assures him that living out in the boonies ages everyone twice as fast. “In your case, it’s four times as fast,”  Tsukisue jokes to the noticeably overweight Sudo. But Tsukisue may be envious of the fact that fat or not, at least his friend has a wife and daughter to go home to. Tsukisue on the other hand, looks like a guy who has been celibate for a long time, which is fast becoming the norm for many single Japanese men. But (and this is the thing about Tsukisue) the guy is NOT bitter. He’s gentle, kind and above all, conscientious. He does his job, and then goes home to take care of his dad who is recovering from a stroke. Not much of a life for a good-looking dude. But when he discovers that the newcomers he had chaperoned were each convicted for murder or manslaughter, Tsukisue’s equilibrium is shattered. Will they, you know, like, do it again? His supervisor intones to Tsukisue not to dwell on the past. “And don’t go telling people they’ve just gotten out of prison,” adds the supervisor, because this project could well have a bearing on “Japan’s future.”

Based on the award-winning manga by Tatsuhiko Yamagami and Mikio Igarashi, “The Scythian Lamb” is directed by Daihachi Yoshida. As one of Japan’s last old-school filmmakers, Yoshida has a solid reputation for churning out crime/suspense blockbusters like “Pale Moon” in 2014. “Scythian…” shows Yoshida in an unusually political mode, exploring the many woes of Japan’s rapidly shrinking, super aged population and the general feeling that ours is a no-hope, claustrophobic society. Which is probably true, but in “Scythian…,” the suggested silver bullet is violence. No one is excited about Uobuka being, in the words of Tsukisue, “a nice place with kind people and great seafood.” But when a dead body turns up on the pier, everyone seems to get a glint in their eye. A cloudy sky turns blue. An old man even gets laid.

All this is cause for celebration, considering that most of the Uobuka populace acts half-dead most of the time. Even Tsukisue’s high school crush Aya (Fumino Kimura), the supposed heroine of the story, hardly speaks and never smiles. Aya, Tsukisue and Sudo had once played in the same rock band and Tsukisue tries to rekindle their friendship by inviting them to practice again. Aya reluctantly agrees. Big surprise for Tsukisue when he learns that she has started dating one of the ex-cons: Miyakoshi (Ryuhei Matsuda) who comes off like a bullied victim but actually hoards menace like a grandmother with yarn. You know those skinny, quiet guys who may or may not be a serial killer in a Netflix series? That’s Miyakoshi, right down to his discount sneakers. (Editor’s note:And if you’re a student of true crime in Japan, he channels all the skinny sociopaths who have been responsible for some of Japan’s more horrendous mass murders in recent years–but of course, he’s not one. Not quite) 

 

A troubled young man who is quick to appreciate that the town has “nice people and good seafood.” He has one small issue.
© 2018『羊の木』製作委員会 ©山上たつひこ、いがらしみきお/講談社

The others are as compelling if not as troublesome. Still, whenever one or the other is in the frame you sense a storm brewing: Min Tanaka as the ex-yakuza who did eighteen years for killing another boss and feels that it may be too late to start afresh. There is Kazuki Kitamura’s Sugiyama who really enjoys stirring things up, and seems like a refugee from the dismantled gang, Kanto Rengo, which won fame for beating their enemies to death with baseball bats. His confrontation with the ex-yakuza rings surprisingly true. And there’s Shingo Mizusawa as Fukumoto, an ex-barber who slashed his boss’s throat with a razor. The women are given less to do but Mikako Ichikawa and Yuka try to make the most of their roles. Yuka is in her usual hot-chick mode, but Ichikawa manages to steal some scenes as a woman who had routinely been beaten by her boyfriend until one night she cracked his skull as he slept, with a large bottle of sake. “I’m a scary woman,” she tells Tsukisue and it’s moments like these that Uobuka morphs from a nice place with great seafood, to somewhere real.

Opens February 3rd.

Editor’s note: In my opinion, one of the best Japanese films in recent years. The story is subtle, the acting restrained, the quiet violence is convincing.  The movie also has a hypnotic, ethereal  soundtrack that matches well with the buried mystical theme that pulls the film together. (Jake) 

Paternity Harassment Press Conference At (Labor Ministry/厚労省記者クラブ) today at 3PM

As reported last month, an equity sales manager at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. has filed a claim against the Japan-based brokerage, asserting that he’s been the victim of “paternity harassment” since 2015. He asked the Tokyo District Court to order the firm to withdraw its decision to put him on unpaid leave and recognize his rights as a father.

The case is drawing attention not only internationally but also in Japan, bringing attention to the bullying of working parents — a social problem that undoubtedly contributes to Japan’s declining birth rate. The bullying of working parents was recently highlighted when municipal lawmaker,Yuka Ogata, brought her 7-month-old baby to her job in the overwhelmingly male Japanese legislature, outraging members, who finally kicked her and the baby out. But working mothers aren’t the only ones subject to harassment. Fathers can also be treated badly.  The father, Glen Wood, will be having a press conference today at December 16th at the Labor Ministry Press Club (厚労省記者クラブ). The details are below.

Editor’s note: From time to time, @Japankenkyu aka Japan Subculture Research Center does post press releases, especially when they relate to articles or subject matter previously published here, such as maternity harassment,  or articles by contributors. 

 

 

 

For Immediate Distribution

Contact: Yoshitaka Imaizumi, Lawyer

Tokyo Law Office

東京法律事務所

Phone 03-3355-0611

Fax 03-3357-5742

(English) imaizumi@tokyolaw.gr.jp

Yotsuya Eki Mae Biru, Yotsuya 1-4

Shinjuku, Tokyo

Tokyo Law Office

東京法律事務所

Press Release

Paternity Harassment Press Conference to be Held at the 厚労省記者クラブ

or the Ministry of Labor Press Club, 3pm Friday December 15th

Mr. Glen Wood vs. Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities

Ministry of Labor Press Club, 3pm, Friday December 15th, 2017:

In this case of Mr. Glen Wood vs Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley Securities Co. Ltd we are formally  filing a law suit seeking compensation  for damages  together with confirmation  of employment status and wage payment.

As has been reported, we filed a temporary injunction on October 26, 2017 stating that Mr. Wood had been harassed upon application for paternity leave. Further, upon returning to work the company refused to return him to his duties which after many months of negotiations led to Mr. Wood becoming depressed.

The company’s court arguments so far have been outrageous and deserve social criticism. Firstly, as an absolute condition to Mr. Wood’s reinstatement to his job the company insists that Mr. Wood have the media publish an equal number of articles stating that the situation was  simply  a  misunderstanding.  Further,  the  company  is  stating  that  Mr.  Wood  has  a “persecution  complex”  that has resulted in him feeling harassed.  This is despite having 3 doctor’s statements verifying that Mr. Wood is fine and should be returned to his job. One of those doctor’s statements is from Mitsubishi’s own company employed doctor.

Thus, we file this law suit and hold this press conference where we shall share all color and recent events in real time for those in attendance.

Attendees:  Mr. Yoshitaka Imaizumi, Senior Counsel

Mr. Daiki Enatsu, Counsel

Mr. Glen S. Wood, Plaintiff

Tokyo Comic Con 2017. Tokyo Ghoul ♥️ Tokyo Comic Com but the cosplayers?

The Cosplay Crusaders At Tokyo Comic Con 2017

Tokyo Comic Con 2017.

This is year 2 for TokyoComicCon!

“What started as the Golden State Comic Book Convention in 1970, Comic Con today is an event encompassing technology and pop culture. The San Diego Comic-Con (U.S.) is a huge annual event in early July, attracting more than 130,000 visitors by showcasing large range of elements; comics, animation, games, and movies.”–Tokyo Comic Con 2017

Last year, On December 2016, the event made its way here as Tokyo Comic Con 2016. The organizers state that: “In close relation to  ‘Silicon Valley Comic Con’ organized by Woz, Tokyo Comic Con is a festival celebrating Japanese and American pop culture, while keeping its genetic American style foundation. Unlike other existing comic, film, animation festivals or game shows, this is a place where everyone can share and enjoy the revolutionary and enthusiastic experience.”

Well, whether it’s a revolutionary experience or not depends on you, but so far it has been quite fun.

There is an interesting mish-mash of Japanese and American comic books, displays of Batman figures, the Justice League, Tokyo Ghoul, Star Wars booths galore. You can be photographed with Darth Vader, experience using “The Force”, hold the heavy guns from Bio Hazard aka Resident Evil. And on the first day, a Friday (December 1st), there was already a motley crew of cos-players livening up the event. Not to mention, the free pinball machines. Ghostbusters! Star Wars!

Cosplayer, Kaia Leveaux, dressed as Belle from Beauty and the Beast, explains the universal appeal of the event, eloquently. “I love coming to ComiCon because it’s my chance to do what I love. I love dressing up. I love comics and games. I love seeing small time artists finally make it big. And best of all, it’s a place to come together. It’s hard to live in a foreign country and not speak the language. But here, we find common ground and can connect with one another. No words needed.”

Kaia says Tokyo Comic Con is a community experience.

 

The price of 3200 per day (advance tickets) may seem steep but then again the US Comic Cons are supposedly twice the price or more. For a full schedule and prices check out, TICKETS Ⅰ TOKYO COMIC CON 2017,

 

 

Amina Du Jean, Japan’s first black idol, is back with a song “Seppuku”?!

Our favorite idol (アイドル) in Japan, Amina Du Jean, has new EP out.  It’s called “Seppuku”.

Ritual disembowling (hara-kiri) has never been cuter or had a better melody. Mishima would have danced to this.

For more on the song and Amina Du Jean, checkout out her Bandcamp website.

This is the best angry girlfriend song in recent memory. The lyrics are calling for a sincere apology—and in Japan that can only be one thing. Just ask the 49 Ronin. 😉  Here is a rough translation of one stanza.

 

♬ちゃんとforgiveできない
謝るのは必要
Guess I’m kinda 冷たすぎ
ハラキリしてねぇ☆♬

I can’t really forgive you
You need to apologise
I guess I’m kind of too cold-hearted but
Please eviscerate yourself, baby.

Seppuku (full lyrics below)

ちゃんと許せない

お前はキモ豚やろうさ
It’s time to atone to me baby
セップクがいいよ

ちゃんと脳を使えない
あたしはfuck you言えない
介錯人になるぞ
頭をちょうだいよ

ちゃんとforgiveできない
謝るのは必要
Guess I’m kinda 冷たすぎ

ハラキリしてねぇ☆

寂しい気持ち
めっちゃいいかもね

大好き? 大嫌い?
めっちゃ疲れちゃってでも
Give me, give me all ya guts

ちゃんと許せない
お前はキモ豚やろうさ
It’s time to atone for me baby
セップクがいいよ

ちゃんとforgiveできない
謝るのは必要
Guess I’m kinda 冷たすぎ
ハラキリしてねぇ

???

Fuck offを言いません
もう君負けた

許せる 許せない
めっちゃ困っていて
Give me give me gimme ya head

ちゃんと許せない
お前はキモ豚やろうさ
It’s time to atone to me baby
セップクがいいよ

Fuck you.

Japan’s Board Game “The Hellish Game Of Life” Is Terrifyingly Realistic

 

Life in Japanese Hell.
Life in Japanese Hell.

So you’ve just arrived in Japan and you’re experiencing culture shock. Will you ever acclimate? If you want to understand Japanese life, try playing “The Game of Life.” It’s not the US version and if you really want to understand the game, play the SUPER PAINFUL GAME OF LIFE edition. It’s as close to as you may come to living in Japan’s dystopian society without being Japanese.

THE GAME OF LIFE known popularly here as “人生ゲーム” (jinsei game) was first released in 1968 amidst Japan’s period of rapid economic growth and has released 55 versions since, always staying relevant by reflecting the trends of the times. The basic scenario of the game has not changed which is to get a job, get married, have a family, buy a house and all the while aiming at becoming a millionaire. The winner is determined by the amount of money each player has at the end of the game, just like in real life (maybe?).

The “SUPER PAINFUL GAME OF LIFE (人生ゲーム極辛) was released in September 2014 again, reflecting the times in Japanese society where nothing seems to go right. Taxes are raised, evil corporations are everywhere, blogs are trolled and taking into consideration the lowest marriage rates in Japan, the game also has the record lowest marriage rates for the players. Many of the blocks are full of stressful events that hit hard on the wallet, and the board is peppered with “panic cards” where you only get half of your salary and also pitfalls where you must draw a “trouble card” which as you can imagine in one way or other blindsides you, forcing you to pay painful amounts as a result.

Here are some of the life troubles, you, the adventurous player will encounter:

-Busted for copy and pasting a letter of apology

-the new hire at your temp job quit in a nano second

-your parents read your secret poem

-you were walking with your head held high (上を向いて歩こう) to keep your tears at bay and you fell into the gutter

-you get hiring offers from all the infamous black companies (like 711, DENTSU)

-you get hired as a love letter ghost writer

-so lonely…coming home past midnight to dinner alone

-your SNS accounts get hacked and your blog is under fire from trolls

-you end up working for a dark corporation or “ブラック企業” (burakku kigyo)

gokukara 

The omnipresence of “the dark corporation” is an essential part of the new game of life in modern Japan. As with The Game of Life, SUPER PAINFUL GAME OF LIFE” portrays the realities of modern day Japan. Hence, the references to Japan’s exploitive and inhumane corporate behemoths and the notion of job insecurity and childlessness, all hits a little too close to home. For instance, dark corporations have become the symbol of all that is wrong in Japan today and in 2013, a year before the release of the SUPER PAINFUL GAME OF LIFE sure enough it was among the top trending words of the year. So what are dark corporations? They are defined as companies that “typically hire young employees and then force them to work large amounts of overtime without extra pay. While specifics may vary from company to company, conditions are generally poor and workers are subject to verbal abuse, sexual harassment and bullying” according to Haruki Konno head of Posse a group that helps young people with working environment problems. In a word, it’s a buffet of horrors with every kind of HR nightmare: sexual harassment? Pawahara(power harassment from your superiors)? Karoshi(death by overwork) for unpaid overtime? Take your pick!  One would hope that this was a punishment that only existed in board games but no, as the giggles subside it dawns on you that this is the reality of life in Japan.

The even darker reality is perhaps that even a job at a dark enterprise is better than no job at all in Japan these days. The game imitates life in the sense that if you do not land on a block that allows you to get a job, you will proceed as a “Fureetar”(a neo-English coined word for unemployed people) deprived of  the good salary and benefits your peers enjoy. Such is life in Japan, if you do not manage to obtain a job straight out of college, that is, if you had the advantage of going to college to begin with, you may as well consider your career over. Even more so nowadays that the number of regular employees is roughly 60 percent, a significant decline from the 85 percent in 1985. The easing of labor dispatch laws has caused this shift in job security and people are willing to put up with compromising conditions which is a breeding ground for the dark companies to flourish and a cause of the ever-growing working poor.

If you’re going to live in Japan, you might as well learn what’s up ahead, and learn to enjoy it. This game will certainly help. Good luck!

http://www.takaratomy.co.jp/products/jinsei/product/gokukara/

Samurai Fashion in New York City Until March 25th 2017

Samurais are usually known for their honor code, ever wonder what their fashion code was ?
It turns out, they had just as elaborate a fashion code when it comes to clothing too.

tonosama01fullresolutio1B1s

 

hpgrp GALLERY NEW YORK is currently holding an exhibition “Japanese Samurai Fashion”. It displays mixed media images by Japan based artist and cultural interpreter Everett Kennedy Brown. In conjunction with the March anniversary of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake the exhibition will be held from February 28th to March 25th, 2017. Using wet plate collodion photography and advanced digital techniques Brown presents a multilayered visual experience that offers uniquely fresh and powerful insight into the rich cultural tapestry of samurai fashion, as it continues to exist in the lives of the people living in Soma, Fukushima (the site of the recent nuclear disaster).

Highly recommended if you are in NYC!

About the artist: Mr. Brown is formerly the Tokyo Bureau Chief of European Pressphoto Agency, during his 25 years in Japan, Brown has been fortunate to travel extensively throughout the country and photograph many uniquely remarkable Japanese people. His work has appeared in National Geographic, GEO, The New York Times, The London Times, TIME magazine and other major media worldwide. His wet plate photographic images have been exhibited at museums and galleries worldwide and have been featured at the DAVOS summer and winter conferences.

hpgrp GALLERY NEW YORK

434 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013 (Entrance is on Vestry street)
Email: art@hpgrp.com
Url: www.hpgrpgallery.com
Hours: Tue–Sat 11 am–6 pm or by appointment

グローバルポップグループ「NOW UNITED」 ⽇本代表メンバーを! (応募締切2⽉23⽇)

スパイスガールズ、アメリカン・アイドルなど世界的アーティストを⼿掛けた

サイモン・フラーがプロデュース!!

グローバルポップグループ「NOW UNITED」の

⽇本代表メンバーオーディションを開催!!

1次審査<メール> :メールにて(応募締切2⽉23⽇)

If you're a young Japanese woman who's got talent, try your hand at joining this super global pop group. Apply by February 23rd.
If you’re a young Japanese woman who’s got talent, try your hand at joining this super global pop group. Apply by February 23rd.

株式会社XIX Entertainment (本社:ロンドン、プロデューサー:サイモン・フラー)は、世界デ

ビューを控えているグローバルポップグループ「NOW UNITED」の⽇本代表メンバーを募集するオー

ディションを、⽇本国内向けに開始いたしました。「NOW UNITED」は、スパイスガールズやアメリ

カン・アイドルなどの世界的アーティストや⾳楽番組をプロデュースし、デヴィッドとヴィクトリア

ベッカム夫妻のビジネスパートナーとして活躍してきた⾳楽業界のビジョナリー、サイモン・フラー

がプロデュースを⾏う、世界各国から選抜されたメンバーで構成されるグローバルポップグループで

す。

⽇本代表メンバーを選出する本オーディションは、⽇本の才能が溢れる16歳〜19歳の若者男⼥から⼀

名を選出し、すでにオーディションが⾏なわれた韓国や中国、イギリス、⽶国、ブラジルなどを含む

11ヶ国から集結したメンバーと⼀緒に、新しいグローバルポップグループメンバーとして夏以降のデ

ビューに向けて、レッスンやレコーディングを⾏っていきます。

 

1次審査はメールでの申し込み形式にて実施。1次審査通過者は、2⽉26⽇(⽇)に予定している2次

審査に進み、来⽇するサイモン・フラーによる直接の審査を⾏います。

グローバルポップグループ「NOW UNITED」の⽇本代表メンバーとしてデビューするチャンス

新しいグローバルのポップグループ「NOW UNITED」は既存のグループとは異なり、踊りや歌だけ

ではなく、リアルタイムでグループの⾳楽や私⽣活にアクセスできるようになるのが⼀つの特徴です。

若者が如何に熱意のある演技ができるのかがオーディションのポイントとなります。「⽇本の⾊鮮や

かでスケールの⼤きい⾳楽と踊りの世界が⼤好きで、今回のグローバルグループにもその要素を取り

⼊れることがとても⼤切だと思いました。踊れて歌えるのはもちろんのこと、それ以上に世界を舞台

に⽇本を代表できるタレントを求めています。」とサイモン・フラーもコメントしております。

 

 

●オーディション詳細および、⼀般の⽅からのお問い合わせ先

nowunited@mitsui-ag.com

2次審査<リアル> :サイモン・フラー来⽇!1次審査通過者を対象に、

2⽉26⽇(⽇)に東京で開催予定

 

<1次審査:e-mailにて申し込み>

nowunited@mitsui-ag.com へオーディション申請⽤紙と共に

写真とパフォーマンス動画(YouTubeでも可)を送信。

応募期限は2⽉23⽇まで。

ステップ2

<2次審査:サイモン・フラー来⽇リアルオーディション>

オンラインオーディション応募者の中から、選考によって選出された⽅は、2⽉25⽇、

26⽇に予定しているリアルオーディションに進み、来⽇するサイモン・フラーによっ

て直接審査を⾏います。

●オーディション詳細および、⼀般の⽅からのお問い合わせ先

MAIL : nowunited@mitsui-ag.com

【メッセージ】

なぜ「NOW UNITED」に⽇本⼈メンバーを希望しているのか?

⽇本は⾳楽にとても⼒を⼊れている国の⼀つで、ポップミュージックの最前線にいます。JポップはK

ポップが流⾏するずっと前からありました。⽇本のポップカルチャーそのものが⼤好きで、スパイス

ガールズも⽇本でローンチしたくらいです。⽇本ならではの⾳楽とファッションに対するセンスやオリ

ジナリティはとてもリスペクトしています。

⽇本のポップとダンスカルチャーは世界の舞台でどのように活かせると考えているのか?

⽇本はポップカルチャーでもダンスカルチャーでも常に最先端にいます。「NOW UNITED」はクール

でエネルギッシュな⽇本⼈メンバーなしでは成り⽴ちません。⽇本は⾳楽でもファッションでもとても

クリエイティブで、⽇本のカルチャーはグローバル規模でも影響⼒が強いと思っています。

【応募資格】

・オーディション動画の作成時の年齢が14歳から21歳の⽇本⼈男性・⼥性であること。

・合格後、アメリカ合衆国および、その他海外での活動・渡航が可能な⽅。