Giant Robot Store and GR2 News

Pal Shohei is exhibiting new illustrations at Tokyo’s Carhartt Store, November 17 – 25. With his intricate ballpoint pen work, Shohei’s managed to carve out some interesting territory and avoid being overshadowed by his superstar dad. I’ve seen Shohei’s work up close a couple times, and it really does defy description. I won’t get near a piece of paper without an eraser in hand, but Shohei does this stuff start-to-finish in ink, with no revision. Not for the faint of heart. Highly recommended! Carhartt WIP presents SHOHEI Exhibition -Layered- 2012.11.17 (Sat.) – 2012.11.25 (Sun.) at Carhartt Store Tokyo Jingumae 4-28-25, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo More information here. Shohei’s HP here.
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Otomo Katsuhiro‘s movie, Akira, was my gateway to anime as a teen. Due to this, I was giddier than a kid on a sugar rush when the day came to visit his latest exhibition at the 3331 Chiyoda Arts gallery in Akihabara. Most of the tickets were already sold out because it was the beginning of Golden Week when I attempted purchase passes from the nearest kiosk at Lawson’s. Fortunately, I managed to buy tickets during the latest time slot before the museum closed. The date was set. My friend and I arrived at the gallery an hour before our time slot. A small park was neighbored its entrance and Chiyoda Arts was apparently a Junior High School before it was renovated into what you see now. We lined up and entered the gallery shortly after our appointed time slot ticked into place. The exhibit itself was a brightly lit chamber painted with white with music from composer Haishima Kuniaki‘s album, Καρδια, playing eerily in the background. Unfortunately, no photographs were allowed so we couldn’t take any pictures until the “Motorcycle Display.” A few foreign visitors stood out amidst the crowd who undoubtedly were introduced to the medium through Otomo’s work like myself. Sketches and paintings from Otomo-san’s art book, Kaba and Kaba2, were on display and unlike his films, a majority of the pieces featured from Kaba and Kaba2 were lightheartedly strange and semi-cutesey depictions of animals. Others were of sketches from mangas penned by him that I haven’t even heard of up until today. It was different from the Otomo-san that I knew. Of course, drawing, sketches, and paintings from his landmark films: Memories, Steamboy, Akira, and many others. I can’t say for certain because fine arts (as a profession) isn’t my forte, but on closer inspection, a good deal of them appeared to use water color as a medium. It was impressive to see how much detail that he invested into the pieces crafted by his own hands. Print media barely did the originals any justice. Next was the exhibit room with the original panels for the Akira manga in all their totality. Yup. Every panel from all 6 volumes was on display in their unvarnished splendor. The number of pages for each book was so immense that they had to stack them row upon row on “shelf wires” suspended through the display case for visitors to see. The room after that was arguably the main event. For a donation of 500 yen, visitors had an opportunity to don a replica of Kaneda’s jacket from the manga and sit inside a reconstruction of his motorcycle with pages of the manga garnishing its display. A crater rendering a scene from one of his mangas adorned the back of the room. In addition to that, graffiti drawing from visitors plastered a section of the wall in tribute to the event. It was the only part of the exhibit where visitors were allowed to take photos. At the end of...
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As previously posted on GR, I made several trips to the northern countryside of Japan in the days and weeks following the disaster of 3/11. And, though the intent of these ragtag “missions,” was primarily humanitarian, I took many photos along the way, posting them with my reports on these pages. I recently culled the most evocative of those shots for display at the 12th incarnation of the always delightful Nippon Connection Japanese Film Festival, held last week in Frankfurt. Going through these images was difficult and, needless to say, brought back some very sad memories. What a year. GR readers will have seen many of these images before, but here they are (again) as collected for their recent showing at the festival. I know many among you are probably experiencing disaster burnout, but I think it’s worth having another look, and pausing to contemplate the awesome power of nature and, indeed, the transience of our own existence. From Tokyo, m All photos copyright © 2012 Michael Arias. All rights reserved.
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Ramping up for its gala opening next month, developers this week gave domestic and foreign journos a heart-stopping over quarter-mile ride up, up, way up to the observation level of Japan’s latest entry into the ongoing “biggest and longest” competition among industrialized nations ~ the 634-meter-tall (2,080 feet) Tokyo SkyTree. White-knuckled reporters boarded the SkyTree’s high-speed elevators with nervous smiles and waited a minute and 20 seconds to be lifted to the imposing tower’s observation level 1,476-feet above the metropolis. Earthquake’s? The Skytree survived last March’s 9.0 with no damage. The SkyTree has a restaurant and two cafes on the observation decks, a vertigo-inducing glass floor that lets vomitous visitors look straight down and an emergency staircase with 2,523 steps just in case you’re in the mood for a workout. Yomiuri Shimbun has video of the high-level junket (in Japanese but the flyover footage really doesn’t need translating) and HuffPo has a writeup and a slideshow.
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Greetings from Chicago

Tim Hugh, one man bandleader of the Chicago Asian American Film Festival

This is Tim Hugh and his dog Helga in his kitchen in Chicago. Tim has run the only Asian American Indie Film Fest (i.e. no “imports”) for 12 of the 17 years that it’s been in existence. In this picture, he’s a one man bandleader- running it solo, something I can relate to as a solo musician. I’m in town to promote my film “Daylight Savings” which premiered at SXSW this year, and will be the opening night film this year. Joining me at the screening will be Michael Aki who plays my cousin in the film. I met Mike at this very festival in 2010 when he was showing his films Sunsets that he directed with Eric Nakamura, and his Film Noir tribute “Strangers”

I asked Tim a bunch of questions:

Goh: Why is this festival important?

Tim: It’s one of the only festivals that shows only Asian American films; produced, directed and/or about the Asian American experience. In the midwest more so than the coastal states, you’re constantly asked that stupid question “Where are you from?”… so it’s important to help define what being Asian and American is.

I’m a fourth generation Chinese American. In the midwest, it’s usually under the assumption that you’re just “Asian”… and not “Asian American.” When I see Causasian people I don’t ask them “are you from Poland? are you European?” I just see them for who they are, not what they look like.

Goh: How did you get involved in the festival?

Tim: I was just a fan of the band Seam, and Sooyoung Park, Ben Kim and Billy Shin started the festival in 1995 after they released the Ear of the Dragon CD, which was the first Asian American Rock Compliation. I’d always go and watch everything I could. I’d never seen films like this before; Asian American characters that spoke like me; the actors weren’t forced to speak with a bad accent. I could relate to these images and characters that I was seeing at this festival.

I became obsessed and would watch everything I could, whether it be a feature, documentary, or shorts program. I just wanted to see as much as I could, because I knew I’d never get a chance to see these movies again. Plus, being able to meet the directors and hear them speak about their films was one of the coolest things for me. I remember hanging out with Justin Lin, back when he was just a shorts director.

They noticed me being there year after year, and began to recognize me. Eventually, they would ask me to do little things like hand out program booklets, take tickets, watch the table, and take pictures during the Q&A’s. Basically, I became a volunteer. I remember standing there back in the day giving out Giant Robot magazines!

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