:: 3:AM Asia archive

Japanamerica: Anime must eventually transcend Japan ‘national’ brand published 03/03/2010

jeye2While most Japanese know of a new Disney or Pixar film by its brand first, learning of the title and story later, Americans and other non-Japanese fans of anime and manga, with a few diehard exceptions, generally have little to no awareness of the studio names behind the medium. Instead, they bounce from one title to the next, possibly pursuing an artist, but developing no sense of a studio’s character or identity, and thus no brand loyalty. Indeed, if there is a brand associated with anime and manga, it’s national. Japanese pop culture is branded as “Japan”: Cool Japan, J-Pop, and the former coinage, Japanimation.

By Roland Kelts.

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Japanamerica: The year Japan jumps the shark? published 24/01/2010

jeye2Be it Japanese pop culture, consumer electronics, flagship airlines or even national government, plug in the problems and you get the same result: a clear picture of a staggering Japan en route to irrelevance. Is it any wonder so many Japanese youth see their homeland as a hopeless enclave, plagued by has-been paradigms and unable to evolve? Why else would a dynamic culture relegate its younger resources to the margins, where they are withdrawing and shrinking away from engagement, while its neighbors race ahead on silver-streaked water skis?

By Roland Kelts.

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Japanamerica: Our hybrid future is here published 30/12/2009

jeye2Hybridization has been the subject of this column from its inception. Since then, the United States has elected its first biracial president, and Asian influence continues to expand in the West. Being mixed remains a mixed blessing. Never at ease in one land or the other, you live in limbo, half this and half that. But perhaps that’s the best place to be as we enter the second decade of the 21st century, where paradigms and climates are changing faster than we can process them…Neither here nor there. Get used to it.

By Roland Kelts.

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If You Want Blood (You’ve Got It): An Interview with Koji Shiraishi published 29/11/2009

I wanted to make something that was impressive, and then the producer said, “I want you to make something horribly violent, so violent that it almost can’t be shown”, as these were my orders, I embraced the challenge of making something stirring and emotional while portraying extreme violence. I wanted to portray people who withstood as much one-sided merciless violence as possible, who were unable to fight back, but who never entirely succumbed, not even in the end. I was also, as a director, interested in portraying the feelings of one who’d commit such crimes, so I didn’t want to abandon that angle. I thought merging these two things would be interesting.

By David F. Hoenigman.

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Japanamerica: Hairy-faced Americans & spindly-legged Japanese published 22/11/2009

jeye2Among the displays of early encounters between the Japanese and Americans, I focused on the graphics – numerous mangalike watercolor portraits of big-nosed, hairy-faced Americans with long legs and vast heads of wild hair wandering amid lean, spindly-legged Japanese. One sequence is particularly memorable: American soldiers laughing at a display of Japanese strength, featuring two sumo wrestlers grappling on a beach, and a subsequent portrait of a sumo wrestler flipping an American soldier over his shoulder – eliciting laughter from all on hand.

Roland Kelts on America’s first Pacific president.

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Red Leaves: Kirk Marshall published 27/10/2009

What I realised is that the most effective scheme to attract a broader readership was to appeal to overseas markets or models which are successful: people who read what I write tend to either be inhibited less by the unadventurous corporatisation of their immediate publishing circles, or be living overseas. If Australia and Japan both oppose transgressive writing, then let’s at least double my audience by tailoring a journal to the fringe communities of both societies to enhance the magazine’s capacity for success! This is where the bi-lingual focus became imperative to my concept for the journal…

An interview with Kirk Marshall by David Hoenigman.

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3:AM Asia: Japan’s music-makers in America published 23/10/2009

jeye2There are just a handful of precedents in today’s American music business: Yoko Ono (via John Lennon), Shonen Knife, Puffy AmiYumi. And for eclectic listeners, The Boredoms. Japanese pop music hasn’t survived the flight to the United States well, despite the twin successes of anime and manga. “Today, without anime soundtracks, we’re nothing,” a New York-based Sony promoter said to me. “We need to [move beyond] anime.” Is that possible? The United States is large, much larger than most Japanese understand, and brutally diverse. Like Puffy AmiYumi did, Japanese acts need to tour – and tour hard.

By Roland Kelts.

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Channeling Chaos – An Interview with Sion Sono published 28/07/2009

3am-sion-sonoActually, today’s criminal acts, it’s always – no reason why. Young people did it, this book (Lords of Chaos) for example, or Columbine – normal people couldn’t understand why they did it. So, the Lords of Chaos story is old, but still relevant. I hope that this film is not only nostalgic or historical (for black metal fans) but also sheds light on modern problems (for everyone). Wherever it happens – young people’s mysterious (extreme) actions.

By David F. Hoenigman.

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Four Poems Japanese published 12/07/2009


Once just one more visible visitor
In the frantic, epicanthic broth,
It’s been four years for me now
Lost in this fold of Asia.

It swallows, you know?
It tunes you out, Tokyo,
This glittering jewel
Of people and people,
This distant dream, but…

By Matthew Peipert.

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A Genuine Enslavement of the Attention published 08/07/2009

The fliers proudly state, “a night of pushing the envelope of music, literature and dance.” So music is a big focus. Especially experimental music. I like the term “experimental” because it has such a broad meaning. I like bands and musicians who push themselves beyond what is classifiable into areas of chaos and of-thyself type honesty. Any genre is fine as long as the artists convey a willingness to drive the school bus off a cliff. Dangerously tottering solo sets are good, massive swarms of clang are good, visual gimmickry is good, sexy is good, freak folk is good, death metal, candypop noise, costume changes, avant-garde stylings, makeshift instruments, a certain aura, uncertainty, bravery, fear, etc.

David F. Hoenigman explains PYT.

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