Capsule Review & Commentary: Night is Short, Walk on Girl

Director: Masaaki Yuasa

Animation Production: Science SARU

Music: Michiru Oshima

Genres: Supernatural, Comedy

Season: Spring 2017

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Post-Disaster ‘Cool Japan’ | Kimi no Na wa: Cultural Identity, Modernity & Restorative Nostalgia

The slogan ‘Cool Japan’ was first used by the Japanese government in reference to its nation-branding projects back in 2005. Since then, the Cool Japan phenomenon has become a site of intensive focus for scholars in Japanese studies, particularly from the points of view of popular culture and creative industries (e.g. Sugiyama 2006, Dinnie 2009, Fujita 2011) and nationalism and nation-building (e.g. Iwabuchi 2007, 2008) (Valaskivi, 2013). Indeed, such saturated focus on this phenomenon has covered extensive and ripe ground from relatively regional frameworks, which examined its impact within Japan, as well as Japan’s influence within the East Asia sphere. In turn, Katja Valaskivi proposed to extend its study paradigms by contextualising Cool Japan through the transnationally circulating practice of nation branding. And thus with this essay, I will approach the study of the Cool Japan branding project by extending upon Valaskivi’s frameworks in her paper ‘Cool Japan and the social imaginary of the branded nation’; and by extension Taylor’s concept of the social imaginary (Taylor, 2002), through their integration into a semiotic and cinematic analysis of director Makoto Shinkai’s 2016 anime film ‘Kimi no Na wa’ (will be referred to as ‘Your Name’ from now on), which I argue will introduce unique observations that may ground Cool Japan’s main circulating features; namely 1) nation branding, 2) the concept of ‘Cool’ and 3) the idea of ‘essential Japanese values’, within a diverse collection of symbols, message streams and candid imagery that can be better appreciated and more readily understood.

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Terrace House: Visualising ‘Asian Modernity’

Social television and by extension, popular media, forms a central reflective lens through which one can observe and debate the general assumptions of cosmopolitanism in the contemporary Global Internet age. The frameworks of argument presented by Youna Kim in her exploration of the Korean Wave (with a particular focus on TV dramas) are grounded within understanding the discursive construction of an ‘East Asian Popular Culture’ (Chua, 2004), as well as exploring the shifting of the cultural export tides, as global awareness and appreciation for Asian media expands.

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Inner Life of Character | Helen Garner’s ‘Postcards from Surfers’

A self-invented definition for ‘character’ I always liked is ‘a personality, an expressive potential’ that can be harnessed through prose. A character’s effectiveness in narrative is defined by their expression of inner dimension. The layering of character would thus draw one’s attention to how a personality is molded through prose.

The inner life of a character.

And it is precisely this potential of personified liveliness that helps the story develop alongside the organic expansion of the character’s crafted persona. There is after all, a very favourable difference between an authentic character and a vehicle of plot that has lines of dialogue and scripts of action already predetermined within a story, at least according to Noah Lukeman when he wrote about characterisation. Lukeman stressed that the internal sense of self an author crafts for a character should act as the catalyst for the story. Their instinctual, compulsions and internal thought processes are just some ingredients that guides a character’s distinct liveliness.

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Ghibli in the Cinemas: Totoro Premiere & The Story of the Hoarder

I’m actually not sure how I should tell this story for you. Is this just a collection of conventional thoughts on films, or am I supposed to frame this more as another one of my Tale Time entries? (Haven’t done one those in a while huh…)

Going to the cinema and watching a film works in conjunction when it comes to me recalling experiences for a blog post. Experiences never exist in voids, they meld and influence each other. Perhaps this is why I find it so difficult to write straight up film or TV series reviews, whether I watched it alone at home, or with a group of people. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that half the fun of watching a Summer blockbuster copy-and-paste explosion fest is the environment of a filled-out cinema, with some 400 people reacting to the same things you are.

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Funomenal Rear-view Contemplation: Best of Film & Game Music 2017

You know…I went into starting this post with snippets of ideas for the intro: something snappy, a humorously depressing comment on 2017, and end it with a cheesy flavour of hope. But instead…I ended up with this.

I think I’ve sampled more albums than I ever did in 2017: more varieties of artists both old favourites and new discoveries, an increasingly diverse set of classical repertoires, genres and origins. That comes with good news and bad news, and I think the good news is kinda obvious already. But the bad news: I’ve listened to less albums COMPLETELY than the past two years, since there’s always something I want to jump onto prematurely.

Nevertheless, I think it’s best I keep up this tradition of massive yearly reviews, where I get to highlight the world of background music, and to continue bastardising this idiotic concept that such music ‘shouldn’t be noticed’.

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Violet Evergarden’s Opening Act | Mechanical Rigidity vs. Fluid Temporality

I want to start by talking about a single shot in Violet Evergarden’s debuting episode.

Violet’s reflection in the clock implies two things: her current state of mind, as well as certain potential, if one takes into account Violet’s first real display of agency in this scene.

A clock as a tool for telling time is mechanical and rigid by nature, its function defined by a single need. Violet was a child soldier who has known nothing but to take orders and acting on them: her function defines her, encroaching her behind a transparent cage.

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Ori and the Will of the Wisps Trailer: A Short Note on Affect

Like it or not, trailers are an art form. And like any art form, the contested validity of their societal worth is often the only framework of discussion that floats among the mainstream. Contemporary culture’s love for ‘what comes next’, makes for a very horrible environment for any sort of expressive ‘fad’ to gain recognition, especially when such a culture is sandwiched with the famed slots of the ‘timeless few’, which have already been filled with the likes of Star Wars, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter and Tolkien.

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