• Important characters from Z Gundam.

    Important characters from Z Gundam.

    Every mecha fan eventually reaches a point where he (or she) contemplates Tomino’s classic sci-fi anime shows. The potent concoctions of drama and tragedy mixed with epic casts of characters and intricate political maneuvers draw so many of us. After the roller coaster ride is finished we’re left wondering what to make of it all. Why did Camille Bidan, after so heroically defending his friends, have to end up as a vegetable at the end of Zeta Gundam? Why did everyone – I mean everyone – have to die in Dunbine and Ideon? This article is one mecha fan’s attempt to explain what Tomino may have been trying to get across to his viewers. Although what follows is the speculation of a fan from the wrong side of the Pacific Ocean I don’t believe that themes in anime are impossible for non-Japanese to understand. I’ll need to discuss some ideas from Japanese culture but what anime fan isn’t also a student of Japanese culture? Read more…

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  • fandom, Japan, mecha 30.10.2009 2 Comments

    John Funk has written an interesting piece at The Escapist on mecha in contemporary Japanese culture. It’s worth a read but, as mine did, your mileage may vary. Among other things, the article claims that the Japanese love Gundam more than any other mecha series. I think it’s the author’s own love of Gundam and the fact that Gundam has a larger commercial entity behind it than any other mecha series that is leading this observation. Still, the article has some interesting facts and is well worth your time to read.

  • Japan, mecha 21.09.2009 No Comments
    Chars Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam

    Char's Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam

    Tokyo-based Bitec Global Japan makes false teeth and they’ve decided new job applicants should prove their skill by building and painting a model of Char’s Zaku II from Mobile Suit Gundam. Want to work in dentistry? Better brush up your model building!

    Anime News Network translated the information from Mainichi Shimbun‘s Web site.

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  • Japan, mecha 18.09.2009 No Comments
    But will it make the cut for the next World Cup?

    But will it make the cut for the next World Cup?

    An inventor in Japan has created a robot that can play soccer. No, you don’t have to worry about World Cup being taken over by robots (although I’d start watching it if that happened). The main point here is to show that robots can be endowed with a sense of balance. I have heard many English speakers talk about how to advance artificial intelligence but I’m glad the Japanese have a keen focus on where that artificial intelligence will live: a mechanical body.

    The inventor talks about how he’s a Gundam fan but look at the robot’s head. Looks like he’s a Gurren Lagann fan too!

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  • Video Daikaiju is a company in Succasunna, New Jersey that sells live-action Japanese movies and TV shows on DVD. I just ordered 5 Godzilla movies from them and I can recommend them for their great product.  They have a large catalog full of science-fiction and fantasy movies from Japan with English subtitles.  They have every Godzilla movie ever made.  Their selection of Japanese TV shows is really impressive but most of these are not subtitled.  Alas, my quest for a subtitled copy of Ultra Seven on DVD isn’t over yet.

    In order to see Video Daikaiju’s catalog you have to send them $2 and wait for it to come in the mail.  It’s a shame they haven’t put their catalog on their Web site yet.  Hopefully they’ll take care of that soon.  If you’re curious to see any of Toho’s classic sci-fi movies then Video Daikaiju are the people you want to talk to.

  • Japan 04.04.2009 No Comments
    The main entrance

    The main entrance

    Fushimi Inari Taisha is a large shinto shrine complex in southern Kyoto. Here it is on the map. It began in the 8th century to revere Inari, the god of the rice harvest. Inari has always been an important god. Few (if any) images were ever created of him and he uses foxes as his messengers. The foxes acting on Inari’s behalf are even called Inari. Read more…

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  • Japan 03.04.2009 No Comments
    The main entrance

    The main entrance

    Kiyomizu Dera (Kiyomizu Temple) could be called the premier temple of Kyoto. Here it is on the map. This Buddhist temple was first built in AD 798 and devoted to the deity that resided within an 11-headed Kanon statue. The current buildings were built in 1633 under orders from Tokugawa Iemitsu. It is a large temple complex that holds several famous sites and contains a good-sized shinto shrine. If you have time to only see one temple in Kyoto this would be it. Read more…

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  • Japan 15.03.2009 4 Comments
    Tokyo City Hall. The observation deck at the top is worth a visit!

    Tokyo City Hall. The observation deck at the top is worth a visit!

    I am tired of hearing Tokyo called an ugly city. In guide books, newspapers and travel Web sites I am constantly seeing people badmouth the aesthetics of the people of Tokyo. I first saw Tokyo in 1991 and most recently in 2006 I’ve lived there for periods of time on several occasions. Tokyo is a clean, beautiful, interesting city and does not at all deserve the bad rap it has received internationally. Read more…

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  • Japan 14.03.2009 No Comments
    The front entrance

    The front entrance

    In Nihombashi, Tokyo I found the flagship store for Mitsukoshi, a chain of department stores in Japan. Here it is on the map. Mitsukoshi is the oldest still-operating department store company in the world. It was founded in 1673 with the shop name “Echigoya.” Ten years later, Echigoya took a new approach to marketing. Instead of selling by going door-to-door, they set up a store where buyers could purchase goods. They must have known what they were doing because their flagship store is simply amazing. Read more…

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  • Mecha fan Ollie Barder of the UK has written a new article about mecha video games titled Bushido and Beamsabers. It’s recommended reading.