The JICC: Japan Information & Culture Center Embassy of Japan is excited to present a virtual screening in honor of Children's Dayon May 5! This is also the first time we are presenting an anthology of Japanese short films with English audioso that younger audience members can enjoy our special program as well. Registration on Eventbrite is open to all.
Image Courtesy of Sozai Library
Studio Ponoc, the new animation studio founded by two-time Academy Award®-nominee Nishimura Yoshiaki (The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, When Marnie Was There) and featuring many artists from the venerable Studio Ghibli, made an immediate splash last year with its acclaimed debut film Mary and The Witch's Flower.
Studio Ponoc returns this year with Modest Heroes: Ponoc Short Films Theatre, Volume 1, an ambitious anthology of three thrilling tales created by some of the greatest talents working in Japanese animation today.
Together, the stories explore ideas of heroism in everyday life, and the infinite potential of the short film format allows the directors and Studio Ponoc to experiment with breathtaking visuals and gorgeous fantasy worlds in this unforgettable short film showcase.
With English Audio | PG | 2018 | 54 min | Directed by YONEBAYASHI Hiromasa, MOMOSE Yoshiyuki, and YAMASHITA Akihiko
"These are all truly stories of modest heroes, their little braveries filling the screen..."
— Austin Chronicle
Viewers will also receive a digital JICC educational packet with fun activities they can try at home with their children!
This event is free and open to the public, however registration through EventBrite is required in order to receive an exclusive access code to the virtual screening via follow-up email.A digital JICC educational packet with activities will also be included.
Cosplay, by Arlington author Lauren Orsini was published this year, and is featured in Barnes and Noble. This photo is from the Falls Church store.
Orsini has long been active in anime and manga fandom, and worked for some years with Anime USA. This book was done on contract, and she wrote about it on her blog under the title, "Writing a book in seven weeks."
There she noted, "It's quickly becoming apparent that the actual writing part of the book is going to be a cakewalk compared to getting the photos in order. I didn't write a word of the book this week. Instead I spent my time organizing the cosplay photos my publisher has already given me, plus searching for and contacting talented cosplay photographers all over the world."
By week 5 the writing was becoming the focus, "...I've reordered the sections in a way that feels good to me (now they're all focusing on a genre, with the final chapter on original costuming)..."
She told ComicsDC, "Traditionally publishing a book isn't easy or lucrative, but it's an experience unlike any other. People have sent me photos of my book from places like California, Florida, and New York. I'm really grateful to Carlton Limited and Sterling Publishing for giving me this opportunity."
"...one of the most ambitious of all anime productions, a visually sensational two-hour extravaganza." -Roger Ebert
Come join us for the film that launched the careers of dozens of Japan's animation superstars - including Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) and Yoshiyuki Sadamoto (Neon Genesis Evangelion, Summer Wars, Wolf Children) - and put Studio Gainax on the map as one of Japan's premiere production houses.
The Royal Space Force is established in Honnêamise - a fictional kingdom on a fictional planet. Although the force boasts 30 years of history, they haven't been able to achieve solid results; people and the government have given up on them, seeing the force as a burden.
Shirotsugh Lhadatt, the protagonist, is a member of the Royal Space Force, which far from their dreams have gone into idleness. One day, Shirotsugh meets Riqunni, a religious girl, and his destiny drastically changes, leading him to volunteer to be a space pilot...
This film is unrated and contains some scenes of violence and sexual situations. Viewer discretion is advised.
Japan. Where else would an anime- and manga-loving
fifteen-year old choose?
Erin chose Japan to
visit, out of anywhere in the world, for her special fifteen-year old
Mom-daughter trip. That’s how we came to
visit in late June and early July. Japan is a paradise for lovers of the
graphic and comic arts. We went into a drug store and Erin recognized a manga
character on a package of razors. Snoopy and Betty Boop were commonly-found
American comics characters (Tokyo Skytree Snoopy, anyone?). Every town, village, or attraction
we visited had its own cartoon mascot (known as a yuru-kyara). Even the remote
village of Koya-san, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded in 805 A.D. as the
center of Shingon Buddhism that took us a bullet train, two separate rail lines,
and a cable car to reach, had a yuru-kyara (it looks like a Buddhist mushroom).
There are yuru-kyara for causes like recycling. At least one Japanese prison has them. (In 2013 a Guinness World
Record was set for the most number of people dressed as yuru-kyara dancing together.
Because apparently that’s a Guinness World Record category.)
We had great
experience traveling in Japan, and we saw three things in particular that may
interest readers of this blog: The Kyoto International Manga Museum, the Studio
Ghibli Museum outside Tokyo, and the Moomin House Café in Tokyo.
International Manga Museum is set up as part traditional museum with informative
displays, and part reading and research library. They have lectures, workshops,
and classes. The building, while not large by Washington, DC museum standards,
is an old schoolhouse and is interesting in its own right. There is a café and a
small museum shop.
Their collection entails
nearly 300,000 items related to manga, according to the museum. To Erin and me,
the more impressive part of the museum was the reading library aspect. They have about 200 meters (about 650 feet)
worth of shelving holding nearly 50,000 manga volumes. This photo of Erin
browsing the books shows how the manga is accessible and available to grab from
the shelves. [photo 2 – Erin browsing Manga
Museum shelves] I’m not sure how you get
to the higher levels in this picture – I didn’t see a ladder – but they were
not behind glass. There were manga volumes available to read on all three
floors of the museum. They had manga from around the world - also available to
pull from the shelves to read - but ComicsDC editor Mike was not impressed with their North
American selection [photo 3 – Manga from Around the World].
They have very
affordable annual passes for kids that allow unlimited visits - about US$12 for
elementary aged children and US$36 for middle and high school aged children
(US$60 for you adults). I had read online before visiting that lots of school
children go there to hang out after school and read manga. They have a
children’s reading room that is comfortable and nice. We were there at a time that was most likely
during their school day (when isn’t it during the school day for a Japanese
student, with their cram schools and such?) and there were only a few kids. There
were mostly Japanese adults there, men and women. Seniors even. Manga in Japan
is truly for everyone.
One neat thing you
can do at the museum is get a manga portrait of yourself done. Erin and I sat
down together for a portrait and I’m so glad we did. It’s one of my favorite
souvenirs from the whole trip. [photo 4 – Anime Karla and Anime Erin] The
artist was Nakahara Kasumi. The lettering at the top in purple and blue is our
names spelled out in Japanese phonetically. It’s funny to me that she drew Erin
flashing the peace sign. Erin did not pose that way. Instead it was a flourish
Kasumi added -- and I know exactly why. It’s because whenever you see Japanese
school children – and we saw this all over in Japan – taking a photo of each
other at a shrine, a temple, in the city, anywhere, they always, and I mean
ALWAYS, pose flashing a peace sign. Boys, girls, teens, kindergartners. Every kid,
every time in photos. It was cute that she drew Erin that way too.
Studio Ghibli is
familiar to any fan of Hayao Miyazaki’s animated films. The Studio Ghibli
Museum is an amazing place. It is lovely and understated and touching and
beautiful, just like the movies. It just might be the sweetest place on Earth.
It is a place for children, like a less commercial, less saccharine Disney
World. There were lots of small doors and low windows and displays. But it is
also a place that adults who like Ghibli movies will appreciate as well.
were no photos allowed inside the museum, so these photos are all outside.
There were so many details to discover, like the soot sprite window in the
Totoro ticket booth that greets you at the entrance [photo 5 – Karla at Totoro
ticket booth], all the beautiful stained glass windows with Ghibli characters
and scenes, the Jiji-shaped (the cat from Kiki’s
Delivery Service) faucet handle on a sink outside, the art
nouveau/steampunk water fountain and bench. Mayazaki’s movies so effectively
use scene to create a mood, and so does the Ghibli Museum. The style of the
museum is an odd-sounding English country/steampunk/art nouveau mix that
somehow melds together in an evocative and beautiful way.
Inside the museum
were displays about animation and the creative process for the Ghibli team.
There was a FULL-SIZED plush catbus that kids could play on (but only young kids-
don’t for a second think we weren’t jealous!). I sure do wish I could have
gotten a picture of that! We saw a short film that is only shown at the Ghibli
Museum called Mei and the Kittenbus,
based on the My Neighbor Totoro
characters. The film was about Mei, a baby catbus, and Totoro, and it was sweet
and touching and fun. I’m going to tell you a secret we learned in the movie,
and it is the most wonderful thing: there are more catbuses besides the My Neighbor Totoro one! In the movie not
only was there was a kittenbus, but there was also a bullet train catbus and a
steam ship catbus! (Or should that be catbullettrain and catsteamship? At any
rate, it was FANTASTIC!)
The Ghibli Museum
restaurant is a real treat in and of itself [photo 6 – Totoro at The Straw Hat
Café]. We waited for about 45 minutes to get in, but once we did it was all
worth it. The style inside the restaurant, called The Straw Hat Café, is
particularly English country. The food was served on adorable dishware with
Ghibli characters and embellished with Ghibli flags [photo 7 and photo 8 – The
Straw Hat Café food]. If you go and want to take home the cute flags, save them
from your food because they sell them at the restaurant for $6 for a set of
four! On the patio outside the restaurant, they sell beer that is only
available at the Ghibli Museum [photo 9- Ghibli beer] – which, unfortunately
for my husband, I couldn’t take home unopened.
If you are in Japan
and at all a fan of Studio Ghibli films or of design, I highly recommend the
Studio Ghibli Museum. One note, though: you cannot walk up and buy your tickets
at the museum. You must purchase them in advance. I was heartbroken to tell a
Swedish family we met in another part of Japan who were headed next to Tokyo
and who had an interest in visiting the museum that I had purchased the tickets
two months before our trip. Locals can buy tickets in stores like Lawson’s, but
if you are planning to travel there you should definitely buy them before your
trip. In the US you can buy tickets through the travel agency JTP USA.
While getting tickets does take some advance planning, ticket are not expensive
compared to American theme park experiences (I’m looking at you, Disney!):
US$19 for adults and cheaper for younger ages. Also be aware that the films
change; they have a rotating array of short films shown only at the Ghibli
Museum, and it’s not always Mei and the
Kittenbus that is showing.
One Studio Ghibli
footnote from our trip that shows what Ghibli films can mean for the Japanese:
we had a wonderful visit to a hot springs bath village called Shibu Onsen in
the “Japanese Alps” in Nagano. The village was very old with all wooden
buildings. It had nine different hot springs baths that you could visit for free
if you were staying in one of the inns in the village. Picture traditional
wooden Japanese architecture, narrow cobblestone streets, and being able to
walk from one end of the village to the other in about ten minutes. Our
innkeeper was a lovely woman named Keiko, and when we checked out of the inn she
noticed the Totoro paper fan I was holding that I had gotten at the Studio
Ghibli gift shop. With delight, she asked if Erin and I knew the film
. Finally we
realized she was asking about Spirited
Away! If you’ve seen it, you know it is a film about adventures that happen
in and around a traditional Japanese style bathhouse. Keiko shared with us that
the film is very meaningful for people in her village because it features the
culture around baths that exist in Japan, and because that bath culture is such
a big part of her village. She excused herself and went back into her office to
get something. When she came out she was carrying a figure of No-Face from the
movie! We posed with her and No-Face for a picture in front of her inn before
saying goodbye. [photo 10 – Keiko, No Face, Karla, and Erin in Shibu Onsen]
Moomin House Café, Tokyo [photo 11 – outside of Moomin House
Located inside the Tokyo
Skytree shopping complex,
the Moomin House Café is an absolute delight for fans of the graphic arts in
general or of Tove Jansson’s series of books for children about the Moomin family in particular. Jansson
illustrated the books herself, creating an array of interesting and
personality-laden characters. The Japanese are very big fans of the Moomin
books, which I knew before visiting Japan. When I heard there were Moomin cafes
there, I knew we had to go.
The food is prepared
in the most kawaii way! [photo 12 – Moomin House Café
menu] All the food, both sweet and
savory, is prepared including shapes from the Moomin universe. We ordered
dessert there: Hattifattener madeleine and pudding in a souvenir mug for Erin
[photo 13 – Hattifattener madeleine and pudding in a souvenir mug] and a
whopper of an assembled dessert for me that including Hattifattener and
Moomin-shaped cookies and a Moominhouse cake [photo 14 – Crazy Moomin
dessert]. It was almost too kawaii to
eat. Almost. J At one point when I had gotten up to go look around at the
gift shop, the waitress came and set the Snork Maiden down next to Erin. You
can see Little My in the background, sitting at the neighboring table. Like
everywhere else in Japan, service was excellent, and the servers at the Moomin
House Café made sure that all the customers had a guest Moomin family member at
their table at one point or another during their meal.
We had our share of
other great experiences. Visiting temples and gardens. Eating excellent sushi.
Riding the super-efficient, super-clean, super-awesome bullet trains. Going to
cat cafes (it’s a thing in Tokyo). Scratching our heads at the Robot
Restaurant and at all the
people wearing surgical masks. But even visiting these three places alone I
think made the trip worthwhile for an anime- and manga-loving fifteen year old,
and her mom as well.
Karla Hagan teaches physics by day and
only occasionally has a comics blogger alter ego (ok, never before). She is
totally qualified to write this blog post by virtue of living three doors down
from Mike. The comics are strong with