Jumbo Machinder collector "Nekrodave" (who also contributed imagery to Yokai Attack!) found these specimens of Dangard Ace around the world. The original Japanese version is at top left. Witness Dangard's de-resolution as it was successively bootlegged in Italy (top middle), Peru (top right) and Argentina (bottom row). Aside from the official version, which came out in 1978, it's nearly impossible to date when these came out. One would assume the late Seventies and early Eighties.
By the time Dangard hit South America, he'd obviously seen better days, but it's still amazing to see the penetration of anime characters into the farthest reaches of the globe decades before the "Japan Cool" phenomenon.
Originally published in 1967, the Kaiju Zukai Nyumon ("An Illustrated Introduction to Giant Monsters") is finally back on the shelves of Japanese bookstores. "Practically every man in his forties today -- including Crown Prince Naruhito, born in 1960 -- looked at this volume as a child," wrote Takashi Murakami of the book in the catalog for the "Little Boy" exhibition. Reissued after a decades-long hiatus by Shogakukan, stuffed full of amazing illustrations of the innards of kaiju from the Ultraman series, Kaiju Zukai Nyumon is a legend, a cornerstone of the otaku aesthetic, and an absolute pleasure to read.
The book is the crown jewel in the career of Shoji Otomo (1936 - 1973), a magazine editor and tireless proponent of Japanese science fiction until his untimely death at age 36 from a prescription drug reaction. His meticulously detailed illustrations, which resemble those from an actual biology textbook, are a perfect crystallization of the off-the-wall mix of seriousness and playfulness that characterize Showa era kids' entertainment. They also laid the groundwork for an entire aesthetic in Japan: the inevitable super-realistic cutaway illustrations of famous giant robots and vehicles so common during the Seventies and Eighties are direct descendants of Otomo's brainchild. If any single book embodies the glory of an era when giant monsters ruled the airwaves, this is it. Buy it now!
Good news! The fine folks at Jap Inc., clothiers to legions of tokusatsu heroes/bad guys and owners of Kichijoji's finest metalhead hangout Bar Jap, have opened a new joint. The suspiciously familiarly logo-ed Rock Star Cafe can be found right outside Inokashira Park and also doubles as a rental gallery. Chances that "Chinese Democracy" is playing there this very second approach 100%.
Interesting article in yesterday's Nikkei Shimbun, Japan's equivalent of the Wall Street Journal. Entitled "Kuuru Jyapan no Yuuutsu" ("The Melancholy of Cool Japan"), it paints a bleak portrait of the domestic video game industry, noting that the top two video game companies worldwide (EA and Activision-Blizzard) are now foreign. Even more to the point is the domestic market's sluggish growth in spite of a near doubling of the size of the market abroad.
Once Japanese-made games ruled arcades and television screens. What happened?
Translator pal Alex Smith (he of the Phoenix Wright and the Final Fantasy series, perhaps you've heard of them) addressed the chronic complaint in this industry -- lack of exercise due to being chained to one's PC -- by bolting together this McGuyver-esque contraption consisting of a treadmill and a voice-activated MacBookPro. Now the kids can get their damn TV games in English without Alex destroying his body in the process. (If only I were so lucky.)
A shell fired from an M16 was discovered among the fragments of the ill-fated helicopter...
Oh, man, remember this? Golgo 13: Top Secret Episode for the NES! The droning musical score, the impenetrable storyline, the shooting of random pedestrians and mototcyclists, Duke Togo in all his pixellated glory... It's all here just like I remember it. It doesn't play any better now than it did when I was a kid -- actually, few words describe the sheer tedium and suckitude of this game, save perhaps for "tedium" and "suckitude" -- but in its own weird way, it was a ray of sunshine for an anime-obsessed kid who couldn't get his hands on the actual show at the time.