Nakamura Yusuke production, absolutely amazing illustrations.
Asian Kung-fu Generation music video – New World (Atarashii Sekai)

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Google Earth Project

October 28, 2009

Park Amsterdam, not really set in Amsterdam.

For this mobility project, I decided to relive my childhood through mapping different areas in the Greater Vancouver area and connecting it to the song, Park Amsterdam. It’s been with me for years, and I thought it would be a good place to start for a narrative. The song is composed by Yoko Kanno, one of my all time favourites, lyrics by Tim Jensen and sung by Maaya Sakamoto.

One day sitting in a tree, I couldn’t help but notice you there in the park.
You weren’t like the others, you could fit me in your pocket,
that seem rather large.

But then you really tried to talk to me, we chatted all about your mom and everything.
And if somebody pointed out the fact you had no wings…
wouldn’t mean a thing.

And like a dream, we saw the world together!
Goodbye to differences, hello to each other.
Harmony, unity, day and night.
You and me, and paradise!

Met the Queen of Hearts, while out dancing on the lake.
And she asked us to a party, “You can bring some friends, but don’t be late!”
Climbed aboard the bus, and it drove us to the castle.
But we didn’t have to pay, cause the driver was the Jester’s brother!
Sadly sighed the King, cause somebody took his cake.
So we gave him some of ours, and he smiled so widely at his plate.
He asked you to sing, and I won’t forget the faces or the awful melody…
you and Jester singing out of key!

Not a better time, could we have for all the moment,
the King beamed, “Allow me please, let my balloon take you across the ocean.”
You and me, across the ocean.
You and me, in harmony.

Didn’t try to put me, in a cage of your convenience, like some others have.
Instead you took me to your favourite garden in Manhattan
and we had a laugh.

Along the way I fell in love with you.
Don’t think that I could ever get enough of you.
And if somebody pointed out the fact that you can’t sing…
wouldn’t mean a thing.

—–

Mapping out my childhood, I picked places of significance:
1) General Brock Park: I was a frequent visitor, my 9 year old self was a monster on the bike. I literally started a bike mob at that park with the neighbourhood kids. There was a tree, a huge cotton tree that I liked to make my secret base.

2) HR MacMillan Space Centre: 7 or 8 maybe? First time to the planetarium; and was in total awe at how many stars there are, and how small my existence was.

3) Playland Amusement Park: 12 or 13, staying there until midnight with some friends; smell of popcorn and cotton candy; being on the Waterlog ride for at least 9 times.

4) Trout Lake: I lived in front of that park/lake for about 12 years. Grew up hearing ducks, kids playing baseball and cheers coming from the backyard.

5) Nanaimo Skytrain Station: 6 or 7 years old, it was the only route I remembered: Nanaimo Station goes to Metrotown. My grandfather, younger brother and I heading to the mall.

6) Fairmont Hotel Vancouver: 6 or 7 years old, Christmas concert in the front lobby. The tinsel on my head was irritating and itchy, nearly forgot my lyrics from all the flashing cameras from eager parents.

7) The Orpheum: 6 or 7 again, those were the years I went to the orchestra a lot, remembered falling asleep and waking up for Danny Elfman’s Simpsons theme.

8 ) Iona Land Bridge: 9 or 10 years old, attempting to walk across the land bridge with parents, and giving up quarter way because of the sunset. I was upset with that, to this day, I still haven’t made it to and back.

9) Van Dusen Botanical Garden: 8 or 9 years old, getting extremely lost in that huge maze, scaring my mother. But I found my way with my classmate, Matt. The childhood crush.

urban intervention part 2!

October 28, 2009

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Handy dandy fly whacker-ma-bob. Lily looks grossed out at how huge it was.

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And the bug attacks!

It was pretty irritating to put it up, there were staples all over that pole. But it gave the fly a bit of a lumpy 3D effect. There were couple of his fellow flies swarming around, and the smell was not nice. Some people walked by, and asked if it was a Halloween installation. I told them no, and in a few minutes later, watched the wave off a fly or two and understood the vinyl. I felt that I should’ve made multiple flies, but I am very broke at this current moment.

This is what lives off your old cooking oil, folks. Yum yum yum.

Blue Train from their album, Fanclub.

Despite their funny name, their music is incredible. The Japanese band of 4 met in university and all were in the Economics faculty, perhaps they were tired of the daily routine of studies they decided to form a band. Asian Kung-fu Generation or Ajikan (アジカン) slowly rose to fame in the Yokohama area playing in local bars and stages. They’re heavily influenced by Western punk rock and alternative rock mixed with their own background in indie, Ajikan gives a special sound in their guitars. Often, it sounds as if each instrument spontaneously comes up with a melody of its own and eventually they mold together to form one unified melody. The lyrics are also really interesting and Masafumi Gotoh, the vocalist and lyricist really knows how to tug at the heart strings with his words. With their epic guitar rifts and fast-paced tempo, Ajikan quickly caught onto my iPod. They were the source of all my foot tapping for a good whole of my Drawing class last year.

Nowadays, the band has reached worldwide acknowledgement. North American fans over here know them as the band that has several string of singles that are openings to popular mainstream anime such as Naruto, Bleach and Fullmetal Alchemist. They also produced the theme song for American director Michael Arias in his Japanese animation film, Tekkon Kinkreet. In Japan, however, their music has become a household name and achieving several number one hits on the Oricon (Japanese billboard charts) charts. Interestingly enough, Ajikan doesn’t do interviews very often and rather than focus on their self image and identity, they’ve become the embodiment of their own music. The band often jokes about how mediocre they look, and that is why they don’t go on TV very much. Even to this day, I don’t remember most of the members names, but I can remember every single melody that they’ve wrote. Back in their hometown of Yokohama, they host the Nano-Mugen Rock Festival every year inviting indie artists from nationwide and international places to join them and perform. The festival has been growing strong since and the attendee rate goes up every year. I’m planning to go next summer myself.

With their success, they’ve also catapulted the work of Nakamura Yusuke to the spotlight. He is the illustrator responsible for all their CD covers, DVD covers, posters as well as Nano-Mugen related promo imagery. His style is very whimsical with his stunning use of colour and charming little characters. Nakamura is an musician himself, and has become great friends with the band.

World World World, the 5th album designed by Nakamura.

Fujisawa Loser, 12 single

Fanclub, 3rd album

Blue Train, 7th single

Goemon

October 14, 2009

After waiting for 5 months, I finally got to see Kiriya Kazuaki’s next film, Goemon. I’ve admired his work since high school, starting from his work on Japanese pop songstress Utada Hikaru’s music videos, and onto his first debut film, Casshern. Kiriya is well known for his incredible CG visions; he would spend about a month or two with the staff and cast directing in front of a green screen and then he would go and do all the CG/post-production work in his studio for another 6-7 months or so. I’m always incredibly amazed at what he can imagine and  Goemon really blew me away. I’ve never seen Japanese history told in such a epic fashion, and he also mixes western themes into the sets, decoration and costumes.

Goemon retells the story of the famous Japanese bandit, Ishikawa Goemon who stole from the rich to give to the poor. Literally, the asian version of Robin Hood. The nation is currently governed by a tyrant, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the successor of the famous conqueror of Japan, Oda Nobunaga. The movie kicks off with Goemon robbing a safe from one of Hideyoshi’s benefactors and steals a mysterious purple box that sets events in motion. Goemon soon discovers something sinister in the death of the late ruler, Oda Nobunaga. Using major events in Japanese history, such as the Toyotomi-Ieyasu battle as well as real people from history, Kiriya stylishly creates a beautiful story of a thief turned hero with his amazing CG skills. I literally had  to watch the movie with no distractions, attempting to absorb all the detail placed into the CG scenes.

The movie has no subtitles right now, but hopefully it will catch the attention of some North American producers and will be released over here. It is absolutely amaaaaaaazing. I’ve posted the trailer above along with the promo poster.