Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Japan Rocks!!!

This week has been completely amazing. Traveling all over Japan has given myself a completely new look on the world we all live in. For one thing you can only bow so much until your back starts to hurt and Ramen is the best food in the world when you can't get a greasy cheese burger.

But enough of my waxing nestalgic. Here's whats really been going on. Today I interviewed the heads of Dwarf studios. Their most famous character is Domo-Kun for whom you've probably seen in marketing campaigns in your region of the world. Mr. Goda and Mr. Minegishi are two very inspiring people who have earned my undieing respect as both people and creative geniousis.  In the above picture you'll see from left to right-myself (John Ikuma), Director and Head of Dwarf studios Mr. Goda, and famed stop motion animator Mr. Minegishi. Apparently Domo-Kun likes the sake I brought for the creators....

In the picture above you see myself and Master Ball-Joint-Doll artist Ryo Yoshida. The only way I think I can describe meeting Mr Yoshida is that it was like meeting Rembrandt. He is considered one of the most important people in the art form of Doll Making and one of 2 people in history to have developed and pioneered the Japanese style BJD. Such a profound moment in my life to have spent a couple of hours talking to him. I hope to meet him again some day in the future.

In the above picture you see myself and Ball-Joint-Doll Graphic artist NORI at the last day of his gallery show. Very cool to hang and talk about his methods of making his paintings and Photography. His art is both in computer graphics and photography in which he depicts dolls in different environments. Wicked Cool!!! Look him up.

And Finally the Neiko-Cafe!!!!
Yes there is a place in the world that is called the "CAT Cafe" and what do they have? CATS!!!! And what do you do with them? Play!!! Also you drink coffee and tea and read manga and watch anime. But who cares about that stuff when you can play with the CATS!!! SOOOOOOO CUTE!!!! I spent a half hour there and don't feel at all guilty about paying to play with these cute little fur balls. If only there was a Dolphin Cafe.....

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Getting Even More Lost In Japan

It's very possible that I have no idea where I am and what I'm doing here. But I'm sure having fun! The other day I was very lost for 3 hours. This time it wasn't on the train but on foot. I was looking for Creative Studios where Village of Malhem Studios is located and can you believe I passed it 6 times in one hour and never found it!!! Hahaha.... Seems when I was taken to the studio the first time we went the back way. Thus my confusion and the total craziness of being lost for 3 hours. Thank god I remembered the business card in my wallet and how to ask for directions in Japanese.
One of the greatest things about Japan is the food. But it seems I've been eating a lot of Giant Scallops lately and can only guess at how expensive these things are in the U.S.... We eat 2 cases of these and half a case of sea snails at a friends BBQ in Innoshima. Then theres all the Beer and Fireworks!!! Whats even funnier is that this was all on the 4th of July. Apparently they have a Shinto Festival on the same weekend.
Here's a picture of the shrine and the some of the crew carring it up a steep hill. My shoulder was so bruised from walking the shrine from house to house. But each house had beer and treats. It was basically like Holloween where you go house to house scarring the bad spirits and in exchange the people at the house give you treats. But in this case it also comes with the drunken climb up the hill with 70 other people.
And finally the "Asse the Sale" sign, which actually reads "Ace the Sale". But I couldn't resist the American prenunciation of the sign. God only knows what they are really selling.

Long story short I have been totally dragged around Japan and finally I'm settled after 2 weeks of travel in Tojo Japan which is located in the mountains away from all the big cities. Also I should mention that it's raining so much I haven't seen the sun in 2 weeks. But honesty I don't mind since I see it ever day in Los Angeles. I'll be taking the next 2 weeks to write two Issues of Stop Motion Magazine and to also get the Documentary script written. The Doc will most likely be shot in September and has been on my plate for years. Hopefully now I can finish it before January 2011. 

Stay tuned!!!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Getting Lost In Japan

So the magazine is a month behind and I'm relaxing playing in Japan. Guilty as charged. Actually I'm out here on assignment for the magazine and doing a tone of work. But the upside is I get to eat all the Ramien and Pork and drink all the Sake I want.

I can tell you though that I have gotten severally lost in Japan and one night I was lost for two hours on the train and luckily caught the last train to my station. Not just that but I also only speak a little bit of the language and often found my head spinning when someone would answer me in anything other then Yes or No. Hahaha... I'm starting to get the hang of it though.

One of the great things about Japan is reguardless of the rushed pace of Tokyo everyone likes to relax and get some R&R. This is most obvious when seeing the business men passing out on the train after a long day of work. I thought I'd join in the experience....

I was very lucky on this trip to make some great friends on my first studio stop in Tokyo. In the picture you see in the front Atsuko Miyake (Compositor), in the middle myself (John Ikuma), and in the back Keita Funamoto (Village of Marhem: Studio Owner and Animator). It's amazing how many places Keita took me in two days. Lets just say that my legs are tired and all I want to do for the next couple of days is write. But what an awesome crew of people he's working with.
In this picture you see: (upper left/Tetsu Kawamura: Famous Armature Maker and owner of the Arm Benders brand of Armatures), (upper right/Jenya: Anime Voice actress- Her first big break was in Evangelian the Movie!!! Wow!!!), (bottom left/Atsuko Miyake-Compositor and Animator),(Middle/Myself),(bottom right/Keita Funamoto-studio owner, animator, and new best friend).
Here's Keita Funamoto autographing his Stop Motion Training book.
And just to get your juices flowing for the next issue of the magazine I thought I'd post a picture of one of Keita's wifes dolls which are made at the studio. They are trying to pioneer a new method of puppet making using Japanese Ball-Joint-Dolls. Pretty amazing!!!

So I will be heading to Dwarf Studio's on the 20th of July, and then I believe there are three other locations I will be visiting. Also, I will most likely be interviewing a few well known and famous animators for whom you've most likely watched their work but never knew their name.

O'Boy!!! I got to go I think it's lunch time!!!