What It’s like to work at Studio Ghibli

Crunchyroll put a video documentary about working at Studio Ghibli up. See how the magic is made.


Art Of The Week: The Garage Kits At Wonder Festival

I’ve been trying to get to Wonderfest  in Japan for over ten years now and have been blocked for a number of reasons. Still I am amazed at the sculpting level of some of the garage kit makers year after year.

Here’s some examples from this year’s winter wonderfest.   All from Nekomagic.com

More here:

many of these are NSFW, so don’t look unless your sure

Thanks to Nekomagic.com for the pics:

The Wonder Festival wiki page:

The official Wonder Festival page(Japanese)



Some video.

The show runners have set up special licensing deals with the anime producers so that figures made from anime can be made and sold without special licensing deals.  So many of the figures made and sold at these shows are anime related.  Many others are original work.  This is only a sample of the works at a typical Wonder Festival.


Wings Of Honneamise Is 30


Back in late 1980’s or early 1990’s I saw an anime move in the anime room at Lunacon that blew me away.  That movie was Royal Space Force, The Wings Of Honneamise.  The animation that I did see was incredible, the story well developed and the background rich  creating a level of animation that just didn’t exist in American animation.  At the time I wasn’t able to sit for the entire movie and  didn’t catch the title, so it was a while until I was the whole thing as back in those days you either were connected to a video tape pass around group, which I wasn’t or caught the stuff at cons, which because I was going to college and looking for work was Lunacon once a year.  That changed when they opened up a Suncoast at the local mall and I could buy tapes.  I quickly discovered the movie and watched the whole. With the exception of one scene the work was the tour de force that I remembered and the film is still a favorite.

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Using The Right Tools

One of the things I like least about many movies, TV Shows and anime is that supposedly expert military or police forces will bring the wrong tools for the job they are expected to do. Here’s a case in point.  This is from the anime Bubblegum Crisis, which was produced in the late 1980’s.  The bad guys are humanoid robots loaded with advanced weaponry and armored with exotic materials.  The heroes, or heroines in this case are four ladies with heavily armored power suits.  Typical anime stuff.  Here’s the opening sequence.

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NHK Tokyo Anime Tour

NHK’s Tokyo Eye 2020 takes us on a tour of some of the anime and manga hotspots in Tokyo. As a long time anime fan it’s a nice short visit to places in Tokyo.


I’ve been around Tokyo and I’ve been to Akihabara and Ikebukuro.  I’ve posted about Akihabara before and I need to go back.’



Here’s Ikebukuro.


The Love Live wiki.


The anime.


Tokyo is a great place to explore even if you are not an anime fan.


Watch this blog for more Tokyo stuff.



Spirited Away And How I Discovered Japanese Railroads


I’ve been a railfan and model railroader for most of my life.  I’ve been reading the railroad magazines almost constantly since I was seven years old or so if the magazines I was tossing recently were correct.  My focus was on my local railroad, the New Haven, which was merged into nonexistence in 1969 and other local to NYC railroads with some interests in American railroads in general.  I knew about things like the Shinkansen, but in a very abstract way.  I put the Shinkansen on my bucket list and left it there.

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Red Haired Motoko?

There’s been a rather large flap over the casting of Scarlett Johansen as the Motoko character in the live action Ghost In The Shell.  This may be misplaced.  Now I’m not certain that Spielberg and DreamWorks are going for the look of “Ghost In The Shell 2 man-machine interface” or not, but if that’s the case, red hair and Anglo is exactly the right casting.


Which means that Scarlett Johansen fits the suit very well.

Scarlett Johansson Suits Up as Black Widow for ‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ Poster

The other casting choices seem to fit as well.


The thing is that by the point of Ghost In The Shell   Man-machine Interface, Motoko has blended with a powerful AI and has the ability to change prosthetic bodies, or for that matter almost any body, at will. She’s also trying to more or less hide herself from her old companions at Section 9 to a greater or lesser degree.



So rather than complaining that DreamWorks is not being true to the source material you should read the source material and look at what Dreamworks is actually doing.  Doing Man-machine Interface is going to be a challenge.  There is stuff going on all over the place and the story sometimes has several things multitasking at the same time.  The reader has to read through several times to make sure that they catch the whole puzzle.  At least I did.


All of those ladies would make fine Motoko Kusanagis, if that’s the movie DreamWorks is making.  On the other hand, Ghost In The Shell 1 and it’s characters have had an animated movie, three TV series, A follow up movie and a possible Japanese Live action coming. On the other hand, Manamachine Interface is not as well known and is essentially a new story with new intrigues and new characters as well.

From  the beginning I’ve suspected that Spielberg has been thinking about Man-machine Interface and NOT the Ghost In the shell that most people are familiar with.


I think that that’s the comic he most likely saw in the airport and as the first one he looked at, that’s what’s been where he’s been thinking. Now has Shirow been in any way involved?  I would be surprised if he wasn’t and if that’s the case, then there’s no room for complaint. In any case Shirow has never been so racially biased that he’s avoided not using Japanese characters. In fact if you read Appleseed, the main character is blond and from Europe.  If Shirow  doesn’t care about race very much why should anybody else?


People should actually read the source material and see what Masume Shirow has come up with.  Even if the movie isn’t released, people should read the manga and everything else that Shirow has done.  The man is a great artist and comes up with the most mind blowing stuff. All of his stuff is highly recommended



Gate, Some Thoughts

This summer’s crowd of anime shows has produced a rather unusual one.  The Series is called Gate and it’s interesting on a bunch. of levels.



Unlike so many anime series Gate has a cast of adults.  This is not yet another group of high school or middle school students.  The main character is, for instance a 34 year old Lieutenant  in the JSDF.  With an interesting background.  We are told by everybody, including the lieutenant himself that he is a slacker, yet time and again, when the rubber meets the road he acts as competent effective officer.

The story starts with a gate opening up in the middle of the Ginza and disgorging what appear to be Roman like leigionaries who start doing what conquering hordes do. After much panic and mayhem, where our hero stands out as having a cool head, the JSDF teaches the legions what happens when close packed soldiers meet machine guns.  The JSDF then proceeds back through the gate where they instruct the oncoming reinforcements the same hard lesson.

The story isn’t rally about that.  The story is about how our various characters deal with the new world they find themselves in.  With a cast of characters that is surprisingly deep for an anime production where resorting to tropes is all too common.  Gate tend to break tropes wherever and whenever it can, though the series is not above providing some fan service to play with.

But How can you say that the series plays the common tropes when the lolicon is over 900 years old and barely human, the elf is undergoing deep PTSD and the mage is strong and resourceful for a 17 year old.  And our intrepid hero seem essentially uninterested in any of them sexually, though Rory tries really hard. None of the main characters are without flaws and all have complicated personalities that are outside the boxes that you might think they exist.

While the series is not all action, the story moves along at a fast clip without so far, any filler episodes. In fact, if the series has any flaws, it’s that it moves too fast and some things get jumped over.  Much of this is a result of having to condense the light novels that are the source material.     Still the series holds together very well.  I do hope that the manga and light novels find a translator and get imported as well.

Here’s some  screenshots:
Our main character, Lt. Itami running toward the trouble as the gate opens.

gate 1

Now Lt. Itami is characterized by his superiors and himself as slacker just in the JSDF as a job to support his hobby. On the other hand throughout the series he does stuff like this.

gate 2

Taking out an elite dragonrider, with the dragonriders own sword.

Once the JSDF through the gate and annihilates the Imperial army, the Empiror proceeds stab his vassal states in the back by committing them to battle.

gate 3

With results that might be expected.

Gate 4

After things settle down a bit, Itami is placed in command of a Recon squad to reconnoiter the surrounding territory. Where they meet Checkhov’s dragon which will see more of later.

Gate 5

Said dragon creating a refugee situation. and some construction for the refugees to watch, said refugees being lelie the mage, Tuka the elf and Rory Mercury, the demigod of death, among others.

gate 6

Our refugees see a commercial opportunity in all the Imperial dragons that encountered high velocity projectiles and to help out Itami and his intrepid squad go to the nearby city of Italica  where they encounter princess Pina Colada, the first smart Imperial that we see.

gate 7

And bandit problem which creates potentials for music and mayhem. With helicopters in the morning and little Kubrick touch.

gate 8

Where the bandits encounter angels of no mercy.

gate 10

Before learning to truly appreciate the Brrrrrrt and the fine products of the Bell division of the Textron company.

Gate 9After cleanup, mishaps and fan service our intrepid character go to Japan for diplomacy, testimony, shopping and more mayhem on the part of various countries including the US with a rather Trump like President.

Rory discovers Takeshita St.


An operator discovers mortality.

gate 12

And President Trump discovers what happens when a deal goes sour.

gate 13

Our intrepid heroes return to the safety of the war zone on the other side of the gate using the power of the internet and otaku fanaticism.

gate 14

Where princess Pina engages in high level diplomacy and preventing her relatives from getting the Empire destroyed from sheer stupidity.

gate 15

And a new character enters the scene and makes yet another stupid mistake.

gate 16

The second season is running now on Crunchyroll and I highly recommend it.  Well worth the watch.

Gate on anime news network.



The second season, running now.


Looks like the manga has been picked up. From what I’ve seen it’s a gritty read, not for children, but a well told story.


As a bonus here’s information the JSDF could use. How to kill a dragon with a helicopter gunship.