Slack Chat Rendezvous: Japanese Film and Literature

Today's Slack Chat is joined by our newest recruit, local artist/chef Suzy Krueger, who quickly comes to regret her decision to talk to any of us awful bastards. The topic is Japanese cinema and literature, and Matt briefly notes the strange resemblance between actor Bruce Cambell and the Ken-doll magically brought to life known as "Mitt Romney".

Jim Broadly, editor in chief

Jordan (punk, Kaala private eye): You know the Japanese film industry is brain dead and hooked up to creative life-support when that stinker Shin-Godzilla wins best picture at the J Academy Awards. And lol at all these people at the feelies blowing their wad to kimi no na ha while films like kono sekai no katasumi ni are criminally slept on. :dusty_stick: to all these fools And that's my film rant for the month.

Matthew (Kaala Big Cheese): Poddddddcast that shit!

Jharrod (writer, event organizer, wears glasses to bed): Ummmm what was kono sekai no katasumi?

Matthew Exactly lol

Jharrod That's the love story right? I think a student mentioned it

Jordan Yeah it's about one woman's life during the war

It takes place in Kure just before the bombing of Hiroshima

Probably the most successful crowdsourced film in Japanese film history

Chris (Nordic photographer, magical man): Jordan is quite the expert huh. Cool to finally meet someone who likes Japanese cinema. I took a class at uni and I gotta say, lots of fantastic movies. Although my favorite is a new and well known one though... Soshite chichi ni naru. I bet Jordan hates this one because it's too commercial

Jordan Fukuyama Masaharu? Ewww

Chris Yeah he's eww, but Yoko Maki is not

Matthew Cause were on the subject... Seijun Suzuki just died. Also up until basically the rise of that fuckwit Beat Takeshi, Japans cinema scene was excellent Imo

Chris But Hana-bi was pretty decent

Matthew Cringe

Chris You hipster, you

Don't like his other stuff that much, though

Jordan Yeah Suzuki Seijun died almost a month ago

The theme to Tokyo Nagaremono is my enka jam.

Hmm your criticism of Takeshi is a bit strange tbh. He made somd great films. The problem is that most studios drifted towards safe films with light budgets after the bubble burst. Contemporaries of Takeshi's such as Itami Juzo still had the confidence of the execs so they could make daring films. After Itami was suicided there weren't many directors worth much of a shit so the studios went into risk averse old man mode.

Matthew I’m by no means an expert on him, but I have a hard time thinking of Takeshi as anything but a smug little fucker with very little talent except in rehashing established tropes who fell into his position.

His art is shit, btw, and is part of the reason I absolutely abhor Tokyo Opera City: they loooooove him and frequently exhibit his shit paintings (edited)

I don’t know if you can tell, but I _really_ don’t like Beat Takeshi lol

Jordan Watch Sonatine. You will get it.

Matthew I have!

and was completely unmoved by it

in fact, I own it

Jordan Shrug

Matthew I just don’t see any boundaries that he’s breaking if people called him a successful mainstream actor/director, I’d be pretty ok with it but he receives _such_ accolades across the board as being this daring, revolutionary visionary and I just don’t see it. Not a speck.

Suzuki? The guy trolled the fuck out of countless studios and produced mind-blowing works in doing so. Teshigahara? He had massive cahones for bringing Abe’s works to the screen. Kurosawa? Obvious one, but totally deserving especially for works like Red Beard and Stray Dog. Shindo? Dude's the fucking MAN with what he did bringing old traditions and tales into contemporary perspectives in Onibaba. (edited)

And like, for real, you want gangsters? Battle Without Honor and Humanity. Hands down.


Chris Ozu has to be my favorite director, together with Kurosawa. I just love those loooong cuts. Makes you shut up and watch the movie intensely. But back on topic, Takeshi got famous the same reason Murakami Haruki did I think. He makes some shit that's both commercially appealing AND since its Japanese and sometimes kinda weird, all these intellectual posers jump on the train

That being said, I'm currently reading 1Q84 and I like it so far, so I should probably shut up and go back to my new video game

Jordan The reason Murakami is popular abroad as well as in Japan is because his stories aren't confined to a purely Japanese world like most Japanese authors. He blends the rest of the world into the narrative to such an extent that the character's Japaneseness feels more or less like a result of chance rather than their defining aspect. That weirdness in his novels would work even if the characters were from another country. Hardboiled Wonderland is a good example of this.

Jharrod What a bunch of art school dropouts

Jordan Talk shit, get Asian Lit.

Jordan Talk shit, :dusty_stick:

Chris A lot of his novels seemed pretty Japanese to me, both in setting and story. South of the Border, West of the Sun. Etc.

Also, why the fuck are discussing Murakami. I thought we were all about the Japanese underground

Jordan SBWS is set in Japan but again it might as well have been in the States. Also you brought Murakami up Nerd.

:dusty_stick: for you

Chris Yep I'm a fraud and a dork

Jordan "Yep I'm a fraud and a dork." - Chris, March 5th 2017

" :dusty_stick: " -Jordan, March 5th 2017

Suzy (artist, Kaala designer, hates Jordan): I don't understand why everybody is crazy about Murakami. But I am still drunk from yesterday

Chris Murakami is alright, but Norwegian Wood and Kafka on The Shore are totally overrated

(Omitted: a disgusting argument between Jordan and Chris too shameful to print)

Suzy Who knew I could be more nauseous this morning

Jordan High five team!

Suzy How about no

Jordan :dusty_stick: for you

Suzy Yes please put me out of my misery

(Suzy leaves the chat)

Matthew Goddamnit guys, tone it down. And Paul Reuben ought to get a lot of credit for Murakami's popularity despite being so mundane

And he repeats himself over and over thematicallly Hes a recipe not an arist

Much like (gasp!) Beat Takeshi

Aaron (Kaala editor, good boy, hates Jim Broadly): How are you all this goddamn awful at 10 am on a Sunday, I just woke up and Jordan is already talking about jars whose purpose shall remain nameless

Jharrod I'm awake and already at work

Aaron Murakami hasn't written a single line that has made me want to investigate him more, but the way people keep talking about him makes me think I should

when I heard about the proposed Coin Locker Babies film I kept thinking "I really ought to read that" speaking of weird movies and books having themes and settings that can work in different countries, I invite you all to watch River's Edge

starring a young Keanu Reaves and a wild Crispin Glover

Matthew Different Murakami. Thats Ryu Murakami. Coin Locker Babies is phenom

Aaron holy shit, really?

Matthew Almost Transparent Blue also good

Really technopunk

So, Jordan, but if he wore a Nintendo Powerglove

Aaron anyway, go watch River's Edge, if not just for vintage Crispin Glover

also a really good movie that depicts teen boredom without being boring

and then read the manga River's Edge, which is a blatant ripoff

Matthew Ugh

Aaron teens fucking, dead bodies being discovered, malaise, etc.

Matthew Strangely enough, Ryu Murakami now writes moral education middle school textbooks

Aaron it's a clear ripoff, but the artist/writer really captures the mood

it's good, is what I'm saying

Matthew Or so Ive heard

Im just gonna talk over you, lol

Aaron NO

Matthew WHAT?!

Aaron _everyone shouts_


Gonna need to fold up that pizza I just ate and make sound cones for my ears

Aaron while you're all on the horn, have you guys noticed Japan's thing for the "kids vs establishment" theme

Matthew Theres a whiff of it, but I dont detect anything major. You do?

Aaron oh yeah, it's especially prominent in anime

Matthew Ahhhhh

Aaron and even if it's not the overarching theme of a piece, it still haunts it in the background

Matthew Id say thats normal Kinda like college kids are gonna college, but real life awaits

Aaron it's like they all recognize the phenomenon of what happens when you grow up in this country, but I rarely here people talk about it in person

Matthew My read on it is that Manga isnt a medium for distributing anything but veiled moral messages

[10:13] Look at One Piece

Aaron I won't! You can't make me

Matthew Its all cops and robbers, stick to yr group and support yr own

Aaron grown ups are always forcing us to do _x_ when we want to do _y_! I'm sick of it!

[10:14] that is true, though

except River's Edge, which has no moral message and is just a depiction of being a bored, fucked up teen

Matthew Also, Bruce Campbell looks like Mitt Romney

Aaron holy shit he does, doesn't he

Chris All teens are bored and all about destruction of the status quo. Nothing new

Aaron I think Japanese culture forces it into sharper relief, though

in the west, "what is an adult?" is a question everyone's been asking themselves for years now

it's a damn joke these days

"adulting like a boss", etc

Jordan Bruce Campbell is a saint! You watch your mouth, mister!

Aaron old man in a MAGA hat got peppersprayed out on the west coast at a March 4 Trump after daring demonstrators to "do something"

funny, or cruel?

let's discuss

Jordan Agreed on the point about youth vs. the system. The super ego looms too large here. It's crushing society.

Aaron right? I see it frequently

Jordan It's so heavy people just go with it and suffer spiritual death at work and in their free time escape into the meaningless of one form of pop culture or another through which they can enjoy an inner world that has already been vetted by capital which makes sure it conforms and is incorporated into a culture they can purchase access to. That way consumers don't have to make that world for themselves. It takes time to have a rich, examined existence and frankly, economics just can't allow the majority that part of their humanity. If it did everything would collapse.

When I think about that dichotomy, the youth gone wild and the societal super ego, it almost feels like somewhere inside the society the senpai are praying for the youth to destroy it all and set them free from their spiritual cages.

Coffee is a helluva drug.

Aaron it's weird, I can see fulfillment in carrying out one's duties being a reward, but these days...


I can't imagine the forces acting upon the natives here

it is alien to me, unfathomable

it doesn't help that all the Japanese people I know seem to have dodged a lot of it, so I really don't have a way to understand it from the inside

Jordan It's in their minds. That's why I try to understand it in those freudian terms.

Aaron don't think we haven't noticed the freudian terms

it's all we talk about when you're not around

Jordan Because unless you went through the ringer you can't understand without some vague psychological viewpoint. On that note, time to watch some dudes beat the shit out of each other with florescent tubes. Later rubes.