2012 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

4,329 films were submitted to the 2012 Cannes Film Festival. This blog had 22,000 views in 2012. If each view were a film, this blog would power 5 Film Festivals

Click here to see the complete report.

 

“Waiting for the New Year”


Anticipationhttp://fergiemoto.wordpress.com/ (Click here to see the post.)

Here is another charming post from “Fergiemoto” using a sweet blue bird image. Look for more beautiful photographs with accompanying poems on their site.

I see wonderful things for this talented artist/writer in this “Year of the Water Dragon”. 

New Year 2012 Greetings


New Year 2012New Year 2012 Greetings. (Click here to see the accompanying poem and read more from this artist.)

I liked this post so much, that I am re-posting it on my blog. It is very relatable to the subjects that I choose for my blog since it has a Japanese origin and theme. This blogger is a very talented photographer, artist and poet. Check them out and enjoy!

Also, since it is December 31, when I am writing this blog, have a Wonderful, Prosperous and Happy New Year everyone.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit


The cover of the first DVD compilation release...
Image via Wikipedia

I watched this anime a few months ago and could not stop until I had seen every single episode. Since viewing it, I have wanted to write something about it in my blog. It was mentioned as one of my favorite anime in a previous blog entry. At present the best thing I can say is to watch the episodes and find out why I was hooked from the first moment.

Plot Summary:

Balsa is a wandering warrior, whose special technique is wielding a massive spear with incredible accuracy. Her entire adult life has been spent saving lives as atonement for a past sin. Her path crosses that of a young prince, Chagum, whose mother hires Balsa as a bodyguard because she believes her son’s life is in grave danger from the boy’s own father, the emperor of Japan.  Chagum’s father believes that the boy is possessed by a dangerous spirit that will destroy everything if Chagum is not killed immediately. In fact, the emperor has ordered his son’s own assassination.

Balsa and Chagum find themselves on a perilous journey, not only to elude the emperor’s many assassins, but also to stop the dangerous creature that is growing inside the boy’s chest. Desperate choices must be made along the way, as well as peeks into Balsa’s dramatic and traumatized past.

The link below contains every episode of the anime. If you enjoy Japanese History and a good fantasy adventure, tune it. You won’t be disappointed.

http://www.animefreak.tv/watch/moribito-guardian-spirit-english-dubbed-online-free

Onmyōdō: Ancient Magic in Japan (Film, Manga, Anime, Novels and Games)


Fudo-Rieki-Engi (不動利益縁起)
Image via Wikipedia

The magic and mystery of onmyōdō and the onmyōji, who practice the ancient art, are an esoteric combination of Wu XingYin and Yang, Taoism, Buddhism and Shintoism. It came to Japan in the fifth and sixth centuries.

In the popular culture of film, manga, anime novels and video games, there are a host of these magicians and soothsayers, tweaked with extraordinary, supernatural power.

The anime, Ghost  Hunt presents the character, Lin Koujo, an onmyōji, who can exorcise or summons spirits and control shikigami–spirits similar to a witch’s familiar.

In the live-action film and manga, Onmyōji,the fictitious account of the famous, real-life magician, Abe no Seimei, is based on the novel series of the same name.

In the manga, Tokyo Babylon and XSubaru Sumeragi, an onmyōji and his sidekick, the assassin, Seishirō Sakurazuka, eradicate curses and vengeful spirits, evil shadow creatures in modern-day Japan.

In the manga series, Shaman King and the novel, Chō Senji RyakketsuYoh Asakura is an onmyōji and a medium who can communicate between the world of the living and the world of the dead, who spends much of his time hanging out in graveyards. His goal is to hone his skills onmyōdō and win the title of Shaman King.

In the video game and anime, Harukanaru Toki no Naka de, Abe no Yasuaki is a dedicated disciple of Abe no Seimei, the famous onmyōji.

The manga and anime seriesNegima!: Magister Negi Magi, involves a secret cult of onmyōji.

In the award-winning anime series, Magical Shopping Arcade Abenobashi, childhood friends Arumi and Sasshi find themselves pulled into another dimension where they learn onmyōdō from the famous wizard, Abe no Seimei.

The novel, Teito Monogatari by Hiroshi Aramata, has an evil onmyōji namedYasunori Kato, who is brought back from the realm of angry and resentful souls of dead mystics. His power surpasses even that of Abe no Seimei.

The anime and manga, Onmyō Taisenki delves into I Ching and Taoism for its magical resources.

The manga seriesAsk Dr. Rin! features a powerful onmyōji named, Takashi Tokiwa who is infatuated with Meilin Kanzaki, a young girl, endowed with Feng shui powers, who can read people’s fortunes and advise them concerning the best way to ensure good luck.

The Playstation fighting game, Evil Zone features an onmyoji named Keiya Tenpouin, “The Man in the Shadow” whose main goal is to kill and claim the power of Ihadulca, who can exist in multiple dimensions at the same time.

The novel, Shōnen Onmyōji is set in the Heian era of historical Japan and portrays the life of  Abe no Masahiro, the youngest grandson of the famous onmyoji, Abe no Seimei, whose greatest desire is to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps. .

In the manga and anime series, Steel Angel Kurumi, (an artificial humanoid with superhuman physical abilities) the main protagonist, Nakahito Kagura belongs to a family of onmyoji mystics.

The PlayStation game Final Fantasy Tactics includes a “Job” entitled, Onmyoji, which is translated in the English as “Oracle.” The practicing onmyoji has “Yin-Yang Magic” that can inflict blindness, paralysis or sleep on their opponents.

In the card game, Magic: The Gathering, one of the cards is entitled: Goryo’s Vengeance. The card type is arcane which includes spells represented spells by spirits or kami (Japanese word for spirits and natural forces, used in the Shinto faith).

In the anime, “Tsukuyomi’s Moon Phase,” Hazuki and his mother have the ability to summon a shikigami spirit.

In the horror, survival game, Kuon, the main characters are onmyoji. Most of the magic seals and puzzles are based on onmyõdõ.

References:

Onmyōdō

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Onmy%C5%8Dd%C5%8D

Wu Xing

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wu_Xing

Yin and yang

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yin_and_yang

Taoism in Japan

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taoism_in_Japan

Shinto

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shintoism

Buddhism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhism

Abe no Seimei http://en.whikipedia.org/wiki/Abe_no_Seimei

Thirty-six Ghost by Yoshitoshi

http://web.inter.nl.net/hcc/rekius/36ghosts.htm

Magic: The Gathering:  Goyo’s Vengence http://mtg.wikia.com/wiki/Goryo’s_Vengeance

JAPANESE ANIMATION (ANIME) FUN FACTS


The Super Dimension Fortress Macross: Flash Ba...
Image via Wikipedia
  • The first Anime was a two-minute clip of a samurai testing his new sword.
  • Cutout, an animation technique using flat characters, props and backgrounds cut from paper, card stock, fabric and photographs, was created by Noburō Ōfuji and Yasuji Murata in the 1930s.
  • Other pioneering animators were Kenzō Masaoka and Mitsuyo Seo,
  • Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka (The World of Power and Women) produced by Masaoka in 1933, was the first talkie anime.
  • Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors”, features the “Peach Boy” from Japanese folklore, directed by Seo in 1945, was the first feature-length anime. It was sponsored by the Imperial Japanese Navy as propaganda.
  • Manga, comics and print cartoons, helped propel the growth of anime due to fact that many were later adapted into animation format.
  • Osamu Tezuka was particularly adept at translating Manga into Anime. He was key in inspiring others in this field and helped create the fundamental elements of today’s anime. He also developed the giant robot genre–called “Mecha” outside of Japan.
  • Go Nagai developed the giant robot, “Mecha” genre into Super Robot.
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino developed the Real Robot genre.
  • Famous Robot anime include; “Gundamand “The Super Dimension Fortress Macross”. Both became instant classics in the 1980.
  • After this, anime experienced a boom in production and gained worldwide appeal that continues into the 21st century.

References and other links:

Pioneers of Japanese Anime at PIFAN http://www.midnighteye.com/features/pioneers-of-anime.shtml

Anime News Network http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/anime.php?id=4998&page=23

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime

FAVORITE ANIME


Cover of "Howl's Moving Castle"
Cover of Howl's Moving Castle

The month of February has been hectic, while I get the last edits on my novel, LEGEND OF THE TENGU PRINCE finished so that I can self-publish it on Amazon.com. Also, I have been working on adapting the novel to screenplay format so that I can enter it into contests this year. Since time is sparse and I have missed the last few weekend blogs, I have decided to list some of my favorite Anime series and movies for you to enjoy.

I am currently watching “Moribito, Guardian of the Spirit” found at http://is.gd/olSWGK It is set in Ancient Japan and is written in the Fantasy-Adventure genre that I also write.

Another long time favorite Anime of mine is “Princess Mononoke” is a fantasy, action-adventure set in Ancient Japan.  A good site to watch it is at http://www.ustream.tv/recorded/3371638

Lovely Complex” is a comedy Anime that is well worth your time to watch. http://www.animefreak.tv/watch/lovely-complex-english-dubbed-online-free

“Monster” is a psychological thriller that I watched last year and could not stop until I had viewed all 74 episodes which had me up late for several nights, my attention glued to the computer screen. http://www.animefreak.tv/watch/monster-online

“Fruits Basket” is a sweet Anime with shape-shifting characters from the Chinese zodiac http://www.hulu.com/fruits-basket

“Bleach” http://www.bleachget.com/ was recommended by my son who is the one that got me interested in Anime in the first place. It concerns a “Shikigami” named Bleach.

My son also recommended  “Kekkaishi“, a supernatural adventure  http://www.animefreak.tv/watch/kekkaishi-online

The last two can be found at the same site. http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-8604596739848246425#docid=-7679642117452988610 They are “Howl’s Moving Castle” and “Spirited Away“. Both are fantasy adventures. One is set in a fantasy-like version of medieval Europe, the other takes place in modern-day Japan.

Anime Freak is a good website to watch Anime series.

ENJOY!

For more information on these Animes, check out Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia articles listed below.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moribito:_Guardian_of_the_Spirit

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Mononoke

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love_Com

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monster_(manga)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruits_Basket

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bleach_(manga)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shikigami

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kekkaishi

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howl’s_Moving_Castle_(film)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spirited_Away

Obon, the Dance of the Dead (Japanese Festival)


In the village square, Chinese lanterns and fireflies cast a ghostly glow over the tightly packed shops and houses along the narrow avenue. The sound of clapping hands and beating drums draw you toward a drum tower, situated just below the elevated train station. Atop it, men and boys, dressed in dragon coats, with matching scarves tied around their heads, slam mallets against the sides of drums both large and small.

Dressed in colorful yukata of cherry blossoms, soaring white cranes, and glittering fans with ribbons, women dance in a circle around the drum tower as they sway to the hypnotic “dance of the dead.” Their flowing hands and the drums’ beat call for the dead to arise and join in the celebration, as the spicy scent of cooked sausage floats on the jasmine breeze.

In the willow trees that grow along the street cicadas creep from their brittle shells. The lure of their castanet song adds to the intoxicating beat. The dancers, the drum tower and the crowds of people seem to swirl and bob around you, like a magical dream.

To your surprise, someone whispers in your ear, words from Matsu Basho, master haiku poet.

“Temple bells die out.

The fragrant blossoms remain.

A perfect evening!”

You turn to find a pair of smoldering eyes, like polished jade, gazing into your own. A white prayer scarf, painted with red kanji calligraphy, wraps the apparition’s ashen forehead, pulling long black hair away from its ghostly face and neck.

You stare, dumbfounded as people stroll by, unaware that “something” not of this world, stands in front of you. A small boy, twirling a plastic pin wheel, walks straight through the apparition’s chest. The image flickers as if it might go out like a candle flame as the ghostly image bows respectfully toward you.

“Moonlight and magic,” you whisper. Your thoughts swarm like bees in the summer heat, so fast you can hardly grasp their meaning.

The sharp pounding of the barrel taiko yanks your attention back toward the drum tower. Everything around you seems to spin in slow motion and then tilt-a-whirl fast making you so dizzy you almost lose your balance.

When the spinning stops, you find the apparition has disappeared. You shake your head and walk away, whispering beneath your breath, “It was only a dream.”

Further reading:

Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia: Bon Festival http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Festival

You Tube: Traditional Japanese Obon dance http://is.gd/aSQUEy

You Tube: KODO – Heartbeat Video 2007 http://is.gd/0ktCPX

Sample chapters from LEGEND OF THE CHERRY JEWEL, a romantic, fantasy, action-adventure set in feudal and modern-day Japan http://lediarunnels27221912.wordpress.com/

The Death Rock (Japanese Mythology)


Tamamo-no-Mae, a legendary kitsune featured in...
Image via Wikipedia

In the summertime of old Japan, when the oppressive heat and humidity rendered daylight activity all but unbearable, people longed for the night and the scant relief brought by the setting sun. There, amidst a chorus of frogs and insects serenading the coming of the dance of the dead, the people played a game called, “A Gathering of 100 Ghostly Tales”, and silently the spirits would return.

100 lit candles were placed in a circle, and the players each told a ghoulish tale. As each tale ended, the storyteller doused a single candle. As the light slowly faded the tension rose. The game was said to be a ritual of evocation, the expiration of each story and each candle summoned more spiritual energy, transforming the room into a beacon for the dead. With the vanishing of the final light, someone or something terrible was found waiting in the darkness… This story is for the first lit candle…

You sit the garden near the Palace in the once Imperial City of Kyoto. It is a beautiful spring day. In fact you are fortunate to have planned your visit to Japan the very day the cherry blossoms are at the most glorious. As you admire the scenery, a young woman happens by and sits on the bench near you. When she turns your way, she smiles sweetly and asks if you have ever heard the story of Tamamo-no-Mae? You shrug and tell her it is your first day in Japan and no you have never heard the story.

Again, the young woman smiles sweetly and gets a far off look in her eyes. This is when you see the smooth, black stone she holds in her hands. It has the glossy look of obsidian, the kind of rock thrown millennia before from the pit of Mount Fuji. You find it odd that the young woman is caressing the glossy stone as if it is a pet of some sort.

You’re not sure why, but a shiver runs up your spine at this particular moment. Your first inclination is to jump up and hurry back to your hotel. But you stay thinking how silly you are being on such a beautiful day with such a pleasant companion to talk to.

As the young woman continues to pet her stone, she begins to tell a story, of a priest named, Gennoh who decided to see the world, so the next morning he and his servant packed their belongings and left the city. One day on their journey, they were crossing a field when they saw a bird fall dead from the sky. They found out in the village that the bird had flown to near Nasuno, the death stone.

A village woman told the priest and his servant, “It is a good thing you did not go too close. You see, the stone steals the life from whatever touches it. Inside the stone is the spirit of Lady Tamamo-no-Mae.

“Who?” the priest asked, confused as to the significance of the spirit.

The woman shook her head and continued. “It is said that the spirit that resides inside the death rock once destroyed kings in both India and China and was later a consort to the Japanese Emperor, Toba. Tamamo-no-mae was her name. She was both beautiful and wise, but her heart was filled with evil.

“Late one night during a concert at the end of autumn, all the lamps in the emperor’s garden suddenly blew out. To everyone’s horror and amazement, Tamamo-no-mae began to glow like the full moon. Soon after this, Emperor Toba became deathly ill.

“His Astrologer cast the Emperor’s fortune and found that it was Tamamo-no-mae who had caused the Emperor’s illness.

The Astrologer began an exorcism which in turn caused Tamamo-no-mae to writhe in torment. To escape her punishment, she leapt into the air and landed far away on the Nasuno plain.

“But the Emperor sent warriors to find and destroy her. They chased her into a trench and shot arrows at her until her life drained away. It was then that she became the Death-Rock, which has killed all who come too close.”

The young woman sitting near to you smiles once again, but this time you see a gleam in her dark eyes that can only be described as feral. Again, you shiver, but not from the cold.

The young woman rises from the bench. Her back is to you now, but she is still speaking. “That day, Gennoh, the priest did a second exorcism on the stone. The spirit of Tomama-no-mae appeared, begging forgiveness, promising to do good all the rest of her days.”

Silence falls across the garden and you wait to hear the rest of the story. Instead, the young woman walks away. As she does, you see a swishing fox tail following directly behind her and a pale radiance like the moon glowing out from her body.

Much to your horror, your throat begins to feel tight as if someone’s fingers clench around your windpipe. You find that you can no longer draw a breath. In your desperation you look down to see the black stone the young woman was holding now sits on the bench only a foot or so from you. You reach out as if to knock the rock to the ground. Instead, you collapse beneath the bench where only moments before you sat upright.

A couple, walking in the garden, sees your distress and hurries toward. You try to tell them not to come closer. You gesture toward the glistening black rock that seems to writhe as if alive. But the words stick in your throat. You hear jeering laughter like the wind whistling through the tree tops. The next instant everything goes dark as the first candle is blown out…

Image Source

http://www.google.com/imgres?q=Tamamo-no-mae&hl=en&sa=X&nord=1&biw=1600&bih=775&tbm=isch&prmd=imvns&tbnid=aGIUAAOdgqr8VM:&imgrefurl=http://www.japanfiles.com/japanfiles-review-onmyo-za-kongo-kyuubi.html&docid=

Tales of Ghostly Japan:  http://www.seekjapan.jp/article-2/766/Tales+of+Ghostly+Japan

Tamama-no-Mae: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tamamo-no-Mae

Images of Tamama-no-Mae: http://www.google.com/search?q=Tamamo-no-mae&hl=en&nord=1&biw=1600&bih=775&site=webhp&prmd=imvns&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=PJeuTsDfOIOasgLajaWdDw&sqi=2&ved=0CDQQsAQ