On March 3rd, in a televised ceremony held at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo, the Nippon Academy-Sho Association awarded the 40th Annual Japan Academy Prizes (第40回日本アカデミー賞) for the best Japanese movies of 2016. In This Corner of the World won in the best animation category (but Makoto Shinkai’s Your name still got best screenplay and best music) and Shin Godzilla was a big winner with seven awards (including best picture, best director and best cinematography)!
The nominees for the 40th Annual Japan Academy Prizes (第40回日本アカデミー賞) were announced on January 15th. The winners in each category will be revealed by the Japan Academy Prize Associations at a ceremony held at the Grand Prince Hotel New Takanawa in Tokyo on March 3, 2017.
C’est avec grande consternation que j’ai appris cet après-midi, via Facebook, le décès d’un des mangaka que je respectais le plus: Jirô Taniguchi est décédé samedi à l’âge de 69 ans! La cause du décès n’a pas été précisé. Il nous manquera terriblement. Toutes mes condoléances à sa famille, ses proches ainsi qu’à ses nombreux admirateurs qui, particulièrement en Europe, ont découvert et grandement apprécié la qualité de son travail. Requiesce in pace, mi magister!
One of my Japanese friends, Kazu-chan, has just published a book!
Ten years ago, he came to Montreal through the working holiday program in order to learn English and French. He first got a job at the restaurant where my wife is working, Sakura Gardens, but he realized that a Japanese restaurant was the worse place to learn a new language, so he went to work at the Tim Horton’s on Saint-Denis street instead. After graduating from the prestigious Tokyo University, he was hired by a big venture company, but he quickly discovered that he had no taste for the abuses a junior salaryman (office worker) must endure in Japan (remember Amélie Nothomb’s novel, Fear and Trembling ?).
Choosing a more independent (but alas poorer) lifestyle, he founded with a friend (Akira Sakaizume, a senior in Buddhist literature) the language school Philosophia. While pursuing English learning methods that are more suitable for Japanese people, they are helping students not only to prepare for the college entry exam but also to develop useful English skills. For him it was a dream to help children realize their hope while broadening their mind through English education.
Three weeks ago, while watching the TV show Tokyo Eye on NHK World, I’ve discovered two manga libraries in Tokyo that I would certainly like to visit one day.
The Tokyo Eye episode that aired November 30th was titled “Tokyo Book Tour.” Its introduction tells us: “In this digital age, people are rediscovering the joy of visiting a physical bookstore. Tokyo might have more bookstores than any city in the world, and this time we look at some of the best ones.” As a travel show dedicated to the Tokyo area (where foreigners discuss sites and attractions they like in the city), this time it introduces us with a dozen notable libraries. Two of them really caught my eyes.
The Tachikawa Manga Park (立川まんがぱーく, located at 3-2-26 Nishiki-cho, Tachikawa-shi, Tokyo; website: mangapark.jp) offers 400,000 manga, mostly new and popular titles, to read. The “space is designed to recall an old Japanese home“ and “visitors are free to kick back and simply enjoy reading manga”. You can sit on chairs or benches, lie down on cushions or tatami mats or even hide in a recreated oshiire closet! A dream library for children and teenagers.
The Shojo Manga-kan (少女まんが館, located at 155-5 Ajiro, Akiruno-shi) is a private library entirely dedicated to shojo manga. It offers over 55,000 shojo books and magazines (even some dating back to the meiji-era!). The library is located in the private home of a couple, Jun Nakano and Natsuyo Oi, who are long-time fans and collectors of shojo manga. Since it’s private, it is only opened on Saturday and you must first book online. It’s a real paradise if you want to study the history of shojo manga.
Also interesting, the latest episode of Tokyo Eye (it aired on December 21st), titled “Tokyo Mottainai!”, is dedicated to unusual recycling ideas which offers a “stylish new twist on a traditional Japanese value.” I particularly like the idea of the restaurant that buys “imperfect” seafood that has gone unsold at the Tsukiji fish market and turns it into delicious cuisine. And the one about the “Mottainai Kids Flea Market” where kids can learn economic skills while recycling their old toys and stuff.
Both shows are still available to watch online (and will stay available for a few weeks).
While watching the news on NHK World earlier today, I saw a report on a new anime movie that sounds quite interesting. Based on a manga by Fumiyo Kōno, this historical animated drama tells the daily life of young newly wed Suzu in the Japanese countryside of Kure during the years leading to WWII.
In This Corner of the World (この世界の片隅に / Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni): Japan, 2016, 130 min.; Dir./Scr.: Sunao Katabuchi; Anim. Dir.: Hidenori Matsubara; Char. Des.: Hidenori Matsubara; Mus.: Kotringo; Prod.: Masao Maruyama (MAPPA), Taro Maki (GENCO); Voice cast: Rena Nōnen (Suzu), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shūsaku), Natsuki Inaba (Harumi), Minori Omi (Keiko), Daisuke Ono (Tetsu), Megumi Han (Sumi), Shigeru Ushiyama (Entaro), Mayumi Shintani (San), Nanase Iwai (Rin).
“Sa véritable Histoire, pour la première fois en manga !“
“Marie-Antoinette est l’une des personnalités historiques les plus adaptées en fiction. Sophia Coppola, Chantal Thomas ou Riyoko Ikeda… de nombreux créateurs ont donné naissance à un personnage en adéquation avec leurs idéaux.”
“Cependant, quand Fuyumi Soryo s’attaque au mythe, ce n’est pas pour reproduire une énième icône malmenée par la vision trop partiale de Stephan Zweig, mais pour restituer dans la réalité historique une jeune fille dénuée de tout artifice.”
“Avec la précision qu’on lui connaît déjà sur Cesare et grâce au soutien du Château de Versailles, ce n’est plus un simple manga, mais une plongée virtuelle au cœur de la cour au XVIIIe siècle que l’auteur vous offre. Que vous soyez adepte des fresques historiques, lecteur de manga ou tout simplement curieux de nouveauté, ne passez pas à côté de cette création ! D’autant plus que les Éditions Glénat, co-éditeur dans ce projet, auront la chance de publier ce titre en avant-première de sa sortie japonaise !!” (Texte du site de l’éditeur)
Hier, je regardais les nouvelles sur NHK World et on y présentait un reportage sur le tout dernier manga de Mars mais que j’admire tout particulièrement pour ANN, Le Monde) et que je croyais que Soryo travaillais à la suite de Cesare. La mangaka aurait-elle décidé de mettre fin abruptement à Cesare? D’autant plus que l’article de Dante Alighieri (poursuivant sur le sujet de la renaissance Italienne). Mais j’en doute: elle a probablement juste temporairement mis Cesare sur pause afin de travailler sur Marie-Antoinette, qui ne comporte d’ailleurs qu’un seul volume (un “one-shot” comme on dit).
Extrait des pages 10-11, 20-21, 24-25, & 40-41 (lire de droite à gauche):
(Vous trouverez aussi un extrait des cinquante premières pages sur le site de Glénat)
Marie-Antoinette (マリー・アントワネット) est un manga historique seinen qui a d’abord été pré-publié en feuilleton dans Morning (et son pendant digital: D Morning), un magazine hebdomadaire de Kodansha. Il a débuté dans le numéro 38 (18 août 2016) et s’est étalé sur quatre publications (se terminant dans le numéro 41). Chose rare, la publication en volume (tankōbon) s’est faite au Japon en septembre 2016 (ISBN 978-4-06-377337-8, 750円), soit quelques jours après la parution du volume en français!
Malgré certaines critiques négatives en France, on peut s’attendre à un ouvrage d’une grande qualité historique. Soryo est d’ailleurs reconnue pour la qualité de sa documentation, d’autant plus que le projet, co-publié par Kodansha et Glénat, est produit en collaboration avec le Château de Versailles, qui a ouvert ses portes et offert tout son soutient à l’artiste. Le magnifique style rococo qui caractérise l’époque sera donc fidèlement reproduit dans tous ses aspects: la mode, l’architecture, l’étiquette et les moeurs de la court royale, etc.
Si l’on prends pour exemple la qualité de son travail sur Cesare (tant les détails historiques que le travail artistique), on ne sera pas déçu. J’ai déjà commandé le manga et le commenterai dès que je l’aurai lu.
The first week was totally uneventful; another quiet but tiring week (with the usual craziness at work). However, the second week was very busy with all sort of outings and events! First we had a family brunch to celebrate my mother’s 87th birthday. Then I finally received the (substantial) back-pay for the retroactive raise since the signature of our collective bargaining (the two good things that work brings: the pleasure of books and money! — but there’s only 550 weeks to endure).
Maybe all that activity was too much, because I caught some bug (cold, stomach flu?) that left me tired, congestionned and with an upset stomach. But there’s no rest for the wicked and now I must work on my monthly accounting and pay the bills.
However, before I do that, I’d like to share with you a few notable news & links that I came across lately. Because, even with all this activity, I will always find some time to stay acquainted (a bit) with the affairs of the world. Here they are, after the jump, in no particular order, in both french and english):
Before the screening of the first movie, A Tale of Samurai Cooking, the attendees were treated with a few canapé and a degustation of sake. There was a presentation by the a staff member of the Japanese consulate in Montreal, followed by allocutions of the Cinémathèque general director, Marcel Jean, and the Consul General in Montreal, Hideaki KURAMITSU.
“Haru has an excellent sense of taste and unsurpassed skill in the kitchen, but her impetuous character leads to her husband asking for a divorce after only a year of marriage. One day, she is approached by Dennai Funaki, a samurai chef from Kaga, to marry his son and heir, Yasunobu.”
“Serving the Lord of Kaga not with the sword, but with the kitchen knife, the Funaki family has been known as “Kitchen Samurai” for generations. However, Yasunobu’s lack of culinary skills has placed the Funaki name in peril. To save her new family and its status as “Kitchen Samurai”, Haru decides to teach her new husband the refined art of Kaga cuisine from her point of view. Inspired by a true story.”
WARNING: May contains trace of spoilers! People allergic to the discussion of any plot’s elements before seeing a movie are strongly advised to take the necessary precautions for their safety and should avoid reading further.
Haru is a maid for Lady Otei. She is now orphaned but she grew up in her parents’ restaurant and is an excellent cook. The Lady Otei arranged her marriage but her spirited and rebellious character displeased the husband and she was sent back. During a banquet she succeeds to identify all the ingredients in a mystery dish, thus impressing the Maeda family head’s Master chef, Funaki Den’nai. So much that he asked her to marry his second son, Yasunobu. His first son was supposed to take over his position of Master samurai chef but he died of a disease and now the responsibility fall on Yasunobu who would rather practice fencing than cuisine in order to be a “real” samurai. The father hopes that Haru could helps Yasunobu become more passionate toward his new job and improve his skills. She refuses at first, but with the Master Chef insistance she finally accepts the challenge and eventually finds her way into the samurai heart.
It is primarily a romantic story and the dramatic tone is provided by a backdrop of political power plays inside the Kaga clan. It’s a little complex to detail but, in a nutshell, a high-ranking (and powerful) Kaga samurai, Denzo Otsuki (the lover of Lady Otei), wanted to do fiscal reforms, but is opposed by a faction in the clan who put him under arrest. In revenge, his supporters (including Sadanoshin Imai, Yasunobu’s fencing instructor and friend) attempt to kill the Lord. There was also a power play between the Maeda family (head of the Kaga clan, in Kanazawa, Ishiwaka prefecture) and the Tokugawa clan (both being the top two richest clans). Those events (the so-called “Kaga Disturbance“) and characters are historical — even the Master chef, Funaki Den’nai, who wrote books about Kaga’s cuisine. Strangely, the Japanese political situation was not dissimilar to Louis XIV court, where the king was trying to keep the nobility busy at court with banquets and inner struggles in order to prevent them plotting against him.
Japanese drama often have a strong comedic undertone (which can annoy western audience who is not used to such a mix). In this case, the comedic aspect is more subdued. The whole set up of banquets and qualifying cooking competitions for a prominent position on the domain’s kitchen reminded me of the Japanese TV cooking show Iron Chef. And, surprise!, the family head, Naomi Maeda — who is never seen before the end, is played by none other than the Iron Chef‘s show host Takeshi Kaga! Coincidence? I don’t think so.
A funny anecdote: a friend of my wife, who’s not used to Japanese movies and culture, found the samurai’s hairdo rather ugly. It made me realized that I was so used to it that I never wondered why samurai wore such a strange hairdo. This traditional topknot style was called Chonmage and was not only the symbol of the samurai status (hence cutting the hair in defeat or disgrace) but was also used “to hold a samurai helmet steady atop the head in battle”. Fascinating!
A Tale of Samurai Cooking is an interesting jidai-geki movie that is somewhat similar to Abacus & Sword, where the protagonist is a samurai accountant. It teaches us about Japanese history (Edo period) and shows us plenty of beautiful landscapes and local dishes while entertaining us with a very good love story. It’s worth watching but, unfortunately, it is not available in DVD here (although there’s a R2 Dvd with english subtitles).
A Tale of Samurai Cooking: A True Love Story (武士の献立 / Bushi no kondate / lit. “Warrior’s Menu”). Japan, 2013, 121 min.; Dir.: Yûzô Asahara; Ass. Dir.: Masanori Inoue; Scr.: Michio Kashiwada, Yukiko Yamamuro, Yuzo Asahara (based on the novel by Naoki Oishi); Phot.: Yukihiro Okimura; Music: Tarô Iwashiro; Prod.: Yoshio Ishizuka, Hideaki Miyoshi; Cast: Aya UETO, Kengo KÔRA, Kimiko YO, Toshiyuki NISHIDA, Riko Narumi, Tasuku Emoto, Kenta Hamano, Hana Ebise, Ayane Ômori, Toshiki Ayata.