Regular readers will know about my fanatical love for the animated works of Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Sky Crawlers), but they might not realize how much I also bug-out for his live action films. His last feature length work Avalon came out in 2001, and became an instant favourite in my household, the film getting played so much by me and my better half that we nearly wore out the DVD. Which is a good thing, considering how much I paid to import it from Japan. Anyway, with that in mind you can imagine how excited I got today when the first details were announced about his latest work, due to hit Japanese cinemas in December.
More sad news about a terrible loss to the anime industry – one of it’s true legends and artists Yoshinori Kanada passed away yesterday, after suffering a heart attack at the age of just 57. After making a name for himself in the 1970s working on sci-fi and giant-robo series, he eventually ended up at Studio Ghibli, working closely with Hayao Miyazaki on such monumental works as My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso and Princess Mononoke among many others, and his face will be familiar to anyone that’s sat enthralled watching the extras on Ghibli DVDs. His work was so distinctive and influential that ‘the Kanada style’ became a term commonly used by Japanese animators, and if you want to see just a tiny selection from his massively impressive CV check out the report over at Anime News Network.
Mariko Koike is one of Japan’s best known women writers, having built a reputation on the popularity of her romance and detective novels, short stories and essays. While winning critical and commercial acclaim in Japan, along with a string of award, she has of yet failed to gain popularity outside her home country, mainly due to the obvious language barriers. Which is way I was particularly interested when publishers Vertical Inc sent me a copy of her first novel to be translated into English, The Cat in the Coffin.
Well, I’m back. I survived Havana – a bat-shit crazy but fantastic and beautiful city, both run-down and elgant at the same time, and where everyone that walks the street is a hustler. Sure, communism and food rationing has made it hard to find a decent meal, but who cares when the rum and cigars are so cheap. Plus the Museo de la Revolución and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes make it worth the cost of the flight alone. Just don’t try bringing back a load of that cheap rum through Madrid airport security. Long, painful story. Of course, as always, I took a bunch of photos, which you can check out on the Flickr sideshow below – and are certainly worth a look if you have any passing interest in Che Guevara, crumbling but awe inspiring architecture, mojitos and lots (I mean LOTS) of gorgeous 1950s American muscle cars.