Thursday, September 27, 2007

A Whole Mess of Stuff: Tapeworms, Butt Bugs, Crying Kids, Pianos and Poop

A couple of months back I was inundating my blog with clips done byうるまでるび (Uruma Derubi) for Fuji TV's morning childrens TV show ウゴウゴルーガ (Ugo Ugo Ru-Ga - 0fficial site). These were perverse animated bonbons made for kids that included:
  • A talking tapeworm that comes out of a person's ass and spouts a quote by Pascal
  • Walking mandarin oranges from outer space that squeak and do... stuff
  • A talking turd who juts out of a toilet to impart philosophy etc. **
These little clips were and are intensely popular in Japan and while the PTA in Japan went apoplectic due to their content, the li'l ones loved it.

Well, guess what? The husband and wife team that comprise Uruma Derubi are the demented geniuses behind that おしりかじり虫 (Oshiri Kajiri Mushi aka. the 'Butt Munching Bug') song that rocketed to popularity in the West after it got mentioned on BOING BOING several weeks back.

Looking from the outside in on Japanese TV, it would seem that this is normal fare-- but no, in fact it's not. Even Japanese folks find the 'Butt Munching Bug' to be so stupid it's funny and as Japanprobe reported last week, it's become a top-10 hit. Also, thanks to Japanprobe, they've posted a video to YouTube that includes an interview with the geniuses behind all of the Uruma Derubi cartoons. It's pretty rare to have this couple come out of hiding and do this sort of thing and in the grand tradition of Japanese manga (well, this time it's anime but you get it...) weirdos they're super cheery folks that would fit comfortably in a Paxil ad.

Original Oshiri Kajiri Mushi video:

Here's the interview with Uruma Derubi:

Here're 8 minutes of spinning reindeer, also done by them:

Moving on, the other week I posted about the Japanese commercials that make crying Japanese brats shut up. The actual episode of 探偵!ナイトスクープ (Tantei Knight Scoop) that investigated this claim was incredibly difficult to track down, but thanks to my wife, I've got it. Chances are pretty good that this link will disappear at some point soon seeing as Japanese broadcasters are cracking down on their content showing up on YouTube, so check this out soon, if you have a chance. (In Japanese, though...)

Here's the original ad, again, for reference:

(For the record, Takemoto Piano is a used piano shop. Therefore, the seemingly random inclusion of the kitty cat jumping off of the piano is meant to say that if your cat uses your piano more for a bed then you play it, it's time to sell it. So now you know!)

Here's the full Tantei Knight Scoop:

Previous blog postings for Ugo Ugo Ru-Ga.

** Notably absent are my all-time favorite cartoons by Uruma Derubi called ぶるたぶちゃん (Burutabu Chan!). The concept is simple, a dude who shits a lot. No wonder it was canceled. However, I have an amazing VHS tape of all of the Burutabu Chan! cartoons. Riotous. Here's a link to one. (Not a great one, but you'll get an idea of what it is...)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Celebrity II

It's been busy days for me here, which is why the blog posting has been lagging. Sincere apologies for that.

What have I been up to? Well, funny you should ask. I spent yesterday morning being interviewed** on-camera for the 2008 release of APPLESEED: EX MACHINA. (Japanese site here.) EX MACHINA as y'all might know is the sequel to Shinji Aramaki's 2004 hit anime, which at the time of its release already had designs for two sequels and a possible Hollywood live action remake. (No news on that latter point, as I can find. Perhaps it's dead in the water?)

Well, round two is finally here and what's interesting about this outing-- perhaps more so than John Woo and Terrence Chang's (imdb) participation in it as Executive Producers-- is the fact that Masamune Shirow has taken a more participatory role in the film. Known as a recluse, Shirow's typical involvement in one of his adaptations typically begins and ends with his name appearing somewhere in the credits. With Ex Machina, Shirow is contributed some new designs and offered his 'insights' during production so with some luck perhaps this time we might actually see more than a cursory amount of his 'juice' in this production. (Though what kind of 'juice' and how potent it is, waits to be seen.)

Other interesting aspects of the film include: fashion impresario Miuccia Prada contributing two outfit designs for APPLESEED's heroin Deunan (is this a first in the history of animation??) and a reformation of the legendary Japanese electronic pioneers YMO aka. Yellow Magic Orchestra (and subsequent group HAS) as a kind of new band concoction called HASYMO, headed by Haruomi Hosono, to compose an original score for the film.

According to press statements, director Shinji Aramki promises new and revolutionary animation in this production. Whereas the previous film was mainly animated with software from out of the box-- with the obvious exception of the 'Toon Shading' software-- this time out he promises something new. We'll have to wait and see.

The Japanese will get this first on October 20, 2007. But for those in the US and abroad, we'll have to wait longer.

Here's the trailer:

Here's the long preview, which includes both the Prada designed outfit and the HASYMO music:

And here's a link to my interview with the director Shinji Aramaki that I did on the eve of the first film's US release.

** The reasons why I was interviewed are still a bit of a mystery to me, but I was filmed for an hour and a half (in HD no less, so now you can see all of my blemishes in glorious high definition!) for the various featurettes planned for the DVD release.


My friend Dan -- perhaps inspired by my previous Akira Kurosawa posting -- sent me this link for an old Suntory Reserve Whiskey ad featuring Francis Ford Coppola produced during the making of Kagemusha.

Classic stuff.

Of course it only shows Kurosawa hard at work; Coppola is standing around looking, well, big. Coppola then happily sips the whiskey with Akira Kurosawa while seated around a coffee table, looking at large stills from the Kagemusha shoot: "Good work Akira and good whiskey. Yar..." The way I figure it, seeing as Coppola was an Executive Producer on Kagemusha, the funding had to come from somewhere. Certainly Kurosawa didn't object considering his love for whiskey (and booze in general) and we already know about Coppola and his wine.

(As a bit of trivia I used to live quite close to the Suntory Whiskey plant in Osaka prefecture, once upon a time-- and being a fool I never took the plant tour. What was I thinking?)

But running with this line of old Japanese ads featuring celebrities, one of my favorite ads of all time are Charles Bronson in the MANDOM men's toiletry ad campaign. If you've never seen them before, they're totally mind-blowing. In fact, I was so inspired by them that the last time I was in Japan, I bought a bottle of the MANDOM aftershave-- which, as if frozen in a block of ice and just recently thawed out, has not be redesigned since the 1970s! Groovy! Thinking the aftershave would be only a novelty at best and probably smell like a Jovan Musk spill at JC PENNY'S I was surprised to discover that I actually liked the scent! It's not cloying or revolting in any way!!

(For the record there are no gun shot sound effects accompanying the aftershave's use. Though, curiously, it does make you throw off your shirt and say "Mmmmm Mandom!")

Sunday, September 16, 2007

The Emperor's Coffee (Updated)

It's a trend lately, apparently. Remake Akira Kurosawa's films and revive him from the dead for coffee ads.

Via Japanprobe.

Jason Gray has written more on the remakes here on his blog.

UPDATE: Yale Prof. Aaron Gerow reports this news about Kurosawa Akira's pre-1953 catalog on the KineJapan mailing list. Intriguing stuff:

Sorry for the delay in reporting this, but the Mainichi and other papers reported on Friday that Toho and Kadokawa have won their case against a DVD maker selling cut-rate DVDs of Kurosawa's pre-1953 works. I had reported on this case before, but after several courts had declared that films made before 1953 were public domain, Toho tried the unique route of arguing that Kurosawa's films were 1) covered under the old copyright law, which protects works by individual authors for 38 years after their death (works by corporate authors are only covered for 38 years after the release of the work); and 2) that Kurosawa's films should be treated as works of an individual author. The Tokyo court accepted Toho's argument in part because the credits state at the beginning: "Director Kurosawa Akira". The DVD company, which asserted these were films by a corporate author, announced it will be appealing.

I was surprised to hear the decision, but perhaps it shows that the court doesn't take into account history. The whole thing is ironic, first, because Toho was the company that insisted in its first years on crediting directors only with "enshutsu" not "kantoku" precisely to downplay their importance; and second, because the new copyright law changed the provisions regarding film copyright to eliminate the possibility--still existent, but very ambiguous, in the old law--that individuals could be the authors of studio films (changes I am sure the film companies advocated). I also wonder whether Toho isn't just opening a Pandora's box in trying to protect its profits from Kurosawa DVDs. Will now any old Toho director begin suing Toho for their share of DVD sales now that the courts have confirmed they have the copyright? And what will Kurosawa's family do?

Reading this and other recent legal decisions governing copyright and decency laws in Japan makes me wonder if there's any sort of real consideration for long term effects of these decisions or whether it is, as to be expected, purely short-term and politically motivated?

Friday, September 14, 2007

ANGELINOS! Dario Argento's DEEP RED Tomorrow at Midnight!

One of my top 10 horror films, Deep Red (aka. Profondo Rosso) is required viewing.

This will be my first time seeing it on the big screen and I can't wait. This is the way it was meant to be seen.

Update: My pal Phil tells me that this is the FULL cut of the film -- all 7 reels -- 126 minutes and not the 98 minute US cut.

Tomorrow night.


New Beverly.

Los Angeles.

シャネルズ - Japanese Do-Wop in Black Face

It's not that the Japanese people are racist, necessarily, but sometimes they're just clueless when it comes to what is socially appropriate. Walk into any music shop in Japan and you'll find a section called 'Black Music' comprised of, well, you get it.

Starting back in the mid-1970s and coming into fame in the 80s, the Chanels (シャネルズ) is a Do Wop group that performs in black face (!) -- but not all of them: there's one member who is the 'white' one and doesn't have any make-up on. Oof!

If it's any consolation, their make-up isn't as dark as it once was. Perhaps this change coincided with the Chanel Corporation demanding that they change their name. Currently the Chanels are known as ラッツ&スター (RATS & STAR). And, no, I don't get it either.

The video I wanted to embed has been disabled by YouTube, but fortunately the link still works. Unbelievable...

Update: So my wife informs me that RATS & STAR's member Tashiro Masashi (田代まさし たしろ まさし), a tenor singer in the group, has a colorful criminal history.

Doing some research online I've found that Tashiro is a very colorful character whose illegal activities have included: peeping into woman's restrooms, the illegal possession of a controlled substances (most likely speed) and a weapon in violation of the firearms law. Other rumored illegal activity (which I can't seem to find information on) include alleged chikan (pervert) incidents involving teenage school girls. Whadda guy!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


The good folks over at Outcast Cinema have posted an announcement about their upcoming Nikkatsu New Action film series called No Borders, No Limits: 1960s Nikkatsu Action Films. There's a lot of info about the films, where they'll be playing, and how YOU can have it play in your home town if you click on the link above (or below) and contact them directly and offer them fistfuls of moolah.

Link to Outcast Cinema's blog with info.
Link to Outcast Cinema's HP with info.

But wait! There's more!

The blogmeister (or would that 'Monsieur Blogger'?) from French blog Wildgrounds has posted an English translated list of the films that are playing with English subs at the upcoming Japanese film series playing at the Japanese Cultural Center in Paris (パリ日本文化会館). I wish I lived in Paris!

Here are the screenings w/ English Subtitles :
19h30 Pigs and Battleships by Shôhei Imamura

14h Foundry Town (?) by Kirio Urayama (RARE)
16h30 Branded To Kill by Seijun Suzuki
19h30 Mud and Soldiers by Tomotaka Tasaka

14h Crazed Fruits by Kô Nakahira
16h30 Red Lantern (litteral translation) by Toshiya Fujita (RARE)
19h30 The Eternal Breasts by Kinuyo Tanaka (RARE)

14h The Insect Woman by Shôhei Imamura

14h Man Who Causes a Storm by Umetsugu Inoue (RARE)
19h30 Ah, My Home Town by Kenji Mizoguchi (RARE)

14h Matasaburô on the Wind by Kôji Shima (RARE)
19h30 Ruuju (?) by Takashi Ishi

14h Red Lantern (litteral translation) by Toshiya Fujita (RARE)
16h30 Man Who Causes a Storm by Umetsugu Inoue (RARE)
19h30 Ah, My Home Town by Kenji Mizoguchi (RARE)

14h Un type méprisable (?) by Koreyoshi Kurahara
16h30 La maison des perversités (?) by Noboru Tanaka

14h The Eternal Breasts by Kinuyo Tanaka (RARE)

14h Love Hotel by Shinji Sômai
16h30 Insect Woman by Shôhei Imamura
19h30 Pigs and Battleships by Shôhei Imamura

14h Mud and Soldiers by Tomotaka Tasaka
19h30 Matasaburô on the Wind by Kôji Shima (RARE)

19h30 Un type méprisable (?) by Koreyoshi Kurahara

14h Kurobara shôten (?) by Tatsumi Kumashiro (RARE)

14h Kurobara shôten (?) by Tatsumi Kumashiro (RARE)

Link to
Histoire des grands studios japonais - 1er volet La Nikkatsu ou la modernité toujours recommencée series.

Link to Wildgrounds blog.

 As a final note, this is blog posting number 100 for Thanks for coming by. Lots more to come! 

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Commercials Shut Your Kids Up

My wife was telling me the other day that a Japanese TV show investigated the rumors of a Takemoto Piano Store advertisement that would miraculously shut up a room of crying kids.

The show, 探偵!ナイトスクープ(aka. Tantei! Knight Scoop -- Japanese Wikipedia here) discovered that not only did it work (in general), but that there was also a Kewpie brand Tarako Spaghetti Sauce CM that also did the trick.

The show determined-- after consulting with serious looking folks wearing white lab coats-- that the musical/singing frequency in the commercials was a soothing one for the young tykes because it was reminiscent of the kind of shooshing frequency sounds that they heard as babies.

Okay. If you say so.

In the meantime the adverts are so odd that they demand a watching. So without further ado, here's Tuesday's video weirdness:

Leave it to the Japanese to discover that TV commercials shut your crying kids up.

Monday, September 3, 2007


So, if there ever was a doubt about Hotwax being totally awesome-- it's been officially put to rest.

The super, uber, majorly rad Hotwax folks have announced several new titles: three CDs and one book.

The CDs? Oh, you know, only a little collection of Tsushima Toshiaki's UN-RELEASED sub-themes from the Fukasaku Kinji's JINGI NAKI TATAKAI (aka. Battles Without Honor and Humanity) series! Holy shit! (Guess what I'm buying!)

Other discs include: a collection of themes by Kaburagi So for the various NORA NEKKO ROKKU (Stray Cat Rock) films and Murai Kunihiko's themes for YAJU SHISUBESHI: FUKUSHU NO MEKANIKKU and YAJU KARI. (Neither of which I know anything about.)

The other mind-bogglingly cool entry? TANAKA NOBORU NO SEKAI (The World of Tanaka Noboru): a tell-all study of the grand master of Nikkatsu Roman Porno. This is, apparently, a full length expansion on the 16 page tract released for the 2006 Tanaka Noboru retrospective held in Tokyo. (And should include plenty of naughty pictures to tickle your fancy-- or presumably something else...)

For further reading on Tanaka Noboru I recommend what Jason Gray has written on his blog, since he's attended several Tanaka related screenings and has heard Tanaka speak about his filmmaking in person. Link.