Monday, February 20, 2006

We're looking for freelance editors who know Japan

As posted on Craigslist, Stone Bridge Press is looking for qualified freelance book editors:

Stone Bridge Press of Berkeley, California, is looking for you...

... if you are an editor type who knows a fair amount about Japan and Japanese language and culture.

We are an independent book publisher in the San Francisco Bay Area. We specialize in non-academic books about Japan and Asia. We are aiming to expand our list and are looking for qualified freelance book editors.

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Friday, February 17, 2006

Why you should consult Designing with Kanji first!

Hanzi Smatter, "Dedicated to the misuse of Chinese characters in Western culture," is a fun reminder of why you should check out Shogo Oketani's and Leza Lowitz's Designing with Kanji: Japanese Character Motifs for Surface, Skin and Spirit before you dedicate a character to your skin!

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Get ready for Small Press Month

March is Small Press Month, and Stone Bridge Press is a small press, so naturally, we're going to celebrate March! If you're from a bookstore or a library, check out 10 Things You Can Do. If you're not, check with your favorite bookstores or libraries and see what they are doing. You can also print out this excellent poster featuring a self-portrait of Kurt Vonnegut!

Photographer/Designer Markuz Wernli Saito to speak in Melbourne

Markuz Wernli Saito, photography and designer of Mirei Shigemori: Modernizing the Japanese Garden, will be making his popular presentation, "The Design Process of a Photo Book — Integration of Image and Word" at Apple Mac User Society in Melbourne, Australia. The event takes place Saturday, March 4, from 1 to 2 pm.

Apple Mac User Society Melbourne, AUSOM
Box Hill TAFE, Auditorium
Cnr Whitehorse Rd and Elgar Rd
Box Hill, Melbourne, VIC 3128

Transit: Melways 47 B8, Tram stop 56

The Japan Journals reviewed in Cinema Scope

Cinema Scope reviews The Japan Journals: 1947-2004: "It's a fascinating read—especially when Richie talks about sex, Japan's erotic culture, and the West’s e(roto)motional tight-assedness—often unsparing and fierce in its judgments, especially about himself. But careful: somebody so open certainly has something to hide. Meet Donald Richie, literary character."

Read the entire review.

Subway Love reviewed in The Japan Times

In The Asian Bookshelf of The Japan Times, Donald Richie writes of Nobuyoshi Araki's Subway Love: "...One facet of this overwhelming collection of people sitting in the subway is that Araki has given us an almost indigestible slice of humanity. We are on the edge of sociology, maybe even anthropology..."

Read the entire review.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Sneak Peek The Expanded Anime Encyclopdia's review of Howl's Moving Castle

The Anime Encyclopedia, that massive guide that arrived in 2001, is now getting a second edition for later this year! With updated information and added reviews (just think of all that anime from the last FIVE years), The Anime Encyclopedia 2 is working its way through the editorial process, but here is a sneak piece at a new review, which is the newly Oscar-nominated Howl's Moving Castle:

- Eng. Release?: YES; (2004);
- Jpn: Howl no Ugoku Shiro
- Aka NONE
- Movie.
- Director/s: Hayao Miyazaki
- Screenwriter/s: Hayao Miyazaki
- Designer/s: Hayao Miyazaki
- Animator/s: Akihiro Yamashita, Takeshi Inamura, Kitaro Kosaka
- Music: Joe Hisaishi
- Prd: Studio Ghibli, Gonzo, T2, Production I.G., Madhouse
- Dur: 119 mins

Plain, shy hat-maker Sophie is cursed by the Witch of the Waste to turn prematurely into an old woman. In search of a remedy, she works as a cleaner for Howl, a handsome wizard who, it is rumored, steals the hearts of young girls. Sophie brings a woman's touch to a ramshackle bachelor household, edging her way into the antagonistic world of Howl, his boy apprentice Markl, and Calcifer, the fire demon, whom Howl has bound to the castle's machinery to keep the power flowing. Meanwhile, Howl and several of his pseudonyms are resisting a king's order to fight against the wizards of a rival state. He contends with two women with whom he seems to have a past, the Wicked Witch, whose fading spells cause her to age and collapse into dementia, and Madame Suliman, a government sorcerer who urges Howl to enter royal service.

Hayao Miyazaki's adaptation of the novel by Diana Wynne Jones adds several personal touches, starting with a wheezing comic-relief lapdog. The wholly magical realm of the original novel is given a more modern, steam-based technology, and a new subplot about a distant war, fraught with mixed feelings that appear rooted in Japan's role as bystander and beneficiary to the invasion of Iraq. War breaks out over the search for an important artefact - the infamous real-world "weapons of mass destruction" transformed here into a missing prince, demands for whose return lead to the background conflict. HMC wrestles with the ideas of duty and obligation, and how best to do the right thing in a world gone wrong.

Flushed with international approbation for Spirited Away and Miyazaki's long-deserved Academy Award, HMC was less a movie than a national celebration. On its opening weekend 1.1 million Japanese spent over $14 million -- an opening surpassed only by Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001). Buena Vista invested reverently in the English language adaptation, casting the new Batman Christian Bale, as the selfish Howl, and Billy Crystal in a comic turn as Calcifer. The dub is also tied firmly into America's film heritage with Jean Simmons as the aged Sophie, and Lauren Bacall as the Witch of the Waste.

HMC is a charming film, visually inventive and magnificently crafted. The castle itself is a fabulous creation, like a magic mechanical version of Baba Yaga's Hut from Russian folklore, and the settings are beautifully realized, with the wild mountains and uplands handled particularly well. However, there is a difference between an excellent film and an excellent Miyazaki film. All film
is a collaborative process, but in the best films of a genius one finds a unique creative soul, a way of seeing and showing that can be imitated, but not replicated. Other great Japanese directors, given Ghibli's unrivalled resources, could have made a movie very like HMC; but no one else could have made anything approaching Nausicaa.

HMC was originally intended for another director until Miyazaki stepped in, the legendary perfectionist seemingly unable to let a good idea go to waste, even though he had supposedly retired. The film's hidden message is Miyazaki's love letter to Akemi Ota, the young, hard-working animator girl he married so long ago, a plucky heroine who woke up one day to find herself a glorified scullery maid to a self-absorbed creative, obsessed with distant battles and otherworldly sorceries.

HMC sometimes appears more like the product of a committee rehashing Miyazaki's glory days, heroines confronted by outsized obstacles, contending witches and lead characters unwittingly transformed. This problem may lie in the incorporation of the ideas of other, younger colleagues into what has always been a unique and sometimes an autocratic vision. Similarly, absolute simplicity and innocence are hard to handle realistically - in My Neighbor Totoro they work sublime wonders, but in HMC it leaves the characters alienated from the events around them, like preoccupied children or the "little people" of Patlabor, ignorant of a big picture that is only apparent on repeat viewing.

It may be a tribute to the original novel character, who fed on the souls of besotted young girls, that Howl is Miyazaki's first consciously beautiful male hero, who gets to have Miyazaki's first full-on screen kiss, but he's also the first Miyazaki hero to turn into a conventional father-figure by the end of the movie. By the close of the film, the wild, magical creatures are tamed into an image of a nuclear family. The magnificently depraved Witch is a gentle granny mumbling in a sunny garden, the resourceful Markl a kid teasing an old dog, and the fire elemental a loveably grouchy Disney domestic appliance, as the irresistible wizard steers his companion and the domesticated castle into the happy-ever-after. Compare this with the ending of Princess Mononoke, where San and Ashitaka agree to accept each other's separate needs without compromising their love.

The major Miyazaki themes are still there - integrity, consideration for others, the destructive power of war and greed, ecological awareness, and the synergy of true teamwork. What is lacking is a spark so unique it seems churlish to expect Miyazaki to produce it, on demand, movie after movie; and the supernaturally sure-footed sense of pace and timing that inform his greatest works. HMC is a detailed and generous answer, but so caught up in its own complexity that it seems to have misheard the question.

Monday, February 06, 2006

Free guided tour helps tourists discover more of Akihabara

MSN-Mainichi Daily News reports in "Free guided tour helps tourists discover more of Akihabara" that the tours only last through the month to February 20.

In Tokyo this month? Sign up!

Missing the free tours? Get caught up and take your Cruising the Anime City with you!

Donald Richie mentioned in Newsweek: International Editions

In his article, "Turning Un-Japanese" for Newsweek: International Editions, Christian Caryl mentions Donald Richie, author of several books from Stone Bridge Press, including The Japan Journals:

Donald Richie has been living in Japan for half a century. The American writer, translator and film scholar has spent most of that time explaining Japan to the English-speaking world. But lately he's found himself, somewhat disconcertingly, in an entirely new role—as an interpreter of Japan to the Japanese.

The Tokyo university students who attend his lectures on the great postwar filmmaker Yasujiro Ozu no longer understand the world portrayed in the 1953 classic Tokyo Story. They don't know anything about the family system because the family system doesn't exist anymore," says Richie. "So I have to reconstruct it for them." They can still understand the traditional, intricately polite version of Japanese used in the movies, but that language sounds alien, as if it comes from a "vanished" world, he says.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Author Patrick Macias interviewed on Anime World Order

Patrick Macias, co-author of Cruising the Anime City: An Otaku Guide to Neo Tokyo, did a 5-hour interview with the folks at Anime World Order. The first part can be heard in the show's most recent episode.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Author Frederik L. Schodt to speak, sign books at events in early 2006

Check here for updated information!

Frederik L. Schodt, author of several Stone Bridge Press titles such as Dreamland Japan, American and the Four Japans, Native American in the Land of the Shogun, along with translator of The Four Immigrants Manga and Mobile Suit Gundam, will be speaking and signing copies of his books at a number of events in the upcoming months.

February 17

Mr. Schodt will speak on “The Manga Way” at a symposium called “Marauding Rabbits, Starry-Eyed Girls, Battling Boys, 'Ordinary Ladies': Japanese (American) Manga in Review.” Also speaking is Stan Sakai, Kinko Ito, and Matthew A. Thorn. This event runs all afternoon in room Hahn 101 at Pomona College in Claremont, CA. Please contact Professor Lynne Miyake at 909-621-8931 for more information.

February 22-24

On Thursday, February 23rd, Mr. Schodt will give a lecture entitled, "Manga Here, Manga There, Manga Everywhere." The lecture, which is free and open to the public, will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the Washington-Franklin Room in Washington-Franklin
Hall, located on the Randolph-Macon College campus in Ashland, Virginia. Find more information at

March 9-13

One of the themes of the Honolulu Festival will be Ranald MacDonald, Mr. Schodt’s subject in Native American in the Land of the Shogun. Mr. Schodt will be participating in a seminar about the explorer on March 11. More information about the Honolulu Festival can be found at

March 20

The Asiatic Society of Japan in Tokyo has invited Mr. Schodt to speak about Ranald MacDonald and the adventures of this man who snuck into Japan when it was completely shut off from foreigners. Find more information at

One can only wonder how many frequent flyer points Mr. Schodt will be earning!

Light from the East and jrock, ink. reviewed in The Daily Yomiuri

The Daily Yomiuri reviews Light from the East: A Gathering of Asian Wisdom by Frank MacHovec and jrock, ink.: a concise report on 40 of the biggest rock acts in japan by Josephine Yun.

Read the review of Light from the East.
Read the review of jrock, ink.