Ghost in the Shell – Arise

Ghost in the Shell - Arise

Ghost in the Shell – Arise

Sorry guys, I had to post this information before publishing my Prometheus – What the Future holds post. This is too good not to post immediately. You guys would know how much praise I have showered on one of the greatest anime of all time – Ghost in the Shell. The original movie from Mamoru Oshii is still on the very top of my favorite movies list of all time. Then came Innocence, another spellbinding film. I also loved both Stand Alone Complexes and of course, Solid State Society. After a long break, Production I. G., is coming out with the project Ghost in the Shell – Arise. Apart from Masamune Shirow, the project involves Ubukata Tow as the primary script writer and Kise Kazuchika as the director. CORNELIUS will be in charge of the music production. They haven’t revealed more information at this moment. But, a press conference will be held at the nicofarre in Roppongi on 12th of February, 6.00 PM JST. The format of the anime and a teaser will be revealed at the press conference, followed by a talk show by its staff members and guests. The best part is, the press conference will be broadcast live on the official site.

Ghost in the Shell - Arise

Ghost in the Shell – Arise: Major Motoko Kusanagi

This is absolutely fantastic news. I missed the Major and Section 9 for too long. Can’t wait for Arise. Follow the link for the website and bookmark it. I have and I also know what my agenda is for Feb 12th, 6.00 PM JST. I was feeling a bit unmotivated today, but this news has certainly been the kick I needed to be productive.

Ghost in the Shell – Arise: Website

Now, back to Prometheus!

Jazztronik Studio Live Best – 19.12.2012 Release

Jazztronik - Studio Live Best Cover

Jazztronik – Studio Live Best Cover

I mentioned about Jazztronik’s newest offering coming out tomorrow. I just wanted to let you guys know that the entire album is available for listening over at soundcloud (Just today!). I mean the entire hour and fifteen minutes. If you are a Jazztronik fan, you would immediately notice that most of the tracks are well known hits. But, the live studio environment gives an absolutely fabulous feel to the tracks. Head over to soundcloud pronto and listen to the tracks. Just follow the link below for listening:

Jazztronik – Studio Live Best – Listen at Soundcloud

Release party was held at AIR in Tokyo Shibuya, Japan last Friday. It featured a host of guest vocals from Mika Arisaka, Sonomi Tameoka and Eliana.

Release Party featuring Jazztronik and Guest Vocals

Release Party featuring Jazztronik and Guest Vocals

Being a big fan of Jazztronik, it should be no surprise why I love this album as well. If you wanna have a Jazzy Christmas, then you should buy this great album tomorrow. In celebration of the album’s release tomorrow, here’s the timeless track Samurai played live at JZ Brat SOUND OF TOKYO on July 29th 2006.

Another picture from the release party. I saw this picture on Mika Arisaka’s Twitter photo stream.

Studio Live Best Release Party - As seen on Mika Arisaka's Twitter

Studio Live Best Release Party – As seen on Mika Arisaka’s Twitter

Gaki no Tsukai – ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!

I had always wanted to talk about this, but somehow missed it. I think it is appropriate now. You see, in addition to being a big fan of Jazz and electronic music scene and anime in Japan, I also follow Japanese comedy shows with great interest. Japanese humor is absolutely brilliant. Conventional comedy programs from the US for example, have these rigid set of rules that define what comedy is and how it should be approached. In Japan though, those things don’t exist. Anything goes. As a result, what comes out is absolutely fascinating, sometimes weird and ridiculous, but will result in stomach cramps from laughing your ass off all the time. If you start following Japanese comedy shows, it is highly likely that you would find run of the mill comedy programs from elsewhere pretty boring. One such comedy show is called Downtown no Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende!! (ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!!). It is a very popular show that has been running since 1989 on Nippon TV. Downtown is basically a comedy duo of Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada. Later, another duo called Cocorico, comprising the comedians, Shōzō Endō and Naoki Tanaka and finally, Hōsei Yamasaki joined Downtown, resulting in a group of five comedians.

Gaki no Tsukai’s skits are legendary and extremely clever. One of the most famous and legendary aspects of the program is the so called Batsu Games, roughly translated to as punishment games. The members of the group get involved in bets, mostly concerned with baseball games or singing competitions and whoever loses the bet has to endure a batsu game. The winning member decides on the game, which most of the times turn out to be something totally silly, but at the same time full of awesomeness. The largest and most complex of all batsu games is the annual “No Laughing Game”, which is currently in its 10th year. The premise of the game is as follows – Each year a theme is chosen and the cast have to perform their roles as dictated by the theme. They will be thrown in totally ridiculous situations, where it would be very difficult not to laugh. Ones who laugh will be immediately punished by hangmen, who slap the cast on their butts with a cane or some other type of S&M punishment gear. Often times, their efforts in trying not to laugh is more hilarious than the situation they are in. For instance, have a look at a small part of the No Laughing High School game from a few years ago. It is just a tip of the iceberg.

As you could see, the above video is subtitled, so it should be no problem understanding. If you crave for more, then you should totally check out This is one of the most definitive source for everything related to Gaki no Tsukai. Many batsu games are available there for watching online, and even download. You could download both raw versions of the program and ones that are subtitled. It is pretty exhaustive. All No Laughing games are available for watching and downloading. Trust me, you will be blown away by the humor. The link below will take you directly to the clips section of the website. All clips are subtitled of course.

Gaki no Tsukai – gakifiles

No Laughing game is normally broadcast on December 31st every year and the one from 2011 ran for nearly six and a half hours! It starts at 18.30 on Nippon TV in Japan. I know what I will be doing on 31st. This year’s theme is “Enthusiastic Teachers”. The five cast mates will dress up and teachers and will be put in totally ridiculous situations and should control their laughter. They shot this year’s series in the middle of this year at the Kanto region. In addition to engineering the show, the crew also use a host of celebrities, sports personalities and other comedians to aid in the screwing up of the cast. If you watch them religiously as I do, you would know everything about the support cast and that helps in appreciating the program even more. Here’s a picture of the cast from a press conference from a few days ago, advertising the upcoming No Laughing game.

From L to R: Yamasaki Hosei, Matsumoto Hitoshi, Hamada Masatoshi (Downtown), Endo Shozo, Tanaka Naoki (Cocorico)

From L to R: Yamasaki Hosei, Matsumoto Hitoshi, Hamada Masatoshi (Downtown), Endo Shozo, Tanaka Naoki (Cocorico)

Here are a couple of pictures of the cast just prior to starting their training as teachers. I can’t wait for the program!

The cast before their mission

The cast before their mission

The cast with Hiroshi Fujiwara

The cast with Hiroshi Fujiwara

Kansai and Kanto – Osaka Humor

If this post has managed to get you get interested in the Japanese comedy scene, you should read up about the general status of comedy in Japan. You would find out why there are many comedy duos in Japan and what does each half of the duo signify. One more thing – You would often find that many comedians come from the Osaka region of Japan. It is no accident. Japanese spoken in Osaka and its neighboring regions like Kyoto has a special dialect. It is called, Kansai dialect. The region in general is called Kansai region. Tokyo and its neighboring areas on the other hand, is the Kanto region. My best friend from Osaka tells me that the Kansai dialect involves an emotional aspect in the language that is normally not the case in Japanese, as spoken in the Kanto region. Such an emotional element, ups and downs in the tone of the language naturally make humor more accessible. Especially, Osaka humor is very direct. I love spending time with my Osaka buddy. Although direct, it is never offensive. I also know a lot of other Japanese people here in Stuttgart who, overtime have become some of my best friends. They come from areas like Tokyo, Shikoku, Kanagawa, Tohoku, Gunma, Kyushu, Kyoto, Hiroshima, to name a few. They are all very receptive to my friend and his jokes and tell me it is no surprise for them since he is from Osaka. Of course there is a subtle regional chauvinism in place as well. But, hey, it exists everywhere. In my motherland, there is always a Northie-Southie divide (Southies rule!) and here in Germany, its Bayern against everyone else. Personally though, it is easier for me to start a conversation with someone from Kansai than someone from say, Tokyo.

Anyway, my point is in Gaki no Tsukai, you will hear a lot of Kansai dialect. And if you understand the jokes, you would exactly have an idea about Osaka humor. Have a look at the gakifiles website and I am sure you will be laughing your asses off.

ケン・イシイ – Metropolitan-Harmonic-Formulas

Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas – Music For Daydreams

Sorry for having disappeared again. Before engaging myself in Prometheus, I wanted to talk a bit about music. Regular visitors of my blog know that I talk about my favorite musicians from time to time. I am a huge fan of Japanese Jazz and Electronic genre and I have talked about artists like Ken Ishii, Jazztronik, Nujabes and Kyoto Jazz Massive. When I was organizing my music collection recently, I realized that I should just put the word out about Ken Ishii’s album, Metropolitan Harmonic Formulas – Music for Daydreams that was released in February 2012. This album is one of a kind folks. It is probably one of the best albums that you would ever hear as far as crossover electronic music is concerned.

Ken Ishii

Jazztronik – Ryoto Nozaki

It features many of my favorite artists like, Jazztronik, Tokyo Black Star, Masaki Sakamoto and Emi Meyer. Ishii-san has always been a creative force and he has put together a wonderful combination. I love all the tracks. But, being a huge fan of Jazztronik’s early works, I have to say that my number one track in the album is After the Rainstorm remix featuring the soothing pianos of 野崎 良太 – Ryota Nozaki. Sadly, two more remixes of After the Rainstorm are not available in this album. You should get the Music for Daydreams EP for them. Honestly, if you are into this kind of music don’t think, just head to beatport or amazon and get both these albums. I promise, you won’t be disappointed.

Rant + Killer Music

Sorry about not having posted new stuff in a while folks. Tied up with a few things here and there. Currently on my way to Munich and have some time to update.

Today marks the first anniversary of me getting dumped by my ex in Starbucks. You tend to forget everything and move on but on a day like this, everything just keeps coming back, whether you like it or not! Anyway, this is gonna be the last time I am ever gonna mention about it, I promise.

Thankfully, I found some new music, thanks to my friend gutterslob (you may know him from crunchbang forums) that made me happy. He is an avid fan of the Japanese underground Jazz and lounge scene, just like I am. I was pleasantly surprised to find an email from him with a link to the album Kayabe from Bun/Fumitake Tamura.

Kayabe | Bun/Fumitake Tamura

If you are into this kind of music, Kayabe is a worthy addition. What’s even better is that the album is available absolutely free for download. Totally legal. Before posting the link, let me post a track from the album called, Searchin. Have a listen and see if it’s your kinda deal.

Follow the link for downloading the album. I will continue to post music from the Japanese scene.

Kayabe – Fumitake Tamura

More coming up later…..