There are two topics covered at roughly equal length this week. The first is the long-awaited release of the Mueller Report, the contents of which reveal things that are entirely insane. On YouTube (15m). The other, almost as insane, is the story of Chiitan (TWITTER), an unofficial mascot for the Japanese city of Susaki. The behavior of Chiitan, a cartoon otter with a turtle on its head, was random, bizarre and violent, and so was asked to stop, by the city Susaki, associating with its official mascot, Shinjo-Kun (INSTAGRAM). But where some ways part, others join, so LWT sent one of their own mascots, Chii-john, a cute otter version of John Oliver, to Susaki to be Shinjo-Kun's new friend.
A family of small-time crooks take in a child they find outside in the cold. [more inside]
The story of the titular girl known only as "The Girl with the Black Hair" and her insanely long night of partying and drinking-complete with a book fair, festival, and many adventures in between. It is also the story of "Senpai," her upper class man who has been attempting to get closer to her by "coincidentally" running into her again and again. However, on this night, meeting up with her may be the greatest challenge of his life. [more inside]
Based on the discussions here of the first and second seasons, let's just dispense with the notion the third season of the series has anything to do with the book, shall we? Season two ended with some surprises and some things that were sort of inevitable with the arc of the story … [more inside]
Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Full Season Season 1, Ep 0
Chef Samin Nosrat travels to Italy, Japan, Mexico, and California to learn about and demonstrate four of the fundamental building blocks of cooking, to teach and encourage home cooks how to think about their food beyond just following recipes. [more inside]
The Asia-Pacific War of 1937-1945 has deep roots. It also involves a Japanese society that's been called one of the most distinctive on Earth. If there were a Japanese version of Captain America, this would be his origin story.
A heinous crime and its aftermath are recalled from differing points of view [content warning]. [more inside]
Post war Hiroshima: It's been four years since the last time she visited her hometown. Takako faces the after effects of the A-bomb when she travels around the city to call on old friends. [more inside]
A crafty ronin comes to a town divided by two criminal gangs and decides to play them against each other to free the town. [more inside]
Tokyo Vampire Hotel: Episode 1 Season 1, Ep 1
In the year 2021, a war between ancient vampire families -- one of them the descendants of Dracula -- takes place on the streets of Tokyo just as the world teeters on the brink of apocalypse. Anyway, I think that's what's going on?! On Amazon Prime.
Bokudake ga Inai Machi: Season 1 (All Episodes) Season 1, Ep 0
The popular manga Boku dake ga Inai Machi ("The Town Without Me"), previously made as both an anime series and a live-action film, comes to Netflix as the live-action tv series Erased. After finding his mom killed, Satoru's time-traveling ability takes him back 18 years for a chance to prevent her death and those of three classmates. [more inside]
On a journey to find the cure for a Tatarigami's curse, Ashitaka finds himself in the middle of a war between the forest gods and Tatara, a mining colony. In this quest he also meets San, the Mononoke Hime. [more inside]
Eyeshield 21: "The Man with the Lightspeed Legs!" Season 1, Ep 1
We are introduced to Sena and Mamori! Best friends where a romantic intersection is kinda unthinkable. I mean, it hurts just to think about it. And that's where the genius in this starts. o yeah this is a sports anime about highschool American Grid Iron Football in Tokyo played between public and private schools [more inside]
A Man Vanishes begins as an investigation into one of the thousands of missing persons cases that occur in Japan each year. The film follows the case of Tadashi, a handsome businessman who has suddenly vanished. Imamura and his crew interview the man's fiancée, Yoshie, who is desperately searching for him, and the filmmaker becomes increasingly involved in her life. But the "investigation" casts a shadow of doubt over the couple's relationship, Tadashi's business ventures, his relationship with Yoshie's sister, and even the investigating film director, Imamura himself, who may not be what he seems.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: INVASION OF THE NEPTUNE MEN Season 8, Ep 19
Non-threating, clunky robots from space invade Japan, and the country's only defense is a bunch of children and Space Chief. The robots turn into women, but their threat level does not increase measurably. Satellite News identifies this as another of the worst movies MST ever did, where a lot of the humor comes from the suffering of the riffers. There are a lot of little moments to watch for, like Tom Servo's "Song About Stock Footage," him saying "Just when I think I've seen the worst movie ever made, along comes the WORST movie EVER MADE!", Mike and Crow just wandering out of the theater at one point, and a number of excellent host segments including Noh Theater, Roji Panty Complex, the return of Krankor, and Crow's Letter To Japan. Oh, and the sudden and unexplained presence of the Hitler Building. Despite all of that, I'd say this one of tough going. In the subplot, an amnesiac Bobo is revealed to be the "Mad Goth," who gets his memory back just in time to get him, Pearl and Brain Guy captured at the end of the episode. YouTube Premiered October 11, 1997. [more inside]
Japan is plunged into chaos upon the appearance of a giant monster. [more inside]
High school student Mitsuko is menaced by a malevolent breeze.
I've just started watching the Japanese reality TV show Terrace House: Boys and Girls in the City. It has been described as a show that 'fixes what's broken in reality TV' as it 'finds meaning in mundane human interaction'. Are there any MeFites who have been watching it and want to discuss? Episode-by-episode or whole-series?
The Man in the High Castle: I do believe my father wants what’s best, but this can’t be the way. Books Included Season 2, Ep 0
We continue to move far from the plot of the book, keeping only the Ally loss, a trifurcated America, and some surnames, but the exploration of alternate timelines, racial complexities, and genetic impurity grows increasingly complex in a delightfully Dicksonian fashion. The current timeline crucially depends on a fundamental misreading of a documentary film (fake news?), which seems to karmically doom almost any critical reading of the series thus far (all reading is misreading), or even any comparison to Dick's book.
In the future, the Japanese government captures a class of ninth-grade students and forces them to kill each other under the revolutionary "Battle Royale" act. [more inside]
A boy named Kubo, skilled in storytelling and origami, must locate a magical suit of armor worn by his late father in order to defeat a vengeful spirit from the past. [more inside]
Takeo, 27-year-old career woman, travels to the countryside while reminiscing about her childhood in Tokyo in this animated feature from Studio Ghibli.
American nuclear weapons testing results in the creation of a seemingly unstoppable, dinosaur-like beast. [more inside]
This week.... Vladimir Putin snubs the 2016 Nuclear Security Summit, and Donald Trump demonstrates that nuclear weapons is another thing he doesn't have much knowledge about. Baseball season prepares to begin, and the New York Yankees annoy and frustrate fans by making it difficult to resell premium tickets online, claiming that the tickets may end up in the hands of people who the Yankees owner figures may not know how to treat the privilege of sitting in the first five rows at a Yankees game. LWT is running a short impromptu context: tweet a picture of yourself wearing something that would would look ridiculous sitting in premium seats at a Yankees game with the hashtag #IHAVENEVERSATINAPREMIUMLOCATION, and you can win one of those seats to a game. [more inside]
Gaycation: Japan Season 1, Ep 1
Ellen Page and Ian Daniel go to Japan to examine a culture where popular media focusing on gay relationships co-exists with a society in which same-sex marriage is still not legal and same-sex couples often bear a social stigma. Through experiencing the country's vibrant LGBT culture and nightlife and speaking with rights activists and LGBT individuals, they explore what it's really like to identify as LGBT in Japan and meet some of the people struggling to find their voice in a country that refuses to give them equal rights under the law. [more inside]
A tragic film covering a young boy and his little sister's struggle to survive in Japan during World War II. [more inside]
In turn-of-the-twentieth-century Japan, a young woman (Meiko Kaji) has been trained since birth to exact bloody vengeance on those who abducted and raped her mother and murdered her mother's family. [more inside]
A man continually trying and failing to get his wife to stay dead; a self-absorbed ad agency creative director who comes up with one unworkable inane idea after another; a British hitman who only wants to know everyone's function in life; and an unfortunate office worker and father whose brain is left scrambled after a stage hypnotist is murdered in mid-performance. Starting off as unrelated plot lines, they intertwine with each other as they continue on their respective ways.
A glimpse into an alternate history of North America. What life after WWII may have been like if the Nazis had won the war. This thread can include spoilers from the Phillip K. Dick novel that inspired the series.
The Man in the High Castle: Sunrise Season 1, Ep 2
Frank's fate hangs in the balance as he is held captive by the Kempeitai. Meanwhile, Juliana makes contact with a mysterious man who gives her a clue about the films, and Obergruppenführer Smith is surprised by an unfortunate turn of events.
Mystery Science Theater 3000: STAR FORCE: FUGITIVE ALIEN II Season 3, Ep 18
The crew of the Bacchus 3, ex-Star Wolf Ken, hard drinking Captain Joe, vivacious Tammy, suspecious Rocky (again?) and some other guys, have adventures throughout the galaxy, involving a secret weapon, Ken's old girlfriend, and the leader of the Star Wolves. It's another sewn-together movie from episodes of the Japanese TV show Star Wolf. It's got the same great theme music, including a host segment that features it. It's the last of the eight Sandy Frank movies, and it's the last Japanese movie for a long long time. The crew of the SOL wouldn't get another Japanese picture until 816 PRINCE OF SPACE, on the Sci-Fi Channel. YouTube (2h) Premiered November 16, 1991. This movie was also riffed in a KTMA episode, but no known fan copy of it exists. [more inside]
A family of four are the sole inhabitants of a small island, where they struggle each day to irrigate their crops. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA VS. ZIGRA Season 3, Ep 16
AKA Gamera tai Shinkai kaiju Jigura The evil alien Zigra comes to Earth in his glowing, flying bowl of Trix, and enacts his fiendish plan: to mind control people in such a way that just shouting in their ear will break the spell, and also to fight with Gamera. It doesn't go well for the intrepid shark monster. The last of the five Gamera movies MST would do, and eighth of the nine Sandy Frank films they would cover on cable. Classic "Shōwa era" Gamera would appear in three other movies in Japan: Gamera vs. Viras, Gamera vs. Jiger and the finale Gamera: Super Monster, which was mostly clips from prior movies, and in which they kill the giant turtle off. Gamera would return for four more movies in the "Heisei era," the last coming out in 2005. YouTube (1h37m) Here's the KTMA version (1h35m). [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: MIGHTY JACK Season 3, Ep 14
(1968, Color, Japanese, Spies) The only people who can hope to win against "the organization known as Q" is Mighty Jack, a bunch of action spies in a flying submarine. I think. Despite several viewings I don't think I've ever managed to pay complete attention throughout the entire episode. The movie is amazingly lacking in cohesiveness, in large part because it's really the first and last episodes of a Japanese TV spy show tacked together. For Fugitive Alien and Time Of The Apes at least some editing was done for continuity, but not here. I don't recommend this one to casual viewers. Treat Mighty Jack with respect, or Mighty Jack will destroy you. YouTube (1h38m) Premiered September 21, 1991. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA VS. GUIRON Season 3, Ep 12
(1969, Color, Kaiju, Monster, Japanese, Gamera, Sandy Frank, Cornjob) aka "Attack Of The Monsters" "Will Gamera be a super turtle or turtle soup?" A pair of boys is taken away by two scantly-clad alien ladies to their home planet -- but they plan to eat their brains! To rescue the kids, Gamera will have to fight the inexplicable Guiron, a monster with a big knife blade for a forehead. If Gamera vs. Gaos is the best Gamera movie taken on its own terms, this one is, by far, the most entertaining one in an episode of MST3K. With a goofy enemy monster, Gamera doing many blatantly absurd things like gymnastics, and a character who's name sounds all the world like Cornjob, it's an awesome episode overall and excellent fun even for newbies. And it's the episode that gives us the Gamera Fight Song! It is fourth of the Gamera movies suffered by the crew of the SOL, and the sixth Sandy Frank movie. One Gamera film, and two other Sandy Frank films, remain. YouTube (1h37m) KTMA Original! (YouTube, 1h33m) [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: FUGITIVE ALIEN Season 3, Ep 10
(1978, Color, Japan, Sandy Frank, Music, Forklift Homicide, Intro, Classic) Two episodes of the Japanese TV show Star Wolf (スターウルフ) merge into a sorta-movie by our old fiend Sandy Frank. Ken is a Wolf Raider, one of a band of space pirates, but after turning against his culture when they tried to kill an Earth kid (also named Ken), he throws his lot in with hard-drinking Captain Joe and the crew of his ship, the Bacchus III. Hey! I made a Metafilter post about this show once! It has AWESOME MUSIC, which Joel and company make good use of. I tell you truly, this is one of the best shows the Brains ever made. The movie is extremely goofy, yet still kind of watchable and likeable, and the riffing is top-notch. If you can like MST3K, you will like this. Good times ahead! YouTube. (1h40m) First aired August 17, 1991. BONUS: It's not for newbies, but you can watch the guys' first take on this movie that aired on KTMA TV! YouTube (1h43m) [more inside]
An email to the wrong address sends us hurtling into the world of professional cookie advisors. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: TIME OF THE APES Season 3, Ep 6
Originally Saru No Gudan. (1987, Color, Japanese, TV Movie, Apes, Post-Apocalyptic) Two moppets and a lab assistant are flash-frozen by Science Machines during an earthquake and wake up hundreds of years later when APES RULE THE WORLD. They team up with the enigmatic human Godo and fight against their simian overlords to find a solution to their plight. The first of the cable run of MST3K's non-Gamera Sandy Frank films, and the origin of the Sandy Frank song, a mocking tribute to the American producer who brought us Japanese shows edited together as movies. One of the best episodes! Host segments explain "Why doesn't Johnny Care (a film by Bell Labs)" and introduce the Miracle Growth Baby. YouTube (1h37m) First aired July 13, 1991. [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: U.S.' Poor Work Provisions For New Mothers, Japanese Mascots Season 2, Ep 13
This week: United Kingdom holds elections and in an upset David Cameron remains Prime Minister. Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen refuses to pay up on a bet that Manny Pacquiao would defeat Floyd Mayweather in the World Heavyweight Boxing championship. Russia holds a parade to celebrate the 70th anniversary of VE Day, but is snubbed by many world leaders protesting Russia's treatment of Ukraine. And Now: The Continuing Adventures Of The Most Patient Man On Television (Steve Scully of C-Span's Washington Journal), this time versus profanity. Main story: Mother's Day, and America's awful leave provisions for new mothers, among the worst in the world (YouTube 12m). LWT provides a helpful commercial illustrating US business' actual opinions towards mothers. And finally, Japan and its weird love affair with cartoon mascots for districts and government agencies. Supposing they may be on to something, LWT presents their own mascots for 11 U.S. government agencies. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA VS. BARUGON Season 3, Ep 4
aka Daikaijû kettô: Gamera tai Barugon. (1966, Color, Gamera, Kaiju, Monster, Japan, Sandy Frank) Gamera made it out of the Z-Plan Rocket from the first movie, but now is challenged by giant, stick-tongued, rainbow-beamed gator-dog Barugon for his position on top of the monster heap. There's a subplot involving jewel thieves, but at least there's no obnoxious kids this time. It is the only Gamera movie Joel and the 'bots would get of which this could be said. Watch for Tom Servo's "Fightin' Men and Monsters" toy commercial, a joy to behold. YouTube (1h37m) First aired June 22, 1991. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: GAMERA Season 3, Ep 2
(1965, B&W, Kaiju, Japan, Monster, Turtle, Kenny) aka Daikaiju Gamera, Gamera The Invincible. "See Gamera... Destroy Entire Cities! Attack from Outer Space! Fight the Mightiest Armies!" "CAN PLAN 'Z' STOP GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE?" Atomic testing in the arctic revives a horrible prehistoric creature, the gigantic monster turtle Gamera, who destroys cities and torches armies... but also befriends a sad young boy?? The first cable MST3K episode to feature a movie brought to the US by Joel and the bots' third season archfoe: Sandy Frank! It's one of nine Sandy Frank imports they did, and one of five Gamera movies. At least two classic Gamera movies were not covered by MST: Gamera vs. Viras and Gamera vs. Monster X. YouTube (1h37m) First aired June 6, 1991. [more inside]
Mystery Science Theater 3000: GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER Season 2, Ep 13
(1966, Color, Japanese, Monster, Godzilla, Mothra, Kaiju) "The World's Devastating, Most Crushing Battle of the Gigantic Monsters: Ebirah, the Gigantic Lobster, Challenges the Supremacy of Godzilla and Mothra!" Guys steal a boat, people oppress islanders, and giant mutant critters throw down. After the stellar Godzilla vs. Megalon, this one's kind of a sleeper. Unavailable on YouTube. Originally aired February 2, 1991. [more inside]
Jiro Dreams of Sushi is the story of 85-year-old Jiro Ono, considered by many to be the world’s greatest sushi chef. He is the proprietor of Sukiyabashi Jiro, a 10-seat, sushi-only restaurant inauspiciously located in a Tokyo subway station. Despite its humble appearances, it is the first restaurant of its kind to be awarded a prestigious three-star Michelin Guide rating, and sushi lovers from around the globe make repeated pilgrimage, calling months in advance and shelling out top dollar for a coveted seat at Jiro’s sushi bar. IMDB (7.9/10); Rotten Tomatoes (99% fresh).
Ping Pong the Animation: Smile Is a Robot First Watch Season 1, Ep 2
Coach Koizumi has started working Smile hard, and he definitely doesn't appreciate the extra attention. Available on YouTube! More about this amazing show in the first episode's post. [more inside]
Two old friends go to spy on a new table tennis champ at a rival high school, but meanwhile their own team is falling apart. This is the first episode of the most recent anime series by Masaaki Yuasa, who recently guest directed the Adventure Time episode Food Chain. US distributor Funimation has put the entire series on YouTube, so watch this episode there! More, spoiler-free information about the series inside. [more inside]
Last Week Tonight with John Oliver: Obama's Tour, Income Inequality, CIA Image Problems Season 1, Ep 10
Japan ends its pacifist military stance. Warren G. Harding wrote naughty letters to his mistress. (YouTube) Obama goes on a tour of the nation. Main story: Income inequality and the estate tax. (YouTube) FIFA Secretary General Jerome Valcke is a hypocritical bastard. The CIA tries, and fails, to improve its public image.
The world's most famous monster is pitted against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. [more inside]