The Great Asian Fantasy Movie Quest: Shinobi ~ Heart Under Blade (2005)

Posted April 2, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: J-Drama & Film

Tags: , , ,

Ten Little, Nine Little, Eight Little Ninjas…

by Ender’s Girl

A hopeless sucker for a good sword-and-sorcery yarn, I never pass up the chance to road-test possible contenders for the Next Great Asian Fantasy Flick. (Recs from y’all are most welcome!) This particular movie tracks two ill-fated ninja lovers trying (not?) to kill each other in the mountain forests of 17th-century Japan. Sounds, epic, I know. But is it really?

Shinobi: Heart Under Blade

The Cast:
Nakama Yukie, Odagiri Joe, Sawajiri Erika

Directed by Shimoyama Ten / Shochiku Films, 2005

In a Nutshell:
An uncanny pair of star-crossed ninjas (and one in a mullet) must choose between forbidden love and clan duty. (OHNOES OHNOES!!!)

(SpoilLert: Ohohoho you bet!)

Genres: fantasy, romance, cosplay
Iconography: secret ninja communes, dueling magicky people, Odagiri Joe in a mullet
Main themes: mullets, blood feuds, filial piety, forbidden love
Key message: If your boyfriend grows a mullet, you might as well gouge your eyes out. (Yowww!)

Watching certain parts of Shinobi – and I’m just talking about the good parts here – is like watching nature-themed screensavers while pretending to send emails from your workstation. Same amount of brainwork required, too. Because if all you’re looking for is a pretty movie, then this one is it. It’s hard to top the visuals of the Edenic realm in which this film is set: a falcon winging over tree-topped ravines… a shallow rock pool shimmering in a forest glade… a fish arcing out of the water and scattering crystal droplets in slow-mo… a wood nymph with lavender chenille in her hair, alighting by the pool for a sip while her would-be lover, a solemn young man in a mullet, gazes at her from across the water…

Click to see MOAR mullets! MOAR!!!


Vid Clip: Cry for the Smile (SMAP)

Posted March 23, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: J-Ent: Welcome to the Freakshow, Miscellaneous


“Coz everybody know(s) that spring will come…”

Vintage SMAP…

…and their message for the Tohoku disaster victims:

What things can we do right now.
Let’s all do what we can now.
Whether that’s donating or turning off your electric switches.
Actions like that contribute even just the tiniest bit to the hope of tomorrow.
We can put all of our efforts together.
We can bring our hearts together.
Let’s do it everyone!!!

Source: Tokyohive

Paper Cranes for Japan

Posted March 21, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: Miscellaneous


It’s a small gesture, but…

When I heard about the Paper Cranes for Japan project, I wanted to take part and do something — anything — that would express my solidarity with the quake and tsunami victims. Although work left me with little downtime for most of last week (which is also why I haven’t been posting new stuff lately… gomen and miane to my 20-odd regular readers, sankyou for sticking it out with delinquent old E.G., lol), Saturday evening finally found me with some paper and a pair of scissors in hand, surfing Youtube for a DIY origami video.  Since my artist-designer sister wasn’t around to make the tsuru for me, I decided to give it a shot (my first ever). And it actually wasn’t half as hard as it looked. Took a few shots of the crane on two sheets of blue craft paper which I had spread on our dining table, and voila — finished product above.

I racked my brains for an inspiring message to accompany my little paper tsuru on its maiden goodwill flight (a haiku? a verse? kana characters lifted from Babelfish?), but in the end a simple word of encouragement felt best.

I had also wished to send this photo for inclusion in the Waratte, Nippon! video project, but I missed the deadline last Saturday by a few hours. So I’m posting it here instead. I know the crisis in Japan is far from over, but for whatever it’s worth… Ganbatte, Japan!

(Make your tsuru and share it, too!)

Japan Earthquake and Tsunami: Just a Few Words

Posted March 13, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tags: ,

3/11/2011, 2:46 pm

As Japan reels from the massive earthquake and tsunami that — in more ways than one — have shaken the entire nation to its core, and as the people of Nihon continue to brace for a potential nuclear disaster, this blog joins the many voices across cyberspace and all over the world in extending sympathies to everyone who has lost loved ones, livelihood and property to this inconceivable tragedy.

Our thoughts and prayers go with them, even as we all continue to hope that the worst is already over.

– Lessandra

How to help


Drama Review: 99-nen no Ai ~ Japanese-Americans (TBS, 2010)

Posted February 21, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: J-Drama & Film

Tags: , , , ,

99 Years of Zzzzsolitude

by Ender’s Girl

The Cast:
Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, Matsuyama Kenichi, Nakama Yukie, Nakai Kiichi, Izumi Pinko, Kawashima Umika, Terashima Saki, Yachigusa Kaoru, Kamijo Tsunehiko, Kishi Keiko

In a Nutshell:
A family of Japanese immigrants struggle to survive in America in the years leading up to the Second World War, enduring bigotry and injustice – both on their farm, and later, in an internment camp – from an increasingly xenophobic society and its government.

(SpoilLert: It’s A WAR DRAMA, so it can’t possibly end well, can it?)

“But when we came out of camp, that’s when I first realized that being in camp, that being Japanese-American, was something shameful.”

– George Takei

This multi-generational saga begins when the founding patriarch leaves his hometown in search of a better life and a better future…

[*buzz* What is “One Hundred Years of Solitude”?]

…and he embarks on an epic journey across the ocean, where America beckons with the promise of land so green and bountiful, as far as the eye can see. And on this land he unexpectedly finds love…

[*buzz* What is Far and Away?]

…But he and his wife soon realize the hardships faced by migrant sharecroppers – the unfair wages, abusive landlords and wretched living conditions…

[*buzz* What is “The Grapes of Wrath”?]

…Still, the young couple persevere until they acquire their own farm and start to raise a family. But when war breaks out between America and Japan following the Pearl Harbor attacks, the family is forced off their land by the U.S. government and relocated to the Manzanar Internment Camp…

[*buzz* What is “Snow Falling on Cedars”?]

…And in this production, the lead actor appears in multiple roles…

[*buzzzzzz* What is Coming to America???????]

(LOL.) Er, sorry to disappoint the Gabriel Garcia-Marquez fans, the Tom+Nicole fans, the Steinbeck fans, the Ethan Hawke fans (lol) and most of all, the Eddie Murphy fans reading this blog, but the answer is “none of the above.”

When 99-nen no Ai (99 Years of Love) ~ Japanese-Americans aired for five consecutive nights in November of 2010, it wasn’t just touted as TBS’ 60th anniversary offering — a worthy milestone in itself — but as something more momentous, not only for the network but for the whole country. For this tanpatsu wasn’t just any historical drama, it was a drama about a particular subset of Nihonjin who lived in a land not their own, amid a people hostile to their race, and during one of the most harrowing periods in 20th-century history. By following the story of the fictional Hiramatsu family, 99-nen no Ai gives viewers a glimpse into the injustices suffered by the first-generation Japanese-American immigrants (called Issei) and their American-born children (or Nisei) on U.S. soil during the 1920s-1940s, the most egregious of which being their blanket labeling as “enemy aliens” during the Second World War (despite the Nisei being American citizens) and subsequent incarceration in concentration camps.

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

News Nibbly: KimuTaku, TBS Gear Up for Big-Budget Antarctica Drama

Posted January 22, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: J-Drama & Film, Misc, The Kimura Project

Tags: , ,

MUSH!!! (South Pole or Bust!)

by Ender’s Girl

No question about it: with his active, fun-loving, outdoorsy lifestyle, Kimura Takuya is Dog’s best friend. (Unlike sedentary, cat-owning little me…eow.) Word is he keeps two canines, a Labrador and a guide dog of unspecified breed. And the above photo of him with a Golden Retriever (one of my all-time fave Kimura snapshots) says it all: the Dorama King digs dawgs… Dawg. I mean, just look at that Gatsby-Waxed animatronic canine plushie ensconced in his lap (see video below), and tell me they weren’t made for each other, lol. (How something can look like creepy sh*t and be beyond adorable and cool at the same time is lost on me.)

Now picture Kimura with not one, but fifteen dogs — Sakhalin Huskies to be precise, and all of them stranded in the harshest imaginable place on earth. (Clue: it starts with an “A” and ends with an “A” — but it sure as heck ain’t Australia, lol.) It’s Man plus Dog… vs. Wild! Human and canine, battling the elements together! Oh the blizzards! The whiteout! The frostbite and hypothermia! The deadly leopard seals! The Abominable Snowman! (Wrong hemisphere I know! lol) And what could possibly be worse than getting stuck in Planet Earth’s butthole? Why, it’s having to ditch your loyal sled dogs in Planet Earth’s butthole while you get rescued with your fellow humans!!! (Tsk tsk) Would you risk life and (frostbitten) limb to go back for your furry friends, even with no guarantee that they’d still be alive? Would you?

If this scenario sounds like the stuff of Disney movies, it IS in fact the stuff of a Disney movie – specifically the 2006 film Eight Below (starring Paul Walker). But what audiences then probably didn’t know was that Eight Below was inspired by the 1983 Japanese blockbuster Nankyoku Monogatari (South Pole Story). The film was based on the dramatic events of the 1957-58 Japanese Antarctic Expedition, when extreme weather conditions forced the Showa Base research team to evacuate via chopper and leave behind an entire pack of Sakhalin Huskies (or “Karafuto-Ken”) still chained to the base. It was almost a year before Antarctic weather conditions permitted the team to make their way back to Showa Base in the hopes of burying the dogs. But what they didn’t expect to find was that two of the Huskies, Taro and Jiro, had miraculously survived and were awaiting the team’s return. (Cue: *giant sniffle*)

Click to read MOAR!!! MOAR!!!

Picspam: Miura Haruma Calendar 2011

Posted January 7, 2011 by Ender's Girl
Categories: Miscellaneous

Tags: ,

A Miura a Day Keeps the Johnnies Away

by Ender’s Girl

Since jicks and zooey started the ball rolling with their New Year posts, let me chime in and wish everyone a happy 2011!

And for dyed-in-the-wool fans of Miura Haruma, there’s no better inspiration for the 365 days ahead than this guy’s charming little desk calendar. I found the scans of the calendar via Miura’s LJ comm, but good thing Nikki of was able to post the raw photos on her site. (Thanks to jicks for nudging me in the right direction.)

My second reaction to the calendar (the first being, “Aaaaaaaaaaaa”) was that whoever conceptualized the photo shoot was a frickin’ genius by capitalizing on Miura’s boy-next-door image – the same image that has consistently fueled his mass appeal over the years. Here he’s shown to be just a regular guy — your Everyboy if you will: fresh, playful, parent-friendly and wholly accessible.

The stats don’t lie, either: in 49 out of  the 72 photos (or a whopping 68%) Miura is seen doing regular, everyday stuff at home, be it eating/drinking/cooking (11 shots), doing his chores (4), doodling/writing (2), or just chilling (24). In a brilliant marketing ploy, the calendar is also quick to remind us — through the 5 bedroom/couch shots and the 3 bathroom photos — of Miura’s very subtle brand of sexuality. In other words, he can be hot — but never horny. (Are you taking notes, Kamenashi?) Nothing overt, just suggestive enough of… well, the possibilities. But no worries, for the boy doesn’t bite. (At least, not yet.)

So I tampered tinkered with my favorite calendar shots (see example above). A word of caution: some of the graphics that I worked into the photos are a tad cheesy, while a few others are downright creepy. (And Imma say sorry in advance to jicks for dragging her name into a couple of the creepy ones, lol.) My corny graphics notwithstanding, you gotta admit — the boy is fine.

MOAR Miura after the jump!