Posts for 2011

Pascali's Island (Barry Unsworth) (2011/12/31 02:12)
Inspiration for the Ben Kingsley movie of the same name: a dark little story about the death of trust.

Scrape Off The Labels Dept. (2011/12/31 01:10)
Jack Finney (he of Invasion of the Body Snatchers fame) once wrote a story called "I'm Scared", where an unnamed narrator describes a slew of cases collected by him over the years in which time itself seems to have...

Sit Down and Shut Up: Punk Rock Commentaries on Buddha, God, Truth, Sex, Death, and Dogen's Treasury of the Right Dharma Eye (Brad Warner) (2011/12/30 12:10)
Brad Warner explains one of Zen's more difficult texts with verve and unpretentious charm.

No Longer Human, Vol. #2 (Usamaru Furuya / Osamu Dazai) (2011/12/23 02:35)
Further down the spiral with both Osamu Dazai and his 21st-century interpretation via manga master Usamaru Furuya.

Write Where You Are Dept. (2011/12/16 07:09)
On my last trip to the library to pick up some stuff on hold*, I ran across a couple of books which I remembered being blurbed about at the time of their release as being written in the style of...

The Good, The Bad And The Literary Dept. (2011/12/13 07:28)
It was in a conversation about the ubiquitous The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo that I brought up a homily that’s been repeated many times elsewhere: A mediocre book can often be made into an excellent film, and many of...

Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies and the Truth About Reality (Brad Warner) (2011/12/07 12:34)
Zen explained by a former punk rocker. No, really. And explained very well, too.

Face It Dept. (2011/12/03 01:04)
I've enabled comment logins via Facebook. You'll need to authorize Genji Press as a FB app, but that's normal....

Look Ahead Dept. (2011/12/02 04:36)
Been a while since I looked at what movies are coming down the pike, so --...

Look At That Dept. (2011/12/02 02:44)
Back here I mentioned in passing how one of my constant bugaboos in bad writing is when we get description vs. observation. This was one of those on-the-spot coinages, where I took two words with marginally different shades of meaning...

Out Of Character Dept. (2011/11/29 02:59)
At the risk of going back on what I just wrote about the other day ... As research-of-a-sort for the story I'm working on, I was given pointers towards a whole slew of space-opera type works. Some are more blatantly...

Tasteless Dept. (2011/11/27 03:39)
Why readers' and writers' tastes are at odds so often.

0Q84 Dept. (2011/11/16 02:48)
I have been reading, not very enthusiastically, Haruki Murakami's 1Q84. One of the major plot elements involves a writer who is hired to rewrite a young girl's fantasy story and make it more readable, a act somewhere between forgery and...

Cine-minus Dept. (2011/11/07 10:38)
I don't normally read io9 (mostly a time constraint), but a friend linked me to a piece where the title tells it: Why We Can’t Have Great Movies. Two words: risk aversion....

Black Jack Vol. 16 (Osamu Tezuka) (2011/11/04 11:10)
The penultimate Black Jacking, with a final installment that's to Tezuka what a side-long song is to a Krautrock band.

A Bride's Story, Vol. 2 (Kaoru Mori) (2011/11/04 10:51)
2nd volume of manga exploration of nomadic steppe life remains endearing and beautifully-drawn.

Not This Time Dept. (2011/10/28 07:17)
Am I doing NaNoWriMo this year? Sadly, no. Well, sort of. I hinted before that I'd started a new long-form writing project. Those rumors are indeed entirely substantiated: something new is on the burner. This is not the unshelving of...

No Longer Human Vol. #1 (Usamaru Furuya / Osamu Dazai) (2011/10/18 07:08)
A magnificent bleak manga adaptation of Japan's "Requiem for a Dream". Still timely and relevant -- and bleak.

Delay Line Dept. (2011/10/10 10:54)
Lots going on right now, most of it very time-consuming. Short rundown: I have a new long-form writing project in the works. I won't be talking about it in public for a good long time, because it's still quite protean....

De-Productive Dept. (2011/09/27 01:01)
More examples of why "web apps" are leading us straight into a wall.

The Book of Human Insects (Osamu Tezuka) (2011/09/25 01:14)
Tezuka explores darkness once more, in the story of a woman apparently unaware of her capacity for evil.

Losing It In Translation (Again) Dept. (2011/09/19 11:51)
I have been preparing for the English-language release of Usamaru Furuya's manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai's No Longer Human by re-reading the original novel in its English translation (by Donald Keene), with the Japanese text open to the side. It's...

Schoolgirl (Osamu Dazai) (2011/09/15 10:50)
A short but stinging piece from the author of "No Longer Human", in English for the first time.

Botchan (Natsume Sōseki) (2011/09/09 10:00)
Japan's perennial bestseller is their Huck Finn crossed with their Holden Caufield.

Oh My Goddess! First End (Yumi Tohma) (2011/09/08 10:00)
Enjoyable if inessential light-novel side story for the Oh My Goddess! mythology -- written by one of the show's original voice actors, no less.

So Lovely A Country Will Never Perish (Donald Keene) (2011/09/07 10:30)
Diaries and private writing from many famous Japanese authors during WWII reveal sides of themselves vastly unlike their public personas.

Piercing (Ryū Murakami) (2011/09/06 10:30)
More of (Ryū) Murakami's misfits, but told with the great directness and simplicity of construction he's best at.

The Master of Go (Yasunari Kawabata) (2011/09/05 10:30)
Kawabata's elegant classic about the end of one way of life and the beginning of another.

Wicked City (Hideyuki Kikuchi) (2011/09/04 10:30)
Another series by Kikuchi (of Vampire Hunter D) sees English translation. Gnarly SF/fantasy thrills.

The Drinker (Hans Fallada) (2011/09/03 10:30)
Fallada's story of an alcoholic in decline during Germany's own rough years still has magnetism.

Sucker Punch (2011/09/02 10:30)
The audience is the sucker.

Blade of the Immortal: Legend of the Sword Demon (Junichi Ohsako) (2011/09/01 01:16)
Middling attempt at adapting a classic manga to a light-novel format.

Then and Now Dept. (2011/09/01 12:54)
[I've been deeply embroiled in work, but I've found some pieces I wrote but never published which I thought would be good to post after a little cleanup, just to keep things rolling here. I'll be posting one a day...

Velveteen & Mandala (Jiro Matsumoto) (2011/08/15 09:15)
"Bizarre" is the best adjective for this post-apoc zombie story, but "strangely touching" also comes in after a while.

A Caring Man (Akira Arai) (2011/07/28 08:00)
A loner takes revenge on all of Japan. Efficient thrills but a bit hollow.

Black Jack Vol. 15 (Osamu Tezuka) (2011/07/22 12:32)
Volume 15 of this series continues to assemble pieces that ran after Black Jack’s original run ended, and in some ways this is the best of the “pick-up” volumes yet....

Deka Dept. (2011/07/07 11:51)
Shinji Wada died earlier this week. Regular readers of this site might remember him as the creator of Sukeban Deka, a '70s shojo manga of remarkable influence that was also amazingly violent for a "girl's comic". I'm inclined to think...

Goemon (2011/07/04 01:00)
"Casshern" director returns to take the same rip-roaring approach to samurai/ninja fantasy adventure territory.

Tetsuo: The Bulletman (2011/07/01 01:08)
Third time is not the charm for this franchise, which really did peak in its original installment.

Dehumanizer Dept. (2011/06/24 08:22)
It's so very, very hard not to start babbling like a little kid about some things. In between meetings in the city over the last couple of days, I ran over to Kinokuniya and found the third volume of the...

Desperately Seeking Translator Dept. (2011/06/22 04:48)
Add this to your list of books to seek out and bring into English: Sailor Suit and Machine Gun, super-prolific Japanese author Jirō Akagawa's satirical crossbreed of teen drama and yakuza violence. I finally bumped into a copy ($1 at...

Tragic Books Dept. (2011/06/20 12:20)
Over at Ain't It Cool News there is a roundtable discussion regarding the much-reviled, widely-discussed DC Reboot. I haven't been a reader of the Marvel/DC axis for literally decades, so many discussions of the individual titles (Infinite Earths in its...

Disappearing Act Dept. (2011/06/19 01:57)
I have been reading The Shores of Light, a collection of literary criticism from the 1920s and 1930s courtesy of Edmund Wilson, a very capable and perceptive critic who as far as I can tell isn’t sung much of these...

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex (Yu Kinutani) (2011/06/13 09:41)
Do I complain or do I savor? That’s the dilemma I’m faced with after reading this manga adaptation of Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, one of the first titles from Kodansha’s domestic manga publishing division (which eclipsed Del...

Black Jack Vol. 14 (Osamu Tezuka) (2011/06/04 06:06)
The closet-cleaning for the Black Jack series continues, since everything after volume 11 has been bonus material. But this being Black Jack and this also being Osamu Tezuka, it’s a fascinating closet: Tezuka’s throwaways are better than what most other...

Blu-Eyed Soul Dept. (2011/06/02 06:34)
I haven't done this in a while, so here are some recent Blu-ray issues that grabbed my attention. Some will end up on my own shelf by year's end or so....

Lychee Light Club (Usamaru Furuya) (2011/06/02 10:21)
There was a time when I sought out writing and artwork that seemed to exist mostly to find rules to break. William Burroughs, Dennis Cooper, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Maldoror, Eden Eden Eden, Michael Gira’s The Consumer. Once the novelty of all...

Lose Yourself In This Dept. (2011/05/30 11:25)
I’ve heard a theory—I forget who originally floated it—that the length of the average mass-market genre fiction work has gone way up due to two things: the demands of the market and the invention of the word processor....

A Bride's Story (Kaoru Mori) (2011/05/22 12:41)
Kaoru Mori last turned heads on this side of the ocean with her lovely and thoroughly-researched story of Victorian-era England, Emma, adapted into an equally lovely animated series. With A Bride’s Story, she’s taken the same fascination for period detail...

On Imagination And Entertainment (2011/05/21 01:05)
The New York Times has a profile of Steve Jobs that features the following quote: "His is not a product-design philosophy steered by committee or determined by market research. The Jobs formula, say colleagues, relies heavily on tenacity, patience, belief...

Kallocain (Karin Boye) (2011/05/18 10:20)
There have traditionally been three great or at the very least formative dystopian novels of the 20th century: Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984 and Evgeny Zamyatin’s We. The first two are almost stereotypically familiar; in my case...

Handbasket Dept. (2011/04/28 03:49)
Some of you have noticed by now that a lot of things are broken around Chez Genji as of late. I'm in the middle of what is turning out to be a very unhappy migration between host accounts -- not...

Science Fiction Studies in Film (Frederik Pohl & Frederik Pohl IV) (2011/04/25 11:25)
One of SF’s more distinguished names (and son) collaborated on this scattershot but enjoyable set of essays on science fiction in the movies. It’s best for the tone and tenor of the writing, with some nifty snippets of interviews with...

The Greatest Sci-Fi Movies Never Made (David Hughes) (2011/04/25 10:22)
Hollywood’s messy love affair with science fiction is documented beautifully in this overview of SF movies which either made it to the screen only after great developmental strife (Dune, Spider-Man, The Fantastic Four) or never made it at all (The...

Technotise (Edit I Ja) [Edit and I] (2011/04/24 04:38)
An animated adaptation of a Serbian graphic novel, very much in the mold of Moebius and Enki Bilal, with plenty of acerbic humor and wit that for a lack of a better word is strongly Eastern European in flavor. Set...

Stripped Gears Dept. (2011/04/15 01:10)
I'm still reeling from the sheer amount of technological catastrophe that decided to visit Chez Genji this past couple of weeks, which apart from work is a big reason why I haven't posted anything. This wasn't some simple fender-bender or...

Ganbatte Dept. (2011/03/15 08:55)
I haven't said much about the earthquake, even though I feel obliged to do so -- after all, Japan has been a major focus of my attention for a long time now, so it would feel strange not to say...

Offering (Merzbow) (2011/03/11 11:57)
The press notes for Offering claim the album was inspired by the writings of Juran Hisao, a Japanese author not yet translated into English—in particular his mystery/noir novel Golden Wolf (the text of which is available through the public-domain archive Aozora Bunko)....

Electronic Sonata For Souls Loved By Nature (1980) (George Russell) (2011/03/11 11:32)
A second take on George Russell’s masterwork, recorded eleven years later with a different lineup (Victor Comer, Keith Copeland, Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark, Robert Moore, Lew Soloff) and a markedly dissimilar orchestration. This version switches the piano for organ, slows down the...

Ong Bak 3 (2011/03/11 11:25)
A red herring, sadly enough. What originally looked like an attempt to pick up where Bruce Lee left off when Game of Death was cut short—a philosophical martial-arts movie—has turned out to be nothing much at all. 3 continues where 2 left...

Mardock Scramble (Tow Ubukata) (2011/03/08 02:23)
The heck with the labels. That’s what I say when faced with writing about Tow Ubukata’s Mardock Scramble: forget about the categories you could slot this book into; forget about what part of the shelf to stick it in. Just...

Gödel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Douglas Hofstader) (2011/02/14 10:48)
Brain, n. That with which we think we think. I first heard that joke when I was, I believe, ten years old. I first read Douglas Hofstader’s Gödel, Escher Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid when I was about ten years...

Popular Hits of the Showa Era (Ryū Murakami) (2011/02/09 11:36)
A book like this leaves me divided. Popular Hits of the Showa Era is black comedy of the kind that would have made Terry Southern proud, and is written in a wild, paintball-splatter style where most every sentence has something...

Black Jack Vol. #13 (Osamu Tezuka) (2011/02/08 10:34)
Vertical’s continued English translation of Black Jack (we’re now at volume 13) is proof of two things. One: even when Osamu Tezuka was doing comparatively minor work, he was still beating the pants off his manga-creating contemporaries. Two: Even when...

Enter the Void (2011/02/06 12:42)
Gaspar (Irreversible) Noé’s death-trip film is a visually stupendous execution of, well, not much at all. American-born Tokyo slacker Oscar smokes DMT and hallucinates while his sister bumps and grinds for salarymen in a stripclub. When Oscar’s drug-dealing buddy sells...

Crossfire (Miyuki Miyabe) (2011/02/06 11:35)
A spiritual and intellectual sequel to Stephen King’s Firestarter; it picks up where that book left off in more ways than one. Junko Aoki, born with the power of pyrokinesis, lives a compulsively anonymous life while using her powers to...

Inter Ice Age 4 (Kobo Abé) (2011/02/05 11:11)
The author of The Woman in the Dunes and The Box Man was not nominally thought of as a “science-fiction author”, but this 1970 novel is science fiction by every other name. A professor has invented a supercomputer with remarkable...

Death March on Mount Hakkōda (Jirō Nitta) (2011/02/04 02:52)
Billed as a “documentary novel”, this book uses as its inspiration a true incident from Japan’s military history. In 1902, two platoons of Japanese soldiers competed to see who could cross the snowy wastelands of Japan’s far-north Mount Hakkōda. The...

In the Miso Soup (Ryū Murakami) (2011/02/04 02:41)
Tokyo nightlife tour guide Kenji, who has made an art form out of letting the sleaze he witnesses slide off his back, finds himself with something he can't shrug off when an American tourist named Frank turns out to be...

The Stationmaster (Jiro Asada) (2011/01/30 11:58)
Jiro Asada is an example of a Japanese author who’s achieved great success in his own country but remains anonymous abroad. Stationmaster compiles a slew of short stories, including the title story which was the inspiration for the live-action film Poppoya...

Burning Paradise (2011/01/15 01:19)
Before Ringo Lam ended up in Hollywood grinding out sleepwalker, Van Damme’d action titles like Maximum Risk and Replicant, he was one of Hong Kong’s better action directors; his City on Fire was one of the many sources Quentin Tarantino freely...

A Woman Called Sada Abe (2011/01/13 03:18)
Yet another treatment of the Sada Abe story, released almost back-to-back with In the Realm of the Senses, and which covers much of the same territory if not with the same level of explicitness. Not bad as far as these...

Smithereens (2011/01/12 01:11)
The first feature by Susan Seidelman (Desperately Seeking Susan, et al.) plays like a time capsule of downtown NYC in the moment after punk broke and people were still picking up the pieces. Feisty but talentless Wren (Susan Berman) uses...

Absolute Beginners (2011/01/11 01:28)
An all-but-forgotten flawed gem from a short-lived period in England’s film-production history where some real risk-taking was going on. Adapted from Colin MacInnes's novel, it's a panorama of late 1950s London's music scene, featuring young lovers Colin (Eddie O'Connell) and...

Sada (2011/01/10 03:03)
A treatment of the Sada Abe story that's about as far removed as you’re going to get from the hypnotic power of In the Realm of the Senses. It covers more of the character's life than that film, and in a...

Sukeban Deka 2: Counter-Attack of the Kazama Sisters (2011/01/09 02:45)
Vintage '80s J-cheese. The follow-up to the original Sukeban Deka live-action film gives us a new girl as the titular "delinquent detective", Yui Kazama (Yui Asaka), pressed into the service of a elite government agency determined to fight juvenile crime. She...

Beastly Dept. (2011/01/03 03:41)
As a birthday / New Years' gift, my mother gave me and the missus tickets to La Bête on Broadway. It's a great staging of what I feel is a mediocre piece of work. The original performance of La Bête...

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