Back in the Saddle

A year ago today, I rescued the archives of this site, and the process of going back and fixing all of those old posts (I wasn’t able to rescue all of the images, and so had to manually replace them with the aid of Archive.org) got me wanting to blog again about my love for Japan culture, and I’ve been doing it pretty regularly since.

For years, updates on this site had become quite rare — if you look at the archives now you’ll see plenty of posts each month, but that’s just because I imported my Debaser diary (previously on Tumblr, in which I write-up the media that I’m consuming), and so it makes it seem like I was consistently writing here. But that wasn’t the case. After a couple of posts about the rescue efforts (which ended up taking months), this was the first post that felt like a traditional JeanSnow.net blog post.

A year later, I sorta have a routine now where I mostly put up new posts on the weekend, saving stuff I want to highlight until then, and putting them all up in one batch. It would probably be better to parse them a bit more, scheduling them to go up on a daily basis, but I guess I don’t really care about doing it that way.

A couple of days after that return post, I wrote this, saying I had no idea if I was going to continue doing it or not, but I’m now happy to still be doing it. Blogging like this is how I started my professional writing career, and even though I’m just doing it for fun now, I like that I’ve come full circle, doing pretty much the same thing I was doing 15 years ago — although it’s not quite the same in that I’m no longer based in Tokyo.

Annie Hall

My second film of 1977 was Annie Hall. I won’t lie, there comes a certain uneasiness with watching something by Woody Allen these days, but I’ve loved and enjoyed his films all my life, and this is certainly one of his best, if not the best. Re-watching it now — for the first time in ages — I found it just as entertaining as ever, and was completely transported to his NYC of the late 70s.

DJ Dougie Jones

Longtime readers of this blog may remember that I’ve done a lot of music-related projects over the years, like my PLAY sessions at Cafe Pause in Ikebukuro, and then in more recent years my Codex music podcast. I haven’t done anything in the form of creating mixes or playlists in ages, but recently have been teaming up with one of my colleagues and friends at work, Samya Khemri (who together with me is part of the studio’s Game Online Operations team), in creating playlists in Spotify for internal events at the studio. Since we’re both huge fans of Twin Peaks, we call ourselves DJ Dougie Jones. The first playlist was for a happy hour on the studio’s rooftop terrace, the second playlist we did as a soundtrack for an evening of Cards Against Humanity (that we played in a meeting room), and the third one was for our team’s summer BBQ, that was held last week in a park not far from the studio. These are really fun to make — we basically bounce off each other, track by track — and I love the exercise of listening to something someone else has selected, and then trying to think about what would be fun to follow with. It definitely scratches my music itch.

Summer 2017 Anime Season

You may have noticed that I didn’t post anything about the current summer anime season, like I’ve been doing for the past few seasons, listing what I was interested in watching. Well, just like for the spring season, I just haven’t been able to find much I want to watch.

Interestingly, the only two new things I am watching are Gundam-related. I’m still watching the second season of Mobile Suit Gundam Thunderbolt, which is slowly getting released as OVAs, and so actually started in the spring. The other series is called Mobile Suit Gundam Twilight Axis, and the pace is even slower — it’s getting released as web shorts of a few minutes in length, once a month. I’m digging the visuals, but I find it hard to follow the story — it might be better to wait until they’ve all been released, and watch them in one go.

I’m not really complaining about the lack of series to watch though, as it gives me more time to catch up on the pile of stuff I’ve been wanting to watch. I’ve already spotted a few things I’m in interested in for the fall season though, and I’ll write those up just before the season starts.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The first Guardians of the Galaxy movie is my favorite Marvel movie to date, and I think Vol. 2 is just as good if not better. It’s just a hugely enjoyable thrill ride with lots of cool sci-fi visuals to take in, with a cast that’s still a blast to hang out with, and with even more funny lines — and can I get a Drax and Mantis buddy movie already? The thing I liked the least was Baby Groot, as I didn’t much care for the cutesiness of it all (although the button bit was pretty funny). Can’t wait to see how this trilogy is going to end, and can we maybe also get more cosmic Marvel movies? They sure teased enough at the end to warrant a few.

Star Wars: Forces of Destiny

For my latest “Sunday Morning Cartoon Cavalcade,” I went through the Forces of Destiny shorts that have been released so far (viewable on YouTube). I liked the idea for these, a series of animated shorts that star a few of the female characters in Star Wars (including my favorite Star Wars character, Ahsoka Tano). Although the action-oriented sequences make for a good thing to cover in a short, I find the animation to be pretty weak — sure, I realize it’s produced for the web, but with the Disney/Lucasfilm machine behind them, surely they could have gotten a higher level of animation done, especially since they’re so short. Add some uninspiring characters designs, and these are a big disappointment for me. They’re set to release another set of 8 in the fall, so I can only hope they improve a bit.

Star Wars

Yeah, fuck it, I don’t call it Episode IV or A New Hope, I call it Star Wars. So having just completed my 1986 movie run, I was already itching for another era to dive into, and so 1977 is next. Even though I re-watched this fairly recently (I re-watched every Star Wars movie ahead of the release of The Force Awakens), I found it difficult to start a 1977 run and not include this, since it’s inarguably one of the most (if not the most) groundbreaking and influential films of all time. I can’t even judge if it’s good or not anymore, it’s just what it is, I know every beat almost by heart, and I’m sure I’ll keep re-watching it forever. After I was done my viewing, I was in the mood to do a double bill with Rogue One, which I re-watched for the first time since seeing at the theater on release. I still feel the same way as when I first saw it, which is that it’s now my favorite Star Wars film. It’s just so damn good, and set in the era of Star Wars that I like the most, but from a new perspective, and so it feels so fresh. Really makes me that much more excited for all the other upcoming “A Star Wars Story” films.

Like it’s 1986

40 movies in, I’m finally putting an end to my 1986 run of movies. Following the 1985 run of 30 movies I watched at the start of the year, I took my time on this one by not forcing myself to watch them in a marathon manner like I did for 1985. I had a really great time watching all of these, and although there are still a few more movies I could have included, I thought 40 was a good number to end on. Yes, I’m already thinking of exploring 1987 later this year, but I’ll take a break for now — my next film exploration run will be 1977, which I’ll cap at 10, just like I did for 1967.

Below are all 40 films from 1986 that I watched (in alphabetical order), with links to my thoughts on each — or you can just click on my “1986” tag.

  1. Aliens
  2. Big Trouble in Little China
  3. Black Moon Rising
  4. Blue Velvet
  5. Cobra
  6. Crocodile Dundee
  7. Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
  8. Firewalker
  9. Friday the 13th Part VI: Jason Lives
  10. Heartbreak Ridge
  11. Highlander
  12. Labyrinth
  13. Little Shop of Horrors
  14. Manhunter
  15. Maximum Overdrive
  16. Peggy Sue Got Married
  17. Platoon
  18. Police Academy 3: Back in Training
  19. Pretty in Pink
  20. Psycho III
  21. Rad
  22. River’s Edge
  23. Running Scared
  24. Short Circuit
  25. Something Wild
  26. Stand by Me
  27. Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
  28. The Big Easy
  29. The Color of Money
  30. The Delta Force
  31. The Fly
  32. The Golden Child
  33. The Karate Kid Part II
  34. The Mission
  35. The Money Pit
  36. The Name of the Rose
  37. The Transformers: The Movie
  38. The Wraith
  39. Three Amigos
  40. Top Gun

A Better Tomorrow

I decided that this would be my final film of my 1986 run (the 40th) a few days ago, when a friend reminded me that it came out that year. The films of John Woo are what got me into Hong Kong cinema (and then Asian cinema), and although I’m pretty sure Bullet in the Head was my first Woo film (I still have vivid memories of being blown away by its manic energy), and Hard Boiled is probably the most classic collaboration between Woo and Chow Yun Fat, this is still a really great movie. I haven’t watch classic HK cinema in ages, but this gave me the bug to watch more.