The Japanese House

There’s a show on at the Barbican right now entitled “The Japanese House: Architecture and Life after 1945.” What especially grabbed my attention when I saw mention of it — it’s featured in this Monocle radio show — is that it apparently includes a full-scale recreation of Ryue Nishizawa‘s Moriyama House (pictured), which just so happens to be the house that I introduced in one of the episodes of NHK’s Tokyo Eye program I appeared in back in the day. It was a fantastic experience to act as a guide to the house (check out this Google image search), which really is something incredible — and the owner who commissioned the project was a joy to speak with as well.

Dragon Quest

Even though I have a big amount of respect for the series, I don’t actually have that much experience with Dragon Quest games – the first one I played was DQ8 on PS2, and then I played a bit of DQ9 on DS, but didn’t get super far in it. This year I played a bunch of Dragon Quest Heroes, and liked it for what it was (Dynasty Warriors-like with more RPG elements and pretty graphics), and then played the Dragon Quest Builders demo. So after all of this, it was a couple of days ago when I watched a recent documentary from NHK about the series (in celebration of its 30th anniversary) that I just got in the mood to go and play the very first game, which I had bought for iOS a while back, but hadn’t really played much. I started the game again, and 2-3 hours later I was still playing. Two days later, I’ve reached the final castle, and am just in need of a bit more grinding before I’m ready to face the final boss. And yes, I’ve already bought Dragon Quest II (the DQ games on iOS are currently on sale). As for the quality of the iOS version, I’m not crazy about using a virtual pad to move around, but I do find it convenient to play (I’m playing on iPhone this time), and I’ve gotten used to it.

Till He Dies

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If you’ve watched the excellent documentary about Studio Ghibli, The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, then you already know that director Hayao Miyazaki isn’t the easiest of people to work with/for, and a recent NHK documentary shows that, well, he hasn’t changed much. This Kotaku article does a great job of sharing some of the highlights from the program, which also includes Miyazaki learning to use a computer for animation, and some talk on a new feature film he’d like to make.

Design Talks Plus

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I recently discovered a really great show on NHK World called Design Talks Plus. Each episode covers a different aspect of design, with a main guest who talks on the subject — for the recent episode on “Icons,” the guest was noted creative director Kashiwa Sato. The latest episode is a good one too, looking at the urban renewal currently happening in Shibuya, and includes an interview with artist Akira Yamaguchi, whose art I’ve always really loved (and I used to have an awesome t-shirt with his art on it, that I wore to death).

I watch NHK World through its app on Apple TV, and although it’s great that you can watch past episodes on-demand, they unfortunately only seem to share the last 2 episodes, and I’d really love to watch the rest of the series.

Ani-Kuri 15

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I just watched a fantastic collection of animated shorts called Ani-Kuri 15. Produced for NHK back in 2007-2008, it’s comprised of 15 1-minute shorts each directed by some of the top names in the animation field, including Kon Satoshi (pictured), Mamoru Oshii, and Makoto Shinkai (in fact, it’s while searching for works by Shinkai that I came across this project). Just a fantastic collection, and incredibly imaginative.

Domo-kun Shills for 7-Eleven

In the US, 7-Eleven has introduced a host of products featuring packaging inspired by NHK’s mascot, Domo-kun. Slurpee cups will be part of the deal, and from this quote by Evan Brody, the company’s marketing manager, you can see that there’s a lot of respect for the character: “consumers love crazy Japanese shit.”