Game of Thrones (Season 7)

Here we are, the 7th (and shorter) season. Two episodes in, we still haven’t gotten to the meat of things, but it’s off to a decent start, after a pretty quiet first episode (but with the delicious Ariya revenge scene at the start), and then a second episode that puts things in motion (naval battle, Jon Snow heading to meet with the Mother of Dragons). I just hope they don’t draw out the Jon/Daenerys meeting too much. Let’s get our war on.


Punisher: War Zone

I haven’t really thought about this movie since watching it when it originally came out (close to 10 years ago), but reading a profile of its director Lexi Alexander in the latest issue of Wired made me want to give it another look. I do remember liking it, and after a re-watch, I can still say it’s a pretty decent action flick. It’s violent and gory in a way the Punisher needs (I doubt we’ll get that in the upcoming Netflix series). I won’t go as far as saying it’s a classic (it seems to have become a cult classic at least), but I enjoyed my time with it.

Anime Debaser Film


I was quite looking forward to watching this film. I’ve never read the manga series it’s based on, but I quite like the stuff that Polygon Pictures has worked on of late (Knights of Sidonia, Ajin), and I really dig the cel-shaded CG they produce. I did quite like the visuals, but I somehow never managed to really get into it, and it took me a few viewing sessions to get through it — I was just kinda… bored. The setting is pretty bleak and lacks visual diversity, and there’s just not much that happens in terms of interesting storytelling. The action sequences are well done though.

Art Manga

Sayaka Ishiyama

State of Tokyo has a new interview up, this time with manga creator Sayaka Ishiyama. As with all the pieces that go up on the site, it’s photo heavy, and gives you a nice look at Ishiyama-san working on her illustrations.

Architecture Design

Trunk Hotel

I’d like to stay at the Trunk Hotel, please (located in Shibuya). Via Spoon & Tamago. Here’s also a piece about it from The Japan Times.

Design Stores

Good Design Store Tokyo

I think I would go crazy if I had access to the newly opened (back in April) Good Design Store, near Tokyo Station (in the Kitte building). I’m sure it stocks tons of products I featured in my “On Design” column over the years. Via Spoon & Tamago.

Art Design Events

The Tokyoiter Tote Bag

As I had posted recently, The Tokyoiter project went physical with its first exhibition, and at the event you could purchase the lovely tote bag you see pictured. Big thanks to my buddy Andrew — one of the co-creators of The Tokyoiter — for helping me get my hands on one.

Architecture Design Stores

Muji Yurakucho Renewal

Muji’s flagship store in Yurakucho has just undergone some big renovations, and the renewed store re-opened yesterday, with not only a new look, but also a food market area. I miss Muji Yurakucho so fucking much. You’ll find more details and photos in this Spoon & Tamago post.

Anime Film Personal

20 Years Ago

My friend Kyle tweeted out that today marks 20 years since the release of the film The End of Evangelion (July 19, 1997). I actually got to see it in theaters in Tokyo that summer, as part of my first visit to Japan, and this made me think back at how much my life changed that year.

It was at the start of May 1997 that I went to the city of Tianjin, China as part of a 10-week program to study Chinese at Nankai University — along with a group of students from McGill University and the Université de Montréal (where I was studying in their East Asian Studies program). The first day I was in China, I would meet the Japanese woman who is now my wife (it took a few weeks before we actually got together though). At the end of the 10 weeks, the entire group returned to Montreal, but I decided to stay — yeah, because of the girl — and so enrolled at the university there to continue my Chinese studies.

During that summer, my wife had returned to Japan (it was the university’s summer break) and I decided to go visit her for two weeks. That would be my first visit to Japan, a place I would later call home for over 15 years.

My wife is originally from Kobe, and so that’s where I went. By boat. It was a two-day journey from the port of Tianjin to the port of Kobe, and it was an amazing way to slowly take in Japan, small island by small island, until we reached the port. I still have vivid memories of listening to Fugazi’s Repeater on my walkman, while taking in the sight of Kobe as we approached.

I stayed a couple of days in Kobe, but for the majority of the trip we were in Tokyo, staying at one of my wife’s friends. It’s during that trip that I got to go see The End of Evangelion, which was my introduction to the series — I knew zero Japanese, and considering how, ahem, narratively adventurous that movie is (especially the ending), you can imagine what a trip it was to take in. That July also marked the release of Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke, which I also went to see at the theater (and as I mentioned recently, it may have been my first taste of Ghibli).

I still have quite a few vivid memories from that trip — like the first time I watched Mecha Mecha Iketeru, a comedy series on TV starring the comedy duo of 99, who I’ve continued to love for 20 years. I also bought a PlayStation while I was there to bring back with me to China, and the first words of Japanese I really learned where while playing Tomb Raider and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night in Japanese.

After the trip, we both returned together to Tianjin by boat (this time taking 4 days because of a tsunami), and would end up staying in China until the end of that year — at which point we went to Montreal for one semester so I could get the missing credits I needed for the program I was doing, before moving to Tokyo at the start of May 1998.

I’m certainly thankful for the interesting journey my life has taken, as well as for all of the unexpected swerves I’ve decided to take a chance on and follow.


Ghost in the Shell (2017)

I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but I actually liked it. I was so upset when they first announced the casting of Scarlett in the main role (not only because of the white washing, but also because I think she’s a terrible actress), but then when the trailer came out I thought that the world that was presented looked pretty interesting, and figured I’d eventually watch the film for at least that reason — I love the Total Recall remake for the same reason, not because it’s comparable to the original in terms of story, but just because I love taking in the sci-fi world that is depicted in that movie. As for the new Ghost in the Shell, on a visual level, I was not disappointed — not only do I love the world that is shown here, but I thought the film was really well shot (by a director I knew nothing about). As for Scarlett, I still think she’s the weakest link in the film (and the explanation for why she looks like Scarlett doesn’t make it better), but I still quite enjoyed watching this for the visual treat on offer.