Mark Schilling is an American journalist and author. He is also a film critic at the Japan Times and Japan correspondent for Variety. I've been reading his film reviews for many years. As some of you may be aware, it takes months before anyone outside Japan can watch any of the country's films. Seeing a 4 out of 5 stars rating for a movie I'm excited about could be a torture but it gives me a certain satisfaction that the waiting is - indeed - worth it. 

Mark Schilling at Udine Film Fesitval

Udine FEFF 2017: Mark Schilling with Ogigami Naoko (left) and Sophia Wong Boccio (right), director of the Asian Pop-up Cinema festival in Chicago. 

The PsychoDrama community is excited to be given this opportunity to interview Mr. Schilling! 

“The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture” is celebrating its 20th this year. Two other books you’ve authored and released – “Contemporary Japanese Film” and “The Yakuza Movie Book” - are now over 14 years old while “No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema” was released in 2007. What would you consider the best memories writing them? Will there be a new book in the future?

"Contemporary Japanese Film" came out in 1999. Also, I've published several books with the Udine festival organization, the latest being "Beyond Godzilla: Alternative Futures and Fantasies in Japanese Cinema," which appeared last year in conjunction with our SF/fantasy retro of the same title. Unfortunately, they're hard to find, though Italian book sites carry them. 

From the moment I listened to the soundtrack for The Eternal Zero featuring One OK Rock's 'Fight the Night." I know I heard something special, even profound. You can feel the energy of the song, the sincerity, the heart - it brought tears to my eyes. What more if it's a concert?

... and then I go back to the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy and listen to another of their tracks, 'The Beginning.' The most amazing thing about the band is not their originality since their music is influenced by artists who were ahead of them, but the energy and the efforts that go into every music video, every concert performance, every interview. There is a particular One OK Rock signature in everything they do. 

It's hard to quantify - like perfume, the uniqueness, and allure of the scent is fleeting, you know what you've smelled, and you'll know when you'll smell it again. In the case of One OK Rock, their influence is not fleeting but long-lasting. You can hum to their tunes, do your best Taka imitation, smile with amusement at the way he replaces the r with the l, as some Japanese tend to do, but it makes their song 'Wherever You Are' more personal. You began to feel you have some proprietary rights to it, and that you'll defend it to any basher if there are any.

James Stafford @WhyItMatters says it perfectly:

These guys were simply exciting to watch — tremendous energy and stage presence, and they play well, too. Here’s hoping that One OK Rock gets the kind of exposure that some other Japanese bands have enjoyed recently. They deserve it. [ source


Which brings me to the newest collaboration here at PD. I requested a friend of the community to help me discover more about One OK Rock. Ysa told me about the events that led to the band's January 2016 concert in the Philippines and how fans were instrumental in making it possible. 

The familiar and soothing voice of Ryunosuke Kamiki complemented by the equally soothing, yet quasi 'hardcore, melodic' soundtrack by Radwimps are just two of the reasons why Makoto Shinkai's latest anime  Kimi no Na wa resonates to a broad spectrum of anime fans.

While body switching and time travel (or continuum if you like) are familiar themes in animation, how they highlight the development of the characters and the progress of the story make  Kimi no Na wa a standout. What you get out of watching the film that runs for 107 minutes is that - it's not predictable nor pedestrian but heartwarming without being too sentimental. 


Those words echoed throughout the film. It was perfectly in tune with how the two main characters feel - lonely, dislocated, confused, excited but ready to take on the world no matter how "lame" they may appear to be.

Mitsuha, the shy and reserved country girl, longs for a taste of the city and going to Tokyo appeals to her more than anything. With her Mom gone and her Dad into the thick of politics, Mitsuha endures the familiarity of everyday rural life. Her schoolmates' taunts and jealous glances did not help either. Luckily she has loyal friends to hang out with and a loving family.

Taki, on the other hand, is passionate about Architecture and wants to get away from the "pressures" of city life. But life is not too bad if you think about it - he pursues his beautiful senpai at the posh Italian restaurant he works part-time, and he has good pals that look out for him.

The comet Tiamat is assumed to be responsible for the phenomenon that both our protagonists will soon experience and alter their lives forever.

I belong to a generation who watches Japanese animation after school. I came from a country that was once described by Claire Danes as "filled with rats and cockroaches" and she was not entirely wrong. But despite the third-world ambiance, we Filipinos thrive for something better. Perhaps, anime has something to do with our resiliency? Our ability to laugh despite the hardship? Or no, maybe yes, maybe not.

Animation is part of my life, even now, when I'm already doing financial analysis - scaling profitability and liquidity ratios, testing break-even points and negotiating with a software company for payment terms. Back in those days, I have to run from school to catch the latest Ghost Fighter (Yu Yu Hakusho) episode or ask my dad to lend me his favorite Voltes V (and Daimos) videos. It seems so simple enough to understand what these anime are about - the fight between good and evil, of aliens sweet and nasty, or how to fall in love and do time travel.

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Today, there are dozens of anime released every season; it's hard to honestly find gems that you can identify with, enjoy immensely and treasure forever - the kind of anime that you would watch once again after a couple of months or even years.

I'm sure there are some of you who can relate to what I'm saying, and perhaps some others who are amused for my seemingly naive outlook on anime. I guess I belong to a sentimental generation that still values something like "favorites anime of all time" or things like that.

How do you categorize a fresh new face? Well, it's hard to do that since some talents may have done movies or drama already in their young acting career but failed to be "on the radar" so to speak. These "under the radar" talents may only apply to us - those outside Japan since the locals would probably know them already (the term household name applies). Be that as it may, we're selecting a few names that appeared in the Hustle Press features of fresh, young Japanese talents. In time, we'll be seeing them getting major roles and it maybe sooner than later. 

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Karen Otomo (大友花恋) - with bit parts in Koinaka and Omukae Death, and less than five movies to her credit, Otomo takes the lead in the youth-sports-drama Kakashi to Racket with Yuna Taira. She's also an exclusive Seventeen model, according to her agency, Ken-On.