Kinko Izakaya – Toronto – October 6, 2018

Relentlessly festive Japanese tapas hot spot with a strong sake selection & woody interior.

Address: 559 Bloor St W, Toronto, ON M5S 1Y6

Website: http://www.kinka.com/canada/menu/inde…

Food:
Takoyaki – deep fried octopus balls w/ tonkantsu sauce and mayo
Takowasabi – marinated octopus with wasabi stem
Pork Kakuni – braised pork belly, pumpkin puree, rapini, shredded red pepper, shichimi pepper, boiled egg, sweet soy sauce
Izumi Draft Sake – Junmai – from Toronto’s distillery district
Matcha Cheesecake – matcha green tea cheesecake w/ green tea ice cream

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Elephant Gym

Elephant Gym is a bass-driven, math rock band from Kaohsiung, Taiwan. The band formed in 2012 and is composed of Tif on bass, Tell on guitar, and Chia-Chin on drums. Elephant Gym delivers clear and memorable bass lines, emotional guitar riffs, and melodic drumming in their mostly instrumental song production. Since 2013, Elephant Gym has started to invite singers to compose with them.

Tell and Tif are siblings. In their childhood, their mother taught them classical music into their adolescence. Later, they developed an interest in rock music, especially post rock and math rock. Tell met Tu in a high school music club and formed Elephant Gym along with Tif after discovering they all shared the same taste in music.

Elephant Gym may seem an unusual name for a band but it describes their music perfectly.  Elephant is a metaphor for their low-end bass-centric sound while gym is short for the intricate musical gymnastics characteristic of math rock.

Fans of Japanese math rock bands such as toe and JYOCHO that excel at emotional music with clean instrumentation should fall in love with Elephant Gym in a heartbeat.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Paranoid Void

paranoid void is an all-female 3-pc math rock band from Osaka.  They started off playing hard-driving, emotive post-punk similar to MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS.  In fact, guitarist Meguri was temporarily the support guitarist for MOTFD after Chiemi left.  Although paranoid void has always been a technical band, in 2015, they started dabbling in math rock and odd time signatures most likely influenced by fellow Kansai band tricot.

Most recently with the release of their latest album ‘Literary Math’ paranoid void have delved further into math rock territory and moved away from a tricot/MOTFD hybrid and developed a style of their own.

paranoid void are an awesome combination of technical chops and raw power­—beauty and the nerd and the beast, all in one.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – Mass of the Fermenting Dregs

MASS OF THE FERMENTING DREGS (MOTFD) will become the first band to make a third appearance on the NMFT tour.  Formed in 2002 by three girls from Kobe, MOTFD perform a blend of post-punk combining beautifully melancholic vocals with ferociously powerful instrumentation. The anomaly of such a huge, powerful sound coming from an all-female band drew them a large underground following and became an important inspiration for bands such as tricot and paranoid void.

Unfortunately, after MOTFD signed with major label EMI and leaned gradually toward a more radio-friendly sound, the original drummer would quit in 2007 (replaced by Isao Yoshino) and subsequently the guitarist in 2010(replaced by Naoya Ogura of Qomolangma Tomato). MOTFD ceased all activity shortly after in 2012.

In 2015, to the delight of a legion of fans bassist and leader Natsuko Miyamoto brought life back to MOTFD and they started performing and writing new songs with Isao and Naoya returning on drums and guitar, respectively.  The hiatus did not soften MOTFD at all as they came back heavier and more badass than ever.

MOTFD returned to Canada in 2016 as part of NMFT vol 8.  They slayed audiences in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver and developed a true fondness for the country and their Canadian fans.  In October, MOTFD return for the third time with their first new album in eight years.  They are dying to play their new songs for Canada and show everyone how great they sound live in beast-mode.

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Next Music from Tokyo Vol 13 – UlulU

UlulU is an all-female 3-pc band with a retro or garage-rock revival sound akin to The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys.  They’re a fun band who keep the music simple but with enough jazz in the drum fills and blues in the guitars to keep things interesting.  The highlight of UlulU’s music is definitely guitarist Kayo’s beautiful, soulful and charismatic vocals.

UlulU will charm the audience with their timeless melodies, unpretentious style and occasional bursts of rock’n’roll power.

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Miku – Toronto – March 4, 2017

Flame-seared sushi is the specialty at this Japanese fine-dining destination with soaring ceilings.
Address: 10 Bay St # 105, Toronto, ON M5J 2R8

Website: mikutoronto.com

Google reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars

 

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Akira (1988) – Movie Review

To many, this is the movie that started it all. But what’s interesting about Akira is that, while it is largely credited with introducing anime to the West, it barely raised an eyelid on its initial release. Most Japanese critics’ lists from 1988 barely gave Akira a mention, instead deciding to concentrate on films like Grave Of The Fireflies or My Neighbour Totoro, at least as far as animes were concerned. But while these are perhaps (and in my opinion definitely) superior in quality, their success in western countries was more slow-moving and therefore not as much of a shock to the system as Akira was.

When Akira was first screened in Europe and North America in the early 90s, most people had simply never seen anything like it. Distributors, unaware of the tradition of adult-orientated animation in Japan, didn’t have a clue how to promote this feature (some billing it as a kids’ movie), and equally audiences suffered from the same confusion (in some cases parents taking their children to a film which features scenes such as a person exploding before mutating into a garish cyberpunk mess of flesh and cables). This confusion resulted in Akira being something of an underground success, but it also ensured the movie cult status across western countries, though perhaps for the wrong reasons.

Is Akira a hyperviolent, sadistic fantasy? Or an eloquent statement on modern civilisation run amok, with technology getting the better of its masters and planet Earth having its divine revenge on those who mutilated it? It’s possibly both. Most aficionados of Japanese animation (and also some Japanese live action, witness films by Shinya Tsukamoto or Takashi Miike) are aware that stylised violence is nothing particularly new to the genre (for now wanting to avoid the age-old discussion of anime not being a genre in and of itself but rather a style of animation which incorporates several genres like horror, sci-fi, adventure, etc – and indeed, it would do great disservice to the artistic integrity of many anime artists to simply lump them into one category). However, another fairly consistent, and perhaps ironic, feature of these “violent” narratives is the humanistic message inherent within them, and that, as opposed to many Hollywood narratives which use violence in a Biblical way (ie. the Good guys are justified in using violence against the Bad guy), a narrative like Akira, which stems primarily from both a Buddhist- and Shinto background, avoids lazy good/bad categorisations and instead uses violence to make a clear point – That it does not lead anywhere but tragedy. While perhaps the gratuitously stylised nature of the violence ends up clouding this message, the sheer fact is that, unlike in many mainstream narratives, violence is not rewarded in films like Akira. In fact, in Akira it culminates in the end of the world. Some resolution.

As much as Akira has attracted attention for its violent content, so the convoluted narrative has caused accusations of it being confusing at best and incoherent at worst. While it’s very likely that some of the Buddhist symbolism within the film (Tetsuo’s final transformation into a new cosmos, as hinted at during the final credit sequence, being a case in point) will go over a few people’s heads, the storyline itself is fairly simple: Tetsuo, a bullied and insecure individual, is subjected to a genetic experiment which unleashes a hidden power within him, and, in his anger, destroys the world which he feels rejected him. As well as being a somewhat abstract statement on disaffected youth, I would regard Akira as a document of its time. Even though it’s set in the future (but then any sci-fi is just an abstract futuristic representation of the time it was made in anyhow), Akira excellently sums up the blind and ravaging short-sighted materialism of our age. That aside, Tetsuo’s mutation has been described by some as allegorically representing Japan’s disproportionate wealth bubble of the 1980s, while Tetsuo himself is the product of a world driven by greed and avarice.

I have to admit that Akira left a huge impression on me when I initially saw it 20+ years ago. In fact, as with so many others, it probably helped to start my fondness of east Asian cinema. I wouldn’t be surprised if, ten or twenty years from now, Akira is widely regarded as one of the most influential movies ever made (if it isn’t seen as such already, witness the influence it had on Hollywood films like The Matrix), and that future generations will justifiably view it as an all-time classic.

 

9 out of 10 stars

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