asiascape vistas

Techno-Culture, New Politics, and Philosophy in East Asia

Asiascape Vistas is a forum for discussion about the many and various dimensions of cyberculture found in or originating from East Asia. Its focus is on the interplay between these media and questions of politics & philosophy. Contributions are from the academic collective responsible for the core project, but other contributions will also be considered by that collective.
If you wish to contribute to Asiacape Vistas, please send an email using the form on the contact page.

Want to help realise a sci-fi anime?

A group of anime industry veterans, among which director Masahiro Ando ('Neon Genesis Evangelion', 'Ghost in the Shell', 'Full Metal Alchemist'), have launched a Kickstarter campaign to crowdfund production of 24 minute original sci-fi action anime 'Under the Dog'.

The anime is presented as "...a science fiction action thriller that will explore what it means to live and die well, testing the limits of all we hold dear".

Rewards for backers of the 'Under the Dog' project range from having their name on the project's website, to creating a anime character, attending the Japanese premiere and meeting the anime's creative team in Tokyo.

With almost a month to go, over 1300 fans have already pledged more than USD 87,000 towards its USD 580,000 goal.
Interested? Visit the Kickstarter site.

Screening 'Otaku no Video' in The Hague

On Wednesday 4 June, The Nutshuis in The Hague will screen 'Otaku no Video', a 1991 comedy anime spoofing the life and culture of otaku (individuals with obsessive interests in media, particularly anime and manga) as well as the history of Gainax, its creators. The anime is noted for its mix of conventional documentary film styles, with a more traditional anime storytelling fashion.

The screening will be followed by a discussion led by manga artist and scholar Lien Fan Shen.

(please scroll down for a more detailed description of the event)

Tickets, time & location


Plot summary
Ken Kubo is a Japanese male, living quite happily with his girlfriend Yoshiko and being a member of his college's tennis team, until he meets one of his former friends from high school, Tanaka. After Tanaka brings him into his circle of friends (all of them being otaku, too: a female illustrator, an information geek, a martial artist, a weapons collector...), Kubo soon makes the wish to become the Otaking, the King of all the otaku.

He manages to create his own model kits, open shops, and even build a factory in China. Later, he loses it all when one of his rivals (who's also married to Yoshiko, who never forgave Kubo for abandoning her) takes control of his enterprise, but after Kubo and Tanaka make peace, teaming up with hard-working artist Misuzu, Kubo successfully take over the anime industry with a magical girl show, "Misty May". Ken and Tanaka create Otakuland, the equivalent of Disneyland for otaku. The story suggests Otakuland to be located in the same city of Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, as the original Tokyo Disneyland[2]. Ken and Tanaka return to Otakuland in a post-apocalyptic submerged Japan and find a robot piloted by their old otaku friends. Then they fly off to space in search of the planet of Otaku.

After the screening, Lien Fan Shen, a graphic novelist and Assistant Professor in the Division of Film Studies at the University of Utah, will discuss this docu-anime and fan culture.

Lien Fan Shen earned a Ph. D. in Art Education at The Ohio State University and an MFA in Computer Art from the School of Visual Arts in NYC. Her creative work includes graphic novels, animation, and digital arts, and her research interest focuses on Japanese animation and Critical theory. Shen published five graphic novels, and her graphic novels were selected in the Golden Caldron Awards by the Government Information Office and awarded The Best Romantic Comic in Taiwan. Her animation and digital arts have been screened and exhibited in Singapore, Japan, Taiwan, and United States. Shen recently collaborated with choreographer and computer scientist to create real-time interactive digital art that combines dance performance and animated images. Their collaboration has received Center for Interdisciplinary arts and technology Research Fellowship Award.
Lien Fan Shen is currently Artist-in-Residence at Leiden University.

Date Wednesday 4 June
Time 20.00 hrs
Tickets Euro 5 (available online or at the door)
Location Nutshuis, Riviervismarkt 5, Den Haag

Taiwanese artist wins big at Tokyo International Anime Fair

Taken from the 'Asahi Shimbun'

Taiwanese animation artist Tsai Shiu-cheng's "Time of Cherry Blossoms" won the Grand Prix prize in the Open Entries category of the Tokyo Anime Awards (TAA) competition. It is the second work from Taiwan to win the top prize, following "Adventures in the NPM" in 2008. The short film was previously showcased at the 2011 Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia, as well as at other events in Japan.

Held for the 12th time as part of the Tokyo International Anime Fair, the competition honors excellence in works of animation submitted by amateur artists.

Danish artists Christen Bach and David Tart each won the Outstanding Work Award in the general division of the category.
A Chinese short film won the special prize, with two French works receiving an honorable mention.
Of the 11 award-winning works in the category, six came from outside Japan.

Meanwhile, Laputa Art Animation School student Yuka Aoki won the Outstanding Work Award for her "Nani to Natta" (Nani and Natta), with Ikuo Kato's "My Socks" taking honorable mention in the student division.
Chinese student Hu Yuanyuan from the Graduate School of Film and New Media of the Tokyo University of the Arts won the outstanding award for her "Sunset Flower Blooming," while Keiko Shiraishi's "Hide-and-Seek" and Kaori Iwase's "A Grandma's Goldfish" got honorable mentions.
Winners in the "Nomination Entries" category for commercial anime titles will be announced at the awards ceremony to be held at a special stage set up at the TAF 2013 on March 23. A special exhibition dedicated to recipients of the Award of Merit will also be offered.

Visit the official website at (

Thoughts on the 3rd Mechademia Conference in Seoul

At the end of November last year, my colleagues and I attended the the 3rd Mechademia Conference in Seoul, South Korea. Focusing on Japanese popular culture, especially anime and manga, but also the long-standing relationship that Japan's animation industry has with Korea, the conference brought to my attention many specific areas with which I was unfamiliar. It also happened to be my very first time visiting Korea, so it was a new experience in that regard as well.

The conference had a number of rare opportunities. One was a showing of the first Korean animated film, The Story of Hong Gil-dong, recently restored, and another was talks with people working within the industries. Probably the biggest name was Ohtsuka Eiji, but it also featured interviews with animators Ahn Jae-ho and Watanabe Hideo. Watanabe was especially intriguing because of his long history in the animation industry, particularly with shows meant to sell toys, and I was able to ask him how this affected the ways in which they produced animation. Watanabe went on to explain about his time working on the anime Toushi Gordian, and how an unfortunate situation where the series director had fallen ill left him as de-facto director, and the resulting product amidst the chaos was predictably subpar. However, Watanabe mentioned, the toys sold well enough that they could keep going, and in the end the show finished at over 70 episodes.

For those who don't know about Gordian, think of it as an anime from the "giant robot" genre, where the hero gets into increasingly larger robots stacked on top, much like a matryoshka doll.

Watanabe and Ahn both talked about the Korean involvement in Japanese animation, and probably anyone who's bothered to look at the ending credits of an anime is aware of the fact that Japan has been outsourcing its animation work to Korea for many years. At the conference, one of the topics that a number of presentations either spoke about, whether as its main focus or as a brief point, is the reputation of Korean animation in the world.

The "dilemma" that faces Korean animation is that, despite its notoriety within the overall industry, with work not just in anime but also popular cartoons such as The Simpsons, "Korean animation" as a concept lacks the clout of other cultures' animated works. One presenter argued that animation made in Korea is too culturally odorless, while another attributed the problem to an unfair characterization of the Korean animation industry as one which lacks the talent to generate interesting ideas, a headless body of sorts. Overall, addressing this topic seems borne from the idea that Korea's animators deserve recognition, and I can respect that motivation.

My colleagues and I from Leiden also had presentations of our own. Mari Nakamura presented on the anime Appleseed and its ideas about the post-human, Martin Roth presented on the video game Shadow of Memories and how it played with notions of "time," and I presented on the manga Zettai Karen Children and how it expressed a political science fiction world through a focus on character. The Q&A made for a lively discussion, and I took a lot away from it.

On the comics side of things, one of the panels I attended focused on a topic close to mine, which is the ways in which manga are used in a political sense. In particular, I enjoyed seeing Takeuchi Miho and Olga Antononoka from Kyoto Seika University present on how the conventions of manga could be used to subtly convey strong political ideas, either by having the artwork itself belie a seemingly more banal aesthetic, or using existing tropes as metaphors for heavier arguments.

Attending the conference, I became aware of a recurring mistake made in academic discussions about the concept of kyara moe, or the visual features of a character which generate strong emotion in those who look at it, to put it somewhat succinctly. I want to actually elaborate on this in a future post, so I'll save my thoughts for now.

The last thing conference-related I'd like to mention is Yun Seongcheol's paper on an old Korean comic titled Rayphie (rhymes with "sci-fi"), which I found quite interesting. Unlike modern "manhwa" which can be roughly described as manga-esque, the older Rayphie (unfortunately I can't remember the exact dates, but it was somewhere between 1950 and 1970, I believe) is more of a hybridization between American superhero comics aesthetic and elements of Korean traditional art. According to Yun, the series enjoyed its own fair share of success, but a period of censorship killed it prematurely. While I don't think that current manhwa is simply trying to mimic the popularity of manga, I do wonder what the Korean comics landscape would have been like if comics like Rayphie had been allowed to persist.

As for the rest of my brief stay in Korea, my experience can probably be summed up as "food and comics." Whenever I travel I look forward to eating a variety of things, and this was certainly no exception, especially given the strong reputation Korean food has, and of that experience my favorite part must have been going to a night market and trying a variety of things. While I generally enjoy tteokbokki, chewy rice cakes in a spicy sauce, I was especially impressed by the liver I had there. Tasting more like actual meat than internal organ, it was probably the best liver I've ever had. I also took the opportunity to compare bulgogi burgers from McDonald's, Burger King, and Lotteria. My verdict is that Lotteria has the best-tasting meat, while McDonald's has the best sauce.

As for comics, I was sadly unable to visit the Manhwa museum in Seoul, but was able to make my way to a nice comic store in Hongdae called Booksaetong. There, I found it interesting that, unlike the US or countries in Europe, that the manhwa and the manga were all mixed together instead of given their own separate spaces.

So overall, visiting Korea and attending the Mechademia Conference was a learning experience, in more ways than one.

'Ghost in the Shell Arise' announced

The production of popular anime 'Ghost in the Shell' series’ new project 'Ghost in the Shell Arise' has been announced.

This 'Ghost in the shell' series is a cyberpunk based on Shirow Masamune’s popular manga which was released in Young Magazine Kaizokuban in 1989. Setting in the near future in Japan where technology has been advanced drastically, it tells a story about the members of 'Public Security Section 9', which was organized to oppose an epidemic of computer crime and cyber terrorism.

In 1995, its anime film adaptation 'Ghost in the Shell' directed by Oshii Mamoru was released, and Oshii also directed the sequel titled 'Innocence' in 2004.

Apart from Oshii Mamoru’s anime film adaptation, there has also been TV anime series 'Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex' (in 2002), 'Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. 2nd GIG' (in 2004), and 'Ghost in the Shell S.A.C. Solid State Society' (in 2006) directed by Kamiyama Kenji.


'Arise' will be animated by Production I.G, and Kise Kazuchika has been chosen as the general director. It was also announced that Ubukata Tow who is known for his novel 'Tenchi Meisatsu', will be in charge of the script and composition, and Cornelius will be in charge of its music. Moreover, the author of the original manga, Shirow Masamune will also participate in the new project.

No other details on 'Arise' have been revealed at this moment, but a press conference will be held at the Nicofarre in Roppongi on February 12th starting at 6:00 pm. At the press conference, more details including the format of the anime and a teaser will be revealed. There will also be a talk show by its staff members and guests. Reportedly, the press conference will be live broadcast on the official site (here).

taken from: