Monday, May 16, 2011

Japanese Artists: Yoshitaka Amano

Yoshitaka Amano is one of my favorite Japanese artists. He's most famous for his fantasy illustrations and character designs, especially for Final Fantasy and Vampire Hunter D. His style is unique and instantly recognizable, with an interesting mix of Western and Asian influence. His characters have an androgynous, ethereal beauty, with shockingly pale skin that often stands in sharp contrast with a brightly colored or dark background. 

I think that Amano's style perfectly suits the fantasy genre. There is something so inherently "fantastic" about his use of color, contrast and landscape. Looking at his art really makes me feel like I've caught a glimpse of another world. 

Vampire Hunter D

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Top 10 Anime for Unbelievers

Like many other Japanophiles, I first got interested in Japan because of anime. Growing up I was exposed to Japanese culture off and on because I lived in the Pacific Northwest where there is a large Japanese-American community and Japanese culture abounds. But I didn't truly fall for Japan until I first started watching anime and took an interest in the language and the culture.

To be totally honest, I rarely watch anime these days. I've outgrown a lot of the stuff I watched when I was younger, but the beauty of the genre is that it really does have something for everyone. There are very serious, mature anime that are targeted to an adult audience and are well worth the attention of anyone interested in Japanese culture. The mainstream image of anime has become the brightly-colored, kid's shows with their crazy spikey hair and high-pitched voice acting. Not that those can't be fun, but I often wish the anime that make the genre worthwhile would get the attention they deserve.

So here follows my Top 10 list for those of you who feel anime is too silly to take seriously.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Taking a deeper look at the Portland Japanese Garden

The Portland Japanese Garden is considered one of the best outside of Japan. It may not have the age of the real thing, but the design really captures the spirit of Japanese aesthetics. For me, the appeal lies in the tiny, narrow paths that wander by Japanese maples, old stone lanterns and tiny creeks. I love the way the small trails make you feel as though you're the only one in the garden.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Japanese Artists: Miyavi

Now that I've finished my series on Japanese Theater (at least for the time being), I'd like to start doing some posts on other aspects of Japanese art that I love. This will be everything from my favorite Japanese painters to great movies to writers and musicians. To kick that off, I bring you my very favorite Japanese musician: Miyavi!

Miyavi is part of a uniquely Asian/Japanese genre called "Visual Kei". Kei in Japanese just means style, and that suffix is used in many situations to refer to a particular style of thing. In this case, it refers to bands who place a lot of emphasis on the visual element of performance in addition to their music. These bands are seen as "alternative", encompassing music genres like rock, punk, alternative pop, etc. The vast majority tend to have a gothic image, but even those that aren't goth usually still sport the crazy costumes, make-up and glam hair that Visual Kei bands are famous for.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Korean-Mexican Fusion food of AWESOME.

My hometown Portland, Oregon is famous for embracing and celebrating weirdness, and of course that extends to its cuisine. A recent development from Portland's food carts is Korean-Mexican fusion, which I heard about from my friend Arika (of Mega Geeks, Inc.). The minute I heard the phrase "Kimchi Quesadilla" I knew I had to try my hand at it.