We interview Ron Howard on his trip to Tokyo prior to the opening of Solo: A Star Wars Story

Famed director talks risk-taking and tells us one way Solo is superior to any previous entry in the Star Wars franchise.

Though The Last Jedi was released on the same day in Japan as it was in the U.S., the Star Wars franchise decided to give Japanese audiences a bit more space between the divisive eighth episode of the mainline series and it’s latest side project, Solo: A Star Wars Story. While we’re generally an impatient bunch, the delay in Solo coming to Japan, where it opens June 29, does have a silver lining, in that director Ron Howard has traveled to Tokyo to promote the Japanese premiere.

Hot off his recent interviews of Mark Hamill and Ryan Reynolds, SoraNews24’s Japanese-language reporter and movie lover P.K. Sanjun sat down for a chat with Howard to discuss the challenges of joining a film in mid-production as well as one area in which Solo unquestionably surpasses any other Star Wars film.

P.K.: When I first heard this movie was being made, I thought “The people working on this must be incredibly brave.” I mean, this is Han Solo we’re talking about. So many people have such strong feelings about the character, and that’s got to be constraining for filmmakers.”

Howard: Hahaha, well, you’re right about that.

P.K.: And then you came on as director mid-way through filming. That had to have taken a lot of courage, right?

Howard: For me, yes, it did. It was like someone was telling me “Make the movie!” There’re definitely risks when you join a project after filming has begun. But it’s also an opportunity to help out a lot of creative partners, and I really liked the film’s story.

I also thought I could apply my experiences as a filmmaker to the project. I’ve worked on many films, and I think it’s important to not be afraid to take risks. It definitely takes courage, but not trying isn’t a choice.

Being a director is my life’s work, and so I can’t just keep doing the same things over and over. If I don’t take risks, I might end up losing interest in the film, and audiences might too.

P.K.: That’s a really cool directing philosophy.

Howard: [laughs] But I had a lot of faith in the film’s story. I thought that this could be something that a lot of people will enjoy, and we made the movie while keeping a strong respect for the audience in mind.

P.K.: Were you already a Star Wars fan prior to working on Solo?

Howard: I love Star Wars. I mean, I saw A New Hope on opening weekend in 1977 at the Chinese Theater [in Hollywood]. I still remember going there with my wife on Saturday morning.”

P.K.: That’s hardcore.

Howard: We waited in line for two hours. But even after the movie was over, I was still so excited, so I asked my wife, “Should we see it again?” Then we got back in line and waited two more hours to watch it one more time.

After that, I was fortunate enough to develop a friendship with George Lucas, so I got to know a lot of what was happening behind the scenes with the franchise. But I never imagined something so crazy as having the chance to be involved with Star Wars as a director would happen.

P.K.: Sounds like you’re a serious fan! Changing gears, in Solo, do you have a favorite character?

Howard: It’s got to be Chewbacca. It was so fun getting to direct Han and Chewbacca. We talked about risks, and this film takes risks. But a great thing is that, compared to any other film in the franchise, this one has the most for Chewbacca to do.

P.K.: Yeah, watching the film, Chewbacca plays an active part in a ton of scenes.

Howard: That’s one way I’m really satisfied with how thoroughly we were able to show the relationship between Chewbacca and Han.

Instagram Photo

P.K.: Changing topics again, you started out as a child actor before transitioning to directing. Did you do that just by following your creative instincts? Life moves so fast in the world today, and it’s so important to be able to change and evolve.

Howard: Becoming a director had been a dream of mine since I was a boy. Even when I was a child actor, I thought “I could become a director.” Of course, I still had to prove that to other people.

P.K.: Hahaha.

Howard: Of course, at the time there were people who thought “Going from a child actor to a director? That’s impossible.” But when I got a chance to direct, even though it wasn’t a huge success, it wasn’t an outright failure either, and I was able to start my career as a director.

You mentioned changing and evolving. Humans aren’t such simple creatures, and, in extreme terms, you could say that many different personalities all share space within a single person. For example, inside me there’s a tortoise and a dolphin.

P.K. A tortoise and a dolphin?

Howard: Yes. The first shows up when I’m doing things slowly, but carefully. But then there’s a side of me that’s excitable and active, jumping from one thing to the next. Those parts of my personality are like two different animals, but they’re both part of me, so there’s no need to try to suppress one of them.

P.K.: That’s a really nice way of putting it.

Howard: It’s the same with Solo. There’s a Han Solo that fans already know, and a Han Solo that’s fans don’t know yet, and that’s why I think people will enjoy this movie.

Photos ©SoraNews24

Awesome cardboard Darth Vader costume lets you become an eco-friendly Jedi villain【Video】

May the Box be with you.

When Japanese stationery company Showa Note introduced its line of wearable cardboard costumes, their cool-looking samurai armor promised endless fun for kids and adults alike.

But ever since the release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi on the epic space opera’s 40th anniversary, the company has received numerous requests from fans to expand the existing cardboard series. And with Solo: A Star Wars Story releasing soon in Japan on June 29, Showa Note responded by adding the jet black armor of Darth Vader to its cardboard costume lineup.

▼ Make your very own Jedi villain costume and wield the Force with impunity.

Like all wearable cardboard costume kits created by the company, the Darth Vader getup can be easily assembled straight out of the box without the need for extra tools.

Whether it’s the easy-to-pop-out perforated cardboard parts or the imprinted numbers indicating which things go where, everything about the kit is child-friendly. Even the wave-like edges of the parts cushion impact against skin, reducing the likelihood of children cutting themselves.

Since the Darth Vader costume comes pre-painted, aspiring Jedi Masters can direct all their attention on creating their garb instead of cleaning up messy paint spills. Made from more than 90 percent recycled corrugated cardboard, the armor is both light and easy to handle.

▼ Eco-friendly Darth Vader, ready to go.

Although a Chewbacca cardboard costume seems unlikely for now, C-3PO and his trusty buddy R2-D2 would make awesome additions, not to mention feared bounty hunter Boba Fett.

The Darth Vader cardboard getup costs 3,980 yen (US$36.12) and is scheduled to be released in fall this year, making it a great gift for kids or a fantastic cosplay option when Halloween comes around.

Source: Showa Note, YouTube/Oyakotori via Value Press
Top image: YouTube/Oyakotori
Insert image: Showa Note

R2-D2 Japanese name stamp holder comes to you from a galaxy far, far away….

When it comes to guarding your all-important name stamp, he may be your only hope.

If you plan on living in Japan for an extended period of time, one of the things you’ll need to get your life started here is a special seal with your name on it, called a hanko, which is used to “sign” important documents, like your lease agreement when renting an apartment or the forms needed to open a bank account. For more everyday tasks, such as when signing for a package, a nēmu-in, or rubber name stamp, is often used. When they’re not in use, they are usually stored in small cases or pouches, which can be found for cheap at 100 yen stores.

Or, you could let the universe’s most trusty droid protect your name stamp for you, with this clever R2-D2 name-stamp stand!

▼ Secure the stamp in R2’s head, and the stamp will be stored within when his head is replaced.
When you’re ready to use, just push R2’s chest button to pop off his top!

Instead of keeping your name stamp in a drawer or your bag, where you’ll likely have to dig and search for it whenever you need it, you can entrust it to R2-D2, who will keep it for you on a desk or table where you can easily find it. Fans of the original Star Wars trilogy will also appreciate the fun freebie that comes with the stamp stand – a Princess Leia stamp-cap holder, so you can recreate the scene from the movie when R2 shows Leia’s message to Obi-Wan Kenobi.

The R2-D2 name stamp holder can be fitted with stamps that are between 17 and 19 millimeters in diameter, and the stand itself is approximately 77.5 wide by 121 millimeters tall (about 3 by 4.75 inches). If you need to add this brave little droid to your collection of Star Wars memorabilia, you can purchase him through the Hankos online shop for 2,800 yen (US$26.07) plus tax and shipping, though you will need to use a forwarding service if you want it shipped outside of Japan. R2 is sure to bring some balance to the force, next to your Darth Vader snack dispenser.

Source, images: Rakuten via MdN Design Interactive


突然だが、ジョン・ウィリアムズという米国出身の音楽家をご存知だろうか? 説明するまでもないだろうが、スター・ウォーズをはじめ、ジョーズ、スーパーマン、インディー・ジョーンズ、ET、ハリー・ポッターなどなど、数々の有名映画のテーマ曲を生み出してきた巨匠である。

そんなジョン・ウィリアムズ氏は1932年2月8日生まれの85歳。近年も作曲家や指揮者として活躍している “生きる伝説” だ。今回ご覧に入れたいのは、同氏がオーケストラを前にスター・ウォーズのテーマを指揮する様子である。正真正銘の本物が奏でるサウンドはマジ鳥肌モノだゾ!


動画のタイトルは『Jhon Williams!』だ。再生したら、「J Williams」と「PROPAERTY OF LUCASFLM(ルーカスフィルムの財産)」の文字、そして2016年11月21日の日付が飛び込んでくる。

続いて、スター・ウォーズでおなじみのタイトル画面がディスプレイに表示されると……キタァァァアアアーーー!! オーケストラによるスター・ウォーズのテーマの演奏がスタート! 何度聴いても、なんてパワフルで美しいサウンドだろうか……。





Get a dose of cute in your bento box with this over-sized Star Wars Porg rice ball!【Video】

See how to make what might be the cutest rice ball ever  

Now, we all know how hard it is to resist round cuddly creatures with big eyes, don’t we? So it’s really not surprising that plenty of people both in Japan and worldwide who saw Star Wars: the Last Jedi have been captivated by the winged critters known as “Porgs” that appeared in the movie.

While some Star Wars fans may insist that these fictional sea-birds are nothing more than another way for Disney to sell more merchandise, many have also claimed the Porgs to be uniquely and utterly adorable, with their large black eyes and fluffy feathers. And if (like this writer) you fall into the latter category, we’re sure you’ll be delighted be with this video shared on the Disney Parks YouTube channel  featuring a huge Porg rice ball served up in a bento box!

The Porg rice ball bento is the creation of American food artist and Disney fan Mike Kravanis, and in the video he shows how he creates an amazing Porg likeness out of rice, seaweed, black olives and sesame seeds.

Kravanis uses both regular white rice and sushi (vinegared) rice to make the Porg riceball, in a somewhat egg-like shape. He then uses various cookie-cutters to create the different facial parts and wings out of flattened mounds of rice. Nori seaweed is used for the mouth while black olives are placed as the eyes and two sesame seeds as the nostrils. Sesame seeds are also used to color the Porg’s wings.  Soy sauce is dabbed onto the top of the head as well as a sprinkling of sesame seeds to give the head a brown color.  Little feet made of carrots are also added, and you now have a Porg rice ball ready to be presented in a bento box!

So, how do you like the finished Porg riceball? We think it looks pretty awesome for something made of such simple ingredients! One thing we couldn’t help but notice is that the riceball is awfully big, and you’re not going to be able to close the bento box if you make it in this size. It’s certainly cute to look at, though!

Here’s the video showing the entire process of making the Porg riceball bento. It may take some (or rather, lots of) skill to create and place all the parts just right, but it sure looks like great fun.

In the video, Kravanis recommends serving the riceball with some curry, which actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. In fact, since it’s practically just rice and sesame seeds, it should probably go well with mostly any main dish.

Kravanis shares many other beautiful Disney-themed bentos on his Instagram page as user @omgiri, so make sure to check that out as well for more delectable and adorable images!

Related: Instagram/ @omgiri
Source: YouTube/ Disney Parks, Disney Parks Blog

Images: YouTube/ Disney Parks

[ Read in Japanese ]

Rey’s sweet revenge on Kylo Ren at conveyor belt sushi restaurant sets Japanese Twitter abuzz

Star Wars action figures show us the untold story of why Ren abandoned the light in favor of the dark.

No Jedi in his or her right mind would want to deal with Commander of the First Order, Kylo Ren. His legendary temper precedes his skills in the world of Star Wars, and even allies know to tread lightly around him when he’s in the midst of a tantrum.

Action figure enthusiast @juridget shows us that Ren has definitely met his match this time, thanks to the ever resourceful heroine of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, Rey.

The two had gone out for a quick snack at a conveyor belt sushi restaurant, no doubt debating the effects of the Force on climate change. After sitting down, Rey pointed to the faucet-looking device on their table.

▼ “That’s where you wash your hands at Japanese conveyor belt sushi stores,”
said a crafty Rey.

▼ Because it’s common practice to wash your hands before eating sushi, right?

Well no, since pressing that black button causes boiling hot water to gush out, possibly scalding customers if they’re unaware of Japan’s customs. Such faucets found in sushi restaurants are a handy way to supply hot water for tea, and are also apparently a good way to get rid of Force-empowered adversaries.

There’s no telling whether Kylo Ren went on a sushi rampage after that, given his predisposition for violence. Japanese Twitter users were quite amused at the exchange, perhaps due to the fact that it could very well happen in real life:

“He’s going to snap and flail his lightsaber around.”
“He’s going to whip out his light saber and take his anger out on the sushi counter.”
“So she was the one who sent him to the dark side.”
“I’m not sure who’s more evil.”
“Based on a true story.”

That certainly was a brilliant way to lure Ren to the dark side of the Force. On hindsight, we should have tried it on the real Luke Skywalker, Mark Hamill, to see if he would stray from the light when he came down to Japan for our interview. There’s always next time I suppose.

Source, featured image: Twitter/@juridget

Give in to the beautiful side of the Force with Japan’s new Star Wars skincare masks

Face packs transform you into Star Wars’ heroes and villains, are just the thing to re-moisturize if your skin is dry from too much time on Tatooine.

With The Last Jedi now playing, hard-core Star Wars fans have a fresh excuse to engage in a little cosplay as they head out to the theaters to see the latest installment in the franchise, But what if you’re a fan, but not a fanatic? Maybe you’d like to dress up as a character from the series too, but you feel a little too embarrassed to do it in public.

You could cosplay at home, but while that saves you from having to feel self-conscious, it can also feel kind of pointless since no one will see you. So the ideal solution is a way to dress up as a Star Wars icon in a way that provides some benefit other than attention, like with these skincare masks from Japanese beauty products maker Isshindo Honpo.

The Tokyo-based company previously offered Attack on Titan masks (which we tried out for ourselves), and is now releasing five different Star Wars designs. Three of them, Darth Vader, Darth Maul, and the Imperial Stormtrooper, are allied with the Dark Side of the Force, perhaps because Sith Lords, as portrayed in the films, consistently have pretty awful complexions, and could really use the cleansing, beautifying effects of the hydrolyzed collagen, vitamin C solution, and sodium hyaluronate the masks are treated with.

Conversely, if you’re a fan of Star Wars’ good guys, there are also C-3PO and Chewbacca masks.

▼ Although since droids don’t have skin and Wookies’ faces are completely covered by their hair/fur, we’re not sure either one of these characters would ever need to use the masks themselves.

The masks are available at Isshindo Honpo’s Tokyo sociality shopes as well as at novelty retailers. Priced at 430 yen (US$3.80) each, they make great souvenirs, although if you’re planning to give them as Christmas presents you’ll need to wake up early on Christmas morning, since they go on sale December 25.

Related: Isshin Hompo location list
Source, images: PR Times
[ Read in Japanese ]