Hayao Miyazaki says Studio Ghibli once stood up to Harvey Weinstein with a Japanese samurai sword

According to Hayao Miyazaki, the act meant “I defeated him”.

Ever since news of sexual abuse allegations against American film producer Harvey Weinstein broke last October, more and more disturbing claims have surfaced, detailing the mogul’s extensive use of intimidation and bullying tactics in order to satisfy his personal desires and face down anyone who appeared to stand in his way.

While many people were forced to relent to Weinstein’s menacing ways, one man and his team in Japan refused to let the producer mess with them, standing up to him in a most memorable fashion: with a Japanese samurai sword.

The story, which has resurfaced in the midst of the Weinstein scandal, was first told by Studio Ghibli director and co-founder Hayao Miyazaki in an interview with The Guardian in 2005, back when Weinstein was still a respected, albeit feared, Hollywood producer.

At the time, Miyazaki was in Venice promoting his latest film, Howl’s Moving Castle, and the rare interview was said to be the first one the director had agreed to in 10 years. While the discussion mostly revolved around his craft, at one point the interviewer asked whether the rumour about him sending a samurai sword to Harvey Weinstein was actually true.

Miyazaki confirmed the story, saying, “Actually, my producer [Toshio Suzuki] did that”, before going on to reveal that the sword was sent after Weinstein, who was in charge of handling the U.S. release of Princess Mononoke, bombarded him with an “aggressive attack” and “all these demands for cuts”.

The sword was sent to Weinstein in the post with the following message attached: “No cuts”.

Weinstein, who was known for editing down movies to his liking, eventually backed down from making any cuts to Princess Mononoke’s U.S. release, and as Miyazaki recalled the story to the interviewer, he smiled and said “I defeated him.”

Source: Metro via The Guardian
Featured image: Flickr/Big Ben in Japan
Insert image: Flickr/Mark Vegas

“Winny Incident” movie wins huge crowdfunding support

After its crowdfunding target is smashed, writing begins on the story of how Japan stifled its own IT development in the name of combating file-sharing.

Although it feels almost like yesterday, a lot of young people may not even be familiar with the name Winny in Japan. At around the turn of the millennium, when the file-sharing craze was in full swing, a university instructor came up with Winny — fully anonymous peer-to-peer (P2P) file sharing software.

Although somewhat lost in the crowd of WinMXs (Winny’s namesake), Bearshares and eDonkeys overseas, Winny was the go-to file sharing app for Japan shortly after its release in May of 2002. However, most of those users would ultimately get it to transfer music and other copyrighted media to each other, spelling bad news for its creator.

● Project Winny

This February, IT entrepreneur Satoshi Furuhashi began a crowdfunding campaign to begin writing the script for a movie about the rise and fall of Winny and its creator Isamu Kaneko. In a matter of days it surpassed its 100,000 yen (US$919) target and as of this writing has surpassed 700,000 yen ($6,400).

The movie will try to put a human face on the creation of Winny and also show how its technology led to current trends like cryptocurrency. More importantly though, it will show how the legal system in Japan strangled visionaries like Kaneko and created a poisonous environment for innovation.

On his crowdfunding page, Furuhashi describes the project as a Japanese Social Network, referring to David Fincher’s 2010 movie following the creation of Facebook along with the involvement of Napster co-creator Sean Parker.

While that’s a great pitch for producers, considering how things went for Kaneko, “Anti-Social Network” would be a more apt description.

● The Bizarro Sean Parker

By the time Winny was released, the American pioneer of file sharing, Napster, had already jousted with music associations and was dissolved after filing for bankruptcy. And as its cofounder Sean Parker was already free to venture into the future jackpot of social networking services, the file-sharing controversy continued to swirl over Napster’s successors.

Eventually it wafted over to Japan’s shores and Winny became public enemy number one. However, unlike Napster’s unabashed promotion as a music file sharing network, Winny never publicly endorsed sharing copyright protected media. Also unlike America’s sue-first-settle-then-ask-questions-later approach to the matter, Japan took an even harsher stance by filing criminal charges, leaving little to no room for negotiation.

▼ It’s really hard to leverage your tech prowess with a court of law.

Parker had to deal with paying off settlements to the music industry, but Kaneko was carried off in handcuffs for his engineering prowess. In trial, lawyers debated over whether simply creating a P2P platform is tantamount to accessory to copyright infringement. It was a case that went to the Supreme Court and took seven years to resolve with Kaneko finally being judged innocent.

At the end of 2011, Kaneko was cleared of all charges against him. At that same time, Parker had been president of Facebook and just watched Spotify launch after investing $15 million into it. He is currently estimated to be worth over $2 billion.

Kaneko spent his time tangled in court consulting another digital content distribution platform and also doing some lecturing and research in high speed computing at Tokyo University. However, the legal system was locked in a standoff with P2P in Japan causing any serious development to grind to a halt. Two years after his innocence was declared, he died of a heart attack in 2013.

● A country where nail that sticks up isn’t hammered down

The stories of Parker and Kaneko are a pretty stark example of the difference in environment and opportunity that the U.S. and Japan provide for their technological pioneers and the results they each lead to.

▼ Furuhashi provided a timeline following the two file sharing
trailblazers’ career paths, showing the harsh differences.

Furuhashi sees the Winny incident as a pivotal moment in the business climate of Japan, and one that had set it back greatly just as IT technology was expanding at an alarming rate. As an entrepreneur himself, he feels the environment in Japan is still too constraining and conservative to foster the growth of new ideas. “I want Japan to be a country,” writes Furuhashi on his crowdfunding page, “where the nail that sticks up isn’t hammered down.”

In addition to monetary support, moral support for this story is strong online:

“This is a blunder of justice that lingers in our history.”
“For some reason Japan is really cold-hearted with engineers from emerging industries. That’s why we’re getting overpowered by a rising Korea and bleeding our assets.”
“It’s a blemish on the legal system, that they’d punish a developer for moral problems of the users.”
“That arrest set Japan way back on taking advantage of P2P technology.”
“There are too many cases of science and tech getting killed in Japan. This is a movie that should be made.”
“Let’s make one about TRON [The Real-time Operating system Nucleus] while we’re at it!”

In addition to the film itself, Furuhashi hopes to incorporate related technologies in its development, such as incorporating virtual currency into its production and ticket sales as well as a P2P distribution system.

But the project is mainly the message that needs to be heard. As one user commented, there are too many cases of stunted growth such as the fact that as of 2017 only 16% of Japanese people use an on-demand video service.

Then there’s also Japan’s mobile phones, once lauded as the greatest in the world, that were swiftly trumped by the relative flexibility and freedom of foreign-developed smartphones. Examples are, sadly, too easy to come up with.

Source: Campfire/Project Winny, IT Media, Hachima Kiko
Images: Campfire/Project Winny, Wikipedia/Saya10

Issei Takahashi does his best “gravure pose” for “TVGuide PERSON”

Actor Issei Takahasi is the cover model for the latest edition of TVGuide PERSON. The 66th issue overall, the mook hit Japanese store shelves today on Feburary 9th.

Takahasi teamed up with famed Singaporean photographer Leslie Kee for the cover. Described as a “two shot gravure”, Takahashi’s shots appear on both the front and back of the mook. The idea behind the shoot was having Takahasi himself as a valentines gift.

In the back cover he’s wearing a grey suit surrounded by ribbons and pink wrapping paper, almost like if he was inside a present. The front of the mook is a slightly suggestive photo of him wearing a bright pink GUCCI sweatshirt, with a tongue-in-cheek misspelling purposely implemented by the designer.

Takahasi does an in-depth interview in the mook where he gets a little deep, talking about why he wants to exist and who he wants to exist for, also commenting that “I feel like a big turning point is coming soon“. He also talks about his film Blank 13, which made it’s debut at the Singapore International Film Festival.

Blank 13 was released in Japan on February 3rd, 2018.


Fullmetal Alchemist live action film is coming to Netflix on February 19

Get ready FMA fans! The Fullmetal Alchemist live action film that was released in December 2017 is coming very soon to Netflix. The film is included in the list of incoming titles for February and is listed as a “Netfilix Original”. The Fumihiko Sori-directed adaptation officially hits the streaming service on February 19!

It was previously announced that the film will open in over 190 countries but did not specify further details. Now we get information on the film’s exclusive distribution through Netflix, to be released just a few months after it opened in Japan.

The film first held its overseas premiere in the US at Anime NYC on November 19.


FullMetal Alchemist: A Netflix Original
2017 2h 14m
While alchemist Edward Elric searches for a way to restore his brother Al’s body, the military government and mysterious monsters are watching closely.

Starring: Ryosuke Yamada, Tsubasa Honda, Dean Fujioka
Genres: Action & Adventure, Asian Action Movies, Dramas, International Movies, Japanese Movies
Director: Fumihiko Sori

Johnny & Associates lifts ban on online images

On January 31, Nishikido Ryo attended a press conference for his new movie “Hitsuji no Ki” directed by Yoshida Daihachi, to talk about well, the movie.  The presscon was hosted by The Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Japan (FCCJ) and appropriately, Nishikido gave greetings in fluent English.

The bigger news though is that Johnnys & Associates is lifting some restrictions on the use of images of its talent on online media. Prior to this, Johnnys have restricted the use of their talents’ images and limited it to newspapers and magazines. For purposes of press conferences, interviews and stage greetings, images of Johnnys can now be used for online news sites.

Pictures from Nishikido’s latest press conference is the first to be lifted for online news media. Several news sites and related twitter accounts have started uploading images since the lifting of the ban. As such, have some HD Ryo-face below.

(via Modelpress 1, Modelpress 2 )

Johnnys WEST to release double A-side single for movie and drama theme songs

Johnnys WEST will be releasing a double A-side single on March 7. Both songs are theme songs to member movies and dramas. Principal no Kimi e will serve  as the OP theme song for live action film Principal ~Koi Suru Watashi wa Heroine desuka?~ starring member Kotaki NozomuKuroshina Yuina, Takasugi Masahiro, and Kawaei Rina. Film opens March 3.

Dragon Dog will be used as the theme song for NTV drama Sotsugyo Bakamentary starring members Fujii Ryusei and Hamada Takahiro, with Maeda Koki, Yoshida Yasunao.

Check out the movie and drama trailers below. You can hear a portion of Principal no Kimi e in the full trailer of the movie.

The new single is filled with cheers of support from them to those of you who are making a departure this season. In “Principal no Kimi e,” they are warmly sending you off to your future, and in “Dragon Dog,” they are giving you a hard-edged push on your back. And in the regular edition, they give you a message of “You’ll be okay” in “Aozora Negatte Mata Ashita,” and they watch over you from some distant sky in “Hatsukoi.” Their many messages of “Good luck!” will sure to reach you.

Principal no Kimi e/ Dragon Dog TRACKLIST

[First-run edition A]
*Half-fold 4-page cover

1. Principal no Kimi e
2. Dragon Dog
3. Principal no Kimi e (original karaoke track)
4. Dragon Dog (original karaoke track)

・“Principal no Kimi e” music video and making-of
※Approx. 30 min. planned

[First-run edition B]
*Half-fold 4-page cover

1. Dragon Doggu
2. Principal no Kimi e
3. Dragon Dog (original karaoke track)
4. Principal no Kimi e (original karaoke track)

・“Dragon Dog” music video and making-of
※Approx. 30 min. planned

[Regular edition]
*Tri-fold 6-page cover

1. Principal no Kimi e
2. Dragon Dog
3. Aozora Negatte Mata Ashita
4. Hatsukoi

(via J-net)

Erika Sawajiri & Tori Matsuzaka attend press conference for Impossibility Defense (Funohan)

Actors Erika Sawajiri and Tori Matsuzaka attended a press conference in support of their upcoming film Impossibility Defense.

In the film Tadashi Usobuki (Tori Matsuzaka) is a contract killer, known for always wearing a black suit. Nobody knows about his past, but his clients don’t really care as they are usually blinded by hatred or desire. All they care about is if Usobuki is able to get the job done.  What makes Usobuki so successful in his work is that he uses the power of “suggestion” on his victims, basically like psychological warfare. This makes his crimes almost impossible to track.

Hot on his trails is Tomoko Tada (Erika Sawajiri), an investigator who hopes to put an end to Usobuki’s reign of terror. The film is originally based on the 2013 manga series Funohan, and in December 2017 a four episode dTV drama series aired also starring Sawajiri and Matsuzaka.

At the press conference they were joined by a mentalist called DaiGo. The three played a fun game where Sawajiri and Matsuzaka had to choose a marker with their non-dominant hand, without looking DaiGo would guess which marker they picked. Before picking the markers DaiGo actually recommended that Matsuzaka choose the green marker, but didn’t explain why. Matsuzaka ended up picking the green marker showcasing just how strong words can be, similar to what the character Tadashi Usobuki does.

Sawajiri also ended up picking the green marker. Afterwards Matsuzaka said even though green was recommended to him, he was going to pick it anyway since we really likes the color, causing laughter among everyone on stage and in the audience.

The two went on to talk about the horror movie genre. Matsuzaka isn’t a fan at all, saying that he finds most of them to not be very good. He confessed that it’s because he gets startled quite easily, and is actually afraid of Impossibility Defense itself. Sawajiri is the complete opposite, gushing about her love for horror and suspense.

Impossibility Defense will be released on February 1st, 2018. Supporting cast include Mackenyu, Shotaro Mamiya, Ken Yasuda, and Erina Mano.

(via modelPRESS)