Kawaii is a Japanese word which means cute or pretty. And I think the word is appropriately used in relation to the Japanese, as they are such lovely people, and to their popular culture which is so endearing and interesting. Because of this, I suppose, lots of Thais, including myself, are nuts about many cool things from this likeable nation.
Last weekend, I came across a Japanese band, called Sweet Vacation on NHK World, Japan’s public broadcast TV channel which appeared unannounced on Sky last week. The band consists of two members: a Thai female lead singer who sings brilliantly in Japanese, and a Japanese male musician. I do not know much about their music but I find their songs, like the one in this video, very catchy. While I was listening to it, I felt like shaking my body and dancing with the tune although I cannot understand the lyrics; and in fact I do not need to either. I am still able to enjoy this tuneful song.
The following movie clip contains scenes of extreme violence, self-mutilation, torture, sexual situations and rape. Yet, for some reason all of these actions come across as comically exciting.
Welcome to the cinematic world of Takashi Miike and if you have never experienced his movies, all I can say is where have you been. Ichi The Killer is a brutal and bizarre movie. It is over the top and violent for the sake of being entertaining – a very black comedy with a surrealistic sense of humour. The movie is based on a manga, a Japanese cartoon book by Hideo Yamamoto and is consequently in the style of a caricature which makes the atrocious scenes easy to swallow, if you can take them all in. At the same time, you might be enormously shocked with laughter.
Grave of the Fireflies is a 1988 Japanese animation. The story is about a boy and his younger sister who were both left orphaned as a result of an air raid which killed many Japanese, including their mother who died from burn wounds, near the end of World War II. The story is told in the style of a flashback on the last day of the boy’s life. He and his younger sister had had to go to live with their aunt as there was no one that the two of them could turn to. But later on their presence irritated her, resulting in them being treated badly. In the end, when they could not stand her any more, the little brother and sister decided to leave and squat in an abandoned bomb shelter. What happened after this is a very harrowing story.
This is one of the saddest animations I have ever seen and does not have a happy ending, although it is a well related tale of the impact of the war on those innocent victims who sufferred from this terrible event. I was deeply moved by this poignant cartoon.
What happened earlier today in Japan is unsettling me. I am aware of the fact that, as often as not, there are bad things happening in this beautiful world. Some occasional events have massive repercussions on all people, like the tsunami or 9/11, but others might or might not affect anybody, and yet the killing of innocent Japanese citizens by some lunatic weirdo, for some reason, is strongly disconcerting me. It is definitely disrupting the equilibrium of my mind, along with the matter of not knowing the severity of this incident on some of my Japanese friends. I truly hope that they will be able to deal with it easily. After seeing the news, I decided to write to S. who is one of my Japanese friends. I am so anxious to know what she is thinking and feeling right now regarding this tragic event. Hopefully she will be ok and won’t lose faith in her fellow citizens. There are always crazy people everywhere, not only in Japan. At the same time, while I am worrying about her feelings, she may even care nothing about the stabbing at all. But who knows? And I personally care. May this horrible thing never happen again, whether in Japan, here, or the rest of the world. I just wish.