July 24, 2024

Tubi in Japanese (2)

Tubi has anime and Kdrama channels but nothing specific to Jdrama. Tubi doesn't have language filters either, so the only way to sift through Tubi's catalog, aside from third-party sites like Reelgood, is to look up specific titles, actors, and directors, or do global searches for "Japan" and "Japanese."

Even there, the Tubi search engine is fuzzy, so the hits will be all over the map and may have nothing to do with Japan. And because Tubi licenses just about anything as long as it's cheap and available, everything from art house to grindhouse to documentaries and travelogues will show up in the results.

I've curated a list of Japanese language titles on Tubi I thought were worth a second glance. I will update this list on a semi-regular basis.

  • Bakuman (2013) presents an unflinching account about what it takes to become a manga artist. The process has largely gone digital in the last decade and emanga outsell paperbacks but the merciless challenges of the creative process haven't changed. Check out Sleeper Hit (2016) on Viki for a more modern take from the publisher's perspective. Also see my longer review.
  • Daughter of Lupin (2019) is a live-action spin-off of the popular anime action comedy. Like Marilyn Munster on The Munsters, Hana is the only normal person in her odd family. She's a librarian engaged to a police officer from a family of police officers, which causes no end of comedic problems when her crime family gets framed for a series of crimes they didn't actually commit.
  • Lupin the Third (1971–2023) Along with six television series, there are at least fifty Lupin the Third movies at the latest count. Tubi has about three dozen of them.
  • Pinwheel Hamakichi's Spell (1992) A disgraced Edo period police officer, banished from the capital for accepting a bribe, returns five years later to search for his daughter. Still respected as a detective, he is prevailed upon to solve crimes in an unofficial capacity, and makes ends meet by selling pinwheel toys from a roadside stand.
  • Shadow Warriors (1980) Sonny Chiba reassembled the cast and crew from Shogun's Samurai (1978) to play famed ninja leader Hattori Hanzo (like Yagyu Jubei, a documented historical figure). By day, he's the layabout owner of an Edo bathhouse (if you're looking for gratuitous nudity, look no further). By night, he fixes the nasty problems the shogunate would like swept under the rug.
  • Steamboy (2004) is about a boy named Edward Steam. Yes, the whole thing is that obvious. This steampunk adventure takes place in Victorian England and includes a big nod to George Stephenson, the "Father of the British Steam Railways." If nothing else, the constant whirring, hissing, clanking, and grinding of gears will be a visual delight for any gearhead. Also see my longer review.
  • Summer Days With Coo (2007) Coo is a kappa, a mythological water-dwelling reptile with a penchant for cucumbers and sumo wrestling. The story asks what happens when a fairy tale character ends up in modern suburban Japan and meets a boy named Koichi. Based on the novels by Masao Kogure.
  • Toradora (2008) As both a plot device and a well-used anime trope, perhaps no anime series exemplifies the tsundere type better than Toradora and the character of Taiga Aisaka. This high school romantic comedy works on every level and concludes on exactly the right note. Also see my longer review.
  • Uzumasa Limelight looks at the samurai action genre through the eyes of an aging stuntman who has difficulty getting cast in new productions after spending his entire career on a weekly historical drama like Abarenbo Shogun, that was on air from 1978 to 2008.

Related posts

Tubi in Japanese (1)
Tubi in Japanese (2)
Samurai vs Ninja
Japanese language links

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July 20, 2024

Angel Falling Softly

Rachel Forsythe's once perfect life is now anything but. The younger of her two daughters is dying of cancer, and neither God nor medical science can promise her a cure.

Milada Daranyi, chief investment officer at Daranyi Enterprises International, has come to Utah to acquire a medical technology company. Bored with her downtown hotel accommodations, she rents a house in the Salt Lake City suburbs.

Then the welcome wagon shows up. To the neighbors, Milada is a beautiful and intelligent young woman. But Rachel suspects something more about her, and makes an unexpected and dangerous discovery: Milada is a vampire. Fallen.

And the only person in the world who can save her daughter's life.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased at Amazon worldwide. The ePub format is available at Apple Books, Google Play, Rakuten Kobo, B & N Nook, Smashwords and many other ebook retailers.

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ePub
Read an excerpt


Maralise at Blog Segulla calls Angel Falling Softly

a good read. I would even venture to say that it's a great read. I was captivated by the tight and nuanced writing in Woodbury's most recent release from Zarahemla Books.

With some qualifications, Doug Gibson of the Ogden (Utah) Standard-Examiner declares it

better than 99 percent of Mormon fiction out there. It takes our beliefs out of comfort zones, inviting analysis and debate. No matter what happens, we've learned something.

According to Angela Hallstrom, author of Bound on Earth,

Angel Falling Softly is more than a good read. It is a provocative meditation on life and death that will leave readers both satisfied and unnerved. It kept me reading, and it kept me guessing.

And Stephen Carter, editor of Sunstone Magazine, says it's "one of the best Mormon novels ever written,"

proof positive that Mormon fiction is not dead. And even if it was, Woodbury has called it from its grave, bestowed it with immortality, and given it a mighty fine set of literary fangs.

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July 17, 2024

Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation

In a previous post, I discussed what has become a perennial problem in the entertainment business: spending too much time on too little plot.

One example I offered for efficient scriptwriting is Three Star Bar in Nishi Ogikubo, that tells a satisfying tale in six half-hour largely standalone episodes.

Gamera Rebirth also does a good job in six forty-five minute episodes, integrating a backstory with the complexity of The X-Files without dragging the audience through all the nitty gritty details.

It then queues up a sequel (a single scene following the credit scroll) without resorting to a cliffhanger ending.

But perhaps the epitome of a tightly written teledrama is Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation. In all of twenty-five minutes, we get a beginning, middle, and end, a (somewhat predictable) twist halfway through, and a conclusion that provides the promised payoff with another clever (and foreshadowed) twist.

Followed by a brief coda that ties it back to the One Piece universe.

This may be a bit of a spoiler, but Monsters takes a cue from the "management by walking around" governing style on display in samurai action classics such as Abarenbo Shogun and Mito Komon, that has a high government official mingling among the common folk into order to ferret out the bad guys.

It's an approach favored as well by Emperor Shouryuu in the Twelve Kingdoms.

This little gem was penned by One Piece mangaka Eiichiro Oda. Granted, if you're not familiar with One Piece, you may wonder what a French swordsman, a samurai, and a dragon are doing in a town straight out of the American West. But you quickly stop wondering because the narrative can carry that weight.

I don't follow One Piece closely and wasn't aware of the connection before watching the show. And yet despite the odd anachronisms, it was still one of the most entertaining movies I've seen in quite a while.

Monsters: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation is streaming on Netflix.

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July 13, 2024

Dunbar Woods

Glimmeridge, the mystical home of a clan of Fairlies, lies deep in Dunbar Woods, hidden behind an invisible Veil. As Watcher or guard for his clan, Tam uses his magical Watchfire to protect his family and keep tabs on the Humans who live near the woods.

One fateful night, Tam's sister, the clan Storyteller, forsakes the clan when she elopes. Their mother, the cold and powerful Queen Morna, accuses Tam of negligence and threatens to throw him into the dark and mysterious Pit. To avoid this terrifying punishment, he makes a rash bargain: he will convince a human girl to take his sister's place as Storyteller.

Tam chooses Keely Ellingsen, a high school student who loves the woods and loves writing stories. Keely considers herself an ordinary teenager burdened with chores and homework. But Tam's friendship, her dreams of success, and a family secret draw Keely to Fairlie culture and the prospect of becoming a Storyteller.

Tam's growing affection for Keely and her family obligations complicate their relationship. While she ponders the best course for her future, he struggles between his clan's strict rules and Keely's human ingenuity. Together, they confront the darkness that lurks at the edges of the Fairlie world.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased at Amazon worldwide. The ePub format is available at Apple Books, Google Play, Rakuten Kobo, B & N Nook, Smashwords and many other ebook retailers.

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July 10, 2024

The relative time of day

If it is possible to quantify any aspect of Japanese society, an official body in Japan is bound to do it. That includes the time of day. Not only the clock time but the general divisions of the day in colloquial terms. We need only turn to the "Daily Time Subdivision Map" as defined by the Japan Meteorological Agency.
Midnight
3:00 AM
6:00 AM
9:00 AM
Noon (正午) 
3:00 PM
6:00 PM
9:00 PM
– 
– 
– 
– 
– 
– 
– 
– 
3:00 AM
6:00 AM
9:00 AM
Noon (正午
3:00 PM
6:00 PM
9:00 PM
Midnight
Predawn
Dawn
Morning
Before Noon
Afternoon
Evening
Early Night
Late Night
Whoa, 3:00 AM counts as dawn and 3:00 PM counts as evening? Well, in Japan, yes. Given the geography, this actually makes sense. The time zone for Japan is UTC +9:00. That's for the entire country, from Okinawa to Hokkaido. Moreover, Tokyo sits on the eastern edge of the meridian at 35 degrees north.

To that bit of geography, consider as well that Japan does not go on Summer Time (サマータイム). As a result, even in the middle of the summer, the sun rises over Tokyo as early as 4:30 AM and sets no later than 7:00 PM. In the middle of the winter, the sun rises before 7:00 AM and sets no earlier than 4:30 PM.

But 7:00 PM is pretty early in the evening compared to Salt Lake City. Salt Lake City is in the middle of the Mountain Time Zone at 40 degrees north and goes on Summer Time (MDT). At the height of the summer, the sun sets at a whopping 9:00 PM. Yet another reason I'm not a big fan of Daylight Saving Time.

Back during the go-go 1980s, when drinking with the boys after hours was de rigueur for every company man in Tokyo (and to a certain extent still is), a popular anecdote claimed that the typical salaryman preferred doing so under cover of the night. That was why Japan resisted going on Summer Time.

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July 06, 2024

Richard: The Ethics of Affection

Richard St. Clair struggles daily to suppress less-than-appropriate feelings for his new assistant. He's an engaged man, after all, and a recently appointed civil servant. He's sure he's got the situation under control. Until an unknown adversary slips him a love potion that unleashes his true affections.

Now with the help of his once-enchanted sister, his policeman brother-in-law, and the woman he really loves, Richard must scour Kingston for his foe and find a way to ethically express the desires of his heart.

Book two in the Roesia series, Richard continues the story of the St. Clair family that begins with Aubrey. Roesia is a Victorian world where magic is real and spells and potions are the focus of academic study. While sharing characters and events, the books can be read as standalone stories.

The Kindle and paperback editions can be purchased at Amazon worldwide. The ePub format is available at Apple Books, Google Play, Rakuten Kobo, B & N Nook, Smashwords and many other ebook retailers.

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Paperback
ePub
Read an excerpt

The Roesia Series

Tales of the Quest
Lord Simon: The Dispossession of Hannah
Richard: The Ethics of Affection
Aubrey: Remnants of Transformation

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July 03, 2024

Requiem for the Super Cub

Honda will stop selling motorcycles with 50cc and smaller internal combustion engines in the next fiscal year. That means drawing the curtains on the Super Cub, once the most popular motorcycle in the world. With a four-speed clutchless transmission geared for utility, the Super Cub sold 100 million units since going into production in 1958.

Alas, in recent years, the popularity of the 50cc motorcycle class has waned due to the
proliferation of electric bicycles and the rise of electric scooters. Around 1.98 million motorcycles in the category were shipped in 1980 but the number plunged to around 90,000 by 2023.
Stricter emissions regulations factored into the equation as well.

I had a 400cc CB400T Honda Hawk in college. When I first lived in Japan almost half a century ago, Super Cubs equipped with delivery rigs were ubiquitous on the backstreets of Tokyo.

My rekindled affection for Honda motorcycles this time around is thanks to one of my very favorite anime. Super Cub is based on the light novels and manga by Tone Koken and was made into a 2021 series by Studio Kai.

Koguma is a high school student living a lonely life in the exurbs of Yamanashi Prefecture. Her life undergoes a major change when she buys a vintage Super Cub to commute to school. Her Super Cub catches the attention of classmate Reiko, a Super Cub fanatic, and Shii, whose eccentric parents run a German-style bakery and coffee shop that Reiko frequents.

What follows is textbook slice-of-life storytelling. The only episode with a traditional narrative arc has Reiko attempting to conquer Mt. Fuji on a Super Cub (which actually has been done). The rest might better be called "Zen and the Art of Super Cub Maintenance." Of course, one of those classic Super Cub delivery rigs makes a cameo appearance.

The series concludes with a Super Cub road trip chasing the cherry blossom season down to the southernmost tip of Kyushu. Yeah, it's basically a six hour commercial for Honda, but what a great commercial it is!

The Super Cub C125 is available in North American. Its 125cc engine makes it a full-fledged motorcycle and not a scooter. (The original Super Cub had a 49cc engine to avoid being legally designated a motorcycle in Japan.) If the day comes that I find myself with a couple of grand burning a hole in my pocket, I have to hope it will still be on the market.

Super Cub is streaming on Crunchyroll.

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