The year is coming to a close, and as awkward and unnatural as it always feels to toot one’s own horn, the end of December seems to be our culturally designated time to it. Perhaps it’ll soften the blow if I warm up on some friends’ horns first (mixed metaphors and sexual innuendo, what).
Two friends released two pretty amazing rock albums this year – in rapid succession, no less. Darn Sprawls aka Darn Felski aka Urban Sprawls’ The Fog of Now is an accurately-named journey through the pain and confusion of being a Young American in 2015 (which makes the thing sound a lot drearier than it is – it really kicks).
The other release that I’ve listened to about a thousand times is Ryotaro Aoki’s My Electric Fantasy, released under his moniker Looprider. My Electric Fantasy is kind of everything Ryotaro likes stuffed onto one record, and every track sounds different but they’re all undeniably Aoki.
Congrats also in order to pal Ian Martin, whose Call and Response record label turned ten this year (Call and Response, not-so-incidentally, released My Electric Fantasy among a host of other cool albums this year). Ian continues to put out great records and put on great shows and Tokyo is better for it. Also, I just realized I’ve known him for half of those ten years. Whoa.
This was also a subtle segue into what I’ve been doing this is year, see – I happened to direct a music video for My Electric Fantasy. See how smoothly I did that?
The video is for the single “Farewell,” and, well, there it is. Watch it.
But the music videoing did not stop at “Farewell.” I also collaborated with Yokan System, a Tokyo two-piece who also put out a great album this year, directing the video for their “Ipanema.”
Otaku USA e-News, the email newsletter I edit (and write a good 90% of) hit its third anniversary this year. When we started the thing it was bi-weekly, then weekly, now it comes out so often I can’t keep track (or keep up, barely) and we hit issue 200 a couple months back.
Looking back at my anime reviews of the year is further proof I’m becoming an grumpy old man. I gave mixed reviews to two traditionally animated films a lot of people liked, Miss Hokusai and Boy and the Beast, and lamented the computer animation in another couple. My favorite film in the otaku ilk this year was probably Bakuman, a live-action adaptation of a manga which was not only charming, it also ended in a single movie. The sooner the practice of stretching films into two parts dies a horrible flaming death the better.
I wrote a few things over at Time Out Tokyo, including a fun piece about a recent exhibition of shunga, which is old Japanese porn. Er, erotic art. Other pubs, please hire me to write about stuff like this!
I’ve kind of dropped the ball on sharing photos on this site, partly because wifi-equipped digital cameras and support for non-1:1 photos is making Instagram by far the easiest place to do it, so check that out.
What’s on the plate for next year? I’ll be doing a photo essay column twice a month for a new travel website called Beacon Akiba, which will involve me wandering around Akihabara at night taking pictures. I’ll also be dropping some hot English phrases on InterFM with host Misato Nagano, so if your English is basic-to-intermediate (and yet you’ve somehow managed to make it this far) give that a listen. Finally, barring complete failure I’ll be walking out of Sophia University next year with a Master’s in Japanese Studies – yes, I will literally be a Master of Japan.
Anyway, thanks to everybody who collaborated with me, gave me work and talked with me about baseball this year. See you in 2016.