Matt Schley
For Matt Schley's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Hayao Miyazaki came out of retirement this year with “The Boy and the Heron,” which opened to critical acclaim and has so far earned ¥8.56 billion — a good showing but not enough to take the top spot at the box office for the year.
CULTURE / Film / 2023 in Review
Nov 30, 2023
The year that defined the post-Miyazaki era
The success of “Oshi no Ko,” “Detective Conan” and “The Super Mario Bros. Movie” proved that anime is the mainstream now.
A young news editor (voiced by Kensho Ono) is assigned to cover a distillery helmed by a rising star of the Japanese whisky scene (Saori Hayami) in “Komada: A Whisky Family.”
Nov 16, 2023
‘Komada: A Whisky Family’ has the complexity of a bottom-shelf bottle
Anime studio P.A. Works’ film centered on whisky production takes the fun out of delving into what unfolds behind the scenes in a workplace.
Japan’s most famous monster attacks Tokyo just as the city is rebuilding itself from the destruction of World War II in “Godzilla Minus One.”
Nov 9, 2023
‘Godzilla Minus One’: Legendary monster levels up visually
Admirable visual effects bring the beast to life in the franchise’s newest entry, which looks more like the 1954 original than anything in decades.
Meiji University professor and cinema expert Lindsay Nelson writes about 
J-horror (Japanese horror) in her book, “Circulating Fear.”
Oct 28, 2023
‘Horror has always been a vehicle to talk about social problems’
A J-horror expert gives her take on the essence of the genre and the cultural roots of its creative choices.
A concierge-in-training (Natsumi Kawaida) learns the ins and outs of working at an upscale department store in “The Concierge.”
Oct 26, 2023
‘The Concierge’: Frivolous fun with vintage charm
Yoshimi Itazu’s anime set in a department store for animal clientele offers a glittering experience with fluid animation and a vivid color palette.
Japan-based DJ and broadcaster Peter Barakan invites artists from around the world to perform at his two-day roots music festival, Peter Barakan’s Live Magic!.
Oct 19, 2023
Peter Barakan’s Live Magic! festival celebrates 10th edition
The two-day roots music festival in Tokyo features sounds from around the world with acts such as Minyo Crusaders, Jon Cleary and Oreka TX.
Bob Hoskins and John Leguizamo star as Mario and Luigi in 1993’s “Super Mario Bros.,” the first big-budget, big-screen attempt at a video game adaptation.
Sep 13, 2023
The critics were wrong. The ’90s ‘Super Mario’ flick is awesome.
On the film’s 30th anniversary, the box-office bomb is back in Japanese cinemas for a limited time with a new 4K remaster.
Veteran broadcaster and DJ Peter Barakan has been a fixture in Japanese music media for decades. He is now in his third year as curator and namesake of Peter Barakan’s Music Film Festival, which kicks off in Tokyo today.
Sep 1, 2023
Peter Barakan's Music Film Festival celebrates cinema and song
The three-week event kicks off its third edition with 31 films including documentaries, concert films and narrative films centered on music.
Koenji-based dance troupe Tengu-ren performs at an Awa odori event in Tokyo's Kagurazaka neighborhood a month before the Koenji Awa Odori.
CULTURE / Longform
Aug 26, 2023
The party returns to Koenji
While the COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary pause to one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals, its dancers never stopped practicing their steps.
A demon prince named Beelzebub (voiced by Mutsumi Tamura) steals much-needed water from an evil ruler for the thirsty citizens of a desert world in “Sand Land.”
Aug 17, 2023
‘Sand Land’: Summer fun with a bad-boy prince
Akira Toriyama's anime adventure is a straightforward romp, but it's also an entertaining ride through a post-apocalyptic future with lovable demons.
A woman takes a picture of the poster for the new Hayao Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron.”
PODCAST / deep dive
Aug 2, 2023
Hayao Miyazaki’s confusing new masterpiece
Our critics Thu-Huong Ha and Matt Schley discuss what they thought of the new Hayao Miyazaki film, “The Boy and the Heron.”
A theater-goer takes a photo of the promotional poster for Hayao Miyazaki’s new film, “The Boy and the Heron.”
Jul 18, 2023
‘The Boy and the Heron’: It’s so good to be back in Hayao Miyazaki’s world
Studio Ghibli’s latest film takes viewers on one last journey to the familiar world of a master animator who has captivated audiences worldwide for decades.
Japan Times
Jul 13, 2023
Will doing 'nothing' be yet another marketing coup for Studio Ghibli?
Studio Ghibli"s Toshio Suzuki has a history of taking unconventional approaches to promoting the work of anime director Hayao Miyazaki.
Japan Times
Apr 20, 2023
‘Osaka Vintage Diary’: Secondhand concept offers comfortable charm
Director Takeshi Taniyama builds on the universe of his web series "Tokyo Vintage Diary" by making a film focused on comedian Tetsuya Morita.
Japan Times
Mar 23, 2023
‘Shin Kamen Rider’: Superhero romp is fun but not much else
While Hideaki Anno’s third installment in his “Shin” series lacks substance, it packs in the camp and energy of its 1970s source material.
Japan Times
Mar 16, 2023
‘Gridman Universe’: Multiverse monster mash falls flat
The recent revamp of the 1990s anime character Gridman delivered two entertaining series, but the theatrical follow-up fails to capture the fun and pacing of both shows.
Japan Times
Feb 16, 2023
‘Blue Giant’ soundtrack steals the spotlight
The manga adaptation’s score, composed by jazz pianist Hiromi Uehara, hits all the right notes even if the animation fails to strike a chord.
Japan Times
Jan 12, 2023
As anime continues its rise, animators eye opportunities afield in 2023
How big will Japanese animation be in 2023?
Japan Times
Dec 22, 2022
‘Lonely Castle in the Mirror’: Compelling characters hold the key
The filmu2019s storyline, based on Mizuki Tsujimurau2019s novel of the same name, touches on themes of bullying and social anxiety. The plot will transport you, even if the animation doesnu2019t.
Japan Times
Nov 10, 2022
‘Suzume’: Makoto Shinkai reigns supreme as master of visuals
"Suzume" is the anime directoru2019s most satisfying work yet, with more mature storytelling blended with stunning visuals.


Tokyo Healthcare University professor Takayuki Mifune explains how he is trying to re-create bonito broth from 1,300 years ago.
The quest to re-create what the Japanese ate 1,300 years ago