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Matt Schley
For Matt Schley's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
In “Evil Does Not Exist,” Hitoshi Omika plays a single father and village handyman who a Tokyo company tries to recruit as the caretaker of a new glamping site that threatens the area’s natural environment.
CULTURE / Film
Apr 19, 2024
Ryusuke Hamaguchi ponders the dangers of disrupting the rural idyll
"Evil Does Not Exist," which delves into humanity's relationship with nature, was directly inspired by a collaboration with musician Eiko Ishibashi.
As two friends deal with normal problems teenagers face, their lives are complicated by the looming specter of an alien takeover in “Dead Dead Demons Dededede Destruction Part 1.”
CULTURE / Film
Mar 21, 2024
‘Dead Dead Demons Dededede Destruction: Part 1’: A prophetic vision of pandemic life
Tomoyuki Kurokawa’s adaptation of Inio Asano’s manga of the same name pokes fun at modern society and politics amid a crisis.
In the weeks leading up to the Academy Awards, analysts believed the winner for best animated feature to be a toss-up between Hayao Miyazaki’s “The Boy and the Heron” and “Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse.”
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Mar 15, 2024
An agile campaign helped Hayao Miyazaki score another Oscar award
Even the greats can use an assist when it comes to awards season in Hollywood, and Studio Ghibli has no shortage of supporters.
A young man (Ayumu Nakajima) argues over trivial matters with his love interest in “This Hamburger Has No Pickles.”
CULTURE / Film
Feb 17, 2024
‘This Hamburger Has No Pickles’: A hefty helping of awkward heart-to-hearts
Satoshi Kimura’s rambling rom-com offers a peek into the lives of entangled adults struggling to communicate with each other.
“Metallic Rouge” centers on android assassins on Mars and explores classic science fiction tropes like whether robots have souls.
CULTURE / TV & Streaming
Feb 4, 2024
You're spoiled for choice with new anime to watch this winter
From the fantasy series "Delicious in Dungeon" to the sci-fi offering "Metallic Rouge," nearly 50 new shows are airing this season.
A teenage boy (voiced by Hiroshi Kamiya) discovers he has been changed into a vampire in “Kizumonogatari.”
CULTURE / Film
Jan 11, 2024
‘Kizumonogatari’: The weirdness is back and better than ever
Tatsuya Oishi combines three anime adaptations of Nisioisin’s book into one edit that retains the gore and humor of the original.
Japan Times
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / 20 QUESTIONS
Dec 29, 2023
20 Questions: The best answers of 2023
Our interviewees this year gave a lot of advice for living a good life and paying attention to the things that matter most.
Holiday classic "Tokyo Godfathers" centers on three homeless people who have formed a makeshift family.
CULTURE / Film
Dec 23, 2023
Satoshi Kon’s unexpected anime classic for the holidays
The late director and animator's "Tokyo Godfathers" celebrates 20 years with new screenings.
A young girl’s imaginary friend, Rudger (Kokoro Terada), is separated from his grieving “owner” in “The Imaginary.”
CULTURE / Film
Dec 21, 2023
‘The Imaginary’: Flight of fancy could have soared even higher
Animation studio Ponoc’s feature is a visual treat with some poignant moments, but it won’t be taking on the mantle from Studio Ghibli just yet.
A still from The Legend of Zelda: Tears of the Kingdom
PODCAST / deep dive
Dec 14, 2023
Big in Japan 2023: Anime, Murakami and The Legend of Zelda
Our guests tell us why anime dominated in 2023, which books stood out among a lackluster crowd and why the Zelda franchise is experiencing a renaissance.
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.”
CULTURE / Film
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.”
CULTURE / Film
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.”
COMMUNITY / Our Lives / 20 QUESTIONS
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.”
CULTURE / Film
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!.
CULTURE / Music
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.
CULTURE / Film
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.
CULTURE / Film
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.”
CULTURE / Film
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.

Longform

Historically, kabuki was considered the entertainment of the merchant and peasant classes, a far cry from how it is regarded today.
For Japan's oldest kabuki theater, the show must go on