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Roland Kelts
For Roland Kelts's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / Film / Wide Angle
Jul 4, 2019
Anime's aging but active artists: Mamoru Oshii on his latest project, 'Vladlove'
Writer and director Mamoru Oshii is best known for creating sci-fi thrillers that challenge orthodoxy with their philosophical musings and provocative, often nutty, imagery. His most famous film, the 1995 anime epic "Ghost in the Shell," features a stone-cold cyborg heroine who dives nude off a skyscraper and is memorably dismembered by a tank.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jun 30, 2019
Why Hollywood doesn't yet get anime
When it comes to Hollywood's versions of Japanese content, most fans return to the originals and wonder: Why can't they get it right? Jeff Gomez, CEO of Starlight Runner sheds some light on the West's cultural misreading of anime and manga.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jun 2, 2019
When Japan strikes the right chord
From missionary work in Kagoshima Prefecture to creating arrangements for Joe Hisaishi's 'Ni no Kuni' film score, composer Chad Cannon talks about his affinity with Japan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
May 5, 2019
New 'Ultraman' anime is a family affair
Now a proud father of an slightly insecure superhero son, Ultraman has evolved not only stylistically but also emotionally for the new Netflix anime.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Mar 10, 2019
#MeToo allegations roil U.S. anime conventions
Over the past two months, the #MeToo movement breached the American anime convention industry. Most feel it was inevitable. Many say it's about time.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Feb 3, 2019
The story behind anime localization
'The structure of Japanese storytelling does not adhere to a strict three acts. At times, the story meanders and takes the viewer on a seemingly unrelated path. ... Characterizations are richer, deeper, darker. Plots are often complex and convoluted, serving primarily as vessels to display incredible visuals.' — Mary Claypool, anime localization expert
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jan 6, 2019
Second chance for Japan's manga museum
While official Japan may be slow to act on the appeal of its otaku mavens, the rest of the world appears keen to embrace manga and anime.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Dec 23, 2018
Hayao Miyazaki: The never-ending story
In September 2013, animator Hayao Miyazaki said: 'Through the years I have frequently talked about retiring, so many of you are perhaps wondering if this time I am really sincere. I am.' But was he?
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Nov 25, 2018
Netflix anime welcomes the dark side
As manga artist Go Nagai celebrates the 50th anniversary of 'Shameless School,' first published in the debut edition of Shonen Jump magazine, Netflix releases his 'Devilman Crybaby' as an anime series.
Japan Times
JAPAN / History / Defining the Heisei Era
Oct 27, 2018
Defining the Heisei Era: When anime and manga went global
The Heisei Era commenced after two gods fell in rapid succession. The first, Emperor Hirohito, was no longer officially a god, having repudiated his quasi-divine status under the terms of Japan's surrender in World War II, but he remained god-like in stature. His January death in 1989 at age 87 signaled the end of a Showa past both turbulent and glorious. It drew global attention from the world's leaders and media, but had been widely anticipated in Japan.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jul 22, 2018
Motherhood in modern anime
'I still feel the loneliness of being hikikomori. Maybe I'm successful, maybe not. I can't tell. But I still feel the loneliness. The only difference now is that I can express my loneliness, my pain, and all those feelings in my writing. They don't go to waste.' — Screenwriter, author and anime director Mari Okada
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jun 24, 2018
Can Japanese 'light novels' remain publishing heavyweights?
Two years ago, light novel publisher Kadokawa added Thailand to its list of foreign publishing investments, which already includes Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia and the United States. Now there are signs that English-language readers are catching on.
Japan Times
CULTURE
May 27, 2018
Will digital piracy ruin the future of manga?
Author and manga translator Frederik L. Schodt once pointed out to me that many of Japan's cultural products are embraced abroad just as they are declining at home. Ukiyo-e prints became the rage in Europe in the late 19th century, nearly 100 years after they'd peaked in Edo and Kyoto. Sake sales have been climbing steadily in overseas markets, with the value of exports doubling over the past five years and hitting a record in 2017, as they continue a decades-long slide in Japan. And now: manga?
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Apr 22, 2018
Japan's pop culture and literature drive soft power
Anime, manga and Haruki Murakami may form an unlikely trinity, but outside of Japan they're responsible for filling Japanese Studies departments and sprawling convention halls with generations of the devoted.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Feb 25, 2018
Netflix is animated about anime
Netflix's director of anime, Taito Okiura, tells me he feels like a local baseball player who got drafted into the U.S. Major Leagues. Except, he doesn't play the sport.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Dec 24, 2017
Foreign anime artists still face a long haul
In an interview with Buzzfeed two years ago, American animator Henry Thurlow, who had moved to Tokyo from New York six years earlier, summed up his dilemma. "When I was working as an animator in New York, I could afford an apartment, buy stuff and had time to 'live a life,'" he said. "Now (in Japan) everything about my life is utterly horrible, (but) the artist in me is completely satisfied."
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Nov 26, 2017
Diana Garnet sings the praises of anime
It has become one of the most common questions I'm asked after talks at anime conventions in the United States: How can I get a job in the Japanese pop culture industry — not here, but in Japan?
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Oct 22, 2017
Anime tourism invites overseas fans to join festivities
Yuwaku Onsen is a 1,300-year-old hot-springs resort tucked between mountains along the Asano River south of Kanazawa. Ten mid-size traditional inns line its slim main street, leading to a small hillside shrine and a man-made pond.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Sep 24, 2017
IOEA: The grass-roots gospel of otaku culture
The International Otaku Expo Association (IOEA) could be the title of one of those self-referential, po-mo anime shows that is as much about fandom as it is made for fans (think "Genshiken," an entire series about a college otaku fan club). But it's the real thing, headquartered in Tokyo's Yushima neighborhood and founded by three self-proclaimed otaku a little over two years ago — and now it's getting props from Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), which is helping the IOEA spread the otaku gospel worldwide.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jul 23, 2017
Crunchyroll takes anime to a live level
Summer is high season for live celebrations of Japan's pop culture exports. The two largest events in the West, Japan Expo in Paris and Anime Expo in LA, drew hundreds of thousands earlier this month. August will see the U.S. East Coast's biggest anime convention, Otakon, move from Baltimore, Maryland, into more spacious environs in Washington, D.C., and later, the California debut of Crunchyroll Expo, a convention hosted by the most popular dedicated anime streaming service outside of Japan.

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