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Roland Kelts
For Roland Kelts's latest contributions to The Japan Times, see below:
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Mar 27, 2015
AnimeJapan 2015 sees the big picture
For most in Japan, April marks the start of the new working year. But for the anime and manga industries, it all begins in March.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Feb 27, 2015
'The Anime Encyclopedia' goes full digital
"The Anime Encyclopedia, 3rd Revised Edition: A Century of Japanese Animation" will be released March 3.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jan 30, 2015
In less than a year, Tonko House earns an Oscar nomination
They had plum jobs at one of the best companies in the world. Their successes were the envy of their peers. But last summer, two peak-career professionals quit their lucrative day jobs to found a start-up. With no income or investment, they built their own studio, mostly by hand, and started working long odd hours, seven days a week, on the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Berkeley, California.
Japan Times
CULTURE / Music
Jan 13, 2015
Lantis looks to woo a dedicated fan base with anisong tour
Fans breach the language barrier at overseas expos of Japanese pop culture as soon as the music starts. Legions of non-Japanese, most of whose knowledge of the language is limited to basic greetings and exclamations, burst into karaoke-style singalongs, mimicking dance moves and waving glow sticks. This instant fluency lasts for about three to five minutes, then the song ends and they segue into shouts of approval in their native tongues. Rock on.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Dec 26, 2014
Sanrio's 'Nutcracker' offers visual experience in 3-D
For anyone raised in the West, the year-end holidays in Japan can be a jarring experience, at least for the uninitiated. Decorated trees, illuminated boulevards and carols in convenience stores coincide with Colonel Sanders statuettes remade into Santa Claus and mini-skirted chorus girls in reindeer costumes on TV. If you live in Japan for more than a few years, however, you might come to embrace this topsy-turvy, roller-coaster version of the holiday season. Just close your eyes and enjoy the ride.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Nov 28, 2014
Cool Japan sets its sights on Southeast Asia
A full year and a half has passed since the Japanese government gave its final approval for the Cool Japan Fund — a 20-year, public-private entity aimed at spreading Japan's cultural appeal overseas — the official soft-power push that some bureaucrats and academics had been advocating for at least a decade. A few months after it was inked, Tokyo won the 2020 Olympics bid, and the timing seemed auspicious.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Oct 24, 2014
Disney's 'Big Hero 6' animates a bridging of cultures
This week's Tokyo International Film Festival is hot on animation, featuring screenings of the collected works of Hideaki Anno, creator of the epic franchise, "Neon Genesis Evangelion," and 3-D shorts directed by Nintendo's Shigeru Miyamoto, producer of "Donkey Kong" and "Super Mario Bros." But the festival's opening animated film is from America — even if Japan is very much on its mind.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Sep 26, 2014
New markets may save Japan's manga exports
The North American manga business took a beating last decade. After peaking around 2005-06, the lethal storm of oversaturated shelves, a collapsing U.S. financial industry and the bankruptcy of major American bookstore chain, Borders, left publishers and distributors in a panic. Downsizing, restructuring and layoffs became de rigueur.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Aug 22, 2014
Haruki Murakami's Cool Japan
I was in New York last week to host a launch event for the English translation of Haruki Murakami's latest novel, "Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage." My good friend and Murakami translator Ted Goossen, professor at York University in Toronto, joined me, as did pianist Eunbi Kim, whose multi-media project, "Murakami Music," I saw performed at Symphony Space in Manhattan last year.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jul 25, 2014
Anime enjoys summer homes in Los Angeles
For more than two decades, post-production, audio and creative studio Bang Zoom! Entertainment in Burbank, California, has been delivering the anime fix abroad. Founder and CEO Eric P. Sherman talks about how it all began.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jun 13, 2014
Forget Cool Japan — cute is this summer's hot global export
Summer is always high season for fans of Japanese pop culture. School's out, weather's amenable and festivals, conventions and expos shift into top gear in Japan and across the globe.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
May 9, 2014
Manga becomes a major draw at Toronto Comic Arts Festival
The 11th annual Toronto Comic Arts Festival (TCAF) kicks off May 10. As its title suggests, it's less a fan-focused pop convention than a platform for comics and graphic novels as art, and for the artists who create them. It has also emerged as a great friend to manga over the past few years.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Apr 11, 2014
Anime industry reunified at expo, satellite events
AnimeJapan 2014, the rebranded and reunified annual industry trade show, exceeded organizers' expectations last month, hosting 110,000 producers, publishers, journalists, cosplayers and public visitors. What a relief.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Mar 13, 2014
Sebastian Masuda's mission to take Harajuku art global
New York is not a city one automatically associates with the Japanese concept of kawaii — lovably, irresistibly, dependably cute. But if Sebastian Masuda, the so-called "king of kawaii," has his way, the mean streets of "Goodfellas" may one day emanate a candy-colored glow.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Feb 13, 2014
The symbiotic relationship between anime and games
Japan excels at making you play. From its flower arrangements to tea ceremonies to karaoke, nothing much happens until you get into the game, and a big part of Japan's appeal to non-natives is its invitation to engage.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Jan 9, 2014
Anime/manga experts hopeful for year ahead
Aside from Hayao Miyazaki's sudden departure from filmmaking in September, the anime world saw some potentially hopeful developments in 2013.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Dec 10, 2013
Shueisha manga push hard into the global market
One week before Thanksgiving on Nov. 28, readers of The New York Times were greeted by a spiky-haired, wild-eyed manga character named Monkey D. Luffy, his fists clenched and chest bare, charging forward as if the newsprint could barely contain him. Behind him in massive text screamed the words: "Hey world, this is the manga!!" above a smaller query, "Are there real adventures in this country?"
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Nov 12, 2013
Has anime lost its cachet in America?
I had been invited to host a Q&A with renowned "Gundam" creator and sci-fi novelist Yoshiyuki Tomino at The New York Anime Festival. But when my handler and I arrived at the designated room, we found it empty and dark. "Over here," a staffer called from across the hall. "Too many people."
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Oct 8, 2013
Backlash against Miyazaki is generational
If you haven't lived in Japan, it's hard to appreciate just how beloved are anime maestro Hayao Miyazaki and his creative hub, Studio Ghibli.
Japan Times
CULTURE / CULTURE SMASH
Sep 10, 2013
UrumaDelvi learn the importance of contacts
The husband-and-wife creative team known as UrumaDelvi has been cranking out quirky, quasi-psychedelic illustrations, animated shorts and music videos for over 20 years. They met in design school in 1988. Deciding that their married surname, Kobayashi, was too common in Japan to be memorable, they took the names of two of the wife's early sketches — of a boy named Uruma and a girl named Delvi — as their own, and rebranded their art.

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