Thursday, July 31, 2008

Final Fantasy 6 FANDUB!!!

My love affair with Final Fantasy games started 14 years ago, the first game that got me into it was Final Fantasy VI (known to me as Final Fantasy 3 then). I first borrowed the Japanese version of the game from a schoolmate, loved it, and then I received the English version from dad as my birthday gift, I was totally giddy with joy. Before the days of Playstation, where pirated games can be bought for 5 ringgit each, each game then was precious to me. I ended up only having around 10 games for my Super Nintendo because each game was so insanely expensive, and most of these 10 games I had were the classics: Mario Kart, Secret of Mana, Super Metroid, Twinbee, Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy 6 etc.

Yet Final Fantasy 6 was special to me. I lived and breathed it. Its soundtrack (still the best, in my opinion) was constantly playing on my CD player. I named characters after people I know to immerse myself even more into the world. It's the only Final Fantasy game to date (yes, I've played and completed all FF games that came out since then except the MMORPG FF11) that I play through more than once.

So when I stumbled upon this gem on Youtube late last night, I could barely contain my giggly giddying glee. Immediately, I sent the link to Justin, asking him to watch it. On my MSN list, aside from my little sister, he was the only one who had played the game, the only one who, like me, grew up with FF6.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Photos of Ginza, Yurakucho and Otemachi

3 years ago, I participated in the Nanowrimo, and attempted to write a fantasy/sci-fi novel. I succeeded in hitting 50 000 words then, but never really finished the story. And once my childhood dreams of filmmaking became a reality, my focus turned elsewhere. Nonetheless, I've been a little more than bothered that I left the novel unfinished, and being a non-fan of loose ends, I decided to attempt the impossible and actually pick up where I left of in 2005.

So I've actually been spending the last few days writing. I doubt the novel will ever get published (I said THAT novel will never get published, I didn't say that I would never try to get a novel published in the future), but I needed closure.

But staying in my room all the time isn't exactly that healthy, so as usual, I needed a walk. When my friend Jason asked whether I wanted to go to Ginza with him (he had some business to attend to), I immediately said yes. I haven't been to Ginza since I came to Tokyo in April.

However, the hotel I stayed in during my earliest visits in Tokyo (1991, 1992) was in Ginza, and it was during my later visits that my parents switched to Shinjuku. I'm definitely more familiar with Shinjuku, but coming to Ginza, I felt as if I were in a different place. If Shinjuku were Bukit Bintang, then Ginza is Starhill, just like how Jason, who came from Hong Kong, described that Ginza is the Causeway Bay to Shinjuku's Mongkok.

Shinjuku is more chaotic, with more people, more shops and the like. While Ginza's a classier affair. I saw more old-fashioned cafes than fastfood restaurants, plenty of boutiques and shops selling traditional Japanese items (paper fans, yukata, kimono, decorations etc.) than electronic shops. But I was a little surprised to see a huge poster of Maggie Cheung on one of the buildings.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

The 31st Sumida River Fireworks Festival

I just came back from the Sumida River Fireworks Festival. This is the biggest and most spectacular fireworks display in Tokyo. Happens annually, with nearly 900,000 spectators (it definitely felt like that when I went there just now). 20 000 rockets were fired from two bases along the Sumida River in a visual feast that lasted over an hour.

Apparently, the display includes a competition between rival firework companies. I think it's definitely the most awesome fireworks display I've ever seen in my life, unfortunately, I have a crappy camera, so I cannot really do justice to what I saw, but I'll upload the video I shot there sometime soon.

Friday, July 25, 2008


[UPDATED: 26TH OF JULY, 2008] Jason Gray has posted about the PIA Film Festival 2008 Winners.

I just came back from the PIA Film Fest in Shibuya again (read about my thoughts on SEMIGAO and TENGU LEAF, two films I saw at the fest on Saturday). I couldn't catch the rest of the films in competition, but managed to see SEISMIC GIRL by Tatenai Kenta and GOODBYE, GEORGE ADAMSKI by Kodama Kazuto, the two films from the NEW DIRECTIONS IN JAPANESE CINEMA project. They are films produced under the Agency for Cultural Affairs' 35mm short film production support projects. Basically, the project is to allow filmmakers (previous finalists of the film fest) to experience true 35mm filmmaking (all films in competition at the festival, being self-produced, are of course shot digitally).

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Gone for 3 nights and the world had changed... Tony Leung and Carina Lau got married??

I finally got back from Nasu after being gone for three nights. I can't believe that while I was hiking at Nasu, teaching (or rather, TRYING TO TEACH) 13-year-old Japanese kids English (pics and posts about that later), the whole world had changed.

My mom greeted me on MSN immediately after she saw me online and gave me a video link (it's in Chinese).

Sunday, July 20, 2008

[30th PIA Film Festival] SEMIGAO and TENGU LEAF

I first heard about the PIA Film Festival (English site here) from my friend Maiko (who is supposed to produce my next Japanese-language short film). It's an important film festival that launched many careers of young Japanese filmmakers, normally when winning an award at the Tokyo PFF, their films end up touring around the nation, and some, of course, get invited to important foreign film fests. There were some winners at the Berlin Film Festival too. Naomi Kawase was a Pia winner, I heard Kiyoshi Kurosawa was one too.

Today was the opening of the 30th Pia Film Festival, so I decided to go there and check out two of the films in competition. It's only 1200 yen (300 yen cheaper than a normal film), and I get to watch 2 films, so it's a good deal.

The festival is held in a cinema at Shibuya Crosstower, the place was filled with young people, probably university students too. Unsurprising, since the filmmakers are those around my age as well. The cinema was packed, and I started wondering if a similar event was held in Malaysia, whether it would be just as successful. It's not a bad start though. A film festival for student films held in a cinema, of course, the tickets have to be cheaper as well.

In the little-seen (and UNDERRATED) Antonio Banderas film, THE 13TH WARRIOR, his character managed to learn Norse miraculously in a night by sitting with the crowd of vikings he was traveling with, and listening closely to their conversations. Sometimes, I feel as if I'm doing the same when i go to the cinema to watch a Japanese film without subtitles. Often I don't understand most of the dialogue, but I find myself 'understanding' the plot.

Both films I saw, SEMIGAO 蝉顔 and TENGU LEAF 天狗の葉 seem to revolve around the same themes. The disaffected young people in contemporary Japan, whose relationships with their family members are friendly but somewhat distant, and they are those who are left behind by the rapidly moving society. However, both use vastly different methods to tell their stories.

Saturday Epic Anime Scene - Final Shootout in Cowboy Bebop (aka Chow Yun Fat was cool!)

It's getting harder to find an epic anime scene on Youtube. It doesn't help that every single search result I get is some rubbish AMV (anime music video) that ALWAYS use Linkin Park's songs. I was once fascinated by AMV years ago, some are bloody awesome, especially those that are capable of splicing characters from different animes into the same video. It was slightly before I started learning my own video editing, and I think in some ways, watching AMV could've been an influence.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Solitary late night walk to FamilyMart

During my Perth days, I always liked the idea of taking a late night walk to, say, a convenience store nearby. Either to buy a drink, or some snacks (often a chocolate bar).

But back then, I was usually going to the petrol station opposite Murdoch University. I remember going there almost every night whenever I had to sleep over at the editing rooms.

I like walking at night when certain places and the route I take are only partially illuminated by the streetlights, or the lights of the school buildings. There's something magical about those once-familiar places at night.

When walking alone, away from the editing rooms, I'm alone with my thoughts, I can take a breather, thinking over on what to do next, mentally reassessing previous scenes to see what I've done wrong, or I can just think nothing, and hear only the sound of my own footsteps, and the distant sound of cars passing by.

Friday, July 18, 2008


I normally don't cut trailers for short films. I think it's way too hard to do it, and I feel that I'm doing it at the risk of 1) giving away too much of the story or 2) making my films look worse than they really are.

Normally, Hollywood trailers are 2 and a half minutes. 2 and a half minutes for a 90-100 minute long film is reasonable, but if a 10 minute short film has such a long trailer, I'm already showing a quarter of the film. That's as bad as doing a 25-minute long trailer.

However, a certain film festival (name withheld so that I can save myself the embarrassment of not being selected) I've submitted both short films to have stated that trailers for submissions are optional. I felt a little conflicted, then I thought, 'why not?'. Might as well try it out. So I ended up editing a trailer for each of my film, CHICKEN RICE MYSTERY and my latest one, FLEETING IMAGES.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Live-action version of The Last Love Song on This Little Planet 最終兵器彼女 is rather lacking

Shortly after first watching Shunji Iwai's Love Letter ten years ago, I developed a little teenage crush on Sakai Miki, who played the young Itsuki in the film. It's impossible not to, there was this innocent beauty in her, coupled by the gracefulness of the scenes she was in. Especially the one where she skates by herself in the midst of a pure white snowy plains...

... and then finding a frozen dragonfly, understanding her dad's passing, it was a very elegant scene.

On the year I discovered SPEED by accident at Tokyo, I was actually looking for Sakai Miki's album, LIKE A BEST FRIEND (which I did).

But since then, I never knew what happened to her. I thought she may have retired from acting, living the blissful life of a housewife.

So I was surprised when I saw her in a supporting role at THE LAST LOVE SONG ON THIS LITTLE PLANET, which is more popularly known as SAIKANO, or also SHE, THE ULTIMATE WEAPON, which is based on a manga and anime.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Happily Ever After 自虐の詩 starring Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani

Jigyaku no uta

The literal translation of HAPPILY EVER AFTER's Japanese title, Jigyaku no uta 自虐の詩, is 'the poem of self-torture/ self-inflicted pain'. I watched it last night not knowing what to expect. I was initially interested in it solely because of the two leads, Hiroshi Abe and Miki Nakatani.

When Kaiji Shakedown covered the film last August, it was almost dismissive of the film's visuals, pointing out its flat television look that makes it look like TV movie of the week compared to the eye candy that was Memories of Matsuko'.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Saturday Epic Anime Scene - Lynn Minmay's DO YOU REMEMBER LOVE?

Since posting the awesomely epic Dragon Ball Z scenes of Super Saiyajin transformations last Saturday (Goku's 5-minute transformation is a stuff of anime lore), I will now decide to make this a weekly thing... for the time being.

This week, I'll go for MACROSS, another anime series I remember fondly from my childhood. Back then, like most non-Japanese, I know MACROSS as ROBOTECH, and was drawn to it every week. When I first heard that Tobey Maguire bought the rights to do a live-action adaptation few weeks ago, I was more than a little intrigued. Is Maguire going to be Rick Hunter? I can see that (even though he is a little too old for the role, but hey, if he can be a young college year Spidey, Rick Hunter's not a problem). But who can be the iconic Lynn Minmay? A contemporary teeny bopper pop singer? Hannah Montana as Minmay? Please excuse me as I go and slam my head against the wall.

Interview with 'Thoughts On Films'

Earlier this week, I sat down (in front of computer) for an (email) interview with Fikri of 'Thoughts On Films'. Things I spoke about include: filmmaking, videoblogging, my role in Greenlight Pictures and the company's previous productions, the theatrical distribution of local independent films in Malaysia.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Most epic anime scenes ever.

One of the most important anime series of my childhood.

Nothing to me then, can be more badass than a Super Saiyajin transformation in Dragon Ball Z.

The first one, Gohan's transformation to SSJ2 is both poetic and insane. Like there's this dove of light flying across, revelation striking him, and he flips out and turns SSJ2. Awesome emotional buildup. Wham! The lingering last shot of Gohan as he stared at the camera with tears in his eyes, it's like a coming-of-age tale for him, finally losing his innocence, his future unsure. It's evocative. It's something similar to the ending in Truffaut's 400 Blows.

Friday, July 04, 2008



This entry was originally written last Sunday. But as you know, I ended up being buried by the production of my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES. (screenshots), so I'm posting this up now instead.

I first heard about the TOKYO REFUGEE FILM FESTIVAL because of Refusenik (also check out the official production blog). It all happened 2-3 weeks ago when I was seeking, via Facebook, other filmmakers who reside in Tokyo, and I found Megumi Nishikura. After corresponding briefly on Facebook, she told me about the screening of Refusenik, a documentary she was involved in as assistant editor during her stay in Los Angeles.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Screenshots of my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES

The lack of blogging recently had a lot to do with me trying to finish up my new short film, FLEETING IMAGES before the deadline of a certain Japanese short film competition.

When you're sleeping only 2 hours, and spending most time of the day editing and shooting, writing a new blog entry is the last thing you have in mind.

The idea for FLEETING IMAGES came to my around two weeks ago. My Japanese short film was temporarily put on hold, so I was a little bummed out that I couldn't submit anything for the aforementioned short film competition*. I'm a person who needs deadlines to motivate myself into finishing something, does that mean that since YUKI's (title of that short film) is in limbo, I'll have to just sit on my arse and wait? Not an appealing idea.

So I started wondering what kind of short films can I conjure within two weeks. When I have a lack of cast and crew? Ideas started swimming around my head, and one was clearer and more doable than the others. After watching the first ten minutes of Chris Marker's Sans Soleil last year at Ming Jin's place, an interesting film that's part travelogue and part documentary (in the end, I guess the more accurate label for it would be a 'film essay'), I've once remarked: "DAMN, I could've used my holiday videos and try make something similar!"