JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — AnimeNEXT, Mr. Big, ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

By JQ magazine editor Justin Tedaldi (CIR Kobeshi, 2001-02). Justin has written about Japanese arts and entertainment for JETAA since 2005. For more of his articles, click here.

After an unusually chilly spring, it’s finally starting to feel like summer. Enjoy some seasonal events this month that celebrate the best of both fine art and pop art.

This month’s highlights include:

Courtesy of Asiasociety.org

June 1-2, 6:30 p.m.

New York Japan CineFest 2017

Asia Society, 725 Park Avenue

$12, $10 students/seniors, $8 members

Highlighting some of the most exciting new voices in cinema, New York Japan CineFest presents two nights of short films by emerging Japanese and Japanese American filmmakers. Featuring 15 short films spanning drama, sci-fi, documentary and anime, the first night’s program is followed by a reception. Click here to check out Program 2 on Friday, June 2, 2017.

Courtesy of Bluenote.net

June 6-11

Hiromi & Edmar Castañeda Duet

Blue Note Jazz Club, 131 West 3rd Street

$30-$45

Japan has produced an impressive assemblage of jazz pianists; from Toshiko Akiyoshi and Makoto Ozone to Junko Onishi. And now, well into the change of the 21st century, the pianist/composer Hiromi Uehara is the latest in that line of amazing musicians. Ever since the 2003 release of her debut album Another Mind, Hiromi has electrified audiences and critics east and west, with a creative energy that encompasses and eclipses the boundaries of jazz, classical and pop parameters; taking improvisation and composition to new heights of complexity and sophistication. These special duet performances with Colombian harpist Edmar Castañeda are sure to inject a Latin flavor to the mix.

Courtesy of Okmusic.jp

June 9-11

AnimeNEXT

Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Convention Boulevard

$50-$60

The largest independently organized anime convention in the New York/New Jersey metropolitan area. AnimeNEXT features Japanese creators of anime and manga, voice actors, musical acts, artists, vendors and exhibits, events, panels, workshops, gaming, and cosplay. This year’s special guest is Oblivion Dust, a major label Japanese rock act, which reunited in 2007 following a six-year hiatus. Although they were originally largely influenced by early ’90s American grunge bands, since reuniting their music has become straight alternative rock. They stand out in the Japanese scene as most of their songs are written and sung in fluent English.

William Hames

Saturday, June 10, 7:00 p.m.

Mr. Big

B.B. King Blues Club & Grill, 237 West 42nd Street

$40-$80

Raw Like Sushi, Japandemonium and Back to Budokan are just a few of the live albums veteran rock group Mr. Big have released in the Land of the Rising Sun over the years. Since reuniting in 2009 with original guitarist (and Japanese TV regular) Paul Gilbert, the real story often comes through in the music. Their ninth full-length album, the appropriately titled Defying Gravity, showcases the foursome’s patented crunch of rock and melody, whose worldwide hits include “Addicted to That Rush” and “To Be with You” (a number one single in 15 countries). Earlier that day at 12:00 p.m., An Intimate Afternoon of Conversation and Music with Mr. Big will take place at The Cutting Room (44 East 32nd Street), featuring a longform interview with author and journalist Brad Tolinsk. This special event includes an opportunity for audience questions, a short acoustic performance, and a meet and greet. Tickets are $25; for more information, click here.

Courtesy of Kpopmap.com

June 23-24

KCON 2017

Prudential Center, 25 Lafayette Street (Newark)

$20-$480

Hailed by the Los Angeles Times as “a mini-Coachella for Korean pop music,” the world’s largest Korean culture convention and music festival celebrates its fifth anniversary this year. Presented by Toyota, this year’s event is set to showcase even more vendors and all-new programming highlighting the rise in popularity of hallyu, or Korean pop culture. Last year, over 75,000 fans on both coasts attended KCON for unforgettable concerts, celebrity meet and greets, workshops, panels, food, and fashion, touching on every aspect of Korean culture and entertainment. The concert portion of KCON NY includes some of the largest names in K-Pop over two nights, and this year’s acts feature CNBLUE, GFriend, Highlight, KNK, NCT 127, SF9, Twice, UP10TION, and ZION.T.

Courtesy of GKIDS

June 25-26

My Neighbor Totoro

Various locations and prices

Part of Studio Ghibli Fest 2017! Don’t miss one of Studio Ghibli’s most iconic films (and characters) on the big screen in this beloved family classic from legendary director Hayao Miyazaki. Two young girls, Satsuki and Mei, move with their father to a new house in the countryside. But country life is not so simple as it seems, as they soon discover the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, most notably a family of Totoros, gigantic but gentle bear-like forest spirits that can only be seen by children. The Totoros introduce the girls to a series of new adventures, including a ride aboard the Cat Bus, in this all-ages animated masterpiece that brought Studio Ghibli and Japanese animation to a new global audience. Sunday screenings are dubbed in English, Monday in Japanese with English subtitles.

Want to stay in the loop on future events? Follow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.