JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — Kodo, Balloon Ninja, ‘Ghost in the Shell’

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

Tucked between Oscar and cherry blossom season, March offers an unmissable array of concerts, performances and exhibitions, appealing to both modern and traditional tastes.

Courtesy of BAM.org

This month’s highlights include:

March 1-4, 7:30 p.m.

Kodo: Dadan 2017

BAM Howard Gilman Opera House, 30 Lafayette Ave. (Brooklyn)


Emanating an ancient cavernous thunder, a group of disciplined, muscled bodies pound traditional Japanese drums with sticks the size of a forearm. With these performances of Dadan (Drumming Man), Japan’s preeminent taiko ensemble, Kodo, celebrates its 35th anniversary and showcases the spectacular sonic possibilities of these time-honored instruments, supplemented with cymbals, xylophone, and more.

Led by Kabuki theater luminary Tamasaburo Bando, the members of Kodo summon decades of training to exalt the drum in this tightly choreographed pageant of percussion. A tightly choreographed pageant of percussion by 14 of Japan’s preeminent taiko performers, the climax of Dadan features a succession of compelling solos. With each new drummer’s relentless and rhythmic pounding, solos crescendo into a round of rousing ensemble pieces, completely immersing the audience in sound as they watch the taiko, and its musical possibilities, soar to new heights.


Thursday, March 9, 7:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

Hiromi Suda ‘Nagi’ album release show

Subrosa, 63 Gansevoort Street


Blujazz proudly announces the March 7 release of Nagi, the third album from singer-songwriter-composer Hiromi Suda. Her third full-length release is the latest and most fully realized iteration of Suda’s singular hybrid conception, by which she mingles and juxtaposes the musical cultures of Japan and Brazil. The album was first released in Japan this past July on Inpartmaint Inc. to critical acclaim, and it is now available worldwide on HDTracks and on iTunes. To celebrate the release of Nagi, Suda will be appearing at the Subrosa in the Meatpacking District. A native of Yamanishi, Suda calls upon her native tongue in singing the poetic lyrics of six of recently composed originals, at once simple and sophisticated, to scores that blend Japanese folk, contemporary pop and modern jazz vocabulary. This special album release concert features special guest (and Rio de Janeiro-based master guitarist) Romero Lubambo.

Courtesy of Bbkingblues.com

Tuesday, March 14, 7:30 p.m.

Uli Jon Roth: Tokyo Tapes Revisited

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

$26.50 advance, $30 day of show


Originally released in late 1978 to worldwide acclaim, the double album Tokyo Tapes represents the peak of Uli Jon Roth’s time as a guitarist in the legendary German metal band Scorpions. Since that time, this one-of-a-kind multi-instrumentalist (and inventor of the six-octave Sky Guitar) has continued to work as a music director, painter of realistic oil works, as well as an author of original poetry and philosophical treaties. Artistically he has been an inspiration to many of his fellow artists (most publicly several years ago by Metallica’s Kirk Hammett on That Metal Show) as well as his audience and continues to be so. Widely recognized as perhaps the single most important protagonist of Neo-classical guitar playing, U.J.R. is seen by many as a trend-setter who has often been considerably ahead of his time.


Opens Friday, March 17

After the Storm

Lincoln Plaza Cinema, 1886 Broadway

IFC Center, 323 Sixth Avenue


One of filmmaking’s masters of human observation, celebrated director Hirokazu Kore-eda (Our Little Sister; Still Walking; Like Father, Like Son) returns with a powerful story of family ties remade, drawing more deeply than ever on his personal memories and experiences. Dwelling on his past glory as a prize-winning author, Ryota (Hiroshi Abe) wastes the money he makes as a private detective on gambling and can barely pay his child support. After the death of his father, his aging mother Yoshiko (legendary actress Kirin Kiki) and his beautiful ex-wife Kyoko (Yoko Maki) seem to be moving on with their lives. Renewing contact with his initially distrusting family, Ryota struggles to take back control of his existence and to find a place in the life of his young son Shingo (Taiyo Yoshizawa)—until a stormy summer night offers them a chance to truly bond again.

Sunday, Feb. 19, 2:00 p.m.

Ancien and the Magic Tablet

SVA Theatre, 333 West 23rd Street

Sold out; waitlist tickets are available at the theater one hour prior to showtime.

North American premiere! This fender and genre-bending film takes us into the not-too-distant machine-driven future. Kokone should be diligently studying for her university entrance exams, but she just can’t seem to stay awake. Aside from stealing precious study time, her napping is even more distracting, as it brings on strange dreams with warring machines that hint at family secrets that have been dormant for years. She can’t ask her father, a hipster mechanic more talented and artful than his job requires, as he’s always busy modifying motorcycles and cars in flights of fancy. What are these visions that lead Kokone at once closer to and farther away from her family? Like all the best anime, the film revels in multilayered fantasy to show how sometimes opposites—waking and dreaming, the past and the future—are far more intertwined than they appear. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles; Q&A with Director Kenji Kamiyama follows the screening.

Courtesy of Madeinjapanny.com

Saturday, March 25th, 10:30 a.m., 2:00 p.m., 5:30 p.m.

Balloon Ninja 2: Kawaii Invasion

Engelman Recital Hall at Baruch Performing Arts Center, 55 Lexington Avenue

$25 advance, $31 day of show

After a three-year hiatus, Japan’s most celebrated balloon twister and world traveling ninja acrobats are back together, but this time, they brought the world’s smallest circus with them! bringing back Syan, a balloon artist, and Ace-K, a ninja style acrobat, and Japan’s fan favorite clown/juggler duo, Taratta Latta to showcase their talent, this edition of Balloon Ninja will be a true celebration of otaku culture, where blind devotion to one’s artistry creates truly unique and unforgettable performances. This flowing, fast-paced show with some of the most decorated street artists from Japan is sure to keep audiences of all ages riveted until the very end. Ticket holders can also participate in a pre-show Balloon Twisting Workshop. For more information, click here.

©2017 Paramount Pictures/DreamWorks Pictures. All Rights Reserved.

Opens Friday, March 31

Ghost in the Shell

Cinépolis Chelsea, 260 West 23rd Street

$16.25-$20.25 adults

Based on the internationally-acclaimed anime science fiction franchise, Ghost in the Shell follows Major, a special ops, one-of-a-kind human-cyborg hybrid, who leads the elite task force Section 9. Devoted to stopping the most dangerous criminals and extremists, Section 9 is faced with an enemy whose singular goal is to wipe out Hanka Robotic’s advancements in cyber technology. Directed by Rupert Sanders (Snow White and the Huntsman) starring Scarlett Johansson, Takeshi Kitano, and Juliette Binoche.

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