JQ Magazine: Nippon in New York — ‘Akira’ @ 30, SCANDAL from Japan, ‘Dragon Ball Z’

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.

As the summer winds fade into fall colors, the weeks ahead are shaping up with these exciting events, ready to be enjoyed after Labor Day.

This month’s highlights include:

FUNimation

Now through Sept. 6

Akira: 30th anniversary

Metrograph, 7 Ludlow Street

$15

More than any single feature film, Katsuhiro Otomo (Memories, Steamboy)’s adaptation of his own manga series is the one that introduced the glories of Japanese anime to an international audience. In 2019, thirty-one years after the Japanese government nuked Tokyo as damage control for an experiment involving using ESP on children, biker Kaneda rides one of the most iconic motorcycles in cinema into the unknown, on a mission to save his friend Tetsuo from a vast and far-reaching conspiracy. A feast of imagistic imagination, climaxing in an unforgettable battle royale in the Tokyo Olympiad. Presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan)

Thursday, Sept. 5, 8:00 p.m.

SCANDAL from Japan

PlayStation Theater, 1515 Broadway

$45

SCANDAL is one of Japan’s most popular rock bands, epitomizing the J-rock aesthetic. The four-piece unit adeptly blends pop, rock and alternative music sensibilities with hip and contemporary fashion sensibilities and unstoppable girl star power. The band is presently in the midst of a world tour in support of its eighth record, HONEY, which was released in February and peaked at Number Three on the Japanese Oricon weekly sales charts and extended the band’s streak of being the only girl group to consecutively have each of their albums place the Oricon Top Five. The album features ten tracks including a rendition of the band’s 10th anniversary single, “Take Me Out.”

GKIDS

Sept. 6 & 10

Perfect Blue: 20th anniversary

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC Kips Bay 15, 570 Second Avenue

Regal Union Square 14, 850 Broadway

$12.50

Perfect Blue, the groundbreaking and rarely screened first film from the legendary late director Satoshi Kon (Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika), returns to theaters for its 20th anniversary in a brand-new digital transfer. Rising pop star Mima has quit singing to pursue a career as an actress and model, but her fans aren’t ready to see her go. Encouraged by her managers, Mima takes on a recurring role on a popular TV show, when suddenly her handlers and collaborators begin turning up murdered. Harboring feelings of guilt and haunted by visions of her former self, Mima’s reality and fantasy meld into a frenzied paranoia. As her stalker closes in, in person and online, the threat he poses is more real than even Mima knows, in this iconic psychological thriller that has frequently been hailed as one of the most important animated films of all time. The September 6th screenings are presented in Japanese with English subtitles and the September 10th screenings are dubbed in English.

© Tokyo Lee Productions, Inc. Courtesy of Magnolia Pictures

Opens Friday, Sept. 7

Kusama: Infinity

Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street

$15, $9 members

Yayoi Kusama is the top-selling female artist in the world, best known for her colorful polka dot- and pumpkin-themed designs and her massively popular mirrored Infinity Rooms. Her work has pushed boundaries that often alienated her from her peers and those in power in the art world. Kusama: Infinity shows the artist overcoming the odds to bring her radical artistic vision to the world stage—growing up in Japan during World War II, life in a dysfunctional family that discouraged her creative ambitions, sexism and racism in the art establishment, and mental illness in a culture where that was a particular stigma. Kusama has created a legacy of artwork that spans the disciplines of painting, sculpture, installation art, performance art, poetry, and novels. After six decades of work, people around the world are experiencing her Infinity Rooms in record numbers, and Kusama continues to create work every day. The September 7th 7:45 p.m. screening will feature a special Q&A with Kusama and the film’s director Heather Lenz.

Sony Music Entertainment (Japan)

Wednesday, Sept. 12, 8:30 p.m.

Chai

Rough Trade NYC, 64 North 9th Street

$12 advance, $14 day of show

Fusing sonic elements of artists like Basement Jaxx, Gorillaz, CSS, and Tom Tom Club, with lyrics focused on self-empowerment and re-defining the definition of “kawaii,” or cute in Japanese, sensational girl group CHAI have amassed a devoted following in their home country. Those lucky enough to catch them on their all-too-brief visits to the U.S. around SXSW understand what those on the other side of the globe already know: CHAI are incredibly special and should probably be the biggest band in the world. September 7th marks the re-release of their debut album, PINK, appearing in the US on vinyl, CD, and cassette for the first time.

Hauta Shamisen © ZIGEN

Friday, Sept. 14, 7:30 p.m.

Hidetaro Honjoh: Hauta Shamisen — Edo-Period Love Songs

Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street

$12 advance, $14 day of show

Shamisen master Hidetaro Honjoh offers a traditional-style concert featuring works from the hauta repertoire, the quintessential “pop music” of its time. Let this virtuoso of Edo-period love songs gently serenade and transport you to the streets of pre-modern Tokyo. The program also includes tunes from the working class of various rural areas that radiate a tender, à la mode vibe. Awarded Japan’s highest honor for artists, the Medal with Purple Ribbon, Hidetaro restores gems from this fading genre of music from the end of the samurai era. Joined by Hidejiro Honjoh on shamisen and kokyu, and Yumi Kurosawa on koto. A pre-performance lecture begins one hour prior to the start of the performance, with cash bar also available at 7:00 p.m.

FUNimation

Sept. 15 & 17

Dragon Ball Z: Broly, the Legendary Super Saiyan

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$12.50

This vintage DBZ film comes to domestic big screens for the first time! Broly—a powerful Saiyan warrior with an unspeakable evil streak—has Goku, Vegeta, and friends squarely in his sights! Now, a race to save the universe turns into a test of survival skills for Earth’s mightiest warriors. Prepare for the most intense Saiyan battle in history: a clash for the ages rooted in the pains of the past. All screenings are presented in English.

Courtesy of Jensen Communications, Inc.

Tuesday, Sept. 18, 7:00 p.m.

Music & Conversation with Jake Shimabukuro

The Cutting Room, 44 East 32nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

Join us for a unique opportunity to be part of the studio audience at this intimate conversation with ukulele superstar Jake Shimabukuro. We’ll talk about his newest release, The Greatest Day, stories from the road and much more. Featuring a long-form interview, opportunity for audience questions and a short performance. Shimabukuro will be interviewed by journalist and singer/songwriter Laura B. Whitmore. The event is part of the BackStory Events online series and will be live streamed by Guitar World magazine.

FUNimation

Premieres Sept. 27

My Hero Academia: Two Heroes

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue

Ranked #1 show of FUNimation for the past three years, My Hero Academia makes its big screen debut! Follow your favorite young hero-in-training through this new original story. When Deku might receive an invitation to I-Expo, the world’s leading exhibition of quirk abilities and hero item innovations! Amid the excitement, Deku meets a Girl who is quirkless just like he once was. Suddenly, I-Expo’s top-of-the-line security system gets hacked by villains, and a sinister plain is set in motion. It’s a serious threat to hero society and one man holds the key to it all. All screenings are presented in English.

Shout! Factory

Thursday, Sept. 27, 7:00 p.m.

The Transformers: The Movie

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

AMC 34th Street 14, 312 West 34th Street

$12.50

Co-produced by Toei Animation, the legendary 1986 film returns for a one-night-only screening! The Autobots, led by the heroic Optimus Prime, prepare to make a daring attempt to retake their planet from the evil forces of Megatron and the Decepticons. Unknown to both sides, a menacing force is heading their way—Unicron. Beloved by legions of fans, this full-length animated adventure boasts the voice talent of Orson Welles in his final voice acting role and an all-star voice cast that includes Peter Cullen, Eric Idle, Casey Kasem, Judd Nelson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Stack and Frank Welker. Fans will also glimpse at a sneak peek behind the making of the new live-action Bumblebee movie, and a brand-new interview with singer-songwriter Stan Bush including recent performances of the theme songs “The Touch” and “Dare,” along with opportunities to receive a special poster! Quantities limited while supplies last.

Courtesy of Esl-one.com

Sept. 29-30, 7:00 p.m.

ESL One New York 2018

Barclays Center, 620 Atlantic Avenue (Brooklyn)

$29-$169

Ever wondered what it would feel like to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive against a real pro? World class competitive gaming returns to the Big Apple this fall, and Brooklyn will rumble with the roars of thousands of esports fans as ESL One makes its third annual visit to Barclays Center. Over the course of this weekend, $250,000 in cold hard cash, an Intel Grand Slam win, and the ESL One title will be awarded to one of the world’s eight best CS:GO teams. Ever wondered what it would feel like to play Counter-Strike: Global Offensive against a real pro? This is your once in a lifetime chance to prove your skill and win big!

GKIDS

Sept. 30-Oct. 1, Oct. 3

My Neighbor Totoro: 30th anniversary

Regal E-Walk 42nd Street 13, 247 West 43nd Street

AMC Empire 25, 234 West 42nd Street

$12.50

Celebrate the 30th anniversary of My Neighbor Totoro, from the legendary Studio Ghibli, creators of Spirited Away and Ponyo, and Academy Award-winning director Hayao Miyazaki. When Satsuki and her sister Mei move with their father to a new home in the countryside, they find country life is not as simple as it seems. They soon discover that the house and nearby woods are full of strange and delightful creatures, including a gigantic but gentle forest spirit called Totoro, who can only be seen by children, in a classic tale of magic and adventure for the whole family. The September 30th and October 3rd screenings are dubbed in English and the October 1st screenings are presented in Japanese with English subtitles.

Want to stay in the loop on future eventsFollow Justin on Facebook and Twitter.