movies

Talking with Chuck Johnson, Japan’s first full-time foreign stuntman, about working your butt off

When it comes to working in Japan as a foreign resident, it can often feel as if there aren’t many options — but that’s not necessarily the case. And for Chuck Johnson, the very opposite is true! After well over a decade in the country, Chuck has done everything from teaching English, to acting, to directing, to working as a bodyguard. He’s also an accomplished martial artist and stuntman — in fact, Chuck is the first non-Japanese person in the country to make a career out of doing stunt work. It’s a niche so small, he basically had to create an industry for himself!

After years of hard work and barely scraping by, Chuck has now made quite a name for himself, and this summer will see the release of a short action film in collaboration with big names such as Toei Studio, Adidas, and YouTube.

We recently stopped by the “fight action class” he teaches for aspiring and working stuntmen and discussed his experiences in Japan. If you want to get paid to kick people on film in Japan, Chuck is the man you want to talk to.

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Ready for the Fury Road: Our customized Mad Max Yamaha Tricity motorcycle 【Video】

Depending on the genre, a well-made movie can have you howling with laughter, thrilled by the on-screen action, or feeling cleansed after a cathartic cry. But while those are all enjoyable enough, every now and again you run into a film that affects you on a deeper level by helping to teach you some inevitable facet of life itself.

We recently made a trip to the theater to watch Mad Max: Fury Road, and since then every time we look up at the night sky, we’ve been reminded of the certainty that one day we’ll all be living in a dystopian wasteland. In preparation, we’ve already started stockpiling water and canned goods, and now we’ll be able to tour the wastelands in style with our customized Mad Max-style Yamaha three-wheeled motorcycle.

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Japanese kid too young to see Mad Max stays home, builds awesome Doof Wagon out of Lego instead

Japanese Twitter user @kamonpoi wants to go to see Mad Max: Fury Road, but not as badly as his young son does! The fifth-grader is a die-hard Mad Max fan who is desperate to see the new movie, but was distraught to hear that it would carry an R15+ rating, meaning he has no chance to see it in the cinema.

So instead, the boy put his energy and frustration to good use and did what elementary school kids do best: he made something out of Lego.

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Japan National Bunraku Theater turns Terminator poster into ad for traditional puppet show

It’s quite the summer of 90s nostalgia at the movies this year. Just this past month we had a new Jurassic Park movie, an original Pixar movie, and next month is bringing us the latest Terminator outing in the form of Terminator Genisys.

Anticipation for the film has been high in Japan, but one group you may not expect to be fans of machines killing each other seems to have taken a special liking to it. The Japanese National Bunraku Theater took the poster for the Terminator movie and transformed it into an advertisement for their traditional puppet theater, making it one of the most confusing yet oddly satisfying collaborations we’ve ever seen.

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Hayao Miyazaki may be retired, but these Studio Ghibli tattoos will last forever 【Photos】

It’s kind of ironic that even though director Hayao Miyazaki regularly expresses his distaste towards obsessive fandom, fans obsess over his films like no one else’s. And it’s not just anime loyalists, either, who find watching his works to be a life-changing experience, since they’ve also won the hearts of millions who just love animation or strong filmmaking in general.

There even seems to be a sizeable overlap between people who admire Miyazaki’s movies and body art. So while the anime legend himself might not personally approve, today we’re taking a look at a collection of impressive Studio Ghibli-inspired tattoos.

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Full trailer for Boruto –Naruto the Movie- hints at difficulties of raising a ninja son 【Video】

It’s shaping up to be an exciting summer at the theaters for anime fans. This week brings the second Attack on Titan animated feature, and in July we’ll be seeing the latest project from Summer Wars director Mamoru Hosoda.

In August, though, the big anime event is the premiere of Boruto –Naruto the Movie-, featuring the newest generation of ninjas in manga creator Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto franchise. But many kids fight with their parents while growing up, and it doesn’t look like shinobi families are any exception, as the film’s first full trailer shows that new protagonist Boruto doesn’t exactly get along with his famous father.

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Commercial for latest The Grudge film removed from air after complaints of being “too scary”

Japanese horror films are their own special brand of awesome. Movies like The Ring and The Grudge will sometimes make you roll your eyes with their cheesy acting and special effects, but at the same time contain certain horrifying scenes that will stick with you in your nightmares for weeks to come.

The latest installment in The Grudge series, Grudge: The Final has just come out in Japan, advertised by commercials airing all over. However, one commercial received so many complaints about it being “way too scary” that it was taken down and replaced with something more tame.

Are you brave enough to watch the original commercial? Then read on to get your chance.

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New Attack on Titan movie will hit audiences with lights, wind, and water, also has moving seats

The second Attack on Titan theatrical feature has been a long time coming, but the film, subtitled The Wings of Freedom, is finally opening in Japan this month. Since the movie is a condensed version of the second half of the anime TV series, there probably won’t be too much in the way of new plot developments. What audiences can look forward to, though, is a movie experience augmented by moving seats, gusts of wind, and other awesome effects.

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Niece of famous Taiwanese 80s singer capturing hearts in Japan

If you’re one of the, I don’t know…two? three?… people who both read our humble site regularly and who are also really into Japanese Bubble Era love ballads – we’re talking mid-80s here – you might be familiar with a Taiwan-born singer named Fēifēi Ōuyáng. She appeared regularly on Japanese television back in the 80s to sing her outrageously popular-at-the-time hit, “Love is Over.”

Ōuyáng was apparently so popular that the song can still be heard occasionally on TV and as background music in shopping malls and stores. So popular, in fact, that one of our female writers on our Japanese sister site is a huge fan of the singer despite probably only having only just been born around the time Ōuyáng was reaching peak popularity. Imagine her delight, then, when she learned that Ōuyáng’s equally talented and gorgeous niece was becoming quite the topic of conversation on Japanese Internet circles.

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Just a photo of otaku taking video of video of people dressed like anime idols to promote movie

Although it’s not necessarily wrong to call Tokyo’s Akihabara neighborhood the anime capital of Japan, that’s actually a little bit of a simplification. Akihabara isn’t only the place to get your hands on the latest animation, but also video games, idol music CDs, printed comics, and a whole array of audio and video electronics.

In other words, Akihabara isn’t just about anime, but about media, and several forms came together when one Twitter user took a photograph of otaku taking videos of another video of real people dressed as anime characters to promote a new movie.

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Did you spot the Studio Ghibli cameo in Marvel’s Avengers: Age of Ultron?

With Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel and Disney have once again struck gold by putting all of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes in front of the camera at the same time. And really, is it any surprise that’s what moviegoers want to see? After all, who can resist the combination of snarky Iron Man, stalwart Captain America, anachronistic Thor, and hulking Hulk?

Oh, and also the brief cameo by an iconic figure from one of Studio Ghibli’s most popular movies ever.

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Great Scott! Back to the Future’s Christopher Lloyd coming to Japan!

Now well into 2015, we are inching ever closer to the world of the future as depicted in Back to the Future II. And with the advent of hoverboards, Nike MAGs, and crudely rendered CGI sharks, I think they made pretty good predictions so far.

However, this year is also the 30th anniversary of the original Back to the Future’s theatrical release, paving the way for more commemorative events. One such event just about made me spit out my Pepsi ordered from a Max Headroom stylized Ayatollah Khomeini: Christopher Lloyd will be coming to Japan for the second time in 22 years! Do you know what this means, Marty?

Precisely!

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Chinese animation “The Autobots” to be released, but don’t worry, it’s not a Transformers rip-off

On 4 July, 2015 a brand new Chinese-produced animated feature film will get a wide release of 5,000 theaters. It’s called Qiche Ren Zongdongyuan which is Anglicized as The Autobots. Now, with a title like that and coming out of China you might assume this to be some kind of rip-off, but after learning a little more we think you’ll agree that this is in no way a blatant rip-off of Transformers. You know, that movie where cars turn into robots…

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No plans for the weekend? Free CG animation festival is going on in Tokyo 【Videos】

If you were just looking at the clock and smiling because you’ve reached the end of your workweek, but have since switched to frowning and looking at the Tokyo weather report (clouds or rain all week long), cheer up, because it just so happens there’s a great indoor event going on.

Short Shorts Film Festival & Asia 2015 kicked off earlier this week, and until June 14 will be showcasing the works of talented short film makers from around the globe at venues in Tokyo and Yokohama. Best of all, admission is free, and today we’re taking a peek at some of the festival’s amazing computer animated shorts that are screening this weekend.

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A phone so sleek, you’d think Tony Stark himself designed it 【Video】

Samsung is pushing their new phone, the Galaxy S6 edge, right to the corners of the globe. They hope that this wraparound technology is the next big thing in the smart phone landscape. Samsung has also spent some big bucks to lockdown some very cool tie-ins between the Earth’s mightiest heroes and the new S6 edge. If you are an Iron Man fan and hope to own one of the limited edition Iron Man smart phones, you’d better have Tony Stark-like cash flow, because it is going to cost you a pretty penny.

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Studio Ghibli producer kills theory of death subtext in My Neighbor Totoro

There’s a persistent rumor, one which we’ve talked about ourselves, that claims there’s a dark side to feel-good anime classic My Neighbor Totoro. The theory holds that while the movie opens with two lively sisters in the spotlight, both of them die somewhere before the end of the film, and the immense huggable Totoro isn’t in fact a forest spirit, but a death god ushering them into the afterlife.

If this creepy interpretation has been spoiling the warm fuzzy sensation you used to get from watching what you once thought was a heart-warming film, you can breathe easy again, as none other than Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki has publicly put the rumor to rest.

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Tokyo Disneyland’s Buzz Lightyear has a friend in Woody, and also a friend in his crotch

There are only so many hours in a day, which means all the time you devote to listening to Japanese girls’ rock bands or learning a half-dozen ways to says “breasts” in Japanese means less time for soaking up mainstream American pop culture. As a result, I’ve got some pretty big gaps in my Hollywood movie-watching history, but at least I know their basic plots because they’ve been talked about and referenced elsewhere so much.

For example, I know Titanic is about an elderly woman fondly remembering some dude she hooked up with on a cruise 70 years ago, who was apparently so good in the sack that she has no time on her deathbed to remember her children or the man who fathered them. Forest Gump is about remarkably patient bus travelers who are willing to listen to the life story a complete stranger because of his vague promises of giving them chocolate at some point.

And Toy Story, as I can infer from these Tokyo Disneyland photos, is about how a humble cowboy and abrasive astronaut learn to overcome their differences and become pals when one gives the other a hand job, right?

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Godzilla gets official Tokyo residency papers, copies being given out free to fans

You could make a long list about all the ways Japan is uniquely awesome (and as a matter of fact, we just did), but it’s not like every aspect of life in Japan is more enjoyable than in other countries. For example, taking care of paperwork at city hall or other government facilities is as boring as it is anywhere else in the world.

So why is it that this week people have been voluntarily visiting the Shinjuku ward office in the heart of Tokyo? Because they want to get a copy of the official residency document of the district’s newest resident, Godzilla!

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Japanese toymakers collaborate on amazing Hulkbuster you can call your own

Superhero movies mean big business for toy makers, and whenever Marvel releases a new movie, a slew of action figures are made to fulfill everyone’s toy needs. There are the cheap small figures that anyone of any age can play with, and there are also the larger, more expensive, but extremely poseable figures for those who want to seriously play. Then there are the really expensive versions that boast incredible detail and size. This Hulkbuster is one of those ones.

Many toy makers are producing their own version of the Hulkbuster from Avengers: Age of Ultron, but Bandai is taking its time and attaching all the bells and whistles including LEDs and real metal parts.

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Live-action Attack on Titan films will have theme songs created by equally huge Sekai no Owari

Sekai no Owari is one of the most popular groups in Japan right now. The clown-faced, top hat-wearing rock band is managing to thrive in a Japanese music industry saturated with seemingly endless three-letter-48-style girl groups.

So what better to combine with one of the most popular music groups than one of the most popular manga/anime, Attack on Titan? It was just recently announced that the upcoming live-action Attack on Titan movies will feature two original Sekai no Owari songs produced specially as theme songs for the films.

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