New book reworks classic paintings in modern Japanese illustration styles

Ever wondered what Munch’s The Scream or Vermeer’s Girl with a Pearl Earring might look like if done in modern day Japan? If so, then this book is for you!

Eshi de Irodoru Sekai no Meiga by publisher Side Ranch is a new coffee table book that fuses the artistic sensibilities of centuries-old painters with those of modern illustrators from the manga, anime, and video game worlds of Japan.

In total, 43 masterpieces from the likes of Monet, Picasso, and Van Gogh have been re-imagined by 43 different Japanese commercial artists, including smartphone game illustrator Kina Haruka and character designer for Medabots (Medarot in Japan) Rin Horuma. Classic Japanese artists like Utagawa Kuniyoshi and Tawaraya Sotatsu are also given an updated look in this book.

Each full page illustration is accompanied by a look at the original work and a commentary by the illustrator.

Eshi de Irodoru Sekai no Meiga will hit bookstores in Japan on 26 May for 2,200 yen (US$20). The first customers to buy over-the-counter may also receive a postcard depicting an interpretation of Johannes Vermeer’s The Milkmaid.

It’s always fun to see pop culture and high culture collide in colorful ways like this book. So why not pick up a copy and brush up on both art history and current illustrators in Japan. We’ll leave you with a partial list of some of the works covered.

■ Girl with a Pearl Earring – Johannes Vermeer, c. 1665
■ The Gleaners – Jean-Francois Millet, 1857
■ Sunflowers – Vincent Van Gogh, 1888
■ The Scream – Edvard Munch, 1893
■ Les Demoiselles d’Avignon – Pablo Picasso, 1907
■ 
The Snake Charmer – Henri Rousseau, 1907
■ The Milkmaid – Johannes Vermeer, c. 1657
■ The Birth of Venus – Sandro Botticelli, c. 1485
■ Primavera – Sandro Botticelli, c. 1482
■ Ophelia – John Everett Millais, 1852
■ Tahitian Women on the Beach – Paul Gauguin, 1891
■ The Night Watch – Rembrandt van Rijn, 1642
■ Fujin Raijin-zu – Tawaraya Sōtatsu, c. 1650
■ 
Takiyasha the Witch and the Skeleton Spectre – Utagawa Kuniyoshi, c. 1844
■ 
The Kiss – Gustav Klimt, 1908
■ Le Divan Japonais – Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892
■ Woman with a Parasol: Madame Monet and Her Son – Claude Monet, 1875

Source: Dream News

“Sanjay’s Super Team” features Pixar’s first human protagonist of color

NBC News (by Frances Kai-Hwa Wang):

Pixar Animation Studio‘s first human protagonist of color made his debut on the big screen Thanksgiving week in “Sanjay’s Super Team,” directed by Pixar supervising animator and storyboard artist Sanjay Patel.

The short film opened for “The Good Dinosaur,” directed by Peter Sohn.

Patel told NBC News that, growing up, he felt embarrassed by his identity and tried to fit into mainstream American culture. But as an adult, he came to appreciate the richness of the culture his father was trying to pass on to him.

Sanjay’s Super Team” is a seven-minute short film inspired by Patel’s experiences growing up as the child of immigrants in a modest motel along Route 66. The titular Indian-American boy would rather be daydreaming about television superheroes than praying and doing puja with his father. However, the Hindu deities soon transform into a team of dazzling superheroes in the boy’s imagination, bringing him closer to understanding his immigrant father and his place in America.

Before this film, Patel’s father had not seen any of the movies Patel had worked on in his almost 20 years at Pixar, so the studio invited him to watch the film when it was completed. Patel told NBC News that his father was very moved — he was obviously proud of his son’s achievements but was particularly touched to see a film about their relationship.

Sanjay Patel, director of new Pixar short "Sanjay's Super Team".

Sanjay Patel, director of new Pixar short “Sanjay’s Super Team”

In addition to Patel’s work as an animator at Pixar, whose credits include “A Bug’s Life,” “Toy Story 3,” “Monsters, Inc.,” and “The Incredibles“, what drew Pixar’s attention to Patel’s developing storytelling skills was his work writing and illustrating children’s books like “Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth” and “Ramayana – Divine Loophole,” and his art exhibitions including “Deities, Demons, and Dudes with ‘Staches” at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco.

 

KCET: How senior fashion is turning heads in San Francisco’s Chinatown

You Tian Wu 82, about his fashion philosophy: “When you’re young you don’t have to care about fashion. But when you’re old, you have to.”

(Photo: Andria Lo/Chinatown Pretty)

Library of Congress names graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang (“Boxers and Saints”) as Ambassador for Young People’s Literature

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New York Times (by George Gene Gustines):

Gene Luen Yang often mines his life for his graphic novels. He has explored being a first-generation American, and harnessed his love of computer programming. Starting this week, he will have a whole new experience to draw on.

On Monday, the Library of Congress is to name Mr. Yang the national ambassador for young people’s literature, the first graphic novelist to be so honored since the post was created in 2008.

When I was coming up in the ’90s, the comic book industry and the book industry were largely separate — they had their own awards, distribution systems and stores,” Mr. Yang said in a telephone interview from his home in San Jose, Calif. But now, “these worlds are really converging in interesting ways.”

Mr. Yang’s stories leapfrog genres and often pose questions about acceptance, identity and culture. Perhaps his best-known graphic novel is “American Born Chinese,” about Jin Wang, a boy who has trouble fitting in when he moves to a new school in the suburbs. The New York Times greeted the book as “a dark exploration of Asian-American adolescence” that blends two cultures “in inventive, unexpected ways.”

An excerpt from Gene Luen Yang’s graphic novel “American Born Chinese” (2006). CreditGene Luen Yang

American Born Chinese,” published by First Second in 2006, achieved a couple of firsts for a graphic novel: It was a finalist for a National Book Award and it won the Michael L. Printz Award. It also received an Eisner Award, one of the most prestigious honors in the comic book world, for best graphic album.

His other books include “Boxers and Saints” (2013), a work of historical fiction with dollops of mysticism set during the Boxer Rebellion in China; and “Secret Coders” (2015), illustrated by Mike Holmes, about students solving mysteries at an unsettling school. (The text slyly teaches readers basic computer coding.) In June Mr. Yang joined the group of writers working on Superman for DC Comics.

Mr. Yang, 42, the son of Chinese immigrants, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He began drawing at 2, he said, and “I basically never stopped.” His gateway for comic books was Superman, which he began reading in fifth grade. Marvel’s Fantastic Four and Spider-Man soon followed. He started creating his own comics. “I was always interested in telling stories through drawings,” he recalled.

At the University of California, Berkeley, Mr. Yang majored in computer science partly to please his father, who wanted him to pursue something practical, and minored in creative writing. He worked as a computer engineer for two years after graduating and then began teaching computer science at a high school, a job that lasted 17 years. He gave it up only when his travels in support of his books began to involve too much time away.

Secret Coders,” released in September, was inspired partly by his teaching experience. “What I wanted to do was combine a narrative with lessons,” he said. “You ought to be able to do basic programming from reading the first volume.” Mr. Yang is also running an art contest related to the book to encourage readers to try some basic programming.

Mr. Yang also taps his background for his work with DC Comics. “When DC approached me, ‘Superman as the prototypical immigrant’ was one of my first thoughts,” he wrote in an email. He noted that dual identities are a daily reality for the children of immigrants. “Many of us use one name at home, another at school,” he said. “We move between two different sets of expectations the way many superheroes do.” When he recounted Superman’s origin story in an issue published in November as part of an adventure set in Oakland, Calif., he gave the superhero some immigrant anxieties about belonging.

In reflecting on his new role as ambassador, Mr. Yang said he found his wife, Theresa, a development director for an elementary school, a tremendous resource. He said that he was inspired by her program for encouraging students to read and write in different genres and that she was enthusiastic about the ambassadorship. His children — a son and three daughters — are a little harder to satisfy.

It is difficult to impress any kid that you see on a daily basis,” Mr. Yang said. The same is true of his children’s reactions to his books, though all of them are avid readers. “They tell me they like them, but they like other people’s books better than mine.

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Akiyuki Nosaka, celebrated author of Grave of the Fireflies, passes away

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RocketNews 24 (by Casey Baseel):

Famed writer’s best-known novel served as basis for Studio Ghibli anime of the same name.

Born in the city of Kamakura in 1930, Akiyuki Nosaka didn’t have an easy childhood. His mother died two months after giving birth to him. His adoptive father was killed in an air raid on Kobe in the closing months of World War II, and growing up Nosaka would also lose an older sister to illness and a younger one to starvation after evacuating their home.

Nosaka would channel the pain of these experiences into his semi-autobiographical novel Grave of the Fireflies, which was published when the author was 37 and would be awarded the Naoki Prize for literature in 1967. While the novel has had limited exposure abroad, it was also adapted into an animated theatrical feature in 1988, which earned international acclaim for its powerful story, Studio Ghibli-produced animation, and direction by renowned anime icon Isao Takahata.

Nosaka suffered a stroke in 2003, and had been receiving convalescent care from his wife at their Tokyo home since then. On the morning of December 9, at roughly 10:30, Mrs. Nosaka discovered that her husband was not breathing. The 85-year-old author was taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead by medical staff.

In addition to his wife, Nosaka is survived by his two daughters, both former members of the Takarazuka all-female stage troupe. The deeply respected writer’s passing brings great sorrow to fans of literature and animation alike, and its suddenness, like Nosaka’s signature work itself, is a solemn reminder of the preciousness of life.

Billionaire Buddhist priest/entrepreneur reveals his 5 greatest tips for success

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Next Shark:

Japanese billionaire entrepreneur Kazuo Inamori is the founder of electronics company Kyocera, the Honorary Chairman of Japan Airlines and a trained Buddhist priest.

The 83-year-old philanthropist also founded the Inamori Foundation which awards the annual Kyoto Prize, Japan’s version of the Nobel Prize, that honors individuals’ “extraordinary contributions to science, civilization, and the spirituality of humankind.”

From his 1995 book, “Passion For Success”, he shares his philosophy on success in life and in business.

1. Know what your true motives are.
Zen, the Japanese word for ‘good,’ means being universally virtuous in anybody’s eyes. I cannot achieve something worthwhile by considering only my own interests, my own convenience, or how I may appear to others. The motive has to be good for others as well as myself.”

In whatever passion you pursue, if your motives aren’t just, you will surely fail. The most successful ideas and businesses today have flourished because they positively impact the lives of billions.

“If your motivation and methods are virtuous, you need not worry much about the result.

2. Make a habit of being a perfectionist.
“When it comes to work, I am a perfectionist.”

Perfection isn’t just something that is achieved, it is something that is practiced until it becomes your second nature.

“It is extremely difficult to begin demanding perfection of yourself in everyday life. However, once it becomes your second nature, you can easily live that way. Aerospace engineers know that it takes tremendous energy to launch a satellite against gravity. But once it is in orbit, the same satellite needs very little energy to remain there. A business leader must pursue perfection as an everyday habit.”

3. Think optimistically, plan pessimistically, execute optimistically.
“The most important factor in starting any new project is having a dream and the passion to achieve it. In setting your vision, you need to be ultraoptimistic. You must first believe that you have unlimited potential. Continue telling yourself, ‘I can do it,’ and believe in yourself.”

“Once you begin making your plan, however, you must become a pessimist. You should review your concept conservatively. By this I mean that you must recognize every potential difficulty, and plan for all contingencies.”

“Equipped with such an ultraconservative plan, you should then move to execute it optimistically. Pessimism at this stage would prevent you from taking the bold action necessary to succeed.”

4. Your life or work = Attitude x Effort x Ability
“The outcome of our life or work is the product of three factors: attitude, effort and ability. Effort and ability range from 0 to 100 points. As these two numbers are multiplied rather than simply added, it means that persons who exert unbeatable efforts to compensate for their only ‘average’ ability can accomplish more than geniuses who rely just on their ability while making only a minimal efforts.”

But effort and ability are nothing without the main driving force that every successful entrepreneur has mastered:

“Depending on our attitude, the outcome of our work and our life can change by 180 degrees. Thus, while ability and effort are important, it is our attitude that counts the most.”

5. Always aim higher than what you think you can achieve.
“When choosing a long-term goal, I purposely select something beyond my ability. In other words, I choose a goal which is impossible for me to accomplish at the present time: no matter how hard I struggle now, I will not be able to reach it. Then I set a date in the future by which time I shall have achieved it.”

You really don’t know what you don’t know, and that applies for what you will be capable of in the future. With the right motivation, spirit and attitude, you almost can’t imagine what you are capable of until you finally achieve it.

“A person who wants to accomplish something new and worthwhile must assess his or her own ability from both present and future viewpoints.”

Book review: “Allegiance” depicts the isolation and struggles of Japanese-Americans during WWII

Japan Times (by Mark Schreiber):

Caswell “Cash” Harrison, the protagonist in this legal thriller set during World War II, is a fortunate young man. Fresh out of Columbia Law School, his family ties to the network of Philadelphia patricians promises him a cozy legal career. But having failed his military physical on a technicality, Harrison winds up in Washington, D.C., as a clerk to Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Hugo Black, toiling at the mundane task of screening petitions of certiorari to determine the cases that are relevant for the court to hear.

Soon, however, Harrison finds himself caught in a web of intrigue, and what at first seems to be a typical Washington tug-of-war between conservatives and liberals transforms into something more sinister, including murder.

Allegiance” shifts between the halls of power in wartime Washington to the gritty, isolated conditions of the Tule Lake internment camp in California. Through meticulous historical research, the author — a great-grandson of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt — touches on the plight of Japanese-Americans, and particularly the so-called “no-no boys,” U.S. citizens threatened with deportation due to their refusal to give loyalty oaths.

While Harrison is fictitious, the book is peopled with real-life historical figures, including Justices Black and Felix Frankfurter, FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover and unsung heroes like Masaaki Kuwabara, who refused military conscription until his rights as an American citizen were restored.

Although not as tightly spun as a John Grisham thriller, “Allegiance” is of particular interest for its depictions of Japanese-Americans’ struggles during the war years.