Saturday, November 22, 2008

The Anxiety of Influence

Well what do you know, the new video is doing amazingly well. Wow, it's actually doing much better then I ever could have thought. I was very happy with what I had put together, but I really doubted if audiences would also embrace it. Turns out, I was wrong and people seem to enjoy the new approach. Imagine that heh. I've got a slew of ideas swimming around in my head on what I want to do for future episodes (monolouges, certain camera angles and shots I want to try, etc), but as of right now I can't say when the next episode will see release.

Right now, we're just about ready for finals at school, so I may have to put youtube on hold for a week or two to concentrate on that, but perhaps making a review video for next week won't be too difficult. We'll see.

Woody Allen indeed.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Deconstructing Swan 1: A Fire in the Forest

(first episode of new series)

so here's the new series that I promised. I had some free time these past few days to get everything done. Overall, I'm very pleased with the results. I wanted to take things beyond the tokyo swan mold and really try and branch out a bit (while retaining some of the charm that made tokyo swan a fun series). In the end, I'm really satisfied with this first new video and the various directoral and editing techniques employed in it. You'll notice that the show is not called 'michigan swan' as again, I wanted to distance myself from the past and not just coast on the success that I've already made.

So hopefully, audiences will embrace this new work, and if that's the case then expect some more videos in this series (not weekly). If not, then I'll scrap it and focus on other things haha. So hope that everyone enjoys watching the new work as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Deconstructing Swan

I've spent the last hour working on the first 15 seconds of the new series. I think I've finally come up with something that should be interesting for viewers as well as for myself. So far, it is shaping up to be quite the departure from tokyo swan.. and yet in a way it feels like a more mature version of it. Not sure when the first part of this new series will drop... the original plan was friday, but I can see this taking me quite some time. I've no idea how audiences will react to the new series, but we shall see. Yes, I will try.... rodger

Friday, November 14, 2008

Swan's Japanese Horror Reviews 42: MPD Psycho

(review of MPD Psycho)

Hey gang, up today is the new review that was selected by YOU from the poll on this very site. So, hope everyone enjoys the new video.

Some quick things:
1. Got a new camera finally! After using the same sony cybershot for the past 4 years, I now have a new Canon powershot! I'm really liking it, and the best part is the study abroad department at school got it for me. I'm writing blogs for them about my time in Japan and reposting my old tokyo swan episodes, so this was how they opted to pay me.... nice!

2. Got a new haircut today! I'm looking more like the image you see at the top of the page, went for the fake mohawk look again. It's really a cool look for me, and I'm really happy with it.

3. Hoping to debut a new video series a week from now, probably will start with a new apartment tour either in episode 1 or 2, not sure yet. At any rate, that's something to look forward to (what in the world am I going to call it? Surely not michigan swan....)

4. Think I'm gonna go see the new james bond movie tonight with a friend of mine. I've heard mixed reviews on the latest one, but I really enjoyed the last one so we'll see.

Ok, that's all I've got for now. Oh yeah! I've finished my JET application and am mailing everything out tomorrow morning. Hurray! Now the waiting game begins. Have a good one everyone and see you next time!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

A Fire in the Forest

(a fire in the forest: david sylvian)

Short post tonight. Just wanted to post a song from one of my favorite artists. It's 'a fire in the forest' from David Sylvian. It is one of my most played tracks this fall after returning home from Japan, and captures some of my inner thoughts pretty well. Other then that, new review is finished and will go up friday. Until then, see you next time, and enjoy the music...

Saturday, November 8, 2008

5 Centimeters Per Second

Wow. I just had the pleasure of watching the best animated film I’ve seen in a very long time. Makoto Shinkai’s “5 Centimeters Per Second” was a beautiful masterpiece of longing, melancholy, and love. This 65 minute anime is split up into 3 different parts, and it follows the lives of three main characters searching for true love.

(5 Centimeters Per Second Trailer)

I really can’t begin to do this anime justice. It has to be seen to be believed! And well, getting an official copy might be difficult. It was released earlier in the year by ADV films here in the states. However, shortly after its release, a lot of behind the scenes business moves were being made by ADV and its distributor which caused ADV losing the license to this title. While many of ADV’s licenses were picked up by Funimation, this was not the case with this film. So, basically only so many of these DVDS were made here and what’s left in the stores is all there is. There are a few online shops that probably still have copies, but snatch it up while you still can because this is sure to be a collector’s item. Thankfully, the Best Buy in town had one lone copy, and I was overjoyed to finally pick up this film.

I knew ever since I saw the trailer that this would be something I would really enjoy. All of the ingredients of young love and trying to do the impossible just really appeals to me. It’s the kind of story that I would like to write (and if any of my short stories are any indication, the kind of story I often find myself trying to write). Sure enough, by the end of the film, I was crying and just in awe at how utterly beautiful this film is.

Today, we also got a new Sony high definition TV with all the hook ups to make the picture just perfect. I’ve never seen such beautiful animation in my life! The colors were so vibrant and the picture quality was just out of this world for me. All HD TVS should have this dvd playing because it really showcases the power of great imagery.

Ok, well that’s all from me for today. I’m kind of in a nostalgic mood after watching that film. I urge anyone with even the tiniest interest in anime to please search out a copy of this DVD (you could watch it online I’m sure, but I’m all for supporting the anime industry and buying the official products). Gorgeous film, emotional yet subdued story, and just wonderful insight into how fast people fall in love... 5 cm per second.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan 7 (FINAL)

(Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan 7 (FINAL))
So here is the final tokyo swan: unseen swan episode. What an amazing run the series has had over the past year, and now it's time to say goodbye and move on to new projects. I'm hoping I can get back to Japan for a potential second season, but right now it's just too soon to call. One can hope though!

This episode has a lot of fun clips, and a rather lengthy introduction by me at the start of the video. Took me forever to get that just right, I ended up recording like at least 5 different versions of the opening monolouge, but I couldn't get the vibe right until the one that appears in the video. Anyways, that's it for Tokyo Swan... and we'll see you next time!

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Weekend Update 2

Hey there gang, another weekend has come and gone and it's time to start into week 10 of the semester here at school. It's hard to believe it's already Novemeber! Finals will be here before I know it (and I can't wait, next semester is going to be so much lighter). Let's kick off the weekend updates!

(Shinya Tsukamoto's 'A Snake of June')

1. This week's japanese film addition is Shinya Tsukamoto's 'A Snake of June.' Viewers of reviews will know I'm a big Tsukamoto fan, so when I saw this one at a Barnes and Noble store for only 15 bucks, I snatched it up as quick as possible and threw down my money! I can't wait to watch this one, looks very perverse and moody. Of course, I'll have to rewatch M.P.D Pyscho first as that is the next review, but I imagine A snake of June will follow shortly afterwards...

2. This week will see the release of the final Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan. I've been working on this last one for a while, and it ends on two pretty nice clips I think. The amount of views each Unseen Swan has gotten has steadily decreased, so it's the right time to say good bye to the series and look forward to something new. A youtube user gave me a cool idea to do an apartment tour of my new place much like an old episode of Tokyo Swan. While that episode remains one of my least favorite (and it got featured! why oh why...), it's an easy type of video to do so I can see myself repeating the process and doing another tour of where I live.

3. Today has been a fairly busy day. I was inducted into Sigma Tau Delta, the international English honor's society, so that was pretty cool. Figure that will look nice on my JET application, which if all goes well I'll be finished with at the end of the week. Also bought a new ipod today as my old one (the old ipod photo) died last night (though it was putting up a good fight for a few months...). It's the classic ipod style, none of the fancy touch stuff. Figure that would be far too distracting, I'm on the internet enough as is heh.

Time to start working on some papers for school, and then later tonight hanging out with the guys to watch my new guilty pleasure 'the pick up artist.' Yes, it's an incredibly silly show, and that's exactly why I enjoy it. See you next time!

Friday, October 31, 2008

Swan's Japanese Horror Reviews 41: ID

(review 41: ID)

So here we have the new review of ID, a very confusing but fun film to watch. I also announce the winner of the upcoming review (but if you are here on this page I'm sure you can see to the right which one the winner is hah). I also brought myself back into the review for parts of it, as it seemed that a majority of people missed me (lol). So, let me know what you guys think of this one, and if this is how you want things to run. I think it's a fair compromise on format.

Happy Halloween everyone! Have a ghoulishly scary day (is that too cheesy...)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Cure 4:13 Dream

So once class got out today, I sped my way over to the nearest Best Buy to pick up The Cure's brand new album: 4:13 Dream. How is it? AWESOME. A great record that has pop (the only one), beauty (underneath the stars), and pure madness (it's over). I think I like this one a bit better then their last album from 2004, and I can't wait for the supposed 'dark album' to be released next year.

(The Cure play a new track 'The Reasons Why' in Rome)

The Cure rules. Seriously. Robert Smith is the man. Oh yeah, also when I was at Best Buy I picked up a new j-horror dvd called 'ID.' It was only 10 bucks, and it looks interesting. So that one might be reviewed soon. The poll is nearly closed, so if you haven't voted yet make sure to get in there and let your voice be heard!

Ok, before I have to go to work I'm going to continue to listen to this new Cure album. Next up, the new Depeche Mode album in the spring!!!


Sunday, October 26, 2008

Weekend Update!

Hey everybody! As the weekend winds down and it's time to start another week of school (already into week 9 of the semester!) I'll just go over some brief updates to close out the weekend:

(Tokyo Jennie and myself in the dorm)

1. Tokyo Jennie! A good friend of mine whom lived in the same dorm as me and appeared in countless Tokyo Swan episodes, Tokyo Jennie, has also recently started her own blog. Jennie in Japan: She is also trying to get back to Japan next year, so I think there should be some really good content on there. She's been a great friend so I encourage you keep on an eye on her blog!

2. Dreamcast! This weekend I had some extra time on my hands so I popped in my Japanese copy of Shenmue. I'm trying to play through the game without using a guide, and I'm really happy with how much I understand in the game 船員の集まる場所は知りませんか。 Such an epic and amazing game, I'm at the part where you are looking for Charly.

(me in dobuita where shenmue took place. This became one of my most popular Tokyo Swan episodes)

I also had some time to play the import title 'comic party.' This was originally an 18+ pc game that later got ported to the dreamcast (with the hentai bits removed). You play as an aspiring manga artist and you can select how many pages your comic will be, if it will be in color, the price of the final product, and some other interesting elements that adds some cool strategy and simulation to the game. I initally got into Comic Party with the anime released by The( then) Right Stuf Int. here in the states, and the manga from tokyopop was also quality.

3. Clothes shopping! So I just got back from buying some new shirts and pants to wear as it starts to get colder. It should come to no surprise that all of the shirts were brown (my favorite color) and I even bought a pair of those skinny jeans. We'll see how it goes haha, but I think it all looks pretty balling.

Ok, well that's all from me! Hope everyone has been enjoying the fall weather wherever you may be, and that everyone gets everything they need for Halloween taken care of. Speaking of which, I'm still not sure what my plans are for that...


Friday, October 24, 2008

Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan 6

(Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan 6)

So here's the sixth episode in the Tokyo Swan: Unseen Swan series. All of these clips come from the first 10 episodes, so it's pretty crazy to reflect and look back on these. Man I looked so young (Those keeping track will see the current facial hair is a developing beard). I shot the opening for this one last weekend, and I had a bit of a cold, but it turned out ok I guess. This one has some good stuff, the 'popper' who danced to a classic chrono trigger track, some shots of Keio university, some clips of Tokyo Jennie and Kris, and more.

Right now, I have just one more Unseen Swan episode put together, but I'll have to go through the video vaults one more time to see if I missed any (worthwhile) footage. And what do I do after the last unseen swan? I guess either pump out more reviews or move on to a new journey back to japan series... hmm, I need to think that idea out. Next up is a new review for Halloween, and then we'll see how things go in November. As for me right now, I'm going back to watching some tenchi, and then the pick up artist is on tv heh.



Midterms are done! Hurray! Man, that is great to be finished with those. Not sure how I did on my stats one, but I guess I'll find out soon enough. Right now, I'm just those are all finished. It will be finals time before I even know it....

I went home this weekend to pick up some winter stuff, it's already getting pretty cold. When I was in Tokyo last year it rarely snowed and even when it was at its coldest it didn't compare at all to a normal Michigan winter.

I'm rewatching some of the third Tenchi Muyo ova series at the moment. Tenchi Muyo was an anime I got into when the series first ran on tv here around 2000 or so. In my personal collection, I have the original Muyo boxset, the universe boxset, all three movies, the mihoshi/pretty samy special dvd, gxp, and the third ova series. Never picked up tenchi in tokyo... I don't know, I guess that one never did much for me. Can't really recommend the gxp series. Really, when it comes to Tenchi the original 2 ova series and the three movies are probably the best of the bunch but to each his own. The manga released by Viz was also quite nice.

The thid ova series was something I was really looking forward to. The last series has ended with so many unanswered questions so I was curious to see where the creators would take the new episodes. And while it started with some promise (and lots of flashbacks) it takes some really questionable side turns and goes off on strange tangents while taking away the central focus of the show: Tenchi and the girls.

Why am I watching Tenchi now? Good question. I just wanted to revist the first episode in the third ova series where Tenchi is walking around in the rain thinking about all of his encounters with the various women in his life. Having grown up with the tenchi series in a sense, it's interesting to see the characters in a more mature light. Although, I suppose if you wanted truly reflective Tenchi then the third movie would be the best bet. That one is probably my favorite in the entire series.

(my copy of the import tenchi muyo rpg on the super famicom)

If I had more time I would play more of the import tenchi muyo rpg game for my super famicom, as that looks pretty good. Ok, well that's enough Tenchi talk for tonight. Think I'll upload a new unseen swan and call it a day. See you next time.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Deconstructing Rodger

Hey gang! Hope everyone is doing well out there, as for me this week has been all about midterms! I’m feeling a bit better from the cold I was battling over the weekend, and I’m halfway through the school week already now, but things have been a bit hectic. Just one more stats midterm on Thursday to deal with (oh yeah, math is certainly not my thing).

I’ve got the next Unseen Swan ready to release this weekend, and I’ve started work on the next review. The review after that will be the one that wins the current poll on here, and right now things seem to be in a dead heat!

I’m kind of curious what you guys want to see as content on here? Is there anything in particular you’d like me to blog about? Besides school work this week, I’ve watched a few good Woody Allen movies. 1997’s “Deconstructing Harry” is a masterpiece, one of my favorite films I have seen from Woody. Yeah I know haha, it’s nowhere near Japanese horror but it’s good to have some balance in life.

You might have noticed on the side that I’ve included a link to which is a site run from my friend Kevin whom I met in Japan (Tokyo Swan fans should remember him from some of the episodes!). Kevin is a great guy and a truly inspirational fellow, he taught me how to eat healthier and he was very dedicated to keeping himself in the best shape possible. We had some good times in Japan, and he also has a lot of Japan related posts on his site that are well worth checking out. So check out his site, he’s a great guy!

(kevin and myself at the dorm in Japan on my 21st birthday)

Time to head out to work here soon, and then once I get back I’ll work on some Japanese homework. Is anybody else watching ‘The Real Jaleel’ on nick at night with the guy who played Urkle hosting family matters? Classic.


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Now Playing: Doukoku Soshite (saturn)

Doukoku Soshite
Release: 1998
From: Data East
Genre: Visual Novel/Adventure

Hey everybody so I thought another fun thing I could do on this blog would be to talk about some of the video games that I occasionaly have time to play when I'm not dealing with school/work/applying to work in Japan/making videos. Lately, I've had some time to sit down and play 'Doukoku soshite' an import text adventure game from data east in Japan. If you are hip to the world of these adventure games, you'll probably recognise the name as it's one of the more famous ones on the saturn, and after playing it for a while I can sure see why! The presentation and story are both top notch, and it really drags you into the moody atmosphere of the game.

(check out the intro and some opening footage from the game!)

While a lot of these visual novel type games are all about anime girls and falling in love, this one mixes things up with a really creepy and mysterious story. The game starts and you're on a bus returning from graduation practice earlier in the day. The bus is driving through a forest late at night, and the main chracter finds himself lost in thought. Thankfully, a classmate is there with him to keep him company. The bus stops and you're surprised to see your teacher enter as well as a really creepy looking man. Before you know it, all you remember are flashing lights and the squeeling of tires... there's been an accident!

You wake up and there's a girl screaming in pain, but is it a dream? The next thing you know, you're in this mysterious mansion, and the game becomes kind of a point and click adventure where you have to find clues and use different items to solve puzzles. Along the way, you meet more characters that were both on the bus and not...

This is a fantastic game with a great moody story and wonderful artwork. Of course, being entirely in Japanese, if you don't know the language fairly well prepared to be destroyed by an onslaught of kanji. But if you can read the story, I think you'll find something really enjoyable! Now if only I had more time to play it...


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Japan Advertisements

Hey gang! Still playing around with setting up this blog, but so far I'm liking it haha. I've signed up for an adsense account, so that means if you guys click on the ads I might actually make some money off this! That would be pretty sweet, some more cash to buy Japanese horror films perhaps haha. See, in that case everyone wins! But yeah, it looks like the ads should all be related to the contents of this site, so looks like some cool Japan related links that might be worth checking out.

In other words, I have mid terms all next week and I'm currently sick. Good thing I already did my last review, as my voice is going from completely gone in one second, to very low the next. Time to take a nap or something. Anyways, remember to click the ads and vote in the new poll! Also, there might be a contest coming up soon once more people come over here... and feel free to sign up and post some comments here!!


Review Poll!

Hey gang, hope everyone's weekend is off to a fine start. I've added a poll just over on the right for viewers to vote on an upcoming review! Voting will close on Halloween so get your vote in and be heard.... this upcoming review will be decided by YOU!!

Here is some basic information about the four choices I have listed:

Uzumaki (2000): Based on the manga of Junji Ito. A small town in Japan is plauged by strange spirals.

Tomie (1999): Also from the manga artist Junji Ito. This is the first in a series about a girl who just will not die.

M.P.D. Pyscho (2000): Directed by Takashi Miike of audition and ichi the killer fame, this is actually a short mini series about a multiple personality detective.

Dead Waves (2005): A Japanese TV crew get in over their heads with ghosts.


Friday, October 17, 2008

Horror Reviews Format

Hey everybody. So, I've brought back the Japanese horror reviews on youtube and the first two new installments have each already generated a lot of buzz and people seem to be in agreement that they are glad I am doing them again. What is not in agreement is the format haha. I've made a conscious decision not to appear in the horror reviews anymore, but quite a few youtube users miss the old way.

I'll be honest, earlier this year the last few reviews I did were done with totally no enthusiasm and no desire at all. This was due to the difficulty of producing both the reviews and the tokyo swan show on a weekly basis as well as trying to juggle school and a social life. I felt that the reviews needed to change, and if I brought them back the format would have to be different to both keep improving, and maybe more importantly keep myself interested in them and allow for myself to become excited in the reviews again.

(The new review for Noriko's Dinner Table)

This might seem strange, but I was worried that the reviews were being seen more as a platform for myself then a showcase of what in many cases were amazing pieces of art that people should truly purchase and enjoy. I slowly started to appear less and less in the reviews, substituting footage from the films, until finally when I brought them back and I didn't appear in the videos at all. I liken this to Woody Allen not wanting to make funny movies anymore. Sure, it made him famous, but he wanted to try new things and keep himself interested in what he was working on. Of course, the public was not ready for this and there was backlash. This of course was documented in a number of his works, and it's something I feel a strong connection with. I just want to make professional well thought out reviews that get people excited about the films. This called for scipting the new reviews to avoid all of the embarassing stuttering and 'ya knows' from the old videos, and making something that I felt showcased what was really important: the film.

But still, many people want me back in the videos, which is flattering, so I'm debating with myself as if to allow some sort of compromise and appear perhaps even briefly in the reviews. Personally, I think there's enough of me in the unseen swan videos (which are entirely self indulgent, please don't think I view them as anything other then that). So that having been said, I'm throwing around the idea of filming the next review ('the neighbor # 13') with a few shots of me thrown in. Nothing is set in stone yet, but I guess it's worth trying. Still, if anyone wants to further comment on the reviews then please feel free to do so! I'm open to suggestions, but at the end of the day I do have somewhat of a firm belief that if I'm not personally enjoying the work, then I won't do it. I mean, it's not like I get paid for this stuff, I do it out of the passion I feel for these films and the satisfaction of helping others become aware of such movies. So yeah, sound off on the reviews and let me know what's up!

Welcome to the Swan Pond

Hey gang, Swan here. Well what do you know, I have decided to jump on the blog bandwagon in an attempt to provide another form of contact between myself and the viewers of my work on youtube. I think this should prove to be interesting, I still get so many emails every day from people all over the globe.... and I'm not even in Japan anymore! So, perhaps this could provide a nice medium in which to further communicate with everyone as well as providing general updates to what's going on not only on the video side of things, but also on my personal life.

I think it would be fair to go over some goals to kick things off. What do I wish to gain with starting a blog? Like I said, I think being able to share a little bit more and be able to provide another means of connection between myself and my viewers (over 2,300 loyal! nice!) would be great. I'm hoping I can talk about issues going on amongst the videos, as well as just personal things because a lot of people are interested in how I'm doing personally now that I've returned home from Japan. I'd like to also use this as some sort of documentation as to my journey to getting back to Japan with the English teaching job I'm applying for.

So overall, I hope this proves to be enjoyable and perhaps even insightful for those interested. Who knows, maybe people might learn a thing or two about the guy behind the videos. Some Japanese posts might also be interesting too. もし日本語を書いたらいい練習だと思う。もちろん僕の日本語はぺらぺらじゃないですが将来、上手になりたいんよ。今、日本語が読めない人たちは「スワンさんは日本語で何を書いている」って言っているのではないだろうか。ごめんね。

So enjoy the blog, and see you next time.