Tuesday, April 26, 2005

The Face of Jizo

Poster for Face of Jizo
The film Face of Jizo premiered in the US on April 21st, 2005, at the recently held Global Hibakusha Film Festival at Boston’s Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On the second day of the festival, five Hibakusha (atom-bomb survivors), delivered appeals to the global community for the elimination of all nuclear weapons. Their pleas for a world without nuclear terror comes just months before the August 8th, 60th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Japan.

Chichi To Kuraseba (The Face of Jizo), is a Japanese play, and now a film, depicting the anguish and struggles of Mitsue, a Japanese woman who barely survived the Aug. 6th, 1945, atomic bombing of Hiroshima. In the story Mitsue tries to forget what happened on that fateful day when she lost her father Takezo in a sea of atomic fire, but she is tormented by the childhood memory of having run away instead of attempting to help her father. She cannot live with her guilt and torment, and convinces herself that she has no right to happiness. Originally a stage play by Hisashi Inoue that premiered in Japan in 1994, the work has since gone on to travel the world. The title Chichi To Kuraseba literally means Living with Father. The story takes place in the mid-1950s, with Mitsue living in her family’s bombed out but partially repaired house. Most of her friends and family were killed by pika-don (“flash blast”, the name Japanese gave to the atomic explosion), and she has only one friend, confidant, and adviser left in the world that she can talk honestly with… her father. Yes, Mitsue lives with her ghostly parent, making this one of the most unusual ghost films ever made.

But Face of Jizo is not a ghost film in the traditional sense, the only frightening moments come when one considers the realities of nuclear war. Instead, Mitsue’s spirit father materializes in order to encourage his lonely and angst-ridden daughter, advising her to embrace life and give in to love and happiness. The play was made into a movie directed by Kazuo Kuroki, and it opened in Japan during the summer of 2004. Kuroki’s film adaptation was re-titled Face of Jizo. In Japanese Buddhism, Jizo (jee-zo) is the guardian deity and savior of children, as well as the protector of travelers. You can see roadside statues of Jizo throughout Japan. In the story Mitsue finds that the family’s garden statue of Jizo had half of its face melted off from the atomic blast, and she relates the visage to her father’s inexplicable reappearance. The play’s transcript was translated into English by Roger Pulvers (and now available in book form), a professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology. His translation of the play was used for the English subtitles of Kuroki’s movie adaptation.

In the movie veteran actor Yoshio Harada plays the father, with the daughter played by award-winning actress Rie Miyazawa. Director Kuroki was not able to attend the Boston film festival, but he did offer the following remarks about his movie from Tokyo. “I hope the audience in the United States will watch it with the same feelings as the Japanese and realize the horrors of the atomic bomb, which to this day has people suffering from after effects.” Let no one think Kuroki’s film to be a work of anti-US propaganda that portrays the Japanese as innocent victims. As a boy the director grew up in Japanese occupied Manchuria, and he saw the ravages of Japan’s imperialist depredations. He’s quoted as having said the war was not over, “In fact, it has never been brought to a conclusion in this country (Japan) because responsibility for its heinous actions has never been taken, neither by the emperor, the government nor by the people. Japan today is like a wolf in lamb's clothing. The country is preparing itself, in the name of self-defense, for warlike action. Oh, I vividly remember the day we found out Pearl Harbor was bombed. Of course I was a kid, in occupied China, but you should have seen it. Everybody jumped for joy. And the same thing was happening all over Japan. Japanese people became convinced, on that day, that they were fighting to liberate Asia from the white man.” Kuroki went on to say that “Japan is a country where the mass media is cowardly. Even today they all basically follow the official line. If we don't do something about that, who will?”

Clearly the director is not pulling any punches, and his political views converge with the anti-war politics of the play’s author, Inoue, who has said, “At the time, the Japanese were the victimizers in what they did in Asia. They were the perpetrators of wrong throughout Asia. However, I remain adamant that those two atomic bombs were dropped not only on the Japanese but on all humankind. The people exposed to those bombs represent all people around the world in the second half of the 20th century.” These comments should be seen in the context of Japan’s renewed militarism, from its soldiers presently doing duty in occupied Iraq, to the changing of Japan’s pacifist constitution allowing the deployment of troops on foreign shores. One must also take into consideration the Bush administration’s stance towards Korea and Iran, against whom military action has been threatened. Both Inoue and Kuroki hold Japan responsible for heinous crimes committed in the war time years - but added to their heartfelt admonition is the message is that the world community must find a non-violent way of solving its problems… or in the very near future there will be more people like Mitsue and her ghostly father. (posted by M.)

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

China & Japan: Controversies

Mass protest of 20,000 in China
Here at the Black Moon our admiration of Japan and its people is more than apparent, and we make no apologies for our love of Japanese culture. However, one must make a distinction between a nation’s people and the government under which they live… even in a democracy. In the best case scenario, a democratically elected government will represent the people, but in the worst of cases it will neglect or abuse the people’s interests. Sadly, we believe this to be the case when it comes to the present Japanese government of Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi. While we love the Japanese people, we are not in favor of Koizumi or the clique of nationalistic militarists he has surrounded himself with.

As of this writing tens of thousands of people continue to protest all across China, denouncing Koizumi’s government for making the decision to revise the history books used in the Japanese school system. The new books present Japan’s imperialist invasion of neighboring countries as justifiable, in that Asian countries were “liberated” from European colonialism. Throwing fuel on the fire, on April 19th, the Tokyo High Court rejected a case that asked for financial compensation for Chinese victims of Japanese atrocities committed in the 1930’s and 40’s - which included the use of biological weapons. Historians say that approximately 250,000 people were killed by the use of such weapons. Also on the 19th, Japanese Nationalist lawmakers and a former defense minister announced their intention to visit the controversial Yasukuni Shrine on April 22nd. Some of Japan’s most notorious executed war criminals, the planners and conspirators of World War II, are buried there.

The western press has largely characterized the demonstrations in China as “anti-Japanese”, and insinuate that the Chinese communist government is actually behind the protests for political reasons. But these mainstream media assertions overlook the fact that the protests are also occurring in South Korea, America’s non-communist ally. The democratically elected President of South Korea, Roh Moo-hyun, commenting on Japan’s textbooks in an extraordinary open letter to the people of Korea, accused Japan of “rationalizing its history of invasion and colonization.” South Korea’s Ambassador to Geneva, Choi Hyuk, said “This year is the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. If we don’t learn the lessons from the mistakes of history… we are doomed to repeat them.” Choi added that Japan’s approving the right-wing nationalist textbooks was “a factor of serious concern for Korea.” Song Ming-soon, a South Korean Foreign Ministry official, said “In this case Japan is seeking to beautify its dark and aggressive part of history.”

Chinese protestors carry anti-Koizumi posters
Large demonstrations against the Japanese government have occurred in Seoul, south Korea, including a protest march and rally led by women who had been held in sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial army during its occupation of Korea. There were an estimated 200,000 women forced into sexual slavery, and Japan’s new textbooks barely mentions them - other than to refer to them as “comfort women.” The textbooks also maintain that a group of islets claimed by both Korea and Japan belong to Japan, which has further outraged the people of Korea. But it wasn’t just Korea, mainland China and Taiwan that were seized and occupied by the Japanese imperialists during the Second World War - the Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Vietnam, and Indonesia also suffered from Japan’s brutal colonialism. While those countries are not witnessing large protests against the right-wing nationalist textbooks, it is certain the people of those countries are aggravated by the Japanese stance of white-washing history.

Right-wing Japanese nationalists publicly state the textbooks deliberately gloss over Japan’s war time crimes in order to instill “patriotism” in Japanese youth. One backer, Professor Nobukatsu Fujioka, said, “Great Britain committed war crimes. America too. My concern is that Japanese children are taught to hate their country. They are taught that only Japan was wrong in the war. Don't all countries use history to instill pride in students?” It is alarming how much this sounds like the US right-wing when it discusses the war against Vietnam or Iraq, but then, pro-war conservatives use the same rhetoric no matter what country they’re from. US conservatives are proud of America for defeating Imperial Japan in the Second World War - as all lovers of democracy and self-determination should be. They have praised the US military occupation of Japan which delivered a democratic form of government and a pacifist constitution guaranteeing Japan would never again become a military power.

So it is a great irony that US conservatives have now fallen silent as Japan moves ever to the right… and towards military expansionism. This entails much more than just the white-washing of history. Koizumi’s government has closely aligned itself to the Bush administration, and Japan presently has around 550 troops serving in US-occupied Iraq, which is the largest military operation abroad for Japan since World War II. Koizumi hopes this coziness with Bush in Iraq will help win Tokyo a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, and as Bush’s “Coalition of the Willing” increasingly turns into the “Coalition of the Leaving”, Washington is prepared to look the other way as Japan’s government once again seeks to become a military power. Koizumi’s government has empowered an official panel to look at revising Article 9 of Japan’s pacifist Constitution - the very section that has kept Japan’s army restricted to its own shores for the last 60 years. None of this bodes well for Japan’s future relations with the rest of Asia.

The Black Moon staff opposes racism and militarism no matter who is guilty of practicing it. We want the sharing of art and culture to be a platform for solidarity and understanding among people - that is part of our mission statement. So while it pains us to criticize Japan concerning its current political affairs, it is a sincere critique based on the desire to see an honest admission of guilt for past abuses, as well as a willingness to equally share the future with other nations with dignity and respect. The first step in that process will have to be the denunciation of Japan’s revisionist textbooks and ultimately - rejection of right-wing nationalist politics. (posted by M.)

Sunday, April 17, 2005

The Robots Are Coming!

Nuvo mecha
Japan has long been infatuated with mechanical things, or mecha (mek-ka). For decades anime fans have been enthralled by mecha in animation, from early animated shows like Tetsujin 28 (Gigantor) and Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy) to the more contemporary Gundam, Macross, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Escaflowne, and RahXephon. Intelligent robotic technology has always been a staple in Japanese animation, which interestingly enough has given Japan an edge over the US when it comes to real world technology. Japanese popular culture has generally portrayed robots as super heroes and friendly, helpful servants to humankind. Those raised on such positive representations of mecha have become Japan’s visionary researchers and scientists whose aim is to actually create robots that will serve humanity. Art mimics life, and real world robots have been under development in Japan for some time.

No doubt you’ve heard of Asimo, the 4 foot high humanoid robot designed by Honda. Asimo is the only robot currently in existence that can climb stairs. This miraculous mecha also has video cameras for eyes, enabling it to recognize faces. It responds to voice commands, and can shake hands and dance. Not to be outdone, Hitachi is developing its Emiew robot, hailed as the fastest robot in existence. Looking like something out of The Jetsons, Emiew have wheels instead of legs, and they’re equipped with sensors that allow them to avoid bumping into things. They have voice recognition and a limited vocabulary of around 100 words. Emiew, which stands for "Excellent Mobility and Interactive Existence as Workmate", are being designed to serve humans in real work situations.

Japanese scientists are working on a new generation of Asimo and Emiew robots with upgraded and expanded capabilities, and there’s little doubt that other prototypes will soon be invented by other research institutions and corporations. As an example of the rush to develop robotic technology that will have direct interaction with humans, ZMP Inc. of Japan has developed a small robot it calls Nuvo. Standing some 15 inches high, Nuvo is a human-shaped robot that was designed for home security. It can not only walk, but it can get up if it falls down -something no other robot can currently do. It responds to simple voice commands like “stop” or “turn left”. The Nuvo unit links to mobile phones so that owners can check in real time the images of their homes or businesses taken on the digital camera inside a Nuvo’s head. The robot is on sale in Japan for 588,000 yen or $5,450. (posted by Black Moon Robot)

Yuri Kochiyama: Heartbeat of Struggle

Yuri Kochiyama
Yuri Kochiyama was the first to rush to the aid of Malcolm X when he was shot by assassins on February 21, 1965, at New York’s Audubon Ballroom. She was photographed cradling Malcolm X in her arms as he died. Kochiyama had already been involved with the African American civil rights movement for some years, and she had come to that movement due to the plight of her own people. Kochiyama’s family, along with all other Japanese Americans, had been placed in US concentrations camps during the Second World War. The camp Kochiyama’s family was sent to was located in Arkansas, and it was there that the young Yuri Kochiyama witnessed the racist discrimination practiced by whites against blacks. She linked that bigotry to how her own people were being treated, and from that point on she became an activist for human rights and social change.

Heartbeat of Struggle: The Revolutionary Life of Yuri Kochiyama is the first biography of this courageous woman, the most prominent Asian American activist to emerge during the 1960s. Based on extensive archival research and interviews with Kochiyama's family, friends, and the subject herself, author Diane C. Fujino traces Kochiyama's life from an "all-American" childhood to her achievements as a tireless defender of-and fighter for-human rights. Ms. Fujino is associate professor of Asian American studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara -and is herself a scholarly activist dedicated to the civil rights of Asian Americans.

Author Diane C. Fujino will appear with Ms. Kochiyama in their first book signing and speaking engagement of their book tour. The event will take place at the Japanese American National Museum in Los Angeles, at 11:00 am, Sunday, April 24, 2005. The program with Ms. Kochiyama is included with Museum admission. The Japanese American National Museum is located in LA's historic Little Tokyo, at 369 East First Street, Los Angeles, Ca 90012. Phone: 213-625-0414. For directions and more information, visit the museums' website. (posted by M.)

Saturday, April 09, 2005

Japanese Politics, Iraq, & School Textbooks

Peace Protester in Tokyo
Politics in Asia rose in intensity this week when Koizumi’s government approved right-wing school textbooks, which whitewash some of the most atrocious actions of the wartime era Japanese imperialists, and fuel current disputes with their Korean and Chinese neighbors. The books, which have been supported by the far-right Japanese Society for History Textbook Reform, downplay events such as the massacre at Nanking, and the sexual slavery of women in areas that the Japanese occupied, and insist that their military actions were justified. When the textbook was first approved by the Ministry of Education in 2001, hardly any local school board would adopt it. Now, a revised edition of the book, just as erroneous, has brought up the issues again, and prompted protests and diplomatic troubles in Asia.

The battle over school textbooks is just another step in the rightward march of the Koizumi government in the past couple of years. Koizumi is the first prime minister to annually visit the Yasukuni Shrine, where in addition to WW2 war dead, several of the highest ranking war criminals of the militaristic regime are interred. And in perhaps the most shocking move in Japan’s postwar period, Koizumi altered a part of the country’s pacifist constitution to allow Japanese troops to support the Bush administration’s war efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was of course, the United States which helped shape the Japanese constitution, with the intention of keeping the Japanese military forever on their home shores so that imperialism could never again rear its ugly head.

Japanese Protest posters
These outrageous moves have ignited the anger of not only many Japanese, but also that of Japan’s close neighbors who harbor deep memories of Japan’s fairly recent imperialistic past. For many of Japan’s younger generations, Koizumi’s actions are inconceivable… akin to say, if the German prime minister paid “respects” at the tombs of Nazi war criminals. And Koizumi’s lending support to Bush’s war has sparked an anti-war movement the likes of which Japan has not seen since the late 1960s. (Visit the World Peace Now! Website in Japanese or English) For Japan’s close neighbors, Koizumi’s escalating actions are causing not just suspicion but outright fear, that this is the dawn of a new era of Japanese imperialism. So much so, that Japan’s current bid for a permanent seat on the UN security council has met with mass protests across China and Korea, bitter diplomatic fights, and the signatures of millions to online petitions. We here at the Black Moon feel it is vitally important for anyone who is interested in Japanese culture, to pay close attention to current political issues in Asia. We hope you’ll continue to visit not only our site for updates as they develop, but investigate these current topics on your own. (posted by J.)

Friday, April 08, 2005

Japanese Otaku Art hits New York

From the Superflat exhibit of 2000
The Japan Society gallery of New York has just opened a new exhibit called, Little Boy - The Arts of Japan’s Exploding Subculture. Curated by Japanese artist Takashi Murakami, the show is the third and final installment in a series of shows around the United States which began in 2000. From the Japan Society’s website: "Little Boy -The Arts of Japan's Exploding Subculture explores the culture of postwar Japan through its arts and popular visual media, from the perspective of one of Japan's most celebrated artists. Focusing on the phenomenally influential subcultures of otaku (roughly translated as "pop cult fanaticism") and its relationships to Japan's artistic vanguard, Takashi Murakami explores the historical influences that shape Japanese contemporary art and its distinct graphic idioms. The exhibition's title, Little Boy, refers to the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, clearly locating the birth of these new cultural forms in the trauma and generational aftershock. In Murakami's perspective, a resonant figure for Japan's contemporary condition is that of the little boy --both the nickname for the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and an image of Japan's infantalized culture." The exhibition runs through July 24, 2005. The Japan Society is located at 333 East 47th Street New York, NY 10017, telephone 212.832.1155. For more info, visit www.japansociety.org

We here at the Black Moon took in the first show in the trilogy, Superflat, at the Los Angeles Pacific Design Center in 2000. The show was an interesting and unusual combination of contemporary Japanese pop art, paintings, sculptures, 3-D displays, and wall-size blow-ups of images which reference Japanese manga and anime styles and characters. Ranging from well-crafted models of recognizable anime characters, to large paintings of manga-inspired young women in supernatural settings, to videos created by contemporary anime filmmakers… the show did much to introduce the American museum-going audience to what many underground American otaku were already well familiar with. While we encourage everyone who can make it to New York to see the show… we also have to question what shows like this do to shape the average American’s view of Japan, and contemporary Japanese culture. The title of this current show is intriguing, and we would hope that this time around the curator will put more effort into creating a cultural and historical context for his viewers. (posted by J.)

Monday, April 04, 2005

We are Devo, er… POLYSICS

Unbelievably, the raucous American “new wave” sound is alive and well… in Japan. I’m speaking of POLYSICS , a four piece (two boys-two girls) outfit that looks and sounds remarkably like Devo, from the expressionless faces and robotic body language to the matching jumpsuits. The band plays the same type of quirky, halting techno music that made Devo famous (or infamous, depending on your musical tastes). Front man Hayashi says that Devo’s cover version of Satisfaction (the 60’s hit by the Rolling Stones), changed his life. Hearing Devo’s cover led him to found POLYSICS in 1997, and four albums later the group is still going strong and attracting fans outside of Japan. While modeled after Devo, POLYSICS have taken things a step further. Their adrenalin pumping spastic riffs are a bizarre mix of video game music and electrocuted punk frenzy… it’s abrasive Japanese new wave 21st century style and it’s not for the faint hearted.

The electro-punkers from Tokyo just wrapped up a month long US tour, playing Chicago, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, where they assaulted American audiences with an aggressive and highly energetic dose of techno-pop-punk that left fans screaming for more. The band now finds itself in the UK, where they have entered the recording studio of Andy Gill. For those of you in the don’t know, Gill was a member of Gang of Four, one of the greatest and most influential punk bands from 1980’s England. Gill, who has produced songs for bands like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Stranglers, Killing Joke, and Bis, will be collaborating on producing a few songs with POLYSICS. The Japanese synth-rockers will play one show in London before going to Spain in May to perform at the Primavera Sound Festival in Barcelona along with Gang of Four, Iggy & the Stooges, New Order, Psychic TV, Human League, and Sonic Youth. Just when you thought the days of the slam pit were over these beautiful mutants come from out of the blue to prove Japan a breeding ground for the new underground sound. For more information, visit the band's official website (posted by M.)

Fred Korematsu, American Hero: RIP

Fred Korematsu passed away this past March 30th at the age of 86. Korematsu led a historic fight for the rights of Japanese Americans, and by extension, all Americans. Korematsu was an American citizen by birth, born January 30th, 1919 in Oakland California. When the Japanese imperialists attacked Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, the US government responded by issuing orders for Americans of Japanese ancestry to be rounded up and placed in ten concentration camps located in isolated areas of the US. When President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 in February 1942, whole families that had made the US their home for generations suddenly became "enemy aliens." The US Army interned over 100,000 Japanese Americans from the West coast, relocating the "Japs" to desolate camps surrounded by barbed wire and machine gun guard towers. The vibrant Japanese communities up and down the West coast of the US became ghost towns as businesses, places of worship, and homes were forcefully vacated and boarded up. Fred Korematsu defied the roundups and refused to surrender himself for "relocation". He successfully evaded capture for a time until his arrest and imprisonment in 1942. The day after his arrest a newspaper ran a headline that declared, "Jap Spy Arrested in San Leandro."

Korematsu appealed his case to the US Supreme Court, arguing that it was unconstitutional for the government to incarcerate American citizens without charges, evidence or trial. In a landmark decision, the high court ruled against Korematsu in 1944, stating that the interment was a "military necessity", and that Japanese Americans were prone to disloyalty. However, Justice Jackson offered a stinging dissent, writing "…the Court for all time has validated the principle of racial discrimination…and of transplanting American citizens. The principle then lies about like a loaded weapon ready for the hand of any authority that bring forward a plausible claim of an urgent need." The Korematsu case stood for nearly 40 years until legal researchers discovered secret Justice Department documents. The documents revealed no justification for internment. Memoranda from J. Edgar Hoover of the FBI and also from the Office of Naval Intelligence denied spying or other wrongdoings on the part of Japanese Americans. However, these documents were never presented to the Supreme Court, having been intentionally suppressed or destroyed. Pro bono attorneys successfully reopened the Korematsu case in 1983 based on this governmental misconduct. They succeeded in erasing Korematsu’s "criminal" conviction for having defied internment. During the proceedings the Justice Department offered to pardon Korematsu if he would only drop his lawsuit. He adamantly refused to do so, believing that is was the government that should seek a pardon from him and from all those Japanese Americans who had been denied their constitutional rights.

When throwing out Korematsu’s 40 year old case, Judge Marilyn Hall Patel of the US District Court of the Northern District of California, wrote: "Korematsu remains on the pages of our legal and political history. As a legal precedent it is now recognized as having limited application. As a historical precedent it stands as a constant caution that in times of war or declared military necessity our institutions must be vigilant in protecting our constitutional guarantees. It stands as a caution that in times of distress the shield of military necessity and national security must not be used to protect governmental actions from close scrutiny and accountability. It stands as a caution that in times of international hostility and antagonisms our institutions, legislative, executive and judicial, must be prepared to protect all citizens from the petty fears and prejudices that are so easily aroused." In 1998, "Korematsu received the nation’s highest civilian award, the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He has also been the subject of numerous documentaries including the Emmy-award winning film, Of Civil Wrongs and Rights, co-produced by filmmaker Eric Fournier and Korematsu's son, Ken Korematsu.

His daughter Karen Korematsu-Haigh actively supported Korematsu's interest in civil rights, helping to found the Korematsu Civil Rights Fund sponsored by the Asian Law Caucus, the oldest Asian American public interest law firm in the nation. Other awards include honorary doctorates from the University of San Francisco, California State University-Hayward, McGeorge School of Law, and the City University of New York Law School, and official recognition from the California State Senate. A public memorial service will be held for Fred Korematsu at the First Presbyterian Church, 2619 Broadway in Oakland California on Saturday, April 16, at 1:30 p.m. Let us never forget how Fred Korematsu resisted being stripped of his rights. His eloquent, determined, and passionate struggle to preserve and expand the rights of every American should be an inspiration to us all. Fred Korematsu… live like him! (posted by M.)

Friday, April 01, 2005

Astro Boy - Tetsuwan Atom

Astro Boy
Tetsuwan Atom is known by every Japanese person, and his creator, Tezuka Osamu is revered as the “father of anime and manga”. Tetsuwan Atom was first published as a successful manga in 1951. The manga became the very first to be translated into an anime, a black and white animation that was broadcast on Fuji television from 1960 to 1966. The series was dubbed into English, renamed Astro Boy, and broadcast on American television for the first time on September 7th, 1963. That date was a fortuitous one, being my ninth birthday. I grew up with Astro Boy and Gigantor, another imported Japanese animation to be broadcast in America during the early 60’s. Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Tetsujin 28 (Iron Man 28 in English), was dubbed into English and renamed Gigantor. These two shows had enormous influence upon me and my entire generation, and they marked the beginning of what was to become America’s infatuation with anime.

Tezuka created many masterworks, from his endearing children’s story Jungle Emperor Leo (which Disney based its Lion King upon), to his detective thriller, Black Jack. Tezuka is so highly thought of in Japan that there is even a museum dedicated to him which displays the original drawings and artworks he created throughout his career. Everyone in the world owes it to themselves to become familiar with Japan’s most famous animator, and there’s no better place to start than the official Tezuka Osamu World website. Astro Boy continues to make waves around the world long after his first appearance. In 1982 a new color television series was launched, producing 50 episodes. He was inducted into Carnegie Mellon University’s Robot Hall of Fame in 2004, along with C3P0 and Robby the Robot. Today all around the world Astro Boy can be found on t-shirts, key rings, bags, posters and tons of other merchandise… and the Astro Boy animation is selling stronger than ever. In fact, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment is presently working on a feature length movie that will soon hit the silver screens! Our friends at Sony Pictures recently sent us the following message:

“Blast off with the all-new Astro Boy: The Complete Series DVD collection, a high quality, state-of-the-art update of Tezuka Osamu’s classic animated series that started the anime explosion. Filled with exciting action, humor and drama, Astro Boy tells the story of a young robot boy modeled after the deceased son of a research scientist. Originally intended to be kept a secret, the atomic-powered robot becomes a reluctant superhero ­ complete with devices like laser-firing fingers, uncanny hearing and jet-powered boots ­ all eventually used to fight for justice and peace ­ for humans and robots alike! For the first time on DVD, this collector’s edition contains the entire 50-episode series on five discs, with 29 episodes never-before-aired in the United States. Own Astro Boy: The Complete Series on DVD today. From Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. To learn more about Astro Boy or to purchase your copy, visit www.sonypictures.com/astroboy.”

The staff of the Black Moon knows that many of you are dying to get your hands on this new box set of classic Astro Boy anime… so we’re going to hold a contest! We’re giving away copies of Sony’s Astro Boy DVD box set (worth $50.00), to the first three people who can answer our super-difficult question (aside from that, you must pay for the cost of mailing the prize to you -yeah, we’re cheapskates). So here’s the question:

Which late 1970’s Los Angeles punk band did a cover version of the Gigantor theme song? Think you know the answer? Write to us and see if you win the DVDs!