Traffic lights at a cross junction in Nishi-Ogikubo, where I cycle past everyday to and fro work. In Tokyo cross junctions allow you to well, cross diagonally (unlike Singapore), which can really be a live saver when one is in a hurry. Speaking of which, the busiest scramble crossing in Tokyo will have to be in Shibuya, made famous by Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation.

Jul 16th 2007

The first book from the Freedom novel series, which cover plot events happening in Freedom dvd 1 and 2. I’ll probably never get around to read it but for those who wish to immerse in a more detailed and elaborate world than the one featured in the anime series it might be an enjoyable trip. I wonder if you can find this in Kinokuniya Singapore ?

Meanwhile at work one of the production staff members was kind enough to check with me regarding the name I would like to see appear in the credits for the US Freedom dvd. For a while I was afraid they might just do a direct translation from my Japanese Kanji pronunciation(黄永豪); spelled “Kou Eigou” – but this is totally unrecognizable to anyone who knows me so I naturally opted for my english name “Vong yonghow.” I just hope they spell it right !

Jul 12th 2007

Sometimes 15 seconds is all it takes.

Months ago while channel surfing I caught a short trailer for an upcoming TV anime series, nothing but a short 15 sec blurb; 3 characters in a chase scene through some mundane Tokyo neighborhood. It was so short I didn’t even manage to catch the title, but the animation was jaw-dropping; unmistakably feature film quality.

Next day at work the animation folks were already talking about the same trailer I saw. It turned out our neighbour from across the street, Madhouse ( the folks who gave you Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika ), has a new work up their sleeves – Denno Coil. (電脳コイル)

(more…)

Jul 7th 2007

I’ve been a big fan of renowned Japanese illustrator Yoko Tanji ever since I saw her work after arriving in Tokyo 3 years ago, so you can imagine how elated I was when she replied an email I wrote to her a few days back. ( considering she must receive fan mail by the hundreds everyday. )

Yoko Tanji

I had learned about her latest works while visiting the blog of her friend Enrico Casarosa, ( an amazing storyboard artist from Pixar with a penchant for Japan, who was super nice to add my blog link on his. ) prompting me to write to her while in a brazen, excited state of fanboy stupor.

In her reply she remarked that she had bought Freedom 1 dvd *Yay!* and had enjoyed watching it, which understandably made this fanboy very, very happy.

Be amazed by her beautiful illustrations at http://www.tanji.jp/

Jul 3rd 2007

Just received this today, Michael Arias’s Tekkon Kinkreet 2 disc limited edition dvd, which I had also watched in Shinjuku a few months back. The limited edition comes in a thick, sturdy cardboard case, with the main feature labelled Kuro ( black ) and the specials on Shiro ( white ). There are also 2 booklets, ‘Director’s Notes’ and ‘Essence Tekkon Kinkreet Making of’. Everything is in Japanese, except a production note that Plaid wrote.

Update 060907- I managed to haggle Ando-san, co-director of Tekkon Kinkreet for an autograph on this dvd. Read more about it here.

Tekkon is a visual powerfest conjured up by the top talents in the industry, and one viewing is simply not enough to fully appreciate the insane amount of detail and beauty created by the art direction team, headed by Kimura Shinji, who also worked his magic in Steamboy. ( Morita-san once lamented that it was a pity Kimura-san was unable to work with us on Freedom )

For those who can’t get enough of the artwork behind Tekkon, these 2 official art of books, Shiro and Kuro (book covers and purchase links below ) are must buys; there’s so much artwork to show, they couldn’t cramp in one book.



I also have a few rare copies of the above books that are autographed by Kimura Shinji ( art director of Tekkon Kinkreet ) for sale, if you are interested please contact me about details. While stocks last.

You can purchase a set of the Tekkon Kinkreet limited edition dvd here.

Jul 1st 2007

Freedom 4 dvd - Bismarck

Cover art for Freedom 4 dvd, to be released on the 27th of July, with Biz finally getting his own cover. My colleagues and I all agree that he looks rather stylish and cool; which is really amusing once you get to see what he’s up to in this episode.

Check out the other released cover art for Freedom 1, 2, 3 and Previsited.

Jun 28th 2007

Takeru from Freedom and Ray from Steamboy greet visitors at the entrance of Sunrise Emotion Animation Studios ( Steamboy Studios ) in Ogikubo, Tokyo. We’ve just moved to this bigger studio last week ( which actually is just a block down the road ), check out this older post.In case you are wondering why that Steamboy cardboard figure look like it was made by a fan, that’s because its really old ( Steamboy took 8 years to complete ), and must have been made during the early stages of production, maybe even before Ray Steam’s character design was finalized.

While most of the the action is happening at the Anime Expo in California with the release of Freedom on HD dvd, back in the studio work goes on for the 6th installment of the television commercial that will go on air later in July, in conjunction with the release Freedom 4. I was just watching the rough cut during the production meeting this afternoon and one of the scenes from the commercial bears resemblence to Utada Hikaru’s Deep River promo clip. Her song “Kiss and Cry” will continue to be used as the theme music.

Jun 26th 2007

Watching 300 on the big screen was a pretty intense experience. ( Yes, I know, Singapore had already screened it during the last ice-age, but in Japan the folks so need their subtitles. ) I don’t think I’ve felt so exhilarated watching a film ever since Ang Lee’s Hulk took to the skies, and that’s a full 4 years ago. I guess Japan makes up for its slow releases by printing really nice Pressbooks ( pictured below ) neat little booklets that feature the film’s synopsis, photographs, etc. As far as I know Japan is the only country that has movie Pressbooks.

While we are on the subject of 300, let’s talk alittle about Gerald Butler ( King Leonidas ). Did you know that he once appeared in 007’s Tomorrow Never Dies ? ( the one with Michelle Yeoh as the Bond Girl ) He was a crew member on a battleship and appears on screen for about one second and had a one liner – blink, scratch your nose, and you’ll miss him. Even the radar he was reading off had longer screen time. Here’s another actor with a similar story; Alfred Molina ( Doc Oct in Spiderman 2 ) in Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. ( made in 1981, when I was two, my goodness ) Remember the early scene when Jones steals the Aztec Gold figurine and his partner makes off with it, only to get impaled on spikes ? Yep, that was Alfred Molina for you.

What’s my point ? Everyones’ gotta start somewhere, I guess. We might be small fries now, but with hard work, perseverence, and a little luck, we might just make it big in whatever we are doing…or not. Still, you enjoyed that little movie trivia…no ?

Jun 23rd 2007

Natsu wa Soumen da ! Sappari shita !

There’s nothing like some refreshing Soumen with Tempura in the sizzling summer heat. Peculiar as it seems summer temperatures in Tokyo can get higher than Singapore, so to keep cool eating Soumen’s a great idea, not to mention tasty.

I remember my first summer in Tokyo 3 years ago, when I was still staying with my good friends Takeshi+kojima. It was a particularly hot day and I had prepared a bowl of steaming kimchi ramen for lunch, something which my two Japanese friends found incredibly amazing. As a person born in the tropics I was certainly up to the task of finishing that bowl of ramen even in summer temperatures, but to the two of them the notion of eating hot noodles in summer was so insane they that stared at me as if I was about to feast on some live centipedes.

I’m in the midst of a much needed one week holiday after the completion of Freedom 4 and am just spending most of my free time doing nothing…and enjoying every minute of it.

Jun 20th 2007

Takeru graces the lid of a Nissin Cup Noodle, illustrated by Sajiki-san. In Japanese it says “Mobile item get campaign”, to spare you a splitting headache from trying to figure out what that means its basically a promotion for a chance to win some Freedom merchandise by accessing Nissin’s website using your mobile phone. I’ve known this to exist for quite a while now but its the first time I’ve actually bought one that came with the contest form attached.

The earlier campaigns featured the Otomo Katsuhiro illustrated Takeru ( the image I have on my sidebar ) which had Freedom fans eating insane volumes of Cup ramen just to collect it.

Meanwhile at work Freedom 4 is finally completed after slogging 18 hours daily on fine-tunes for the past few days. *Minor spoilers ahead* This episode must be the most hilarious so far with Takeru and Bisu’s misadventures on earth. We’ve also spruced up the opening sequence, I can’t show any images as yet but stay tuned for more updates.

Jun 14th 2007

Hey folks. I am currently in the process of porting Halcyon Realms from Blogger to my new WordPress server. As you may have noticed Halcyon Realms now sits comfortably on the domain of the same name so I hope things feel more integrated.

Besides a change in the blog layout design I have taken the opportunity to implement some new features like the top navigation toolbar for easier access to archives and other information. I’m still optimizing navigation and adding stuff but most of the links should be in place. Please drop me a comment and let me know what you think about the new look and design.

ps: My old blog hosted at Blogger will remain intact for redirecting purposes but all new posts will be made here.

Jun 6th 2007

There’s good reason for a little elation today as lighting for Freedom episode 4 is finally completed, a total of about 350 shots spread between me and my chief Matsui-san, averaging about 10 cuts per day. Its a big relief there were no Crab Robos ( folks who have been following the series should know these critters, nasty buggers not only in Eden but to us too, for they consist of so many individual moving parts our workstations slow down to a crawl whenever there is one in the scene; imagine having to light a dozen. ) this time round or we would have been dragging polygons through molasses again.

Over dinner with 2 of my colleagues at Sukiya banter turned to the topic of life after Freedom – where each of us are heading or are planning to do and Matsui-san expressed his interest in games design.

“Square Enix huh ?”, I suggested, the obvious top candidate to mention.

“Jyoudanjyane ?( which roughly translates as “Are you kidding me ?” ) Advent Children was neat, but what if I get assigned to the fluid simluation detail ? I’ll drown before the first week is up.” and we had a good laugh.

If I may be allowed to explain his derangement, Matsui-san was just voicing his innate fear of pigeonhole specialization in Square Enix, or actually any other major effects company for that matter, where you can be assigned to a specific task, say, the effect of a drop of water landing on concrete; and drone on that task for eons. The bigger the company, the higher the risk. For the dauntless however, Square runs recruitment ads in CG World every month.

Jun 5th 2007
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