Click on the ART tab above — I’ve got some new art. It’s a slideshow of animation cels for a cartoon I’m starting to work on about surreal events in a gelato/tea shop run by my friend, the master gelatier Leo Bulgarini, who makes, by the accounts of many, even those who’ve spent a lot of time in Italy exploring, The Best Gelato in the World.
Doing my best to stay creative. Gotta keep writing and drawing.
“Yokai” is a collective term for Japanese monsters and ghosts. I seem to remember “kai” meaning something like “mystery.” Kaiju, like Godzilla and Gamera, could even be included among yokai.
I’ve been reading Lafcadio Hearn’s Japanese ghost stories, watching a lot of J-horror and the old Yokai Monster films, reading up on the scrolls, and last night I watched Takeshi Miike’s recent “Great Yokai War” for the third and fourth time.
The first Yokai Monster movie, “Spook Warfare” (1968), is the best of the original three. In what other movie would a character be locked in a clay jar because it has a prayer tag on the lid, and shout from inside, “You suck, Buddha!” The J-horror films aren’t bad. They draw from traditional Japanese ghost folklore, particularly the idea that if one makes a vengeful wish at the moment of death, one can return as a ghost and exact that revenge. The vengeful dead feature in the big J-horror masterpieces, The Grudge, The Ring, and Black Water.
All that background is great preparation for the best yokai movie yet made, the above-mentioned “Great Yokai War.” It was intended as a kid’s movie. I don’t think it’s any more traumatizing than “The Wizard of Oz”, but that was pretty damn scary in its own right.
Today I’ve been looking over some books of yokai sub-categories. It’s remarkable that a culture prizing rigid order and spare aesthetics could have produced such a clutter of mixed-up monstrosities. Messiness has to have an outlet in a society where tidiness is the ideal, I suppose.