Friday, January 06, 2006

Miracle under the Ground; Wonder in the Sky

Miracle under the Ground; Wonder in the Sky

Believe or not, God told me: “I will show miracle under the ground and wonder in the sky.”

And the year end had passed and a new year opened.

In West Virginia, 13 miners were trapped about 80 meters under the ground. Finally and luckily, one man was saved alive. (Yes, one to twelve among 13.)

I found it to be a miracle. How devastating it should have been, without no one being rescued alive.

In Japan, heavy snow has been continuing. In a snow zone usually covered by one-meter thick of snow, they have now a four-meter snow layer.

Japan is located at the east southeast end of Siberia. In winter, cold air is directly blown from frozen Siberia to the Japanese archipelago over the Sea of Japan. Thus much snow in northern half of Japan allowed it to host the Winter Olympic Games twice, at Sapporo in 1972 and Nagano in 1998.

But this unusual heavy snow is causing some casualties in Japan now. This climate is caused by strong high pressure air high on the Indian Ocean to central Asia, which guides cold air on Syberia continually flowing to Japan.

It must be an effect of global warming. But it is also wonder in the era of greenhouse effect, Japan must suffer unusual heavy snow.

The Sate of West Virginia runs a Japanese site on the Internet. The state supported by Senator John D. 'Jay' Rockefeller IV, with many powerful friends in Japan since he studied Japanese at the International Christian University in Tokyo in early 1960’s, has succeeded in inviting some Japanese companies and is still driving the policy.

The tragedy in a mine in West Virginia must touch the heart of some Japanese concerned with the state.

I, though a stranger I am there, wish more miracles, too.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Do You Like Phoenix? Do you Like Metropolis? Do you Like the Music?

Do You Like Phoenix? Do you Like Metropolis? Do you Like the Music?

A new year has come like a phoenix reborn.

Last December, University of Chiba, Japan, discovered that they kept original celluloid pictures of the Disney’s movie “Sleeping Beauty.” The movie was released in Japan 45 years ago. The 250 celluloid pictures with various sizes were at that time transferred to a researcher of the university by the movie company.

With combination of “Phoenix” and “Disney,” many Japanese would come to think of Osamu Tezuka, a Japanese cartoonist and animator as prominent as Charles Monroe Schulz in the U.S..

Osamu Tezuka, as a young man, had learnt various things from Disney’s pictures before, during, and after WWII. Now Japanese animation is highly appreciated over the world. Most of current animation artists in Japan, including Hayao Miyazaki, were highly influenced or trained by Osamu Tezuka. Dr. Osamu Tezuka is still a kind of king in this field.

Till his death in 1989, Osamu Tezuka created almost uncountable works, one of which is “Phoenix” (called “Hi-no-Tori” in Japanese). This full-length-novel-like cartoon is regarded as one of his lifework, though Osamu Tezuka created many other full-length comic strips (called “manga”) on the Buddh, the Bible, etc.

In the summer of 2001, an animation movie titled “Metropolis” was released in Japan. At its climax, the World-Trade-Center-like huge tower building was blown off and collapsed due to an intentional atomic power explosion.

The animation “Metropolis” was released in the U.S. in early 2002.

The movie was based on Osamu Tezuka’s original manga of the same title drawn decades ago which itself had borrowed the title from the Fritz Lang film released in 1927.

Strictly speaking, the movie cannot be regarded as Osamu Tezuka’s work, but is a work of a director, a producer, etc. who each respects Osamu Tezuka.

The heroine of the movie “Metropolis” is a robot, created to imitate a girl. The robot called “Tima” was, by accident, taught human words by a Japanese boy named “Ken-ichi.” However, “Tima” finally tried to destroy the human world using her super capability based on hatred to mankind who abused robots.

The boy “Ken-ichi” tried to stop her trying to rouse love in her mind. But, the high-rise site of the battle between love and hatred was blown off by nucleus explosion triggered by a troubled son of a powerful man who had planned to construct and abuse “Tima” to put the world under his foot. And then, the World-Trade-Center-like huge building collapsed on the screen of a movie theater in the summer of 2001 in Japan.

Nobody then thought that the September 11 attacks would soon happen in New York, another metropolis in question. But, God gave such a predictor.

However, it was not a mega-hit animation in both Japan and the U.S.. Especially, the use of music in the animation was criticized by many. In addition, American audience was dissatisfied with the Japanese scenario and faces on the movie, though they enjoyed its advanced production technology.

Nonetheless, the work is telling that a robot that can hate human beings must be also able to love human beings, though the reverse seems true, too.

The “Metropolis” is not a full-length-novel-like work like the “Phoenix,” but at its climax, the boy had to desperately generate love in a robot’s artificial mind; and finally, even for a moment just before falling down from high to the ground, the robot seemed to generate love inside, though it seemed too late. What was left was “Tima’s” voice on a tape in debris: “I am who?”

Anyway, the value of the work depends on that moment.

Accordingly, some Japanese audience don’t like a still picture displayed at ending in the movie where Ken-ichi and rebuilt Tima looked like together running a robot shop in a corner of the reconstructed metropolis.

Astonishingly, in the U.S. version of this animation movie, they took away this last controversial scene. The robot “Tima” should be lost forever. The miracle of love cannot be proven forever. But, it was after September 11, 2001 attacks that they so judged.

If American audience cannot fully appreciate the “Metropolis,” I don’t think they can understand “Phoenix” and many other valuable works of art created by Japanese. It tells their fatal disadvantage.

Now, coming back to late Osamu Tezuka, his reputation is still high. If there is a Nobel Prize for cartoonists and animators, all the Japanese would recommend him.

But, once in his life, he was faced with a fatal crisis. His production company, famous for TV animation “Astro Boy” (Tetsuwan Atom) in 1960’s, went bankrupt. In the middle of 1970’s, the society changed. His old-time upper-middle-class oriented works seemed out of date. No one seemed to buy his works.

But, his savior appeared. Osamu Tezuka was helped financially and socially by a businessman in Osaka, a metropolis near his home town.

The businessman himself has been highly involved in international humanitarian work and the United Nations. Even an award titled his name was given to Mrs. Thatcher of the U.K. and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. of the U.S. in late 1990’s, respectively.

So, friend, man cannot be reborn like the bird of wonder in his career without help from others or the God, just like the case of the robot.

(But, if you are loved by a robot, what is that to you? Go and find your "Sleeping Beauty!")