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Archive for the ‘Toys’ Category

Kozo’s Mailbag: Who is Yotsuba?

LoveHKFilm.com reader Petra asked this question a couple of months ago after the first installment of Kozo & Yotsuba in Italy - which, by the way, has yet to see a second installment because I got too busy with work and lots of review writing. And when those things finally dried up, we had this monstrosity descend upon Hong Kong:

Kozo and Tony
Some random individual gawks at
Tony “Tiger Face” Leung from Red Cliff

Petra’s question was, “Who is Yotsuba?”

While not an Asian film-related question, it happens to be a very appropriate one, because I featured numerous pictures of Yotsuba in that earlier blog entry. Doing so was wrong of me, because I incorrectly assumed that anyone who dropped by this blog either A) knows who Yotsuba is, or B) won’t care one way or another. As this is Damn You, Kozo! and not something anyone would confuse with a quality blog, I figured I would be safe without the explanation.

Well, I was wrong. And even though a simple search can lead you to Yotsuba’s Wikipedia page, I thought I’d explain it here.

Yotsuba Banner
Yay, Yotsuba!

Yotsuba is the name of a mischievous little girl created by Kiyohiko Azuma, the manga creator and all-around genius who also created a fun little gag manga called Azumanga Daioh. Yotsuba stars in the manga Yotsubato!, which basically translates as “Yotsuba &!”, with the ampersand connecting his main character to any number of things, including firecrackers, presents, global warming, flowers, and other things that may pop up in everyday life.

What makes Yotsuba interesting and fun is simply her interaction with everyday things, and the surprising honesty, impetuousness, and rampant misunderstanding that a child may display when dealing with things like school projects, ice cream, strangers, the supermarket, next-door neighbors, and trips to the beach. Yotsuba also has a bizarre green hairdo that represents a four-leaf clover. In Japanese, “Yotusba” means four-leaf clover. There’s your language lesson for the day.

Yotsuba and Cats
Yotsuba and Cats

The manga’s motto is “Enjoy Everything”, which explains it far better than I ever could. Both Yotsuba and the stars of Azumanga Daioh have made appearances on LoveHKFilm.com before, namely as featured images on the old Life with Kozo pages. I dumped them there because I enjoy both immensely; both share the same whimsical and frequently unexpected sense of humor, and both are free of fan service, violence, or any of the extreme subjects sometimes associated with Japanese manga and animation.

Please remember, not everyone who likes Japanese animation is a pervert. I include myself in that category, though I have been referred to as a pervert on the Internet before. Fitting enough, it was a comment made on some Ekin Cheng forum somewhere.

The gun is sold separately:

Yotusba with weapon
“This is for all those Ekin fans! Die, Kozo!”

Anyway, Petra also asked where she can get her own Yotsuba action figure. A Yotsuba Revoltech Action Figure can be purchased from YesAsia.com or any number of online retailers, though there’s not that much Yotsuba schwag currently available. There is, however, a very nice calendar that combines photography with color illustrations of Yotsuba, placing Kiyohiko’s fictional mischief maker into a real-life context that perfectly summarizes her adventures and appeal.

Yotsuba Calendar
Unfortunately, it’s sold out

Yotsuba isn’t about wacky hijinks or over-the-top strangeness; it’s a simple manga that’s fun, familiar and even comforting, and there’s lots to enjoy in the character’s minor adventures. I said as much to Petra in my earlier email, and soon she got her own Yotsuba action figure, and even picked up a few issues of the manga.

She sent me a picture, too:

Yotsuba!
“I’m everywhere!”

This picture proves that this blog can make a small difference. At the very least, it’s probably done more than the actual LoveHKFilm website has recently. The next goal of Damn You, Kozo: persuading everyone that Hong Kong film is not dead. The first person I’ll try to convince is myself.

Anyway, I hope everyone who reads this becomes a fan of Yotsuba, too.

Yotsuba 2
“See you next time!”

Kozo & Yotsuba in Italy: Part 1

I figured I had to get this thing started sooner or later. I’ve neglected to write about so many things that this blog will soon turn into some sort of 20/20 hindsight memoir. I still haven’t blogged about the Aaron Kwok concert experience - and that was like 4 months ago.

Aaron again
“What, you still haven’t blogged about me?
But I’m just so bloggable!”

You sure are.

Anyway, since I’m now 10 reviews into the 24 movie backlog I’ve amassed - with absolutely no guarantee that I will actually be able to review all 24 films - I figured I should get started with the blogging too. It’s not like I have to get my whole trip out in just one post. Worst case scenario is I only get one part done and I forget the rest. It wouldn’t be the dumbest thing I’ve ever done online. The dumbest thing? Probably admit that I enjoy Seven Swords.

Tsui Hark lives
“Thanks! You may be the only person in
Hong Kong who still thinks I can direct!”

Anyway, on to the trip.

I think Hong Kong people primarily take pictures of two things: toys and food. Not to be outdone, I did exactly the same during my trip to Italy. I also took pictures of people and buildings, but I consider that a moot point because we all take pictures of people and buildings. I just didn’t take any photos of myself.

Regardless, this is a rare photo without food or Yotsuba in it.

First night in Udine
In Italy, the cars are small

Not too long ago, I managed to journey to Italy for the Udine Far East Film Festival. This photo-essay is pretty much all I brought back, besides a copy of the 10th Anniversary Book and the Festival Catalogue, which features more information about Asian films than I could ever pretend that I know. And I can pretend that I know a lot.

Before I left for Italy, Yotsuba sat on my office desk with a couple of her friends:

Yotsuba in Office
Having a plush CJ7 may somehow be more
satisfying than owning the DVD

After we got to Italy, this is what she looked like:

Yotsuba in Venice 2
“This canal behind me smells great!”

Yotsuba is a fine toy to bring on trips. Not only is she small and poseable, but she’s got an interchangeable head so you can pretend that she’s experiencing mood swings. It’s like bringing another person along, except this one doesn’t speak or hit you up for money.

Oh, yeah, I went to a film festival. From the outside it looked like this:

Far East Film
Nobody in this photo enjoyed Empress and the Warriors

The fest is located in Udine, a small city about a two-hour train ride from Venice. My photos of Udine are like the one four photos up: empty and quiet. Udine is a peaceful place, and much nicer to walk around in than, say Venice. Just compare these photos:

Udine
Udine

Venice
Venice

Big difference, eh? I’m not a crowd person, so yes, I much prefer Udine to Venice. So does Yotsuba. When faced with crowds, she gets murderously angry. This is Yotsuba with her unhappy face:

I will shoot someone
Someone must pay

I went to Venice on the film festival’s Horror Day, so I ended up skipping a whole day of blood and screaming and exchanged them for wall-to-wall tourists and overpriced gelato. One could argue it was exactly the same experience, only with more walking.

Anyway, since I was on vacation, I had gelato at 12:16 pm.

Gelato at noon
My crappy Swatch is proof of my poor eating habits

I had some nice food in Italy, too - like this insanely huge calzone that ended up counting as 2.5 meals.

Mmmm, calzone
I ate this in three bites

Of course when you’re on vacation you have to eat well. I was lucky and got to attend many nice dinners with insane spreads that tripled my calorie count. Like this one:

Wow…that’s a lot of food
The reason for my current two-month period of fasting

If I were to rate my trip on the food experience alone, I’d probably give it an A-minus. I won’t give it a solid A because I never give anything a solid A. The film reviews I write are proof of that.

No trip to Italy would be complete without a shot of a gondola in a canal:

Required photo of Venice canal
Rush hour!

A picture of a dog chained to a wall is required, too:

Dog in Italy
The black terror of Venice

In the interests of equal time, here’s a cat:

Cat!
He’s relaxed because the dog is chained up

I also took a picture of one of these:

Vespa!
Vespa!

Plus another one of food:

Green Risotto
To clarify possible confusion, I should note
that this picture was taken BEFORE eating.

By the way, the above picture is of wild herb risotto, and it was excellent - though a quick glance may make someone think ”partial digestion”. I shan’t elaborate. 

That pretty much wraps up Part One of my Italy trip. Part two will probably talk more about movies and my general impression of the Udine Far East Film Fest. Here’s a spoiler: I enjoyed myself. Unfortunately, none of the enjoyment mentioned in this post has anything to do with Asian film, meaning I’ve broken the #1 rule of LoveHKFilm.com Blogs: stay on topic. The #2 rule is try to blog at least once a week. Looks like I’ve broken that rule, too.

Let’s leave with this photo:

Lam Suet and some other guy
Me and some guy I met at the airport

I hear he had a good time in Italy too.

Back for more

Hey, I went to Italy. Yotsuba went too.

 Yotsuba in Venice
I took more pictures of this toy than I did of myself.

Back from the Far East Film Festival, and already my calendar is jam-packed. Aside from a pile of stuff at work,  some social obligations, many loads of laundry, and the potential time-sink of Grand Theft Auto 4, I now have a review backlog totaling 20 MOVIES. That’s 20 films that I could potentially write about, starting with the HK independent movie The Way We Are all the way through Johnnie To’s Sparrow. In between are movies from Japan, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, and even more Hong Kong. I better get started writing. Right now.

Sadly, I’ll likely write about only 10 of the 20 movies, and leave the others to never, as I’m not sure what my memory capacity is. I didn’t take many notes, and am relying mostly on festival catalogs to refresh my memory. If I find that my impressions of any of the films have faded too far, I’ll have to throw those to the wind. Hopefully Sparrow won’t be one of them.

Johnnie To
“LoveHKFilm.com can’t remember my movie?
Yay! That’s one less negative review!”

In any case, this is the other stuff I will do over the next two weeks.

- See Happy Funeral, Barbara Wong’s sequel to Truth or Dare: 6th Floor Rear Flat
- See My Wife is a Gambling Maestro, the new Wong Jing-Nick Cheung epic
- Skip The Forbidden Kingdom, because it’s leaving Hong Kong in a hurry and I know it’ll be on video damn quick. With English subtitles.
- See Besieged City, the Lawrence Lau-directed film that I missed at HKIFF because I was sick.
- Get a haircut.
- Go on a diet to shed some of the 50 pounds of cheese and ham I ingested in Italy.
- Look at the possibility of two more LoveHKFilm Blogs.
- Get coffee with a friend who I put off getting coffee with for over one month.
- Solve one of those pesky content sharing deals I seem to get roped into all the time
- Arrange for the LoveHKFilm Awards Jury Dinner. Hot pot is a possibility.
- Sleep. Maybe.
- Write a review and update this blog.

I may publish a few photos from my trip to Italy, though I must warn people that they’re not very Asian-film related. At the very least, I took this one:

Big Shu Qi ad
Man, those are some huge lips.

 
 
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