[This is the first of hopefully many posts written by my good buddy Nate who is living in Tokyo. Nate is a grad student who helped me out on Tokyo Zombie and contributed The Department of Implementing 15 Kinds of Violent Death article to Electric Ant #1!]
Halloween is not a major holiday in Japan. Recently, people here have started trying to half-ass it with pumpkin decorations and a few chintzy costumes, but for the most part, it's not a big deal in Tokyo. This year on Halloween however, people who wanted to experience true thrills and chills hightailed it to the Flying Teapot Cafe in the obscure suburb of Ekoda for an evening of film and fun with the one and only, Kago Shintaro.
The main man himself was in attendance for the event, which was being held to kick off a mini-exhibition of his artwork at the cafe. There was a screening featuring a glut of Kago's live-action DV films, as well as just general fanboy (and about two-ish fangirls) hangouttage. There were about 15 souls in the house total, so it seems like Kago's fan base is bigger abroad than at home.
After a bit of coffee sipping, prog rock listening, and Jan Svankmeier watching to get the audience warmed up, the films hit the screen / cafe wall. Kago started off with a selection of short shorts (1 to 4 minutes each), including predictably Kago-esque (and hilarious) gags like poop coming out of phones, voodoo dolls hidden in birthday cakes, bloody feet in christmas stockings, and girls bashing strangers with baseball bats to the rhythm of an enka beat, among others.
Another fun one had a girl getting her fingernails pulled out, only to have them instantly grow back. The gangster torturing her keeps pulling faster and faster, until it becomes almost Chaplin-like; the story has a happy ending when the girl opens a successful fingernail boutique!
Next were a few longer films: Ekimae Setsudan (駅前切断, Stationfront Cutdown), Ekimae Hanayome (駅前花嫁, Stationfront Bride), and Paranoia Street (パラノイアストリート). it seems like these might be based on older Kago manga - maybe a reader who is a far bigger Kago otaku than I am knows? "Cutdown" featured an executioner for hire who roams about looking for jobs; "Bride" is a (literally) tangled tale of the threads of fate connecting lovers, as well as the severed fingers that result when those threads get rearranged; and Paranoia Street can only be described as Poop Overload (even for Kago!)
The final long film was perhaps the most "atmospheric" / creepy / Halloween appropriate: a girl's friends and relatives keep disappearing, leaving behind only notes saying "they'll be back later." Before she knows it, everyone else starts doing the same thing...and then she stumbles and finds a farewell letter from her left leg... To close, Kago let rip a few digital animation shorts (think cardboard cutouts, not anime) with goodies like car-carsh victim tossing as an Olympic sport and popular uses for post-circumcision foreskins (fried appetizers, hula hoops, Jesus halos...)
Several of the films are available on DVD (probably Japan region coded, unfortunately) through Kago's website.
After the film, there was more general hanging out and browsing the artwork:
If I had 300 bucks to spare, I would have bought this on the spot!
Kago had literally his whole back catalog out to browse (!!!):
Crying yet, fanboys?
He also had all kinds of goods for sale, from new comics to more of his ever popular crazy toys!
This is the "Old Man Sex Set" - it comes with tea and cakes to seduce the geezer, polident for his stinky gums, and most importantly, an L-bracket to hold up his uncooperative wilmo!
Other toys on hand included the "Anti-Nationalism Kit" with a mini-flag and matches, "Corpse-Fucking Set" (don't forget the nose-plugs!), and the ever popular "Curry / Poo Set" to trick your friends into eating your feces! (Also, see this old post for the Bullying Kit! -ryan)
I chatted with Kago a bit afterwards, and he revealed that his answer to the age-old question "Would You Rather eat poo that tastes like curry, or curry that tastes like poo?" is: poo that tastes like curry, which is perhaps unsurprising when one considers his oeuvre.
Did I just refer to the guy that drew these as having an "oeuvre"?!?!
Homeboy also confirmed that he is in fact doing a monthly comic in Vice mag. Perhaps the most shocking sight of the evening, however, was the wedding ring on Kago's finger - You can guess what I was pondering on the way home...
I picked up a couple of small Kago goodies for Same Hat readers as prizes for a future contest (contest TBA, stay tuned! -ryan), and Ryan is working on getting up a gallery link to post some more photos from this and future events in Tokyo. So keep yr eyes tuned to this here computer-box!
–Nate, Same Hat's Man in Japan