Little gold statues: The Tale of the Princess Kaguya has received a nomination for Best Animated Feature. No films from Japan this year, animated or otherwise, were nommed for Best Foreign Film.
Speaking of Ghibli: GKIDS has picked up When Marnie Was There for U.S. distribution. I suspected Marnie and Kaguya were better fits for the upper-brow audience that GKIDS has typically sought out. Disney tends to take the more mainstream/crowd-pleaser projects, which made me all the more surprised that they're reissuing Pom Poko in February.
Aeria gloris: Origa, the Russian-born singer who resided in Japan and lent her voice to, among many other things, the Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex soundtrack, has died at the age of 44 of lung cancer. Many of her albums are available on Amazon as MP3 downloads; aside from the GITS:SAC soundtracks (which are unimpeachably excellent), they're well worth a listen. Gather those rosebuds; you know not the day nor the hour.
Snake eats own head: Artist Takashi Murakami, famed (or infamous) for his free-floating references to Japanese popular culture in his work, has now had an anime created from said work, Six Hearts Princess. We'll see if it ends up being just another product, or has some je ne sais quois to it that makes it stand out.
Teacher banzai: The utterly hilarious Great Teacher Onizuka is now on Crunchyroll. A DVD reissue came out the other year, but this is a great way for those of you on a budget to experience its nutty magnificence.
Samurai champloo: Also, the tongue-firmly-in-cheek samurai farce Tsukikage Ran has hit Hulu. An underappreciated show, currently out of print. Subtitled version is preferred.
Ghost in the husk: Yet more backlash over the live-action Ghost in the Shell project. They're going to have to spin this one hard to make it palatable to anyone who knows anything at all about the project.
How soft is soft? An intriguing essay on the limits, and reach, of Japanese "soft power", especially by way of its popular culture. Perhaps the best soft power is the kind that awakens everyone generally, rather than the kind that propagandizes for something specifically.
From the outside: Nice discussion with manga editor and proofreader Lauren Scanlan. where she talks about what she does apart from her day job.