Standing Ovation for YMO in London

Yellow Magic OrchestraJapan’s techno pioneers Yellow Magic Orchestra performed in London yesterday. The show at the Royal Festival Hall was their first in the U.K. in 28 years. The long-awaited return was the idea of popular local band Massive Attack. Hosono Haruomi (60), Takahashi Yukihiro (56) and Sakamoto Ryuichi (56) received a standing ovation from the 3,000-strong audience, which was about 20% Japanese. Among them was the London-based video director Takashiro Tsuyoshi (43), though there was no sign of his girlfriend, actress Sawajiri Erika (22). YMO played their first ever overseas gig in Los Angeles, but London was where they started their first world tour in October 1979. They were better received in Europe than at home, and are often grouped with German techno band Kraftwerk. Recently they have been active again in Japan, using the name HASYMO, though they used their original moniker for the London show. They performed 18 songs, including the 2007 reworking of classic track “Rydeen” and their latest tune “Tokyo Town Pages.”

• A Japanese animated short has won the top award at the recently finished Annecy International Animated Film Festival in France. The Annecy Cristal went to “Tsumiki no Ie” (House of Blocks) directed by Kato Kunio (31). It tells the story of an old widower who lives in a house of blocks and reflects on memories of his life and family. The 12-minute film also won the Junior Jury Award award in the short film category. Yamamura Koji, whose quirky “Atamayama” (Mountain Head) won in 2003, was the only previous Japanese winner. The Annecy festival is referred to as the “Cannes of Animation.”