Daily Archives: October 26, 2009

Don’t Be Cruel!

Beckii Cruel

The latest focus of Japanese otaku types is a 14-year-old English girl who calls herself Beckii Cruel. The Isle of Man native has developed a growing fan base from the videos that she started posting on YouTube in March. Most of them feature her dancing in her bedroom to J-Pop and anime tunes. Media hype here has compared her to another recent import, Leah Dizon (though their looks and otaku appeal are about the only similarity), and her videos on the local NicoNico Douga site have been viewed over 3 million times. She recently performed at the Enta Matsuri in Tokyo’s otaku mecca of Akihabara (photo), with some 600 fans turning up to show their support. Not one to miss out on a commercial opportunity, a DVD (“This is Beckii Cruel”) is due for release on December 19th. Judge for yourself: Beckii Cruel’s YouTube channel.

• There were no major new revelations today at the trial of former top idol singer Sakai Noriko (38). The huge media and public interest in the case was clear from the long lines of people waiting in the rain to get one of the 20 public gallery seats at the Tokyo District Court. The number was reported as 6,615, making it the second highest ever, after the almost 12,300 who tried to see the trial of Aum Shinrikyo cult leader Matsumoto Chizuo in 1996. Sakai admitted to all the charges against her – possession and use of amphetamines – and said she had been using the drugs once or twice a month for the last four years. She said she thought she and her husband, Takaso Yuichi (41), would probably have a better chance of rehabilitation if they divorce. Takaso was tried last week on the same charges, and they have a 10-year-old son. Asked about how she planned to return to society, Sakai said she hoped to study nursing. Prosecutors are seeking an 18-month prison sentence. The verdict will be handed down on November 9.

Bulgarian Movie Takes Top TIFF Prize

TIFF, Eastern Plays, Kamen Kalev

The Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF) came to a close on Sunday with the big winner being “Eastern Plays.” A Bulgarian film directed by Kamen Kalev (photo center), it tells the story of two brothers dealing with racial intolerance in Eastern Europe. The movie won the Sakura Grand Prix award as well as Best Actor for Christo Cristov. Jury president Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu (director of “Babel”) commented, “I was looking for films that generated emotions and reflections in me and ‘Eastern Plays’ did this,” he said. “This film has a truth that stands out – it has clear intentions and the director achieved that until the end. I’m not looking for reality but truthfulness. The film has a solid and strong exposure of the truth.” Other winners included Julie Gayet, who won Best Actress for the French drama “Eight Times Up”; Sebastián Cordero, who took the Special Jury Prize for the Spanish romance “Rabia.” Jacob Tierney was given the Audience Award for the Canadian comedy “The Trotsky.” The Japanese Eyes: Best Picture Award went to director Matsue Tetsuaki, who shot his film “Live Tape” in the western Tokyo suburb of Kichijoji.

• All media eyes will be on the Tokyo District Court today for the trial of former top idol singer Sakai Noriko (38). All the networks are planning to provide live coverage from outside the court. Charged with possession and use of amphetamines, the focus of the case is expected to be on just how heavy a user Sakai was. Her husband, Takaso Yuichi (41), had a one-day trial on the same charges last week and will receive his verdict next month.

Earlier stories:

Sakai Noriko Out, Gives Brief Press Conference (Sep. 18, 2009)

Police Issue Arrest Warrant for Noripi (Aug. 7, 2009)