*** NO SPOILERS IN THIS ARTICLE ***

The 2016 Japanese animated film “君の名は” (Kimi No Na Wa) or “Your Name” has topped the renowned Japanese director Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away” as the world’s highest grossing film of all time with a total of $353,754,471 as of April 26, 2017.

Critically acclaimed, “Your Name” has a 98% Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes and has been released in select theaters in the United States since April 7 this year.

With a high audience approval rate and positive critical reception, the director of the animated feature, Makoto Shinkai, has been praised and even dubbed as the “New Miyazaki” of his generation of filmmakers.

“Your Name” is story about a countryside girl Mitsuha, who helps run the family shrine, meeting an ordinary Tokyo boy Taki, who aspires to be an architect, through a series of mysterious but purposeful body swapping in their dreams.

Like Studio Ghibli, Shinkai and his team uses the traditional animation method. In other words, each frame of the film is hand drawn.

Both Shinkai and Miyazaki excel at eliciting emotions from their audiences and pay meticulous attention to details — all Miyazaki characters have their own habits and unique quirks, and Shinkai’s backgrounds are breathtaking with an emphasis on the usage of light.

However, Shinkai himself, in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, said that “I don’t [think] there is anyone who can make films like him [Miyazaki].”

Stylistically, the two have different approaches to a film. Miyazaki’s works tend to have a focus on a character’s journey, and he does not have the story finished and ready when the production starts.

Shinkai on the other hand would have a very complete story board and even voice over the characters himself. In the case of “Your Name,” Shinkai had been writing the screenplay since spring of 2014.

Another fundamental difference is that Shinkai and Miyazaki have different target audiences and messages.

Miyazaki’s world is usually fantastical and imagined while many of Shinkai’s stories and settings tend to be based on the real world.

In the same interview Shinkai explained: “There is… the factor of eras: When he [Miyazaki] began making anime, it was during the time of rapid economic growth in Japan, and I think he felt his films had the power to change the world.”

Meanwhile, Shinkai said his inspirations are primarily from his own life experiences, environments, and, in particular, his own adolescence, saying that he “can’t draw anything with a sense of reality if it doesn’t come from a place I’m connected to with my own two feet…”

For the last decade, Shinkai’s works have been gradually recognized overseas, however, Western media has dubbed him “the new Miyazaki” or “Japan’s next-generation anime creator.” Shinkai thinks “that’s mostly because people in other countries think of Japanese animation as being just Miyazakisan and then everybody else.”

Although central themes in “Your Name” overlap with those of Miyazaki films, they are presented in a different perspective.

While both directors can effectively appeal to audience’s emotions, they achieve this differently.  

Makoto Shinkai is not the “Next Miyazaki.” It is important to not lump any successful non-Western creators in the same pile simply because of their predecessors’ similar success or ethnicity, but to rather acknowledge every creator’s work as an individual message to its audience.

There is a short phrase we find difficult, if not impossible, to say to our parents.

“I love you.”

They don’t say it. We don’t say it. Or, so I thought.  

With Mother’s Day around the corner, I wanted to delve further into this phrase, especially in relation to our mothers. Why don’t we say it? Or, do we say it often? Should we even have to say it? I walked around UCLA and asked some of my peers what their thoughts were.

Pacific Ties: Has your mom said “I love you” to you before?
Josephine Gao: Yes, my mom has … every time before I fly to UCLA. It makes me feel very happy and loved. It is very comforting to hear, especially if she says it when I am stressed or upset.
Raymond Huynh: No, but she makes food for me which is all the love I need.
Sujan Kim: My mom tells me she loves me all the time – whenever we hang up on the phone, whenever we’re hanging out, all the time.

PT: How does your mom express her love for you?
Frank Deng: She tells me. She worries about every little thing for me.
Pauline Tze: Basically, my mom worries at least twice as much about the things I’m worried about even after I stop being worried about them, and she nags me about things I haven’t been worrying about as well. I just pick up her calls even if I’m in the middle of studying and bear through all her nagging.

PT: Do you say “I love you” to your mom? How does she respond?
Linda Yee: Yes! She says I love you back or kisses me.
JG: Yes, I tell my mom that I love her before I end phone conversations with her. She usually replies that she loves me too.
RH: Yes (laughs). She just laughs.
SJ: I tell her I love her as often as I can. She always reciprocates the mushiness.

PT: How do you express your love for your mom?
LY: I like to think that I express my love for my mom through my actions. I’ll go up and hug her, or I’ll try to help her with whatever she’s doing.
JG: Honestly, I don’t think I adequately express my love for my mom, even though I love her a lot and am very grateful for everything she has done for me. (But) when I come home, I help my mom with chores like cooking dinner, washing dishes and folding laundry. I bring her hot tea, and we spend quality time together, watching TV shows that she likes.
SJ: I call her often and send her funny pictures of my daily life while she does the same. It’s like I never left home.

After my interviews, I learned the phrase didn’t matter too much. Whether our mothers say “I love you” or express it through actions, their love comes in hidden and various forms that don’t require words at all. The three words are just three words.

So, this Mother’s Day and the days after, let’s not forget the spoken or unspoken love our mothers have for us. Let’s remind them of our appreciation and reciprocation through words or actions; either works! I know Sunday I’ll be giving my mom a call saying “I love you.”

 

The 2017 Taiwanese Culture Night (TCN), “歲月靜好,” or its English title “Tangled in Times,” took place  at the UCLA’s Ralph Freud Playhouse last Saturday.

A moving performance about two pairs of lovers struggling to embrace love, this year’s TCN not only showcased Taiwanese history, culture, and food, but also intended to send a universal message to audiences of different backgrounds: to follow your heart and be brave in love.

Prior to the showing, Nhi Vo, a first-year biology student, and Cindy Tran, a fourth-year psychobiology student, expressed how they were looking forward to the show and seeing their friends perform. Vo said, “We’re curious. We performed for Vietnamese Culture Night and want to see what [TCN is] like.”

Another student, Young Joon Dakota Im, a third-year cognitive science student, said that he was looking forward to the musical performances of Taukappella.

TCN’s performance began by introducing a couple, Shi Jing Deng (Charles Teng) and Ling Shang Yang (Sandy Yang), who are young adults in the beginning of World War II.

After the war, the couple appears in Taiwan and, while they are in love and engaged, Mr. Deng, who suffered a debilitating injury in his leg, decides to leave Ling Shang because he did not wish to become a burden.

Fast forward to modern times, the audience is introduced to Zhe Xiang (Stanley Hsu), an interior decoration designer who has had a crush on and later confesses to Pin Ru (Marian Sheen), a doctor who graduated from a prestigious medical school as valedictorian.

However, Pin Ru is later diagnosed with stage III cancer and she cannot accept Zhe Xiang’s feelings because she feels that it would be unfair for him to be in a relationship with a girl who may not have a future.

Mr. Deng, who is actually one of Pin Ru’s patients, visits and tells her his story about leaving Ling Shang — how he regretted it and is trying to find her. Upon hearing this, Pin Ru decides to be more positive and face her mutual feelings for Zhe Xiang, who she then begins dating.

Later, Zhe Xiang finds out that Mr. Deng is the man who his adoptive grandma, Ling Shang, had been waiting for. Ling Shang even named her restaurant after Mr. Deng, hoping that if he ever passed by the shop, he would notice and have a change of heart.

Unfortunately, Pin Ru passed away, but she told Zhe Xiang that she was content and left him her savings so that Zhe Xiang, who had quit his job by then, could help his grandma remodel and bring new life to the restaurant.

At the finale, the restaurant gets remodeled as well as renamed in memory of Pin Ru. Zhe Xiang also re-introduces Mr. Deng to Ling Shang, who at last meet again.

Ling Shang and Mr. Deng reunited.

TCN’s wonderful performance concluded with the audience’s loud applause, laughter, and tears.

TCN Curtain Call

In hopes of better understanding the material, Pacific Ties interviewed TCN directors Darren Ho and Chiao Wen Lan after the show:

  1. The opening scene is set in 1945, Tian Jin, and the newspaper boy mentioned  a Japanese attack in 卢沟桥 (Lu Gou Qiao). However, Lu Gou Qiao is known as the site for the office beginning of the Japanese invasion of China in July 7, 1937. In addition, the year 1945 is when the Japanese officially surrendered. Therefore, I was wondering which historical event(s) the opening scene is actually alluding to and why was this setting chosen in particular?

We made a mistake in our first slide with the timeline. The opening scene was set in 1937 instead of 1945, as you pointed out. We chose Lu Gou Qiao Incident because it opened the prelude of WWII in Asia, and it conveyed critical information as we tried to portray the time in which our grandparents lived in.

  1. The title of this year’s Taiwanese Culture Night in Chinese, “歲月靜好,”  has a different meaning and connotation than the English title “Tangled in Times.” Why? Is there a reason for this difference?

“歲月靜好” comes from the words written by 胡蘭成 (Lanchen Hu) for his wedding with writer 張愛玲 (Eileen Chang) in 1944: “胡蘭成張愛玲簽訂終身,結為夫婦,願使歲月靜好,現世安穩.” The term “歲月靜好” means the hope of a peaceful life in the future, which has both a personal and political implication during the war in 1944. We believe that the stories of people and places are the result of tangled web of interaction between people, places, and time. The English title of the play, “Tangled in Times,” was chosen based on the storyline as we followed the stories of two pairs of star-crossed lovers across generations as they thrived to find happiness.

  1. What is the central message or theme that you hoped address in the Taiwanese community through the performance?

The message that we’re trying to get across applies not only to the Taiwanese community, but also every other ethnic group: to have the confidence to be who you truly are, to have the courage to truly love and be loved, and to cherish your loved ones around you.

  1. What were some of your favorite moments when making the production?

There were so many fond memories of making this year’s production… seeing the story came to life with dedicated actors and actresses, and bonding with a very talented team that is just like a family. Live theater gives us a chance to really appreciate what is happening right there in front of us. I love how audience came together to laugh and perhaps tear up as the live performance brought everyone within the story.

Despite UCLA’s Principles of Community proclaiming that diversity is essential for the university’s excellence, it is hard to ignore the informal separation experienced by international students. Not only are international students likely to have social circles that are predominantly foreign, but these circles also tend to be limited to one’s ethnic or national group. This phenomenon is especially prevalent among students from Asia who often feel self-conscious of assimilating due to language concerns and are stereotyped as sticking to their own.

As recent politics points towards a more nationalistic bent in foreign policy, international students may experience further alienation. This is more than a feeling; the numbers reflect these concerns. Despite the ever-rising number of applicants to U.S colleges, this last admissions cycle was marked by a significant shrinkage in one demographic pool: international students.

According to a survey of 250 American universities conducted by the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers and four other educational organizations, 39% of colleges experienced an overall decrease in the number of international applications at both undergraduate and graduate levels.

At UCLA, the outlook is more optimistic. International applications to UCLA have increased by 1.8%. Although the exact number of applicants is not publicly available, when compared to data from the 2015-2016 application cycle, this estimates to 17,697 applicants: an increase of approximately 300 students.

However, this growth pales in comparison to previous years. Within the last decade, the average rate of increase in international applications was 24.8% per year. Although application rates have slowed in recent years, decreasing to 6.5% in the 2015-2016 application cycle, a growth of 1.8% is unprecedentedly low.

Data was obtained through UCLA Admissions website and compiled by the author into this graph.

Correlating with this trend is increasing immigration restrictions issued by the U.S government, notably the two executive orders issued in January and March of this year. The executive orders issued by President Trump banned U.S entry of citizens of six Muslim-majority countries from the Middle East. In line with AACRAO’s survey data, 39% of participating schools reported a decrease in undergraduate applications.

Despite the Middle East being the only region affected by legalized travel restrictions, the survey also reports a decrease in applicants from Asia. Undergraduate applications from India and China have fallen at 26% and 25% of colleges, respectively. At the graduate level, 15% of universities report a decline in Indian applicants and 32% for Chinese applicants.

South and East Asia have been a long-acknowledged hotspot for recruiters. Indian and Chinese students constitute nearly half of students on F-1 visas in the U.S. The three most populous undergraduate foreign student groups at UCLA come from mainland China, Korea, and India, constituting around 77% of the international student population and 9.1% of the total undergraduate population.

Data was obtained through public data available at the University of California website and compiled by the author into this graph.

It is uncertain whether the political climate is responsible for less international interest. Rising cost of college tuition, as well as the expenses of living abroad, could be a potential factor. The 2015-2016 application cycle also showed significantly less growth compared to years prior. Foreign policy’s true impact on international student application rates can be properly assessed in the successive years of the Trump administration.

Whatever the numbers may be, the atmosphere of concern among international students is palpable. First-year cognitive science major Dorothy Duan remarks that “some people in China are afraid that there will be restrictions on entering into America” and that there is already a sense of greater rigidity upon airport entry. She notes that when the travel ban came out, there was heated talk on Chinese news and online media on how the new law could affect Chinese visitors to the United States.

Duan, who is originally from Tianjin, came to UCLA for a new life experience. Despite this, she finds that international students tend to cluster into their own ethnic communities. When asked about how UCLA has responded to the travel ban, she believes that “there is no effective or strong communication between students from different countries” and hopes that campus organizations catered towards international students, such as the Dashew Center, can bridge this gap.

Issues of xenophobia and immigration affect all international students, regardless of whether a specific region is targeted.The international student population is beginning to recognize their varied, but fundamentally similar concerns as potential common ground for collaborative resistance with the Muslim community. Whether this potential comes to fruition remains to be seen.

 

Hui O’Imiloa (Hawai’i Club) at UCLA has been hosting an annual lu’au for the past 31 years, and this year is no exception. By showcasing contemporary and traditional hula, the Hawai’i club brings the Hawaii experience to Ackerman Grand Ballroom. In addition to traditional Hawaiian dance, this year will also feature Tahitian, and Maori (New Zealand) dances.

In Polynesian culture, a lu’au is historically an important feast marking a special occasion. The word “luau,” in Hawaiian, is the name of the taro leaf, which is typically cooked like spinach. Now, people still have luaus to come together to eat, sing, and dance.

Hui O’Imiloa means a group of adventurers or explorers, something the club members have embodied as they explore Hawaiian culture. Many do not have direct ties to Hawai’i or the Polynesian culture but still are welcome in this space. Fourth year, Angela Nguyen has been in Hawai’i club since she was a freshman because she wanted to find a space on campus that would allow her to continue hula dancing. Nguyen is now Hawai’i club’s financial co-vice president and has been preparing for the annual lu’au for the past year in hopes that students will learn a lot about Hawaiian and other Polynesian cultures.

“Not only do we perform traditional chants and dances, but also we explain the stories and the meanings behind them” said Nguyen.

Second year external vice-president, Erin Murashige is from Hawai’i and knew that before starting school that she wanted to join the club. “The club also allows me to continue to dance hula with amazing people while I am in college,” said Murashige.

Hawai’i Club’s 32nd annual Lu`au – Nohea will be held in Ackerman Grand Ballroom on May 6th from 5-9pm.

“We want to showcase authentic culture, from the costumes and decorations to the music and performances. We also hope to dispel a lot of the stereotypes surrounding Hawaiian culture (e.g. coconut bras and grass skirts) by showing that there is so much more to it than is portrayed in the media,” explained Nguyen.

In addition to dancing and ukulele performances, a traditional Hawaiian dinner will also be served.

“We are trying to showcase what a luau in Hawai’i would be like with entertainment, food and a feeling of aloha. I hope that students who attend will enjoy the experience and learn more about the culture,” said Murashige.

You can stay updated with all of Hui O ‘Imiloa’s events through their Facebook page, Facebook group, and YouTube channel

ni meiyou bing (you’re not sick)

I came to UCLA with a dream that I’d be somehow new.
That the real me would just appear.

Maybe a day after moving in, my first panic attack.
I run away from the dining hall.
Between striding and rushing deep into campus,
I end up in the courtyard of the law school.
I lay down on a bench and look up into the emptiness.
I was not expecting this.

When I can breathe again I return.
People line the sides of the hallway.
The warmth of their chatter burns me.
I avoid the eyes looking up at me as I head to my dorm room.
Shame.

I don’t turn on the light when I enter.
I cry until I fall asleep.
I hoped to retire this past time when I got to college.
It came with me.

Counseling and Psychological Services.
CAPS.
I need this.
I had a dream that I’d be someone new.
Clearly I was not.

My first session I meet with an intern.
The session is videotaped.
I should have asked for a different person.
I brought myself here but I still don’t know how to speak.
I am referred to a psychiatrist.

This is how it’s gonna be.
My voice cracks. I can’t see.
What’s wrong with me.

Depression and some post-traumatic stress.
We’ll start you on Prozac.

I don’t tell my ma or ba.

It’s near the end of my first quarter and I can’t sleep.
When I’m still my body vibrates.

I lose my appetite. Good.
I think I’m losing weight. Good.
Xianzai mama bu hui jiao wo pang.

I’m out.
I go to refill my prescription.
I can’t.

I’ve been taking the wrong dose.
I’ve been taking double the dose.
I’ve run out.

Finals. shit.

We’ll switch to Zoloft.

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