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Nippon in New York: ‘Dragon Ball Z,’ ‘Naruto,’ ‘Angry Video Game Nerd’ premieres

In the dog days of summer, it’s best to escape the heat in a place that’s cozy and cool. For those into Japanese cultural events, this month offers a diverse selection of film premieres and live music—all in the comfort of indoor air conditioning.

"Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods" premieres in select New York City theaters Aug. 5.

Aug. 5, 9 and 11

Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue


Stunning animation and epic new villains highlight the first new Dragon Ball Z feature film in seventeen years! After the defeat of Majin Buu, a new power awakens and threatens humanity. Beerus, an ancient and powerful God of Destruction, searches for Goku after hearing rumors of the Saiyan warrior who defeated Frieza. Realizing the threat Beerus poses to their home planet, the Z-fighters must find a way to stop him before it’s too late. An original work from Dragon Ball series creator Akira Toriyama, Battle of Gods is an exciting new adventure for DBZ fans everywhere. Presented in English. Additional screenings will be held on Aug. 5 at AMC Empire 25 and Regal Union Square Stadium 14. Click here for tickets.

Friday, Aug. 8, 3:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.

Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie

Symphony Space, 2537 Broadway


NYC premiere! Based on the hit web series of the same name, the newly released adventure-comedy, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, follows a disgruntled gamer who must overcome his fear of the worst video game of all time in order to save his fans. Hilarity ensues as a simple road trip becomes an extravagant pursuit of the unexpected. Starring James Rolfe. Written and Directed by James Rolfe and Kevin Finn. A Q&A follows the screening with James Rolfe and Special Guests.

James Rolfe and Kevin Finn's debut feature film, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, follows a disgruntled gamer (Rolfe) who must overcome his fear of the worst video game of all time in order to save his fans. Desperate to disprove a video game urban legend, hilarity ensues as a simple road trip becomes an extravagant pursuit of the unexpected - and the unexpected ultimately proves that what's in front of you, isn't always what it appears to be. Blending elements of comedy, science fiction, and horror, Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie, is an existential journey which, in the end, discovers truth can be found in the most unlikely of places - and one's greatest weakness is not the hate one has for a game, but the devotion one has in the face of adversity.

Friday, Aug. 8, 6:00 p.m.

Peace Concert “Global Harmony” with Shinji Harada

West Park Presbyterian Church, 165 West 86th Street

$15 suggested donation

Shinji Harada is one of Japan's most famous recording artists. He has released more than 70 singles in Japan, three of which once hit the top 20 Oricon chart simultaneously. Born in Hiroshima, Shinji was recently recognized by his home town as a Hiroshima Peace Culture Ambassador.

Shinji became a musical sensation in Japan when he released his debut single Teens' Blues in 1977 when he was just 18 years old. He released two more singles, Candy in November and Shadow Boxer in December the same year. All three singles ranked in the Top 20 Oricon chart simultaneously, which had never happened before in Japanese music history. Through his music Shinji actively works to spread his brief in “Yamato,” the spirit of sharing kindness and loving one another. He will be joined by percussionist Mataro Misawa and bassist Wornell Jones.

Misawa is a member of Masaharu Fukuyama's band which recently completed the "Human" tour attended by about half a million people in Japan, Taiwan and Hong Kong. 'Human", the album, topped the Oricon rock album chart at #1 after it's release this spring. Mataro has also performed with many other leading Japanese musicians and groups including Southern All Stars and Masashi Sada. Jones, who is based in Tokyo, has performed with Sly and the Family Stone, Koko Taylor, as well as Chage and Aska, Hiromi Go and many other well-known Jazz and popular musicians in the US and Japan.

This is a rare chance to see some of Japan's most famous musicians perform in NY! (Your donation will support the annual NY Hiroshima-Nagasaki peace memorial gathering.) For more information, call 646-797-7982 or email: tknakagaki[at]

Aug. 22-24

Dave Weckl Acoustic Band, feat. Makoto Ozone, Tom Kennedy and Gary Meek

Iridium Jazz Club, 1650 Broadway


Legendary drummer Dave Weckl launches his first band, tour and recording in over a decade. With Makoto Ozone on piano and keys, Tom Kennedy/bass and Gary Meek/saxes the Dave Weckl Acoustic Band is charged with riveting chemistry, ebullient communication and rare telepathy that engages audiences to their rapt delight.

Makoto Ozone signed with CBS/Columbia right after the graduation from Berklee College of Music and released the first self-titled album "Makoto Ozone" in 1983 along with his debut Solo Recital at Carnegie Hall in NYC. Makoto has recorded over 20 albums for Verve/Universal since 1994. A duet album with Gary Burton "Virtuosi" was nominated for a the 45th Grammy in 2003 for "The Best Classical Crossover" category. Makoto also has been performing classical repertoire including Mozart, Beethoven, Shostakovich, Bernstein, Gershwin, Rachmaninov since 2003' with world's major orchestra such as New York Philharmonic, Orchestre de chambre de Paris, NDR symphony orchestra, NHK symphony orchestra, Sinfonia Varsovia and more.

Monday, Aug. 25, 7:30 p.m.

Taka Kigawa, piano (performing Pierre Boulez' complete solo piano music)

(Le) Poisson Rouge, 158 Bleecker Street


Critically acclaimed pianist Taka Kigawa has earned outstanding international recognition as a recitalist, soloist, and chamber music artist since winning First Prize in the prestigious 1990 Japan Music Foundation Piano Competition in Tokyo, and the Diploma Prize at the 1998 Concurs Internacional Maria Canals De Barcelona in Spain, with such accolades from The New York Times as “Mr. Kigawa’s feat deserves the highest praise, especially since it was combined with such alacrity and sensitivity to the musical material … brilliantly done … a careful and serious-minded musician, quietly poetic and considerate” and from The New Yorker “Unbelievably challenging program. Kigawa is a young artist of stature.”

His repertoire is extremely large and varied, ranging from the baroque to avant-garde compositions of today. He has collaborated closely with such renowned musicians as Pierre Boulez, Myung-Whun Chung and Jonathan Nott. At this recital, he will be performing Boulez’s Twelve Notations, First Sonata, Second Sonata, Third Sonata (including a rare performance of “Sigle”), Incises, and Une page d’ephemeride.”

Aug. 28-31

Robinson (to) Crusoe

Hudson Guild Theatre, 441 West 26th Street


Tokyo-NY based director and Artistic director of Theatre Arts Japan Eriko Ogawa, New York based director Peter Sander, Tokyo based musician Hiroko Tanakawa, “Robinson (to) Crusoe” is a comedy that deals with serious issues of cultural conflict. The play features two men from Korea and Japan at the end of World War II who find themselves stranded on a remote island. The plot unfolds as the two attempt to communicate with one another, although they speak different languages. Written by award-winning playwright Asaya Fujita.

Friday, Aug. 29

Patema Inverted

IFC Center, 323 Avenue of the Americas


Time of Eve director Yasuhiro Yoshiura is a perspective-twisting sci-fi adventure about two kids separated by opposite gravities. Patema lives in an underground world of tunnels, the long-abandoned ruins of a giant industrial complex. Though she is a princess, she is held back by the rules imposed by the elders of her clan. One day when she is exploring in a forbidden zone, she is startled by a strange bat-like creature and tumbles headlong into a void – and out into the wide open world above the surface, a place with reversed physics, where if she let go she would “fall up” into the sky and be lost forever.

Age is a student on this surface world, a totalitarian society whose compliant population has been brainwashed against the “sinners who fell into the sky.” When he spies Patema hanging upside-down from a tree, he pulls her down to safety, struggling with all his might to keep her earthbound as she grips on to him for dear life. Together their weights cancel each other out, and once they master the art of navigating competing gravitational forces, they set out to evade the leaders of Age’s world and discover the secret that keeps their worlds apart.

Aug. 30-Sept. 1

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie

Village East Cinema, 181-189 Second Avenue


In the latest—and most successful—Naruto Shippuden feature film to date, long ago, a mysterious masked shinobi unleashed the Nine-Tailed Fox onto the Village Hidden in the Leaves to spread chaos and destruction. But the Fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze, and his wife Kushina Uzumaki sealed the Tailed Beast into their newborn son, Naruto, to save the village, foiling the shinobi’s plan. Years later, Naruto and his friends succeed in driving away the infamous Akatsuki, who have mysteriously returned from the dead. Upon returning to the village, the young shinobi are praised by their families for completing a dangerous mission. Reminded of how alone he is, Naruto begins to wonder what it’s like to have parents, when a strange masked figure appears before him – the same masked shinobi responsible for the death of his parents! Presented in English.

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