47 Ronin, the Battle of the Alamo and the Will McAvoy Speech – By Rock Kitaro
By Rock Kitaro
Date: February 10, 2014
Dragon Ash – “Walk With Dreams”
Let me begin by saying that I plan, by no means, to turn my website into a movie review site…But I confess…After watching Keanu Reeve’s “The 47 Ronin”… It was the first time in a long time that I was actually moved to tears inside an actual movie theater. Why? You might ask? I’ll tell you.
When I was nine-years-old, my parents took me and my brothers on a vacation trip to a city called San Antonio, Texas. The history behind Texas’s independence is, I think, both controversial and admirable. Since I was born in 1986 and know all too well that history is written by the victors, all we’re left to go on is what’s written in history books and passed on from generation to generation.
“47 Ronin” That movie was quite beautiful to me. I know quite a bit about Japanese culture. The idea of avenging one’s master and fighting for the right to commit suicide with honor…that may sound absurd, but living these days in America, I don’t think anyone has the right to judge the Japanese or their ancient ways. When I was younger, I’ll admit that I used to think it was idiotic of the Japanese to willingly want to commit suicide. But it just goes to show how ignorant I was.
The culture of the United States is not a universal culture. Meaning, that just because we deem something appropriate or inappropriate, it doesn’t mean everyone else in the world has to agree with us. And I think one of the reasons why the U.S. is spited and abhorred by so many in other countries is because we have a habit of trying to impose our culture and morals on other nations. Especially when our own culture is all over the place with standards that are constantly being lowered.
We open up to Bakumatsu era of Japan where the assassin Kawakami Gensai cuts down influential politician Sakuma Shozan. Without provocation or a given reason, Gensai steals a scroll that’s tucked in Shozan’s robe. Unbeknownst to Gensai, that simple act of theft will eventually bring a world of trouble upon his descendants.
This brings us to Tien Kaze. Our rebellious teen hero who gets kicked out of school for standing up for a girl who was being molested on the back of the bus. As if he didn’t already feel isolated and obscured by his peers and religious congregation, things escalate when his father jumps the gun and tries to ban Tien from seeing his grandfather, the accused source of his misbehavior. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as Tien does the unthinkable. In the heat of the argument, Tien ends up throwing a regretful punch, flashing an ounce of the anger he’s held back for so long. But the disappointment written on his parent’s faces are too much to bear. Tien runs away from home.
In Episode 2…
We take a first-hand look at the so-called “expeditions” executed by the up and coming research and development company, Miro-Tech. In the Himalayas, Miro-Tech’s own private group of soldiers waste no time in seizing a remote village in pursuit of a pendant that is supposed to lead the way to one of Japan’s most sacred hidden treasures.
Amongst the main players, Silence, the femme fatale and majority shareholder of Miro-Tech shows multiple sides of herself. A brutish violent side towards anyone who stands in her way, a strong sense of superiority towards her race as a Japanese, yet a subtle sense of regret towards having to kill. Other than her protégé, Mellow, the only one who seems to understand her is her college lab partner and lead historian, the brilliant smartass Steven Alba. But even Alba can alleviate Silence’s voracious thirst for power. Even if Silence can’t already see that she has it.
Tien Kaze – Potentially staring Jay Kim of The Trax
Following up with the events in the states, Masatake Kaze comes home from a long overnight stocking shift at Home Depot to find his only grandson asleep on his couch. As you can probably guess from episode one, Tien’s bond with Masa is unbreakable. Tien opens up with how he’s felt for so long and makes up his mind that he wants to go to Japan, where he naively thinks that he’d be accepted. The two have a heart-to-heart conversation over a classic karate sparring match for old times sake and it ends with Tien finally convincing his grandfather that he isn’t just blowing smoke. His passion is real. His desire to visit the land of his ancestors is real.
So of course…Masa takes it one step further. Whilst packing a bag and giving Tien what little cash he had on him, Masa talks about a legendary school of swordsmanship. A family whose heirs and descendants have carried on with the school providing the best martial arts training exclusively to selected individuals from Japan’s elite class. These warriors range from the famous Minamoto Yoshitsune to the deadly Yagyu Jubei. A warrior trained by the Yagami family is said to equal the strength and speed of ten skilled samurai on the battlefield.
Over the centuries, the Yagami family has dwindled to damn near exile, but Masa knows where their only living descendents reside. Bound for Japan with a bus ticket and a plan to work as a sailor, Tien is filled with renewed vigor and excitement. Finally furnished with an attainable goal and instilled with a fulfilling sense of purpose, Tien grins…determined to find the Yagyu family and learn this so-called exclusive martial art.
The Meaning Behind “Dragon Ash” – My exploration of Jpop and Kpop By Rock Kitaro Date: March 26, 2013
“Be Stronger, Fly Higher, Don’t Be Afraid”
Those are the opening lyrics to Dragon Ash’s “Underage Song,” a song dedicated to the youth, inspiring them to strive no matter what.
I’m currently in the midst of writing the second episode of one of my short stories. The “Dragon Ash” series I’ve created is named after my favorite band. Not my favorite Japanese band. Not my favorite rock band. But favorite band, period. And out of respect and overwhelming gratitude, I felt it was high-time I explained myself. If by reading the end of this memoir, members of Dragon Ash thinks I should change the title of my story, I will.
Let me take you back to the end of 2004. In the midst of my senior year of high school something was happening to me. I think the last English CD I bought was Slipknot’s “Vol. 3 Subliminal Verses.” After that, I confess that I couldn’t help but to simply download my music. But the music I took an interest in downloading wasn’t American made songs. My dormant rebellious nature kicked it up a notch and I think I just got fed up with English lyrics. I think after 18 years of life, I got tired of hearing the same lyrics over and over again. I felt that I had heard every possible way that an artist could overextend “why” or say “I love you”. Not to mention, the kind of music that was clouding the airwaves during this time was just…just terrible. And so…I moved away from American music for a brief period of time.
Using filesharing sites like limewire, I began with downloading instrumentals. Music from anime, video games like Need for Speed and background music from movies like Daredevil and Vin Diesel’s XXX. My friends back then understandably thought it was puzzling, as did I for a time. But then I found a similarity between those instrumentals and metal, another genre I discovered a liking for at the time.
With some metal songs from artists like System of a Down and Slipknot, until I looked up the lyrics, other than the main chorus I had no idea what they were saying. And on a subconscious level, I think I preferred it that way. I couldn’t articulate “why” back then, but I think I was tired of lyrics dictating to me what to think, how I should feel and how I should go about situations. When I listen to music, I want to simply feel good. And 2004’s mainstream music kind of made me feel shitty because I wasn’t and still don’t, feel like I’m part of the mainstream.
Giving you this background information was crucial to help you understand how I was able to transition into what happens next because something spectacular happened.
Good news everyone!!! The first episode of my beloved “Dragon Ash” series is out.
This story is jam packed with action and choreographed fight scenes.
In this episode, we take a peak at Osaka, Japan just before the start of the Boshin War. Unbeknownst to our main characters, an incident happens that triggers a series of unfortunate events. Then we jump to 2004 where our 17 year old Tien Kaze tries his best to explain what its like to be in the struggling shoes of an Asian living in an unofficially segregated school and dealing with a pair of religiously antiquated parents.
The Stage in the Sky is about revenge, rivalry and rebellion. And out of those three, “Dragon Ash” is mostly centered around the theme of rebellion. Tien Kaze isn’t out to prove his worth, he isn’t out to overcome all odds or fight evil. He’s just a young man who wants to live life his way. Unfortunately, guilt, oppression and a series of untimely deaths bring him face to face with a reality that some paths just cannot be avoided.
Tien Kaze – Age 22, Japanese-German American – Most resembles Jay Kim from The Trax
….Where do I even begin. First off, let me begin with saying that I’m not antisocial. Yes, I may have a quick temper. And yes, I may have disrespectful attitude towards the elderly. But I actually care about my fellow neighbors contrary to reports that I’m a domestic terrorist. But when journalists are in the government’s pockets…I guess you’ll believe anything.
Anywho…my name is Tien Kaze. I’m half white, half Japanese. And if any of you don’t know what its like to grow up with Jehovah Witness parents, let me spare you the details by saying that it’s simply horrible. Let me explain. My grandfather, Masa-sama was a first-generation Japanese American. On the weekends and over the summer, I’d spend time with him. Turns out my Japanese ancestors were outstanding samurais. So yeah, I used to sleep on stories about my samurai heritage and even learned shotoken karate from my grandpa. But being that my mom and dad are peace-loving religious fanatics, well I’m sure you can sense the tension there conflicting with my love for martial arts.
So in my junior year of high school at this unofficially segregated school made up of stereotypes, I get into a series of fights. It was kind of like the straw the broke the camels back. At that time, I made up my mind to quit everything and pursue the journey to Japan. It was just one of things, ya know…Like, I wasn’t born to be a Jehovah Witness. Or live a mundane 9 to 5 life. I believe in fate. I believe I was meant for something more. My grandfather told me that there was a family who taught my ancestors a secret art of swordsmanship. The family is still active but out of the way in rural Hokkaido. My grandfather’s blessing was all I needed to embark on my quest.
Oburo Yagami is the name of the sensei who took me in. With the help of him and my sparring partner, the ever-pious Tatsuya Moritani, I become quite the martial artist and swordsmen. I learn discipline and begin the shred…or rather, not shred…but more so atone from my rebellious past. But as the years pass, I begin to think of my parents. I mean…I did run away from home. But before I got a chance to apologize and explain myself, something tragic happens. The pain of regret was unbearable. I don’t have any ambitions. I don’t have a path that I’m following. But after a brutal turn of events and coincidences, I have no choice but to deal with a conflict that began over hundred years before I was even born.
Tien Kaze is an ambitious young man who has never fit in and doesn’t want to. With his Japanese-German heritage, Tien looks to the culture of ancient samurai and loathes that he was born in this present day. He daydreams of fighting on some Japanese battlefield, slaughtering thousands for his lord’s pride and honor. After an altercation with his peers and parents, Tien follows his grandfather’s advice to run away to Japan and learn Japanese swordsmanship from a real samurai.
Unbeknownst to Tien, an ancient Japanese artifact was stolen over a hundred years ago in the wake of a public assassination. Silence Yagami, the owner of a private security firm specializing in weapons development from research done on antiquities, has reason to believe Kaze’s family is in possession of it. With Silence leading her own ruthless personal conquest in retrieving the artifact, Tien has no choice but to contend with his own immaturity and face the tragic consequences of his actions.
Episode 1 – Act 1 – The Death of Sakuma Shozan – Coming Soon