More from this past weekend – much of it I spaced on due to my need to do laundry and my son’s need to lie in the grass and stare at the clouds.
Brigid links to an interview that Takehiko Inoue (mangaka, Slamdunk!, REAL) does with wheelchair basketball team captain Shingo Fujii for the Yomiuri Shimbun:
Inoue: I happened to see wheelchair basketball by accident while I was in the United States. It was after I completed “Slam Dunk,” and I was thinking that I would never draw sports manga again, but then I thought, “Wow, I can turn this into manga!” There’s this sense of speed [in wheelchair basketball] that is comparable to a motorbike race or competitive cycling. It was so different from other sports.
Fujii: At first, I lost all my confidence. My body didn’t move well, so the space I could cover to reach for the ball was very limited, and I couldn’t pass the ball well. I thought, “I’ve been doing basketball for so long, why can’t I win?” It was frustrating. But becoming a wheelchair user also made me realize I really loved basketball. My legs didn’t move, but I wanted to play basketball. I think that’s why I got better.
She also links to an article on MSNBC by Brian Alexander that opens with mention of Hello Kitty vibrators. I think it’s supposed to be an article about the role of sex in anime and manga. Aside from it being broad and disorganized, I think the biggest problem with this article is that it takes “otaku culture” (as Alexander refers to it) out of context. Not that it’s easy to explain something like Japan to outsiders – writing about manga for the general public is very, very challenging.
To be honest, I think Alexander is really trying to understand and explain the sexual undercurrents in Japanese pop culture. There’s just not enough room on MSNBC for the type of article that would do this. “Otaku” has it’s negative connotations in Japan, and “techno-geek” isn’t a wrong definition/translation, nor is the description of men in manga as fawning over statuettes of their favorite female anime character (Welcome to the NHK, Sundome, Genshiken, all feature male characters like this). There’s a grain of truth in pretty much everything he mentions. But the larger picture that all the small truths fit into is missing.
Luckily, there’s always a way to learn more about Japan – like Japan C, which is going on now:
A rolling eleven week exhibition of all things Japanese. Spanning home and fashion accessories to gadgets, food, beauty and pop-culture products, Japan C is part design exhibition, part bazaar, part trade fair, highlighting over 70 diverse Japanese firms.
At the Felissimo Design House, 10 West 56th Street, New York City (map). Monday through Saturday 11am to 6pm. New products go on sale every Monday.
WEEK 1: 8/16 – Celebrate Jiba! Modern Traditions From hand-dyed fabrics to zori sandals, time-honored craftsmanship finds contemporary expression.
WEEK 2: 8/25 – Design at Play Robots, Mu-Bots and other design objects with surprising twists.
WEEK 3: 9/1 – Accessorize Your Passion for Fashion Jewelry, handbags and shoes, Japanese creativity from head to toe.
WEEK 4: 9/8 – At Home in Japan Uncovering the joy in inspired, Japanese living.
WEEK 5: 9/15 – Design Japan See the substance behind the star power of Japan’s biggest names in design.
WEEK 6: 9/22 – Notes from Japan: The New Stationery Discover the latest advancements through the traditional arts of writing and paper.
WEEK 7: 9/29 – I ♥ Kawaii A celebration of Japanese cuteness in all its forms.
WEEK 8: 10/6 – Secrets of Japanese Beauty Experts reveal the wellness tips that have made Japan one of the healthiest nations in the world.
WEEK 9: 10/13 – The Smart Japanese Kitchen The latest tools for Japanese cooking, from the ideal table setting to rice cookers that make the perfect bowl of rice.
WEEK 10: 10/20 – Taste of Japan Sample the finest sakes, soy sauces and sea urchin.
WEEK 11: 10/27: – Cherry Tree Auction Bid on your favorite items and help the nonprofit New York Restoration Project bring Japan’s sakura cherry trees to New York City.
The domestic in me (the same domestic that spent countless hours online this weekend indulging her Zojirushi fetish) that pines for non-burnt homemade rice thinks that the week of 10/13 is the week to pay a visit to Felissimo.