Archive for japanese manga

Guess Who’s Comin to Town? (psst! It’s Moto Hagio!)

Because it’s impossible to keep a secret thanks to Amazon – despite the good intentions of all parties – the cat’s out of the bag: Fantagraphics is launching its very own line of manga!

The press release is hot off the ether:

MARCH 8, 2010 – SEATTLE, WA — After years of development, Fantagraphics is unveiling a new line of manga. Kicking things off in September 2010 is a collection of short stories from the mother of shōjo (young girl) manga, Moto Hagio. Next, is a multi-volume series from the GLBT manga-ka Shimura Takako. Each book will be released in hardcover form, keeping the original “right to left” manga style for a deluxe, yet authentic reading experience.

I’ll have the full story for PW later, but the other big news is that Moto Hagio – OG shojo mangaka and pioneering member of the Fabulous 49’ers – will be coming to San Diego Comicon this summer.  THIS SUMMER, PEOPLE!

Which begs the next question: Who wants to meet an icon?

Further reading:

Dirk Deppey’s entry on Journalista announcing the news.

Fantagraphics’ press release.

Matt Thorn’s take on his Moto Hagio baby and Takako Shimura. (And here I thought PW had the exclusive…? :p)

More on Moto Hagio and the movement (which we currently refer to as “shojo manga”) that she helped start.

If you’re a Comics Journal reader, you could have smelled this coming a mile off. The July 2005/issue 269 concentrated on manga and featured cover art as well as an interview of Hagio by  Thorn.

I, uh, also have an article in there.  All about shojo.  It was my first feature and I have fond memories of being tortured by it.

In a later issue Deppey also landed an interview with the lovely-psychedelic mangaka Junko Mizuno.  Does that mean….?


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Hayao Miyazaki tix go on sale tomorrow, noon (PAC)

Stay tuned to for tix, and to for more info.

Full deets/programming below:

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hayao Miyazaki in Conversation

6:00 PM to 7:45 PM

Zellerbach Auditorium

For this extremely rare, U.S. appearance, Hayao Miyazaki will be interviewed on stage, followed by a question and answer period with the audience. Join us for an opportunity to engage Miyazaki in a conversation about more than just anime— the social issues and ideas that his films champion, including the future of Japan and the role of the artist in a rapidly evolving world.

For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit

Hayao Miyazaki at Berkeley

The Center for Japanese Studies at the University of California, Berkeley is proud to award internationally acclaimed filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki with the 2009 Berkeley Japan Prize, which honors individuals from all disciplines and professions who have, over a lifetime influenced the world’s understanding of Japan. In conjunction with his in-person acceptance of the award, Hayao Miyazaki will be honored with a series of events held on the UC Berkeley campus, celebrating his timeless body of film work.

Hayao Miyazaki is the second recipient of the recently inaugurated Berkeley Japan Prize; the 2008 winner was novelist Haruki Murakami.


For nearly fifty years, Hayao Miyazaki has been enchanting the world with fantastic, meticulously composed and emotionally soaring films, making him one of the world’s most respected and revered animators and directors. Among the dozens of films he has written, directed and animated, his best-known and beloved include: My Neighbor Totoro (1988); Kiki’s Delivery Service (1989); Princess Mononoke (1997); Spirited Away (2001); and Howl’s Moving Castle(2004). What makes Miyazaki’s work especially unique is, in a genre overpopulated with technology and robots, his films have a deeply nostalgic, ecological soul that conveys the critical message of caring for our planet and a global need for spiritual nourishment.

Miyazaki founded his now legendary animation studio, Studio Ghibli, in 1985, shortly after the release of his second major film, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. After Studio Ghibli became a household name in Japan, it sought to bring their films overseas and built a partnership with the Walt Disney Company. In 2002, Miyazaki’s masterpiece Spirited Away won the Oscar for best animated feature film— the first Japanese animated film ever to win the award. Audience reaction to Spirited Away was unprecedented. Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times heralded Spirited Away as: “..enchanting and delightful in its own way, and has a good heart. It is the best animated film of recent years… the Japanese master who is a god to the Disney animators.”

July 12, 14, 19, and 21, 2009

A Tribute to Hayao Miyazaki

Pacific Film Archive

In anticipation of director Hayao Miyazaki’s in-person appearance at Berkeley, the Pacific Film Archive will host a retrospective, which will showcase four special screenings of his films. Even if you already treasure Miyazaki’s films on DVD, you won’t want to miss this chance to appreciate their beauty as it was meant to be seen: on the big screen. All films will be shown in the original Japanese 35mm prints with English subtitles.

Sunday, July 12, 4:00 p.m.   My Neighbor Totoro / Tonari no Totoro

Tuesday, July 14, 7:00 p.m.   Porco Rosso / Kurenai no buta

Sunday, July 19, 2:30 p.m.   Castle in the Sky / Tenku no shiro Laputa

Tuesday, July 21, 7:00 p.m.   Princess Mononoke / Mononoke Hime

For a complete listing of times and to purchase tickets, please visit

Friday, July 24, 2009

San Francisco Bay Area Premiere of Hayao Miyazaki’s Ponyo

Wheeler Hall

6:00 PM-8:00 PM

The Center for Japanese Studies, in conjunction with the Pacific Film

Archive, is pleased to present the Northern California premiere of Hayao

Miyazaki’s latest film, Ponyo, to be screened at Wheeler Hall on Friday,

July 24, 2009. Ponyo (Gake no ue no Ponyo) follows the adventures of an

intrepid goldfish and a young boy named Sosuke, who rescues her from a

bottle among debris that human beings have inflicted upon the ocean. In

this playful story of Ponyo’s rebellious desire to become human and of the relationships between children and parents, the great director again proves his peerless ability to connect with the keen perception and heart of a young child, while creating a world that speaks truths to adults as well. Among the many brilliant passages achieved through Miyazaki’s hand drawn animation are the artist’s irresistible depiction of a paradisal undersea realm and a wild tempest caused by Ponyo’s willfulness. The English-language version, produced by Kathleen Kennedy and Frank Marshall of Disney Studios and Steve Alpert of Studio Ghibli, features the voices of Cate Blanchett, Noah Cyrus (Ponyo), Matt Damon, Tina Fey, Frankie Jonas (Sosuke), Cloris Leachman, Liam Neeson, Lily Tomlin, and Betty White.

Gake no ue no Ponyo (Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) was Japan’s biggest box office hit in 2008. Ponyo also won the Japanese Academy Award for Best Animation of the year and, by special invitation, was screened at the 2008 Venice Film Festival.

For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit

Saturday, July 25, 2009

The Hayao Miyazaki Symposium

Institute of East Asian Studies

10:00 AM to 2:00 PM

Free and open to the public

Leading scholars of Japanese popular culture, literature, and film will discuss Hayao Miyazaki’s work and his international influence in a roundtable panel discussion.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hayao Miyazaki in Conversation

6:00 PM to 7:45 PM

Zellerbach Auditorium

For this extremely rare, U.S. appearance, Hayao Miyazaki will be interviewed on stage, followed by a question and answer period with the audience. Join us for an opportunity to engage Miyazaki in a conversation about more than just anime— the social issues and ideas that his films champion, including the future of Japan and the role of the artist in a rapidly evolving world.

For tickets to this limited-seating engagement, please visit

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Sneak Peek! The New York Asian Film Festival

Man, I hate this frickin’ recession, but I love me dem Asian films!

Grady Hendrix and his gang of movie connoisseurs sent out word of their selections for this year’s New York Asian Film Fest (June 19-July 5), and like every year, it’s a  goldmine.

Feng Xiaogang’s If You Are the One will be screening.  Feng directed last year’s THE ASSEMBLY, a Hollywood-esque rendition of the Chinese civil war that was compared to Saving Private Ryan.  In If You Are the One, Feng has his Korean fight choreographers take a break, and instead, builds a romantic comedy around none other than B-movie starlet, Shu Qi (China’s own Angelina Joeli, full lips and all).  Apparently, Qi – who the American audience will remember from the very first Transporter movie – has been hiding her talent behind that pretty face.  As a rabid fan of THE ASSEMBLY, and the cinematography and blockbuster elements behind A World Without Thieves, I’m gonna put my chips down on If You Are the One.  I love Feng Xiaogang, and I’ve been waiting to see Shu Qi in a good movie.

And since Grady and his team are dedicated and consistent professionals, they’ve included the live-action feature length movie adaptation of Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, parts 1 and 2.  This came out in Japan just last summer, with part 3 of the movie trilogy is coming out in Japan in August.  Grady’s doing his best to put together a special screening of 20th Century Boys after it’s released in Japan – how spoiled are we!  The 20th Century Boys manga by Naoki Urasawa was released by Viz  in February this year.

On a more somber note, the Japanese movie shot in Thailand, Children of the Dark, will also be screening for those of you with a strong stomach for the real-life sick and grotesque exploitation of Thai children, both for the sex industry and for black market organ sales.   I already know that I won’t be able to stomach this although I’m tempted to try – and terrified that I’ll force myself to sit through it.  Grady’s encouragement when I shared this sentiment with him was this:

“Don’t let Children of the Dark scare you. It’s a VERY intense movie, but it’s so committed to its POV and so adamant about its points that it never comes across as hollow or exploitative. Unlike a lot of movies, the horror has a point. For once.”

For those of you who’d rather be entertained by brutal, fictitious fist fights, the Korean movie Rough Cut has your name(s) on it.

Rough Cut is set on a movie set where a primadonna pretty-boy actor plays a gangster across from his co-star – who really is a gangster. Somehow, in the process of shooting the movie, the diva becomes a gangster and the gangster becomes…a diva.  It sounds like it should be a comedy, but it’s not.
And if you’re ready to cycle back to something more romantic, Kim Ki Duk’s Dream starring Odagiri Jo will also be playing.  Kim Ki Duk directed 2003’s Spring Summer Fall Winter…and Spring among other art-house flicks.  Dream is about dreams, it’s a sad romance, but most importantly it’s starring Odagiri Jo.  I’m only interested in this movie and blogging about it because it stars Odagiri Jo.

There are a good dozen or more movies that will be featured during the festival, and in fact, Team Grady still have 10 to choose to add to the line-up.  You can find out more at his blog, or at the website,

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New York Anime Festival

Get your UCC canned coffee on, your bottle of Pocari Sweat, your Meiji BLACK chocolate bars, and your karaoke playlist, and go!

The second annual New York Anime Festival kicks off on Friday like Christmas in September (as opposed to Christmas in December when it was held last year) and runs all weekend long.  There will be movies, anime, fan discussion, and a massive afterparty at Iron Chef Morimoto’s restaurant in the meatpacking district, Morimoto.  Morimoto will be there, publishers Yen Press, Dark Horse, Vertical and Del Rey Manga will be there, Squishable plushies will be there – even a tea party with designers from Lolita house, Baby, the Stars Shine Bright where I secured a spot.  Not sure, but my read on this lolita tea party is that it’s either going to be a super cute event, very dainty and elegant, or it’s going to be the biggest bonnet ripping, corset tearing, catfight you could ever imagine.  Either way, as long as I have front row seats, I’m happy.

Incidentally, this year’s NYAF is being held the same weekend as Yaoicon, (the oldest and biggest yaoi/boys love conventionin the U.S.) which had me combing twitter to find out who’d be posting tweets or blogging about yaoi news.  Anyone?  It sounds like quite a few regulars of the manga/anime blogosphere are coming to NYAF which is great, but we certainly want to know what’s going on with boys love.  DMP, Deux, Kitty Media, Tokyopop/BLU, Yaoi Press, and a new publisher, Yaoi Generation, will be there.  DMP is bringing guest Tatsumi Kaiya (Party, Love Training, Hot Steamy Glasses, Physical Attraction) while Kitty Media hosts local BL creator Yayoi Neko (Incubus, Herc&Thor pub’d by Antarctic Press).  As for Yaoi Generation, they’ve got a skeletal site up and nothing published yet that I see.  Maybe Yaoicon will be their coming out party?  Tina Anderson guesses that it’s Dr. Master behind it all – probably because both are based in Freemont – but I haven’t followed up yet.

We’ll be going over our plans for NYAF coverage at the PW offices today – as well as locking down our karaoke playlist. (I’m proposing that we start off with something like Peaches n Herb and save the Def Leppard for later – but that’s just me).  Here’s my interview with vp of NYAF Lance Fensterman and programming coordinator Peter Tartara in case you missed it.

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Sumi and Water

For the most part, I do my best to do the best job I can with the opportunities I’m given.  Verify sources, keep things cordial, keep my inner fangirl in check, make the deadline.  No bashing books, no love-ins; insightful critique and clean copy (steer clear of terms like “spanked” and “panties” – or at least try to); resort to writing about the punk stylish clothing in Shugo Chara and sweeping upsy-downsy hair styles in Parakiss only when necessary.  Be professional, take nothing personally, it’s just business.

But as far as this blog is concerned, business can’t wait to get personal.  I can’t always keep the inner fangirl in check – nor do I always want to.  I love comics and I love manga.  Or rather, for the sake of professionalism, I have developed certain….feelings for comics and manga.  But not everyone shares the love – er, feelings that I have towards both – manga is still a niche within graphic novels, a niche within publishing.  So it doesn’t take much for me to feel like the manga crasher at the comics party.

But every once in a while, a creator comes along that has me putting on my good shoes and my nice dress and throwing a little party of my own – one that typically includes me.  And Ed.  IM-ing me.  From Japan.  And that’s okay.

But this month, that changes.  Viz Media has launched a gigantic Takehiko Inoue campaign – Slam Dunk, his quintessential work, REAL, a series that, in my opinion, challenged him the most while allowing him to fuse two aesthetics in a storyline that further combines his two loves of basketball and drawing; Vagabond omnibus editions, and two books that I’ve been waiting for, gritting my teeth with anticipation, Sumi and Water.

It’s no secret that I harbor certain…feelings about Inoue-sensei’s work.  He is one of  my favorite creators for so many reasons.  Manga can be mass-produced and formulaic – either for the sake of the genre or the story (although often for both) – to the extent that both artwork and narrative start to feel old, stale, with characters looking the same, stories sounding the same.

But everything about Inoue-sensei’s work stands out in a fresh, lively way.  Not all that many creators have the range that he has – visually or narratively.  It’s common to see creators in Japan do series after series that are basically variations of the same thing.  Tsutomu Nihei is another creator whose work I feel strongly about, but BLAME!, ABARA, his Woverine: SNKT! comic for Marvel – were all in the same vein.  He does it incredibly well, but he pretty much does only one thing.  Inoue-sensei, on the other hand, does basketball and samurai.  And he does them both very, very well.

(from Water)

Sumi and Water are both artbooks that collect Inoue‘s lush Vagabond illustrations.  If you’ve only read Slam Dunk, you wouldn’t necessarily guess that he’d progress to this.  One of the many things that I love about his work is the inherent movement and life that spreads over the page.  Each picture tells a story.  Each picture conveys a certain emotion.  The energy of his lines is balanced by the stillness of his characters.  Inoue’s story of Miyamoto “I-don’t-bathe-but-I’m-still-damn-fine” Musashi isn’t just one of bushido, but one of becoming a man.

(from Sumi)

But the best part is that anyone who loves art or comics will want to get their mitts on these books.  Knowledge of Vagabond or manga isn’t a requisite.  Sumi and Water stand alone as the gateways to the rest of Inoue’s work.  And gateways ain’t a bad thing.

So this month, I’m having the party.  Everyone is invited, as always, I’ll be wearing my good shoes and my party dress.  But here’s the big bonus: people may actually show up.

(from Water)

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More Matsumoto Manga, please!

Chris Butcher has an excellent interview with Taiyo Matsumoto up which he did the rewrite on.

The interview is lovely and a rare entry into the minds of one of Japan’s most innovative manga creators.

But Butcher outdoes himself in footnoting and compiling a comprehensive bibliography of Matsumoto’s work.  Seeing the coverart on his books is enough to make this comics lover weep with frustration.  (Look at all the Matsumoto that the rest of us can’t read!)  It’s enough to make me rally the troops and have everyone I know buy a copy of Tekkon Kinkreet.

Audry Taylor at Go! Comi once expressed this in an interview, that every time someone buys a volume of manga, they’re voting for that creator, for that type of material.  I’m sure this isn’t new, but in manga it takes on a whole new life.

Sometimes I wonder how manga publishers survive with the amount of content online in scans, or otherwise shared.  Taylor told me of how a couple of girls were at the booth, swooning over something Yuu Higuri or Mik Takeuchi.  So natch, she was like “Well you should buy it.”  To which one of the girls responded “Nah, I’ll just read her copy.”

Now I love sharing – I’d be nowhere without it.  But for companies, it really comes down to the bottom line.  It’s great that we can borrow and swap books and find out what’s out there, but in terms of telling people and publishers what we like, there’s nothing like the feedback a few Andrew Jackson’s can supply.

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Editors, oh, editors…

Brigid at Mangablog links to Canned Dogs for an interesting collection of complaints from manga creators in Japan about the abusive treatment they get from their editors.

One creator, Raiku Makoto, is even suing his publisher, Shogakukan – for roughly US$ 33k – for losing his artwork.  Apparently, misplacing artwork is common habit for editors (according to the list of complaints) as is feeding creators energy/sports drinks and parsing out their sleep.

I had been asking Ed at MangaCast about the relationship between publishers and creators – whether creator owned content made for a healthier industry – but it looks like it’s all just the business of tears, blood and Pocari sweat.

Only Rumiko Takahashi (Ranma 1/2) gets to do whatever she wants – as long as it’s Inuyasha.

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