Tuesday, September 26

France and manga

Asterix under attack from Japan

France, the home of comic book hero Asterix, is now falling prey to a new and foreign art form - Japanese manga comics.Manga comics - only introduced in 1989 - now make up 30% of the country's comic book market.Their appeal has grown massively by word of mouth and the appeal they have for young people.

"With manga we suddenly discovered there are thousands of stories of artists that we didn't know, and that's extraordinary," Manga expert Julien Bastide, of Anime Land magazine, told BBC World Service's The World Today programme.

"You open the door and there is all this for 100 years, so that's why I am interested in manga, because we don't know anything about manga yet."

I found this article to be interesting, since I did not regularly looked for impact of manga and anime on Europe. France has been traditional place where some world famous meme and language expression originated hence my specific interest when these 2 highly vibrant meme meet.

Honey Room or Misshitsu

Japanese manga ruled obscene

A Tokyo court has ruled a Japanese cartoon book obscene, in a landmark court case that sparked debate on freedom of expression and the position of the country's ubiquitous 'manga' cartoons.

Monotori Kishi, a 54-year-old publisher, was handed a one-year prison sentence, suspended for three years, for violating Japan's penal code on the sale and distribution of obscene literature.

Presiding Judge Yujiro Nakatani said Misshitsu, or Honey Room, was too graphic.

"Bodies were drawn in a lifelike manner with little attention to concealment (of genitalia), making for sexually explicit expression and deeming the book pornographic matter," Mr Nakatani said.

About 45% of all books and periodicals sold in Japan are manga. They often contain sexual material.

"Given what's available it seems an extraordinary decision," said the BBC's Tokyo correspondent, Jonathan Head.

"There is so much pornography available in Japan in every form - in films, computer games, cartoons and famously manga and anime - those books of cartoons you can see men reading openly on the train everyday," he told the East Asia Today programme.

Old news but this what makes this particular publication most sought after stuff in BBS boards like 4 chan. I remembered the frenzied request for this work in the public imageboard. The art cover is pretty good but I personally never read the manga. It must be one heck of the work to force Tokyo act with such ruling, first time in 20 years it seems.

Which brings to me one question, why such selective censorship? I seen gazillions of explicit content material which have negligible censorship, but why this particular work?

The creator is very unlucky.

This article looks at both sides of manga culture and look into this particular title as discussions on dark side of manga.

An old BBC snippet of Mills and Boons, manga style

How Mills and Boon turned to manga comics

Mills and Boon romances are strong sellers the world over. But in Japan, the publisher has appropriated the manga comic format in order to attract a generation for whom a novel just won't do.

Mills and Boon is synonymous with fluffy love stories populated by dashing heroes and swooning heroines. Japanese manga comics, on the other hand, conjure up very different images - of violence, simpering schoolgirls and explicit sexual content.

But Mills and Boon runs a thriving business in Japan, publishing its books in manga format, the novel-length comic books read by children and adults alike. And where this cultural cross-over is concerned, stereotypes are best left behind.

In the manga section of many a bookshop, alongside the comics about gangsters, sci-fi, high school students and indeed the infamous pornographic stories, is the romance section. It's here that Mills and Boon has entered the fray against the Japanese publishing houses.

Full article is here.

The author was notably alarmed by culture "miscombination" of mangaka style with Mills and Boons romance. I personally find his/her comments to be hilarious but it does drive a nail, what is uniquely Japanese and why it works?

The changing face of British animation

The British Animation Awards, which take place on Friday in London, are celebrating their fifth birthday. Their director and founder Jayne Pilling told BBC News Online how the UK has influenced the flourishing global animation industry.

In the late 1980s, the UK was at the forefront of the animation industry. Boosted by interest from the infant Channel 4, the work of fledgling companies like Aardman animation began to win international attention.

Interesting comments can be found in later portion of the article, about "creeping influence of Japanese anime in animation".

Animation centre opens in Tokyo

Japan has opened a hi-tech animation centre in Tokyo, which it calls the first of its kind in the world. The aim of the centre is to promote the country's animation culture at home and to overseas investors.It will offer previews of animation projects and information for those working in the industry.

"The centre is designed for visitors to enjoy finding out about Japan's current and coming animation works," said spokesman Katsumi Ota.

"We're also working on building an animation business service for foreign buyers," he said.

BBC link.

Tracing the genealogy of gekiga

LOS ANGELES -- Presented a copy of the latest English-language collection of his work, Yoshihiro Tatsumi turns it over in his hands and says, "This looks too beautiful to be a comic book."

Designed by acclaimed American cartoonist Adrian Tomine, "Abandon the Old in Tokyo" indeed is handsome. A weighty hardback with a black cloth spine, it must mark quite a contrast with the cheap paperbacks and weeklies in which the anthology's comics first appeared.

The stories, dating from 1970, all center on simply drawn characters navigating a claustrophobic world heavy with ink and carefully chosen detail. Sparse of dialogue, they turn on images of human degradation, quiet despair and outrageous violence carefully arranged to cinematic -- even symphonic -- effect. The underlying beat is that of escapist fantasy pounding its head against hard reality. This seems quintessential of Tatsumi's brand of gekiga.

Full interview is here.

'Death Note' cartoonist arrested for possessing knife

Cartoonist Takeshi Obata, author of the famous "Death Note" manga series, has been arrested for illegal possession of a knife, police said.

Reported here

Followed up by here

The publisher of works by cartoonist Ken Obata, the author of the famous "Death Note" manga who is under arrest for illegally possessing a knife, said it will not withdraw his books from store shelves until it gets to the bottom of the incident.

"We are trying to get to the bottom of the incident. We are not considering immediately withdrawing his works from stores," the public relations division of Shueisha Inc. said.

Full link.

Cynically, his works are simply good cash cow to be withdrawn from public sales.

Manga cafe operators face charges for letting schoolboy violate curfew

FUJISAWA, Kanagawa -- Operators of a manga cafe and two of its part-time employees face charges after they allowed a 14-year-old schoolboy to stay in the facility overnight in violation of a prefectural curfew, police said.

Police have sent documents to the Yokohama District Public Prosecutors Office accusing the operators of the Hot Time Fujisawa manga cafe and two of its part-time employees -- men aged 32 and 29 -- of violating a Kanagawa Prefectural Government ordinance aimed at providing youth with a wholesome upbringing.

Full link is here.

Hikkimori prevention measures? I wonder. Japan's hikkimori (social recluse) is growing phenomenon and worried Japanese sociologist. However it is not limited to Japan alone as growing Asian countries have this preplexing social problem.

Anime Instinct

Remember the romantic Japanese anime series Candy Candy that held young girls enthralled in the late 1970s and 1980s?

Viewers in their 30s and 40s here will probably be familiar with the blonde, wide-eyed orphan girl - called Xiao Tian Tian in the Mandarin-translated version shown here - who overcomes obstacles to be with her Prince Charming.

What they won't know is how the man behind the popular anime, or Japanese animation, was actually reluctant to be involved in the TV series, which was adapted from the comic book by Mizuki Kyoko and Yumiko Igarashi.

This is viewpoint from Asian on anime culture. Full article is here.

Animation event draws larger than expected crowd

September 25, 2006 - It’s not every day a person can wear a kimono in South Texas.

“I’ve had this particular one for a while, but I haven’t been able to wear it in public,” said 18-year-old Joi Geier of Laguna Vista, showing off her blue Japanese-style robe.

What might seem out of place at home made her part of the in-crowd at the Rio Grande Valley’s first anime convention: Shimakon.

“Here, we’re expected to be crazy,” Geier said with a smile.