The staff of Otaku USA is blogging up a storm over at the new Otaku USA homepage, including…ME in my best space video pirate persona.
Unlike the weird grab bag going on here, actual anime and manga related content will be the bread and butter over at the new blog. See, we've got this new secret weapon that's going to win the war called "YouTube" and we're not afraid to use it! So far, we’ve got the opening min of Genocyber and a Karas: The Revelation clip...
Plus, whereas this blog will continue it's bizarre policy of isolationism, it's actually possible to post comments at the O-USA blog, so sign up and start spray painting the walls. That means you, Steve Harrison, and Carl Horn....
It's going to get avant-spooky Halloweeny tonight at crazy Craig Baldwin's Other Cinema in San Francisco, and you should dress up like a California Rasin with a hot dog on your head and tremble with thrills.
SAT. 10/27: EXPERIMENTS IN TERROR II
BOO! Our annual Halloween horror show boasts the debut of a program curated and introduced by Noel Lawrence: Body-parts of cinema past—silents, grind-house, giallos, Hitchcock, and Karloff—are exhumed, disemboweled, then stitched back together into shockingly new creations of frightful power and monstrous beauty, through fiendishly clever montage and sinister sound design. Featuring Bill Morrison's Mesmerist (with music by Bill Frisell), Michelle Silva's Amor Peligrosa, Wago Krieder's Between 2
Another month, another issue of MEN’S KNUCKLE! This issue, lots of new clothes from Deadly Jester, 26 Brands You Simply Must Buy this Autumn (which are the same brands featured every issue, ala Fuga, Vanquish, Buffalo Bobs, and my personal favorite Casva), the usual tips on how to look like a cross between Bon Jovi, Bad-era Michael Jackson, Jack Sparrow, and bits and pieces of all the Village People, and a smattering of movie, DVD, and music reviews….but never books, because you are only supposed to read Men’s Knuckle!
So what’s the difference between this gal-o fashion magazine and the similar-on-the-surface men’s egg magazine, both of which originate from the same publisher (Million Shuppan)?
Men’s Knuckle calls itself a “New Outlaw Fashion & Lifestyle Magazine” which means the readers are probably slightly older than the teenaged egg type, the clothes lean more towards basic black, and the models (typified by perennial cover boy Ryota, left) scowl and look contemptuous. They are bad boys!
Men’s Knuckle is also much less Shibuya-centric than men’s egg is, and readers are continually urged to scoop up the latest Jack Rose and Eight By creations at Marui stores in Shizuoka, Machida, and the Men’s Knuckle e-commerce site instead of just going to the men’s floor of the 109-2 like the usual Center Guy does. So maybe the Gal-o look is spreading out the Tokyo suburbs, or could it be that hicks from the sticks need to start buying these crazy clothes in order for the magazine-fashion machine to keep spinning? I dunno and can’t think straight anymore, probably because of this guy’s distressed jeans:
Also, men’s egg – to its everlasting credit - often reads like a Gal-o Users Manual on how to bag a club girl. The readers of Men’s Knuckle learned how to nampa ages ago in a previous issue . They’ve moved well beyond simply harassing girls on the street with bad pickup lines, to having to plan elaborate dates that inevitably lead to love hotels and having their backs walked on by a pair of pin heel shoes. This stuff really matters, which is why the new Men’s Knuckle devotes 5 color pages to a helpful strategy guide (taking her to a movie first is ok, but take her shopping if you *really* want to hedge your bets).
The best part of Men’s Knuckle are the ads in the back. You get the usual ones for penis enlargement and keitai dating sites, but no other men’s fashion magazine out there has anything like the “Super G’s Club Catalog” (note the fake Vuitton background) which is essentially 15 pages of We Want You style recruitment ads for Kabuki-cho host clubs.
You can work for Mr. MARIA at Club Kira (he’s 16 years old forever, by the way) who’s ad answers every question you might have about dropping out of school to make Mafia-wedding style champagne towers to woo female clients (Q: “Can I catch the last train home?” A: “Uh…Maybe.” Q: “Is It OK to drink on the job?” A: “Of course! Certainly!”)
Or you, yes you, can join up with the Air Group Entertainment, AKA A.G.E., who’ve teamed up with the Avex record label to present show biz spectaculars like Morning Musuko and Love&Peace, which seems to consist of guys dancing around naked except for fake swans erupting from their groins.
Read Men’s Knuckle religiously and this could be your new life: bad boy by day, King of Dandy by Night! And just think of all the great new friends you’ll meet…
Video sent over from Masaya Honda (who is currently scripting the new Yatterman anime along with episodes of You Are Under Arrest: Full Throttle)…several popular Japanese comedians sing “Do You Remember Love?”, the theme from the Macross movie in their own special way. You'll either get the joke, or you won't. I don't think I can really say anymore than that.
Slasher has finally done it...he's put his incredible mind-melting remix of Kinji Fukasaku's 1978 masterpiece MESSAGE FROM SPACE up on YouTube. I used to watch this over and over again on the VHS he gave me, like 5 years ago. Now, you can all feel the power of the Liabe Brave, Beba-2, and Rockseia the 12th!
The new issue of Otaku USA (number 3, for those of you keeping score) is on sale NOW. Being sick, having my laptop blow up on me, and slaving on the new issue has prevented me from shouting and screaming about it thus far. But here we are.
Glory be, this one is chock full of nuts! Two features I’m particularly proud of include interviews with director Ryuhei Kitamura and mecha designer extraordinaire Shinji Aramaki. The former uses the magazine as a platform to shoot on the Japanese film industry (studio executives are called “useless” and “stupid”) , Iron Sheik style from his new digs in Beverly Hills, while the latter, Aramaki, traces the trajectory of anime from the dawn of the OAV era with Megazone 23 to his latest cel-shaded CGI extravaganza EX MACHINA over a trough of beer and yakitori with Matt Alt.
In between come reviews and features from the likes of Daryl and Clarissa from Anime World Order, Mike Dent of R5 Central, Dave Riley of Fast Karate For the Gentleman, Paul Thomas Chapman of The Greatest Movie EVER, Ed Chavez of Mangacast, and last, but not least, Joey Coco Luster of Robotronic Dynomite! Also, a great big bunch of manga and fujoshi reviews from Shaenon Garrity and Mr. “Manga The Complete Guide” Jason Thompson. With talent this terrifying, it almost doesn't matter what they're writing about, but it had to be pure nerd heroin anyways: Japanese cartoons, toys, comic books, TV games, and such.
We're awesome, you're awesome. Now's the time to have faith in what we can do!
In 1995 A.D., V-Cinema wundermannRiki Takeuchi (Dead or Alive, Jingi 26) set the Japanese pop charts ablaze with his stirring ode to Osaka nightlife Yokubou no Machi (Town of Desire) which briefly became the theme song of the Kansai Special Olympics before the mayor of Osaka saw what a Riki Takeuchi movie actually looked like...
Well, no, not really. But here it is anyways, in both original flavour and karaoke version, because everythig must wind up on the Internet sooner or later.
A non-event perhaps for some “heavy-users” but here is 30 seconds of video shoplifted inside the cosplay floor of the Don Quixote superstore in Akihabara. This where about 90% of the local maids buy their bonnets and aprons. Sorry if things whiz by real fast (best to keep on the move to avoid the sentry-bots) but watch it over and over again to suck up the details. Special Guest Star YUKORIN!
Courtesy of Kung Fu Cult Cinema, the original 1973 trailer for Sonny Chiba's THE BODYGUARD. Narration by Adolf Caesar of the United Negro College Fund commercials and about 6.5 million Blaxsplotation previews. Coming soon to anamorphic English dubbed DVD in November from BCI.
Photo caption: Jason Thompson actually read all this shit...
Jason Thompson’s massive new long-awaited book Manga: the Complete Guide is on sale today from your pals at Dey Ray! Wee! But he didn’t write it all by his lonesome. Several OTAKU USA superstars contributed reviews and essays as well including Shaenon Garrity, Julie Davis, Mark Simmons, and ME! Either way, it was without a doubt Jason (in all sordid truth, my ex-house mate who snuck me into the back door in Viz about a decade ago, so I am forever in his debt) who wound up shouldering the bulk of this Herculean task. As a reminder of those dark days of book-making from which he has now emerged Phoenix-like from the mire, here is a profile of Jason at his lowest ebb that I wrote almost exactly a year ago for Japan’s Figure Oh magazine.
He did it all for you...
THE MAN WHO READ TOO MUCH MANGA
Jason Thompson, 31 years old, is living proof that reading manga can be bad for your health. His chest is sunken. His skin is white as a sheet. His face is so transparent you can see the dark blue veins bubbling just below the surface. With blond hair and light blue eyes, Jason could be the all-American boy next door…after they’d run away to the big city and became a junkie. And in fact, Jason does have a serious addiction.
Jason Thompson is addicted to manga.
“I was hired in February 2005 to write an ‘Encyclopedia of Manga’ for a major New York publisher,” he says over a plate of Indian food that he picks at, as if he barely has the strength to eat. “Since it hasn’t been officially announced yet, I can’t say what the title is, but it will come out in 2007.”
It will be an unprecedented reference book. No one has ever attempted anything like it in English before: a mammoth A-Z of manga, including essays about the history of Japanese comics. The main feature will be individual reviews of every single manga ever published in English. I repeat: EVERY SINGLE MANGA EVER PUBLISHED IN ENGLISH, from recent widely-available mainstream titles like Death Note to the most obscure one-shots imaginable, like a single translation of Versailles no bara released in 1981 in a tiny print run.
“There will be about 1,200 reviews in all, and the book will be about 500 to 600 pages.” Jason speaks shakily, like he hasn’t slept in weeks. Still, there is enough confidence in his voice to let you know that he *will* finish this project, even if it kills him.
“Originally, I set out to write three new manga reviews a day, but I’m behind schedule right now, so I have to write five. Reading takes up most of my time. On a good day, I can get through about 20 tankoban. I spend something like eight hours a day just reading manga.”
The manga itself has come from all over the place. US publishers have donated entire series. Collectors have lent rare runs of back issues out of their collections. And Jason has paid for many manga personally out of his book advance. He also mooches by sitting in back of a local comic shop and reading for free.
Jason estimates that when this book is done, he will have read some 5,000 individual manga in all. The project has literally taken over his life. The workspace in his San Francisco apartment is covered in piles of translated books and comics. It’s hard to walk around the room for fear of stepping on a complete run of Card Captor Sakura or rare copies of Ryoichi Ikegami’s Spiderman. There’s no room to sit on the sofa and the walls are lined with overstuffed bookcases.
The rest of the apartment is in tatters. Dark drapes are hung up over the windows to keep the sun out. No one has cleaned the toilet in months. The kitchen is bare and doesn’t even have a table or a place to sit. Jason explains, “I mostly eat out these days. When I make something here, it’s usually instant food like macaroni and cheese. I don’t like tea or coffee, but I like to drink something hot every now and then to keep me awake. So I usually boil water and mix it with soy milk.”
Thompson has come a long way from the affluent Bay Area suburb of Healdsburg where he grew up. Since childhood, he loved writing and drawing and wanted to become a comic artist. He has created several of his own self-published comics and is currently working on a horror web comic called “The Stiff” which has a cult following. His website with samples of his work is located at www.mockman.com.
When he was in college, Jason became interested in anime and manga. After school, Jason found himself employed as a comic editor at Viz, one of the largest publishers of English language manga in America. There, Jason worked on some of the best-selling manga in the USA, including Dragonball and Naruto. But in order to make his Manga Encyclopedia, he’s had to quit his job (although he still works for Viz as a freelancer). Since he’s both a comic artist and an editor, I can’t imagine anyone better qualified to write and English guide to manga than him.
“When it comes to giving a good review to something, I’m looking for a strong concept, strong execution, and strong art. I like Shonen manga with lots of extreme passion and fighting. The creators have to struggle to keep it fresh all the time. I also like Shojo manga that’s really melodramatic and high-spirited like Hot Gimmick and Hana yori dango.”
Unfortunately, there are several genres that Jason is much less fond of. “Lolicon manga is really bad for you. So is Moe stuff like Azumanga Daioh. Luckily, not much of either has been published in the US so far. I think it is probably some of the most psychologically damaging stuff out there.”
But after hanging out with Jason for a while, you begin to wonder how even the most innocent of manga could affect your mind if consumed in bulk.
“My friends are claiming that writing this book has been bad for my health. I’m totally surrounded by images of escapism all day and all night. As a 31-year-old man, I can’t help but wonder how I’m supposed to relate to any of it…although I guess I’m probably about mentally 14 years old. People say I’m developmentally about 10 years behind everyone else.”
While Jason is one of the hardest working people I know, it’s true that other areas of his life might be a little underdeveloped. “I first kissed a girl when I was 26. We became boyfriend and girlfriend the next day. She broke up with me four years later. She left because she wanted to get married and have children and I wasn’t ready for that.”
Now, thousands of manga have taken her place in the apartment where they used to live together. The kinds of stories that Jason has been forced to read don’t seem to be helping much. “Reading a lot of Shonen Ai manga is like taking the emotional equivalent of poison. It depicts the most extreme states of loneliness and neediness and makes them look desirable to the reader. But if you acted like that in real life, you’d be the most fucked up person in the world. For example, I spent the last year obsessing over this one girl, but we never got together. It was just like a Shonen Ai manga, except she was female. It was awful. Now, my life is more like a dumb harem manga, like Eiken, where I’m surrounded by women, but I’m too dumb to do anything.”
So why not take your cues from a hardboiled gekiga manga like Crying Freeman, I ask him? “Naw,” he says. “That’s too macho. It would make me depressed in the other direction. I’ve never masturbated while reading manga. My friend says that maybe that means I’m a normal person. I really want to be ethical and morally upstanding.”
Jason’s November 2006 deadline to finish his text is creeping up on him. “Starting this project was pretty easy, but landing is going to be tough. I’m getting evicted soon – not because they hate the stink of manga rising from the apartment – but because they are taking the building off the market.”
What’s going to happen to all that incredible mountain manga when he has to move? “I’ll keep my favorites, put some in storage, and give the rest away to my friends.”
Suddenly, it seems as if the coffee has finally kicked in. Jason perks up and delivers an inspirational speech straight out of an editorial page of Shonen Jump. “I love manga!” he exclaims. “The comic market in America was so screwed up for so long that manga was able to completely take over the market. It took a few gutsy publishers in America to see the potential. It had already taken over the rest of the world, so why not here? American comic fans just want to read about the same characters since they were little kids. Manga really does offer something for everyone. So the moral of this book really is: manga is great.”
Then he looks at his watch, which rattles loosely on his bony wrist. “Sorry, I gotta go. I actually have a date tonight, but I have to read some manga first.”
JASON THOMPSON’S TEN BEST TRANSLATED MANGA
This list was very difficult to choose. There are many other great manga: Devilman, Banana Fish, The Drifting Classroom, One Piece....
1. Death Note（デスノート) • Tsugumi Ohba (story), Takeshi Obata (art)
It really is that good, even after volume 7.
2. Please Save My Earth（ぼくの地球を守って) • Saki Hiwatari
Saki Hiwatari's novel-like writing is incredibly powerful. There are so many good shojo story manga from the '70s and '80s. Where are they today?
3. Antique Bakery（西洋骨董洋菓子店ウインーグス) • Fumi Yoshinaga
Fumi Yoshinaga is the best writer in josei manga.
4. Phoenix (火の鳥) • Osamu Tezuka
Tezuka is so good that it is a cliché to talk about how good he is. But it's true. Black Jack is equally good.
4. Cromartie High School（魁！！クロマティ高校) • Eiji Nonaka
This manga is hilarious. Unfortunately, in America, no one has read Ikegami's "Otokogumi," so it's not very popular.
5. Dr. Slump（Dr。スランプ) • Akira Toriyama
When I met Toriyama and I said "I love Dragon Ball," he asked me, "Have you read Dr. Slump?"
6. Sugar Sugar Rune (シュガシュガルーン) • Moyoco Anno
This manga is questionable for this list, but Moyoco Anno is a great artist and Sugar Sugar Rune is her best manga (unless she messes up the ending). Although maybe this is just my perspective when I compare it to all the other manga in Nakayoshi.
7. JoJo's Bizarre Adventure (ジョジョの奇妙な冒険) • Hirohiko Araki
I am biased, so I shouldn't list it here, but Araki is an incredibly original artist.
8. Maison Ikkoku （メゾン一刻) • Rumiko Takahashi
The classic original love comedy manga.
9. Lone Wolf & Cub （子連れ狼) • Kazuo Koike (story), Goseki Kojima (art)
For this list, it's a representative of all Kazuo Koike manga.
10. The Rose of Versailles （ベルサイユのばら) • Riyoko Ikeda
It's unfortunate that only one volume of this manga was ever translated (by Sanyusha in 1981), and it's now out of print.
THE FIVE WORST TRANSLATED MANGA
For the "worst manga" list, I'm only listing original manga. The absolute worst manga are "comicalized" manga adaptations of anime and video games, but there's too many to list.
1. Eiken （エイケン) • Seiji Matsuyama
Its style (turning love-comedy into filthy hardcore ero-manga) is actually pretty original, but... maybe it's just my personal taste, but it's the most disgusting manga I've ever read.
2. Dark Angel （聖獣伝承ダークエンジェル) • Kia Asamiya
Kia Asamiya is a nice person in real life. But Dark Angel is the perfect example of a plotless, pointless "anime-style" manga.
3. Tori Koro (トリコロ) • Hai Ran
The most boring 4-koma manga I've ever read.
4. Bomber Girl （ボンバーガール) • Makoto Niwano
I hope I don't get in trouble for saying this. Please forgive me, Niwano-sensei... maybe I just don't understand...
5. Princess Ninja Scroll Tenka Muso （姫様忍法著天下・無双) • Akane Sasaki •
Everything about this manga is totally generic.
Marxy does a classically "Marxy" deep reading / review of Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno over at Neojaponisme. As such, this 2,000-word-plus enchilada (including footnotes) is the only write-up of our little book that actually matters.
"Unlike other collections of Tokyo fashion history such as PARCO’s Street Fashion 1945-1995 or the more recent, less theoretical The Tokyo Look Book, Macias and Evers limit their focus to outcast/delinquent styles and ignore the media-dictated and ultimately middle-class consumer lifestyles like Nyutora, New Wave, American Casual, Ura-Harajuku-kei, Shibuya Casual, and the DC Boom. But Inferno’s narrow scope makes the point that the most extreme and interesting Japanese fashions have primarily originated amongst social rejects and not elite stylists....Essentially, most Japanese young people adopt magazine-derived styles to look good, whereas the Japanese Schoolgirl Inferno delinquent subcultures all intentionally want to look bad."
That old Cup Nude post from last-whenever just racked up 30,000 ding-dong hits (and counting) to this blog in the last 24 hours, mostly from links to BoingBoing, Reddit, and probably some fat white kid from Nebraska who likes Asian girl's Myspace Bulletin.
Oh, if I only had me a nickel for everyone one of them clicks, then I could buy a server, an iPhone, a Bluetooth, and maybe even start selling banner ads!
But here's the twist! I don't want your e-z money Web 2.0...because you're all a bunch of dirty ducks!