Ok, so here's the cover of the new issue of OTAKU USA. As you can see, we've really got our finger on the pulse of foreign fandom this time with a Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood cover feature and, as per usual, there's all sorts of wonderful J-pop weirdness lurking within as well.
Things I like about this issue: Patrick W. Galbraith (author of Kodansha International's new Otaku Encyclopedia) joins our crazy cast of contribs, Jason Thompson's interview with manga-ka Hitoshi Iwaaki (Parasyte) finally sees the light of day, and Daryl Surat makes all of our heads collectively explode at once with the sheer brute force of his lengthy tribute to the Fist of the North Star theatrical film.
What else? Zac Bentz pulls off a believe-it-or-not interview with Morning Musume's Ai Takahashi and Mike Dent defty duets with Hikaru Utada (perhaps you've heard of her) on a back page Q&A. Also fun: not-for-sissiesss manga excerpts from Broken Blade (CMX) and Takeru (Tokyopop) and an off the cuff tribute to Toei action classic Roaring Fire just because we're like that sometimes.
Look for it on sale at your local bookstore, news vendor, and cigar
shoppe in about a week or so with loyal subscribers getting theirs very
soon after. In the meantime, learn more about our humble publication our official website.
R.I.P. Sumire, dead at the age of 21 from a brain hemorrhage on Sat/13. Sumire was a top model for Koakuma ageha and rakuten's Dazzy Store. She was young and beautiful and supported children's charities. Please pour some Shu Umemura Skin Purifier on the curbs of 109 in her memory...
The incredible Shinichi "Sonny" Chiba is WOLFGUY, the only survivor of a clan of rural werewolves who relies on his feral, full-moon-activated superpowers to solve mysterious crimes. Horror, SF, and Action collide when a bizarre and bloody death in the Tokyo streets plunges Wolfguy into a far-reaching conspiracy populated by crooked politicians, naked white women, bit-players like Hideo Murota, a phantom tiger, and -- best of all -- a shadowy organization (called the J-CIA) out to steal the secret of Wolfguy's powers and the blood right out of his veins. Based on the novels and manga by Kazumasa Hirai, who also gave the world ADULT WOLFGUY. Directed by Toei action great Kazuhiko Yamaguchi (Sister Streetfighter, Karate Bullfighter).
Marvel Comics owns the She-Hulk and Wonder Woman does time at DC, but COMIC ageha -- a one-shot 475 yen special from gal mag publisher extraordinaire INFOREST -- has a plucky inspirational super heroine all their own with Koakuma ageha model Rina Ayukawa (l). Here then is her autobiographical saga, a kind of Shocking Suspense Story with a hostess club twist, as told to manga-ka Manami Moriyama of (I am not making this up) "Mama wa Kyabajyo" fame...
Rina is just 19 when this guy / her friend, off the cuff, recruits her to appear as a guest on a late night TV show. "My career as a tarento has begun!" she squeals, not knowing the trials and tribulations of biblical proportions that will follow.
Two years later, Rina is making the most of her "talent", which consists of shamelessly naming off brand goods that unseen suitors have bought for her in front of a camera.
Rina: “This CHANEL bag was a birthday present from Mr. A. This BVLGARI watch was a birthday present from Mr. B.” Celebrity panelist: “Hey Rina, how many birthdays do you have in one year?” (Cue: laughter, applause)
After four well-received stints as a "mashou onna" AKA "a devilish woman who drives men crazy with desire", Rina is soon pegged for more TV appearances. “Everyone began to notice my name and face,” she recalls. But her budding fame comes at an awful cost...
She can't strut around the neighborhood clutching her Gucci bag anymore without people trash talking her directly within earshot. "Is that mashou Rina? Is it really true that she got men to give her all those things?”
Only now, at the tender age of 22, does it begin to dawn on Rina "the more popular you are, the more people will bash you." And that's just candy and nuts compared to the burn from the Internet! Rina discovers multiple threads about herself (probably on 2chan) that read like the short list of shit you really don't want people to be saying about you to the tune of “I saw her real face and she has really bad teeth and is really ugly. I was so disappointed. I wanted to puke after looking at her. She thinks she’s cool, but I think she’s had plastic surgery and is also having an affair with a rich old man.” (like c'mon, Internet, who isn't?) An unidentified man in a shiny red car tells Rina, “You don’t have to care about what people say about you on the Internet. As long as you are in the media, people will be nice to you and they'll also bash you, too." But only Rina knows how deep the abyss really is. "Mostly people were gossiping things about me that weren't even true...but sometimes...sometimes they mention things that only a close friend or myself would know about."
The TV producers keep demanding that Rina continue to play the mashou for the camera, and the rumors keep flying. "She's cute but...I heard she had cosmetic surgery." "What an awful girl..." Right on cue, Rina starts losing her marbles like in a bad J-Horror flick. "I'm scared! I'm scared of people's EYES!!!"
Rina loses her appetite and can't even bring herself to woof down mom's home cooking like before. "I had so many problems that I forgot about eating," she tell us instead of a therapistwho would only say, "hey, that's show biz."
As Rina begins to drop way below her fighting weight, a kindly TV producer tells her, "There’s a rumor going around that you have an eating disorder. If you have a bad image, you won’t get picked by a sponsor to do a CM. You have to do something about it now." Instead, Rina goes into an extended fetal position on a downward spiral. "My stress made it hard to eat. I didn't have any confidence to keep going...eventually, I lost my regular TV work."
Rina's life is saved when two old friends tempt her back into something approaching normalcy via some magic yakitori skewers. "As my TV work was getting less and less, I finally started achieving some balance in my life." But not in her bank account. Like Scarface if he had lived, Rina has to climb for the top again from the bottom up.
Searching for the meaning to life's inner truths, Rina enters the "yoru no sekai" and becomes a hostess. After she's served a lot of drinks and learned a few lighter tricks, the customers are doing wonders for her self esteem by saying stuff like "Rina, you've gained a lot of weight! You used to be so skinny, but now you have a perfect figure!" Yakitori and working nights lead to a new breakthrough as Rina discovers that she's been called in by her old talent agent. "Its been a while since I heard from him..."
"Hey Rina, have you heard of this crazy magazine called...um...Koakuma ageha? Yeah, I don't get it, but anyway there's this whole "little devils" craze going on right now and the editor in chief remembers your 'mashou' act from TV and was wondering if you'd be interested in doing some modeling for them. Sorry I couldn't help you when you were having a hard time. But I think you're confident and ready now."
This is the Dawning of the Age of Aquarius for Rina. "I realized that nothing in my life had been wasted. Everything was connecting and I was ready for this opportunity. My friends were always there for me, no matter what state I was in. My family tried to support me even though I couldn’t eat what they cooked for me. Now, because I have experienced failure, I understand people's hearts and humanity. I became a woman who can appreciate many things. I will do my best at everything I can do."
After the stylist, hair, and make-up people have attended to her, the cameraman gives the OK. "Rina, here we go!"