Had a lot of fun this weekend when I returned as a guest on the Beta Male Experience podcast, alongside host Corey and the ever-entertaining Ed Sizemore. In the first half of the show you can hear us discussing the movies we’ve seen recently, before moving on to talk about my new book Paintwork. It’s a fairly spoiler-free chat, where I answer the guys’ questions and go into quite a bit of detail about the ideas, influences and technology behind the stories. Well worth a listen, even if I say so myself. Plus Ed and Corey are always great value – go check it out now.
Paintwork is out now – you can get Kindle versions from Amazon US and Amazon UK, and versions for all other popular e-readers (including iPad and Nook) at Smashwords. Those of you that prefer to buy your eBooks from an independent store can grab it from The Wizard’s Tower.
The name Natsuhiko Kyogoku is probably unfamiliar to most anime fans, but the novelist has already had one of his works adapted – Madhouse’s 2008 series Mōryō no Hako – with a second, Loups-Garous, being adapted into a movie by Production IG and due for release in 2010. An expert in Japanese folklore tales and yōkai, the supernatural creatures that inhabit them, Kyogoku-san is best known in Japan for his award winning mystery novels. Unfamiliar with his work myself until now, I was intrigued when US publisher Vertical Inc sent me a review copy of his debut novel – and the first to be translated into English – The Summer of The Ubume.
It’s hard to walk down a street in urban Tokyo without being reminded of the ever-present earthquake threat. Large signs on nearly every street notify you of emergency procedures and direct you to evacuation points. While it is undoubtedly drowned out by the background noise and visual blur for the average Tokyo resident, for a tourist it can seem quite startling or disturbing at first, and feel like health and safety overkill. Until, that is, someone points out to you that experts predict there is 70% or higher chance of an earthquake measuring 7.0 magnitude on the Richter scale hitting Tokyo in the next 30 years. It’s a terrifying situation for an urban population that large, and one that forms the basis for Studio Bones and Kinema Citrus’ eleven part series Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
Even if you’ve never read a single page of manga before, the chances are you’re familiar with Osamu Tezuka – and if the name isn’t familiar, then it’s likely that his most famous creation Astro Boy, is. Even though she’s never, to my knowledge, read a page of the manga herself, my girlfriend’s most prized purchases during last year’s Tokyo shopping exhibitions where the t-shirts featuring the iconic robo-Pinocchio she picked up in Harajuku. But Tezuka – often referred to as the ‘God of Manga’ and the ‘Father of Anime’ – had an impact beyond his cute character designs and children’s adventure stories, with even Astro Boy at times exploring the darker sides and moral ambiguities of human nature, and perhaps his strongest vehicle for this being the character Black Jack.
Mariko Koike is one of Japan’s best known women writers, having built a reputation on the popularity of her romance and detective novels, short stories and essays. While winning critical and commercial acclaim in Japan, along with a string of award, she has of yet failed to gain popularity outside her home country, mainly due to the obvious language barriers. Which is way I was particularly interested when publishers Vertical Inc sent me a copy of her first novel to be translated into English, The Cat in the Coffin.
I’ve been wanting to check out the bestselling Manga Guide series since I first saw images of them when they were published in Japan, so I was thrilled this week when I received the first four English translations, courtesy of their US publisher No Starch Press. I’ve already got a large and random collection of teach-yourself, ‘Dummies guide’ style manuals covering everything from web development to postmodernist theory, so combining that format with manga artwork was obviously going going to snare my interest. The question was though, where the books serious study aids or just another Japanophile curiosity?
Lots going on at the house of Totoro this week – first off is an excellent and insightful interview with Ghibli animator and art director Kosaka Kitaro (Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise, Akira, Spirited Away and Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea among many, many others) over at Ghibli World. Here’s a tasty extract:
In fact, it is evident how Miyazaki’s films, notwithstanding their highly imaginative stories, tend to present characters which are deeply human in their behavior and sensibility…
One thing I knew for sure when I started hitting the shops in Tokyo: there was no way I was coming home without something Denno Coil related. Didn’t see anything in the way of toys, but I did grab this pretty DC artbook in a manga store in Shinjuku.
I know a lot of people really dug the Anime Guide to Headphones image I posted up a few months ago, myself included, so I couldn’t resist picking up the book it was meant to promote when I stumbled across it in Mandarake.
Yet again – as with all these Japanese artbooks – it’s beautifully printed. Each double page spread features a page of Japanese text and diagrams about a particular brand and model of headphones opposite a large, full colour illustration of a girl modeling them.