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Homegrown: UK anime and manga talent

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One of the nicest things about running this site has been the number of people that have contacted me directly to chat about our shared interests. Perhaps not surprisingly a lot of them seem to be from creative backgrounds – graphic designers, artists, animators, writers, CGI modelers, mangakas – some from Japan, many from Europe and even more from the US. But today I want to showcase the work of three people from here in the UK whose anime and manga influenced work has really impressed me.

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Akira (1988): Blu-ray review

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It’s very hard to underestimate the global impact of Katsuhiro Otomo’s film adaptation of his own, epic manga Akira. It broke box office records when it opened in Japan, and along with Ghibli Oscar winner Spirited Away it is probably the anime film most western ‘non-fans’ have seen. For many of my generation it is a much treasured and personally important film and, without resorting to hyperbole, one that the first viewing of was a life-changing experience, akin to watching Star Wars, 2001 or Blade Runner for the first time.

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New Miyazaki manga: details and images emerge

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Following up last month’s story on the first new Miyazaki drawn manga in several years, I’ve managed to track down some more details and a couple of images (click for larger versions). The first part of Kaze Tachinu (風立ちぬ, The Wind Rises) was published last week in Japanese hobby magazine Model Graphix, and is based on the life of Zero fighter designer Horikoshi Jiro, and is not – as some websites will try and tell you – a ‘glorification of WW2 kamikaze pilots’.

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New Miyazaki manga and Lupin III website

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Some exciting news for Ghibli fans: Spirited Away director and animation god Hayao Miyazaki is creating another manga. Although it’s by no means a first, it is a relatively rare event, with the legendary artist preferring to concentrate on his celluloid based work. What is most exciting is that it is another series for Japanese hobby magazine Model Graphix, and as such see’s Miyazaki returning to his intricate mechanical designs, as Ghibli World explains:

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Takashi Iwai – Manga Headphones Catalogue & Guidebook (新・萌えるヘッドホン読本) (2008)

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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.

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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.

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Katsuhiro Otomo Art Books

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Some of the coolest things I picked up in Tokyo were a trio of Katsuhiro Otomo art books – although sadly they weren’t for me, intended instead for my favourite Otomo-san obsessive Al T. Shame, as I would have liked to have spent some quality time with these beauties. Luckily though, I was able to grab a few shots before I let him get his grubby paws all over them.

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Shibuya

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Shibuya was the only place in Tokyo that I felt slightly disappointed with. Initially anyway.

After paying our respects to wonder-dog Hachiko at the stations exit (if you don’t know the heart-wrenching story, it really is essential reading), we headed into the much hyped shopping district. Dominated by big brand, global chain stores like Gap, HMV and Tower, the place feels decidedly soulless compared to the style mash-up of Harajuku. Sure there’s the Bathing Ape shop, with it’s funky disco-bling interior and glass steps filled with trainers on conveyor belts, but the prices in there feel like someone is actually taking the piss. Same goes for the G-Star store – nice gear, but how much? Really? Most interestingly, you never see anyone actually buying fuck all in either of them.

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More images from Tokyo

As you can probably imagine, I’ve been taking a lot of photos while I’ve been over here in Japan. Due to time constraints and the way WordPress works, I haven’t been able to share as much with you as I’d like, but I have been dumping literally hundreds of them on Facebook. So it suddenly occurred to me – this is the interweb, and the power of the hyperlink is strong.

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Shinjuku JR at rush hour

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I’m always surprised when people moan that no-one talks on the tube in London – I mean, exactly what the fuck are we meant to say? It’s pretty much the same on the Tokyo JR lines – no-ones chatting, too engrossed in their manga, their text messages, their DS and PSP games, the flat screens showing beauty product ads and video games trailers or studying their reflected hair in the dark windows. Pulling into stations is always announced by the usual bombardment of neon signs, followed by the sight of commuters waiting in perfect, orderly queues. Something not so familiar if you hail from London, then. Some might say it looks a bit robotic and regimented, but that’s hardly two words I’d use to describe Tokyo residents. Not fucking rude are three that spring to mind.

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