This is the first in a few posts making up my – slightly last minute – contribution to Tezuka Month, that was kicked off by Evan Minto and the guys over at Anigamers. Starting with this look at Vertical’s recent paperback reissue of MW, I’ll be posting a few different things up over the next few days.
Six year-old Yuki Tachibana sees and hears things his classmates never do; the bizarre forms and whispering voices of the strange, supernatural creatures that secretly inhabit his elementary school. Despite the fact that this dubious gift has made him an outcast from his fellow students he seems quietly accepting of his place – that is until he finds the always-empty seat next to him occupied by transfer student Makoto Suzuki, whose attempts to befriend him coincide with the arrival of the ‘others’ – a second group of spirits vying for control of the cold, decaying school building.
Fernando Ramos is Editor-in-Chief of Anime3000.com. Hailing from beautiful San Diego, California, his incurable addiction to cartoons has led him to his current residence of Saitama, Japan, where staying up late winter nights editing articles only reminds him that SD would never get this cold. An avid photography and video fan, he also produces occasional videos and he also writes the photography/rant column Japan Jumble for the site. Find him as Saitamarama on Flickr and HelloNavi on Twitter.
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.
stupid lucky enough this Friday to make the 400+ mile round journey up north to the Leeds International Film Festival for the day. Given the length of the journey and the insane price of train tickets here in the UK that might seem a bit excessive to catch a couple of movies, but the festival’s anime weekend was being kicked off by an unmissable double bill. First off was Mamoru Oshii’s lost, experimental classic Angel’s Egg (more on that to follow), being shown in the UK for the first time in over 20 years, but the real incentive for me was to see the UK premiere of Momoru Hosoda’s latest blockbuster Summer Wars.
Someone is killing robots. Not just any robots either; apparently someone is hunting down and killing the world’s most powerful and famous robots. And this is a problem for Inspector Gesicht of Europol, not just because he’s been put in charge of tracking down the killer, but because the list of victims so far suggests he might be a target himself.
One name has dominated manga over the last few years – in the west at least – Naoki Urasawa. Probably best known for his dark mystery series (and it’s subsequent anime spin-off) Monster and Pluto, his recent re-telling of a story arc from Osamu Tezuka’s Astro Boy, the series that has most recently grabbed not only the attention and awards but also spawned a trilogy of live action movies is the sci-fi and comedy tinged mystery 20th Century Boys. Despite the ferocious buzz around the comic across manga-fandom, I’m slightly embarrassed to say that it was only this month I finally managed to sit down and check it out, courtesy of Viz Media dropping me copies of the first two books to review.
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.
With the English language release of Ponyo imminent, and his recent promotional and speaking visit to the US causing a stir, there’s no denying that there’s a buzz around Hayao Miyazaki at the moment. And it’s a buzz that’s not just getting the attention of anime fans, but also grabbing the interest of the wider mainstream media and audiences – something that is, arguably, long overdue. As such it’s either luck or great timing that Manga Entertainment have just released Panda! Go Panda! on DVD here in the UK, and while it’s been out in the US for several years, this was the first time I’d had a chance to sit down and watch this early chapter in Miyazaki-san’s career.