Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kishimoto Seishi's 666 Satan

Shonen manga, where heros: get introduced, train, face first opponent, train more, face opponent, opponent shows moves not seen before, hero retrains (for years), hero comes back much stronger, face other opponents, defeats them, trains more, and faces main opponent all over again and has happy ending (and gets the girl). A tried and true formula that manga publishers know will sell and pushes on its mangaka to produce.

Naruto, one of the most epic manga, shonen or shojo, ever created. Its name has almost become synonymous with otaku in certain circles (the "narutard"). It is one of the most stereotypical shonen manga and it follows the shonen doctrine down to the smallest detail, and it has made millions, if not billions, of dollars. 

With the success of shonen manga and anime like Naruto and One Piece, it is not surprising that publishers of shonen targeted manga magazines have not become more creative and diverse. What fix what they don't see as broke? That is for the realm of seinen manga and readers can find hundreds of niche genres represented there. 

But getting back on track. What most people don't realize is that there are 2 different Kishimoto mangaka publishing. I actually had no idea until I was at bookoff the other week and saw a manga thats artwork look exactly like Naruto. I pulled it down, saw the Kishimoto name on the label and automatically assumed that it was Kishimoto Masashi. I took a picture of the cover and looked for it when I got back to my place.

I was thrown for a loop when I saw that not only was it a different Kishimoto, it was his younger twin brother. Talk about lack of cultural capital on my part. 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Baseball and Touch

It is without a doubt that Adachi Mitsuru is the ruler of romantic comedy and he also knows how to write a baseball manga. I will be the first to admit, I'm not usually one for baseball mangas unless it's Ookiku Furikabutte. I usually find the characters too one dimensional and all the "powering up" can get annoying after a while. 

Yet Touch doesn't get that way at all. It's a depiction of what baseball can bring out in people, but it's not an all encompassing theme; which I, as a reader, appreciate. 

This is not going to be a real essay, but just thoughts I had while reading. 

I should warn you, there are spoilers (as always) with this essay.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The Triple Threat of Urasawas 20 Century Boys

There are manga. And then there are manga. Manga that are far superior in plot, drawing, and commercial success that I shall refer to them as the triple threat, much like what Broadway stars are seen for their singing, dancing and acting. This concept of a triple threat can be applied to all categories of art, and I shall be using it here to expand on Urasawas wonderful manga 20th Century Boys, or 20世紀少年.

20th Century Boys, which is a titled after the T. Rex song, has many different themes that mesh together to create a nostalgic but perpetual present kind of manga. By combining these two settings together, 20th Century Boys creates a kind of timeline balance that also reflects human development as well. We are who we were, but we aren't at the same time. The past builds who we become as we age and grow, yet we as humans are always in the present and pushing forward toward a different future. We are always in the present, but constantly reminded and brought back to the past. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Freestyle's "Best Manga 2012"

明けましておめてどう!Happy New Year everybody! I hope that everybody had a wonderful holiday and New Years filled with lots of rest and relaxation, I know I did.

I have something a little different for you guys today. While I was on vacation in Tokyo I ran into a Maruzen to check out manga titles and to see if I could find any books on manga essays and the like. I love bookstores, no matter what country I'm in and I tend to spend hours in them when left to my own devices. This Maruzen had a lot of posters for different manga and anime that are great for looking for new titles. (I've always wanted to work at those stores cause they always have first dibs on the posters)

I was actually on my way out when I spotted a poster on one of the shelves that proudly declared the title "The Top Manga of 2012!" This naturally made me what to read it to see what made it #1. I asked the slightly harassed clerk that I had been bothering the whole time I was there where it was. There proceeded to be phone calls made and within 5 minutes I had in my hands not the actual manga, but the magazine that claims it's the top. This was better than I had hoped for because when I opened up the magazine, Freestyle, there was not just a top 10 list, there was 152! 152 titles for me to look for and read and pretend like I have enough money to afford.

Freestyle is a pop-culture magazine in Japan and manga is heavily represented and discussed in it. I particularly enjoy it because they often have interviews with the mangaka themselves and those are always interesting. This list of the Top Manga 2012 was actually conducted through dozens of manga critics and who I believe are mangaka themselves. Not based on retail volumes sold or anything of the like as far as I can tell. I felt like you guys would be interested in hearing what the Top 10 titles are at least. I'll post up more a little later I think!