I had discovered the Animage comics version of Nausicaa, which provided my entry into the world of Japanese comics--a world which was to cause me to devote my life to bringing it to all English-speaking people.Toren Smith, a brilliant editor and translator and one of Japanese comics' first and greatest advocates in the English-speaking world, is dead. [more inside]
In which a young girl creates a giant radish spaceship, becomes its captain, then returns two years later in a bunny outfit with super powers.
Here is the opening anime from the 20th Japan Science Fiction Convention, Daicon III (1981). And here is the follow-up anime for the 22nd convention, Daicon IV (1983). Both are loaded with pop culture references, and are (I hear) famous among Japanese anime fans. Here's some more information on them. The student animators of these shorts went on to found the anime studio GAINAX, which you may have heard of. GAINAX previously: one two
The video game SEGAGAGA, a Japan-only release for the Dreamcast, is an incredibly odd bit of gaming history. A business sim (of sorts) it tasks the player to lead Sega to victory over its rival the evil DOGMA Corporation (a thinly veiled analog for Sony). Loaded with in-jokes obvious and obscure, it is a love letter to Sega fans, and it was one of the last Dreamcast games made before Sega went third party. After a four-year hiatus, the Segagaga fan translation project has resumed work on localizing this most unusual game. Intro video. Edge Magazine interviews the director. [more inside]
Satoshi Kon, the director of such celebrated anime movies as Perfect Blue, Millennium Actress, and Paprika, has died (reportedly of cancer) at the age of 47. Kon's movies dealt with the slipperiness of the boundaries between performance and reality, truth and illusion. His death leaves the status of his next movie, The Dream Machine (Yume miru kikai), in doubt. As outsourcing and a long recession have taken their toll on Japan's increasingly insular anime industry, David Cabrera notes, I cannot think of a single person alive in the Japanese animation industry who would have been a greater loss than Mr. Kon.
"Nisan didn’t mean to fall in love with Nemutan. Their first encounter -- at a comic-book convention that Nisan’s gaming friends dragged him to in Tokyo -- was serendipitous. Nisan was wandering aimlessly around the crowded exhibition hall when he suddenly found himself staring into Nemutan’s bright blue eyes... 'I’ve experienced so many amazing things because of her,' Nisan told me, rubbing Nemutan’s leg warmly. 'She has really changed my life.' Nemutan doesn’t really have a leg. She’s a stuffed pillowcase — a 2-D depiction of a character, Nemu, from an X-rated version of a PC video game called Da Capo." The New York Times' Lisa Katayama on "2-D lovers" in Japan, the latest outgrowth of otaku subculture.
Meet Chikan. He likes to touch young women in the crowded subway of Tokyo. Meet Chikan, Otaku, Pachinko, Yopparai Salaryman, and yes, even Geisha at 51 Japanese Characters. [more inside]
The anime series The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya has some pretty devoted fans. OK, very devoted fans. One such fan has started a petition to allow people to legally marry anime characters. The object of his affection is Asahina Mikuru. His goal is 1,000,000 signatures, and is making slow progress. One blogger cites two legal snags: Japan doesn't allow polygamy, which means one human per anime character, and Japan gives tax breaks to married couples, so those with a strictly 3D arrangment might view the otaku as getting an unfair deal. Yet another blogger has cited a third, perhaps more obvious snag.
Anime Music Videos. Yet another remixing web subculture, they're usually a source of amateurishly produced angst. From the competitive perfectionists, though, come well lipsynched, action packed, meta-mashuped, and occasionally just filthy stuff for cartoon nerds. Besides the usual metal, ballads, and pop rock, there's some Daft Punk, club, and downtempo accompaniment. Or you can just go to hell. Wear headphones and no-one will know.
Densha Otoko (Train Man) is the true story of a japanese otaku who finds love. After saving a beautiful woman on a train from the unwanted attentions of a drunken groper, an anonymous poster writes about the incident on the the Japanese mega messageboard 2ch. With the encouragement of his fellow internet geeks, he pursues her romantically and posts every detail to 2ch. Japanese media has been obsessed with the story all year, and the original postings were adapted into a best selling book, a major motion picture, an enormously popular TV show, and even a stage play. Of course, it may not be real.
"Michael Lohman is sick" read the email to students in MAT 308: Theory of Games, explaining why the Princeton mathematics graduate student had not yet graded their homework. Not sick as in "flu"-sick, but sick as in "squirting his bodily fluids into unsuspecting women's drinks and cutting off locks of their hair for unspeakable acts involving mittens"-sick. And not just any women, but exclusively Asian women. An extreme case, to be sure, but the Western"otaku" lusting after (and often having much success with) Asian women is a quite familiar and often disturbing trope for those of us who have spent much time among the disaffected English majors, anime fans, martial artists, dirty old men, and various other Asiaphiles. Yet decidedly non-nerdy folks have expressed a definite preference for Asian women as well. Where does this preference (which certainly goes both ways) come from? As such interracial couplings increase, should we even try to distinguish relationships based on "Suzie Wong" stereotypes or even outright economic exploitation, and relationships that are somehow more "acceptable?" Or will non-Asian guys with Asian girls constantly be forced to prove it's not just a case of "Yellow Fever?"