Calm down already!

You'd think he'd have grown a spine by now.

One character type we see repeat itself over, and over and over again in anime and manga is that of the exceedingly timid teen aged boy- one who passes out from a nose bleed at the thought of a girl touching his hand, the sight of a bra strap, even just on a mannequin can trigger a complete freeze of motor skills for an untold amount of time. The guy can't even talk without back peddling every other word and eventually leads to passing out or running away. Lets not even get started on getting hugged and noticing when a breast touches their chest or back. Sure some may find it “ cute” others find it too unrealistically stupid and overplayed- so is there a point to it?

The gag is more or less no different than the western portrayal of guys as lazy, short sighted- everything can be fixed with duct tape and beer sports obsessed knuckle drager. It just stands out to us more in the west as being out of place because it's a trait not really noticed in our cultural entertainment, or even how we are. Curious about this I spent a great deal of time talking to a few of my lady friends in Japan . I more or less pieced together most of the reasoning long before, but wanted more solid backing. What I was told is that over there young men are considered timid, often lacking confidence and over saturated with noble ideas of what a man “ should be” but so beat down to a level of conformity that any ability to mature in “ that” area is more or less neglected.

Women on the other hand have taken the more western path and become more aggressive and assertive- which obviously makes the whole timid issue worse. It's naturally played up more in a entertainment medium, but there you have it for those wondering. As annoying as it may be to some of it, it has it's place along side any cultural stereotyping digs we all have. it over?

They hint, but does it mean anything?

Many people have been following the Bleach series for some time now. Now, it's considered one of the “ big titles” in the US and has proven to be a break out hit despite it's rather vague origins. The series Kubo Tite is not, or rather was not an established Mangaka before. His earlier series “ zombie powder” is really only known to those who are in the manga trenches, more know it only in hindsight. So what drove it?


Kubo actually got his first shot after winning a contest. He was just like any other fan, creating something for the fun of it. Not formally trained, no real discipline. Kubo himself is known for saying he cant read other comics, or get caught up in anything or his attention span will drift and nothing will get done. The series Bleach is what made him a Manga superstar.


While the series has had it's ups and downs it still manages to hold on to it's high marketability. Fans have even managed to learn when Tite is having attention span issues, sighting excessively long fights that take up 5 or 6 issues but accomplish little to nothing in the story telling area. He has created so many characters, and archs in the story that it's hard to figure out how, or when he's going to tie them together. With the “ Fullbringer” arch over with the Bleach series has moved into a story line that seems like it will be bigger than the last few arches. Will this be a climactic end to the Bleach Sara, or do you think Kubo will try and draw it out as long as possible?


More games make the jump

and I'm conflicted.


Now it's no secret that the Anime world is full of “ western” games getting anime spinoffs: Halo, Dante's Inferno..More recently news of Dragon Age making the jump. The market is certainly open to it, and fans more or less seem to love seeing the anime films as opposed to live action ( which that ALWAYS plays out well ) /sarcasm.

Apparently EA/Bioware are far from finished when it comes to pumping money out of their titles. Recent situations around their games asside. Recently it was announced that Bioware was teaming up with FUNimation, T.O Entertainment and Production I.G to produce a Mass Effect anime. Very little was shown other than teasers of concept work.


What can be best gathered by what was shown is that the series more or less follows James Vega, the Alliance marine we meet at the start of Mass Effect 3. It's fairly obvious that the series has to take place “ before” the third game, for obvious if not absurdly silly reasons that many just can't seem to understand why it was done as such. While I'm happy to see both this, and DA get new life, I admit a part of me dreads seeing what may come of the stories and characters as it relates to thegames lore...even though the developers did a pretty good job throwing that out the window ontheir own. Regardless of how anyone feels at the moment, it's going to happen. No official release dates have been set, though speculation leans to later this year or early next year. That is if the Mayans don't kill us all first.

taking it digital

magic moving box.

Manga has been seen in both static printed form, and then adapted to anime form, even to live action film- same as many western books. However both western and eastern comics have made moves to the motion comic. The digital versions are less common in manga however.


The basic idea is that you take a comic, break it apart panel by panel and splice it together in an animated style, sometimes having a character actually make a subtle movement. Music, sound effects, and even voice overs may be added to heighten the effect. Distributed online, or in some cases on a small disk the new format has some interesting appeal.


I personally rather enjoy the branching off of styles, granted it's not well suited for all story types. Though arguably the Hentai community will do well with it, they do well with everything...which is sorta disturbing in it's own right, but like the porn industry- actually may periodically take a new approach to something before it catches on with the more mainstream, viewer friendly aspects. I'd personally love to see more of this with manga, currently it's most often fan made- something I think groups like Shonin should jump on. HA see what I did there, because they are called sh- oh you already got it.... A great perk to this too comes from the ability to distribute to a broader audience. As it stands now, most manga fans who are up to date need to go through scanners and other fan translated and hosted sources ( and I actually feel they do a much much better job and presenting the true series and dont “ honey coat” the text for a generic western market aimed to be more kid friendly.

Manga As An Art Form

I cannot begin to properly estimate the amount of times I have tried to explain the beauty of certain manga to other individuals, only for them to stare at me blankly and reply with a statement such as, "Oh, so you like comic books." -- surely, while I suppose the most generalized comparison of manga for some people are "comic books", I've never thought of manga in this way. In fact, more personally, I've always thought of manga more as an art form.

Some individuals will become very offended if you refer to manga as an art form around them. Since so many manga series eventually become anime, people tend to think of them just as "cartoons" and then generalize them again into some sort of childish element that doesn't merit respect. However, I feel that this truly isn't the case. When I think about the amount of manga series available out there that have the most stunning and gorgeous artwork on almost every page, it's shocking to me how anyone cannot see the art that is incorporated into each release.

Often times, the artwork that is seen in manga is what really drives me to become interested in a new series. The two main factors that I am always searching for are a great storyline and unforgettable artwork. For example, Kaori Yuki has a very recognizable style and so many of her drawings within manga can truly be considered art in my opinion. There are so many others that I would also consider to be artists because of the artwork that they contribute to manga.  It remains beyond my understanding how anyone can look at the drawings and creations of these individuals and not realize that manga is a form of art.

so- wait. Whats going on?

The arc of the arcs

One of the major issues I have with Manga, or really any comic series is the endless story arcs that more times than not feel utterly disconnected from previous ones. In my own work I've seen all too easily one can fall into that trap, and it seems to be unavoidable in the long run. Lets face it you need to have something happening to keep a story going. The problem is more along the lines how to keep the story, but not loose the feel.


Manga has it worse in the sense that unlike the monthly or bi weekly western comics, manga is more times than not a weekly thing. They lack the massive teams of the western books and have to constantly keep things rolling to keep the masses short attention spans in a heavily saturated market. It's an up hill battle for sure- however it feels that the “ spirit” of a series, it's main driving focus seems to fade rather swiftly. Off the top of my head I can name at least 5 or 6 running series currently out that seem to have lost their way- or well on the path to becoming a utterly different series with the same characters.


How do we approach these as a reader? That is up in the air. Fans will come and go, some loose interest and walk off yet there is always the possibility to gather new readers who may have not been fans of the first set of arcs but in love with the newer ones. I think it's sad in a way when a series out grows it's own roots, and seems to just be “ reaching” to turn in a weekly manga. Worse yet if the Mangaka already admits to a short attention span themselves. This usually leads to a “ fill it out as we go” mentality that will very quickly loose focus.

No! No! Too much

Fans...sometimes you have to wonder.

Anime, Manga, Western Comics....they all have their fans. And anyone who has looked into- well just about anything has noticed that from time to time fans can get a little too carried away. Trust me in my line of work I have seen fandom go into some dark and scary places, and on the flip side I've seen some amazing talent and creativity come from it as well. I do have to site however that Manga fans can go to both extremes with ease, sometimes at the same time.


You can say that it's all due to the already “ hypercharged!” nature of the genre that fuels some of these things- however I tend to disagree. Some of the most disturbing things have come out of marketing ( or I should say a Nation with different protection laws) We are talking about “adult” toys, body pillow cases and bed sheets with people's favorite female characters laying on them life size, dojin with fan dreamed couples going at it in a way that would make cats, and a Saturday night queen blush. These are just some of the commercial things. Spend any amount of time on any of the user defined art galleries and you will no doubt see how crazy it can all get.


I don't exactly want to say it's a bad thing, But sometimes I just have to catch my breath and have a long, deep and mindful “ WTF!?!?!?!” moment at some of the fan bases imaginations.

I miss the classics

now with less chibi

  I have nothing against many of the new series that are out and about in the Manga world. Most of them are wonderful, if not imaginative in finding new ways to walk over already heavily used story lines. Though that is something any medium can expect to contend with. While I don't dislike the newer stuff I can't help but feel that the classics are slowly slipping away.


Naturally one is entitled to decide what they consider to be classic. I could point back to things like Gigantor or Astro boy as “ classic” given they both gave rise to the monsters that Manga and anime have become today. Rather I'm looking to the classics that broke the genre into new territories. Akira, Fist of the North Star, Guyver, New Dominion Tank Police; so many that set the stage for that initial burst into super stardom in the west and took the whole medium into a new direction.


I can't say any of the new stuff lacks the creativity or power behind it- however it feels that many creators have become slightly complacent on the success of the industry to carry them on, or just rather not take much of a risk. On the other hand some creators seem to take the idea of risk and urinate on it while balancing on an electric fence. In that way they push too far sometimes and fall into riding that beast to excessive levels. Something about the story telling, imagery, and universal themes have shifted and are not what they once were. At least in my heart they are sorely missed.

Full Moon

I just recently got into watching the anime series of Full Moon (or Furu Mūn o Sagashite).  I discovered it after I signed up for a Hulu account last week. Within watching only a few episodes, I found myself instantly hooked on this series. Although I always seem to have an interest in anime and manga that features musicians or models, I really like this particular story because of what the main character is going through.


Mitsuki Koyama is 12 years old and is a talented singer who dreams of becoming professional someday. The problem is that she has sarcoma and the only cure is to get surgery. However, surgery would risk her destroying her vocal cords and losing her singing capability. One day, she is visited by a pair of shinigami, who explain to her that she only has a year left to live.

Discovering that she only has a small amount of time left, Mitsuki decides to spend her time devoting herself towards becoming a singer. Eventually the shinigami begin helping her, but originally it's on the basis that they don't want her to have a hard time letting go of the physical realm when she dies in the future. However, as time progresses, they both begin to realize that she is very talented and so they proceed to help her as their powers can permit.

In the sub-plot, Mitsuki is also hoping that she will meet Eichi again - a young boy that she met while she was living at the orphanage. Although they both liked each other, Eichi eventually was adopted and had the chance to immigrate to America before Mitsuki had the chance to tell him how she felt about him.

Overall, I've watched around maybe 14 episodes of this anime series, and I have to say - I love it!

Sometimes they go too far.

More changes from one medium to the other.

I already ranted, or at least explained why anime, or manga will get subtle changes depending on the market. However there is one thing that bothers me to no end. This is when they nearly re-create and utterly alter a series into a bastardized half re-telling of the story.

Now to start It's important to note that Japanese copyright laws are very very different than many are use to. Rights that a creator has over their manga series are not nearly as protected if their intellectual properties cross over into a different medium. That is to say unless a creator shells out an insane amount of money, an anime studio can lease the rights to a series, butcher it utterly - and the writer can do little about it.


A great example of this is the series Dessert punk. Perhaps not the biggest “ in your face” series, but has a decent following none the less. Most people in North America really only know the anime series. While having its moments is overly comical and filled with more big boob and urine gags than a collage fraternity house. That's not to say the Manga was lacking them, however the anime studios took that side and ran with it, over played them and wrote in a huge swath of new ones to the point that any of the serious aspects of the series were lost in an otaku nerdgasm. In contrast the Manga took a much darker route and had some powerful moments. It's not the only example out there, but one that came most to mind. I'm sure anyone out there can site countless examples of this.