Thursday, September 22, 2011

Space Family Carlvinson, chapter 2

Space Family Carlvinson, chapter 2
I really like this series, and I recently got my hands on volume 1 of a reprint version of the manga from 1999. As I was reading through it, I decided that I had to scanilate at least one chapter, and the expressions on Corona's face pretty much guaranteed that it would be chapter two. So, here it is.

Short summary: A troupe of space-traveling dramatic performers accidentally sideswipe an Earth ship and kill the two adults on board. The troupe discovers the sole survivor - an infant they name "Corona". The series starts up four years later as the group takes on their greatest performance - acting like Corona's parents on a remote planet while waiting for another Earth ship to come pick up the girl. It's a sitcom with LOTS of references to contemporary U.S. movies (one of the supporting characters is an alien disguised as a wolf, named John, who likes to show horror flicks at his movie theater - CHUD, Dawn of the Dead, Deadly Spawn. He wears a jacket with "Carpenter" stenciled on the back).

The primary cast:

Mother: A large furry rat. She's the de facto leader of the troupe, and the one who was driving the ship when it clipped the Earthling craft.

Father: A battle robot. The dimmest bulb in the box, but the most devoted member of the troupe when it comes to caring for Corona.

Corona: The star of the series, more or less. A 4-year-old girl with a curiosity streak a mile wide. Very similar to Arale-chan from Dr. Slump but not as indestructible.

Tur-kun: A creature pulled straight from a 1980's Hollywood horror flick. Identified as Corona's "pet squirrel". At one point, is shown with the full name "Turbo" (where "bou" is a suffix added to boy's names). Loves to get into close-up shots to the reader for the shock value. In one chapter, he states that he is a pet squirrel, not a cauliflower.

Belka: An elf-like humanoid who loves weapons and fighting. When panicked can generate enormous strength. When over-heated, becomes brain-dead. Spends most of her time acting as the local police force.

Andy-kun: One half of an android (the legs and head part). The hardware technician in the troupe. Speaks with a metallic accent.

Parka: Not exactly sure what Parka is, or its role in the troupe. Mostly it just stands in one place. The character design is a parody of the cover art for the Japanese release of one of Fred Saberhagen's "Berserker" books.

Click the image below to start reading.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Akihio Itou Interview from AA

There aren't many interviews with Akihiro tou that I know of, and I haven't seen any in English. The one I do know of is at the end of Geobreeders: Atomic Attack, when Imakake sat down to talk out the plans for AA in advance. I was hoping for a few more revelations but the majority of the transcript is fairly superficial. In any case, I did want to at least try to get this one out onto the net. In several cases I paraphrased Itou's answers, so if you see anything where the translation could be more accurate, let me know and I'll make the corrections then. I'm including the Japanese script here for reference, if you want it.

Before the Attack!

Two guys in heated discussions...!

During the Fall of 1995, Itou and Imakake met in a family restaurant in the suburbs of Ayagane City to discuss the battles in Atomic Attack. Below is the excerpt of that meeting.

Itou (I) : Nice to meet you!
Imakake (K): My pleasure!

I: I brought the "Votoms" manga.
K: Uwah... Thank you! I asked the editorial department for these three days ago and never heard back from them. It was rumored they'd been packed in tin cans. (^_^)

I: I've never had that problem. I just narrowly escape all the time... (^_^) When I read the manga as it was being serialized, I'd gone "Wow, this is great!" and I bought the volumes right away. Which, unbelievably, brings us to today. (^_^)
K: I know, right? Actually, when I was just starting in anime, a long time ago, I was on another project and I just sat down and read all of the Geobreeders manga at once, just like that.

I: Recently, when I was talking with the editorial department and they said your name, I answered "no way, I'll take care of it right away!"

K: Shall we get right into the questions?...
I: Ok.

K: The Vamos is fundamentally a really normal vehicle, right?
I: I have no idea. (^_^) I know very little about cars... Even though I draw them myself!

K: Eh! But you create these fanatically-detailed vehicles.
I: It's because there are car fanatics out there that can look at a picture, no matter how messed up it is, and say "it's this particular vehicle" just based on some set of details.

K: Why did you select the Vamos?
I: Because it's easy to draw.

K: What! It's not difficult?
I: But, no matter what you do with it, you can tell what it is. (^_^)

K: What do you use for reference materials? You don't just cruise around town all the time, right?
I: I'll look at mini-cars in catalogs and draw them.

K: That's great. I plan on using the Vamos myself. Is it ok if I remodel it?
I: Please change it as much as you like.

K: I'm not intending to alter the outer appearance, though.
I: You say you want to change it, but I don't understand what you would change. (^_^)

K: Changing the topic, regarding weapons, is there anything you'd say like "use this one"?
I: As a foundation, for Hound, use the latest ones. Umezaki likes older guns... Everything else are special cases.

K: When you say "older", what will you allow?
I: Umezaki likes the major ones where the model guns are no longer available for sale. The kinds where an older gun collector would say "I have that one", that kind of thing.

K: I see. Not ones preferred for actual fighting, but those turned into plastic model guns.
I: She'll pick the ones that are really impractical.

K: In volume 3, Umezaki was looking for references on a "long weapon" although she never actually found it...
I: Ah, the Bren light machine gun wasn't it. I remember looking at either "Monthly GUN" or "Combat Magazine" and thinking "I wish I had one". (^_^)

K: What do you use for reference materials?
I: I'll fish through magazines at old bookstores. Although, getting my hands on the model guns is also good. Though, if they're rare, they get very expensive... I'll pick what's needed to draw from. But, sometimes I'll think "I want to draw that!" and I'll use whatever I can get.

K: I see.
I: I'm just talking. I don't really think about the details. (^_^)

K: But the results still look great.
I: I want to be at the level of the Votoms manga. Just looking at the story crammed in that page count, I could never do that no matter how many pages I drew.

K: Then in the last two volumes the page count went up. Although he was the comic-ilizing the anime; he had the outline and schedule, and after that he had a lot of freedom...
I: Think the same way about "AA". Do what you want with it.

K: Let's get to the main conversation. The majority of your cars are cute, right?
I: Actually, while there are specific rules, I don't draw cars with lots of curves. Pretty much nothing if it's not boxy. (^_^).

K: In that case, it's no problem putting foreign cars in the "Geobreeders" universe if they have lots of straight lines?
I: No, it's just that I can't draw draw them.. Imakake-san, you can draw whatever you like.

K: I want to stay as close to the original image as possible...
I: Conversely I want the opposite. (^_^)

K: By the way, you really like guns, don't you.
I: I don't think of guns that way. While I hear "is he a gun lover or a military fan", I don't think I'm either one.

K: Eh?
I: I like pictures of "gun fights"... That's why I don't draw revolvers.

K: If there's no ejecting shells, it's a dull image. (^_^)
I: A contest of who has the most cartridges! (^_^)

K: Well then in "Atomic Attack", where we see what the cats in Mahama (the setting of the story) are thinking and doing, the main focus will be on the one called Manx...
I: It's not a very flashy summary, eh.

K: And the Kagura members won't be making an appearance either..., I think...
I: It's no problem if they don't appear. (Paraphrased) I want to see what happens in my world. (burst of laughter)

K: What will happen to Manx after this book?
I: Well, he may reappear... (^_^)

K: As a very ordinary old man, though.
I: With that kind of character, that'd be great!

K: Then, with Irie and Kuro-Neko... and the Mahama cats... (discussion of plot omitted) I've been thinking of lots of possibilities. Is this ok?
I: It's fine! Hmm, I like it!! I'm thoroughly sold.

K: I'm having problems with names for the new cats, though.
I: Usually I don't come up with names until the end. Initially I had rules, but I gave up on them. Lately I've just been using a picture book for ideas. That's what happened with "Rudo" in the anime.

K: I'd also like to tie this together with the beginning of volume 6.
I: Giving the impression that this is all being compressed together, eh.

K: I think it would be good, if possible.
I: Might be fun.

K: Ah, it wouldn't be impermissible for Taba to investigate the nuclear power plant, would it?
I: It's ok! I'll fix the beginning of volume 6 to read "Third Mahama Power Plant Capture". (^_^)

K: Thank you. I'll work hard on making the 2nd capture then. I'm worried about properly setting up Hound's actions and Irie's speculations, though.
I: Because there's going to be lots of great puzzles, right? (^_^) When I reread my works , there's lots of times when I can't remember what the answer was supposed to be for a specific puzzle.

K: I'm worried about following up on Vashuka's trip to Russia.
I: I did have plans for that. Vashuka escaping in a jeep in the snow... Hound pursuing... I gave up on it Snow... mountain... night... Ahhh, I thought it'd be fun, too...

K: Ok, I'll do that then. (^_^) Though, I'd like more clear reasoning for the occupation of Mahama...
I: In fact, that comes later.

K: Ah, is that right. Ok, I'll handle that carefully. By the way, what is Manx's position in the organization?
I: No idea. (^_^) Haven't thought about it.

K: He could be going up or down. Well, I'll try to help him out.
I: That's great!!

K: This has been a very boring discussion for you.
I: Not at all, it's been fun. Good luck!!

K: Thank you very much.

(Transcribing and editing: OURsLITE Editorial Dept.)

Original Japanese text.



平成12年秋、アトミック アタック連戦に先立ち綾金近郊のファミレスにて 伊藤。今掛両氏の顔合わせ兼打ち合わせが行われた。 以下はその抜粋である。

伊藤(以下/ 伊) 始めまして!
今掛(以下/ 今) よろしくお願いします

伊 わたし、ボトムズの単行本持ってるんですよ
今 うわあ... ありがとうございます。 あれ連戦中に一度、編集部に呼び出されてそのまま3日間帰らせてもれらえなかった事があったんですよね。ああ、これが噂に聞く缶詰めってやつかと(笑)

伊 わたしまだ経験ないですね。何時もギリギリの所で回避してる。。。(笑) ボトムズの漫画は連載の時から読んでて、『うわあカッコイイ』と思ってて... 単行本もすぐに買って...。 それがまさか、こう云う事に成るとは(笑)
今 本当ですね。実は最初のアニメ化の時に、結局は流れちゃったんですけど、平行して別企画が在ったんですよ。 そっちで声が掛かってたんでジオブリ全巻渡されて読んでました。

伊 今回、編集部から話しが有った時今掛さんの御名前が出て、『いやもう是非に!』って答えちゃいました。

今 早速なんですが、具体的に伺いたい事が幾つか...
伊 はい

今 バモスって基本的にノーマルのままですよね?
伊 判んないっす(笑) 実はあんまり車の事判んないんですよ... 自分で描いてても!

今 ええ! そうなんですか? 結構マニアックな車を出されてますよね
伊 あれは詳しい奴が居るんです。絵がなんぼ崩れても、その車だって判る車って何かないかって聞くと『こんなのが有るよ』って...

今 バモスに決めた理由は?
伊 描け易い車だって事で

今 ええっ! 難しいじゃないですか描くの
伊 でも多少崩れてもバモスだって判りますから(笑)

今 資料とかどうしてるんですか? もう街中でも見掛ないですよね
伊 カタログのコピーとミニカーを見て描いてます

今 凄いですね。バマスを出す予定なんですが改造しちゃって平気ですか?
伊 もう、どんどんやっちゃって下さい

今 外見が変わるような事はしないつもれすけど
伊 此処をこう云う風に改造しましたと云われても実は判りません (笑)

今 ちなみに銃器係で『これは使ってくれるな』とか有りますか?
伊 ハウンドは最新式、 梅崎は古いのが好きってのが基本なんですが... それ以外は特には。

今 古いってどの辺りまで許されるんでしょう?
伊 梅崎が好むのはモデルガンが発売されてる様な、 メジャーな感じの奴なんです。昔のモデルガンマニアが『ああ持っていたね、こう云うの』って云いそうな奴ですね

今 なるほうど、実戦で有名な奴とかじゃ無くて、モデルガンになってるかどうかが基準なんですね
伊 実際にはあんまり役に立って無い様な奴を選んでますね

今 3巻で梅崎が使ってる長物(ナガモノ)の資料を探したんですけど、見つけられなっくって...
伊 イギリスのブレンガンですかね、月刊GUNかコンバットマガジンだかに載ってるのを見て『いいなあ』って思って出したんですよ (笑)

今 資料探しはどうしてるんですか?
伊 古本屋で雑誌を漁ってます。モデルガンを手に入れられたら善いんですけど。 中々手が出せない値段だったりするんで...。 割と適当に選んで描いてます。 その時、描きたいって思った奴を描いてるんですね。もっと極端な事を云ってしまうと。ああこの銃を描きたいって思ったら、それが使える状況の話を1本作っちゃたります。

今 なるほど
伊 雪山の話なんかがそれですね。後先何にも考えてませんから (笑)

今 それでちゃんと収めちゃうとこが凄いですよ
伊 ボトムズの漫画も相当凄かったですよ。あんだけの話あのページ数の中に入ってるですもん。わたしだったら数十倍ページを使うわないと無理っす。

今 さすがに最後の二本分だけは無理だったんで増ページしてもらったんですよ。。。あれはアニメのコミカライズでしたが、実は設定と脚本だけもらって。 後は自由にやらせてもらったんですが...。
伊 『AA』 も同じ調子で、自由にやって下さい

今 話は戻りますが、車は可愛い系のが多いですよね?
伊 実は明確な法則が有って、曲線の多いデザインの車は出ないんです。四角い車しか出ない。描けないから(笑)

今 例えば外国の車を出そうとした時に、ジオブリの世界として四角っぽい車であれば問題ないですか?
伊 いや、わたしが 描け無いからそう言う選択に成っているだけで、今掛さんは自由にやって下さい。

今 なるべくイメージは近くしておきたいんですが...。
伊 逆にこちらが取り入れさせてもらいます(笑)

今 ところで、銃ホントにお好きですよね
伊 銃そのものにはそんなに思い入れが無いんですよ。ガンマニアなのかミリタリーマニアなのか...どっちなんだ? とよく訊かれますが、どっちでも無いんです。

今 えっ?
伊 『銃撃戦』と云う画面が好きなんですね... だからリボルバーは出て来ない

今 排莢されないから画面が地味になっちゃいますしね (笑)
伊 薬莢の量で勝負! (笑)

今 それで、『アトミックアタック』なんですが。 真浜で猫たちが何をして、何を考えていたかと云う部分をマンクスをメインに進めて行こうと思っているんですが...。
伊 それはまた渋い事に成りそうですね

今 なんとか神楽のメンバーも出さなくてなくては... と思って居るんですが...。
伊 出なくても全然問題ないッス。 わたしは特殊な読者ですから凄く嬉しいんですけど... 世の中的にはどうなんでしょ? (爆笑)

今 マンクスって今後本編に絡んできます?
伊 うーん多分出てこないんじゃないかと(笑)

今 ごく普通のおじさんになってますけど。
伊 そーゆーキャラ、いいっすねえ!

今 で、入江と黒猫を... それで真浜の猫達を...... (以下、構想を語る)... と云う様な事を考えているんですが。 その辺は大丈夫ですか?
伊 大丈夫です! うーんわたし好み!! すっかりお客さんになってますな。

今 新しく出て来る猫のネーミングが問題なんですが。
伊 わたしも困ってます。 なるべく名前を出さないで済む様にしてます。 最初は法則に合わせてやっていたんですけど、ネタ切れです。 最近は絵本とかにまで手を伸ばしてて、アニメ版の『ルド』なんかそっちの方から取っちゃいましたし。

今 で、コミックス6巻の頭に繋がる形で決着を着けたいと思ってます。
伊 ぎゅうううと詰まった集団劇って印象ですね

今 そんな感じになればいいなと思ってます。
伊 なんだかニコニコしちゃいますね

今 あっ、田波が原発の構造とか調べて許しくなったりしたらまずいですか?
伊 大丈夫です! ちまにに単行本の6巻の頭を『第3 次真浜原発攻略戦』に直しましたから。 (笑)

今 有り難うございます、頑張って第2次をやります。ハウンドの動きと入江の思惑なんかを上手く繋げられるか不安は在るんですが。
伊 なんか追い詰められたんで謎にしちゃってる所が結構有りますからね (笑) 自分で読み返していて、あれ? この謎の答えは何だってかなって思い出せない所が沢山在るんですよ。

今 ヴァシュカのロシア行きとかフォローしようかどうか悩んでます。
伊 予定は在ったんですよ。 ヴァシュカが雪の中をジープで逃げ回って、ハインドが追い掛けるってのをやりたかったんですが、ページの関係で諦めました... 雪、山、 夜、 で。 ああ楽だって思ってたんですが...。

今 じゃあ、それやりましょう (笑)。 真浜占領の目的って云うのも明確にしたいんですが...。
伊 実はそれ後の話に絡んで来るんです。

今 あっそうなんですか、じゃあ慎重に扱わないと。 ちなみにマンクスて組織の中ではどんなポジションなんでしょう?
伊 判んないっス (笑) あんまりそーゆーの考えてないんっす。

今 立場を上にも下にも出来そうなんですが。 まあ兎も角マンクスに頑張ってもらおうかと。
伊 いいですねえ!!

今 傾向として、非常に淡々とした話になっちゃいそうなんですが。
伊 そう言うのが見たかったんですよ。 楽しみにしてます! 頑張ってください!!

今 有り難うございます。

(構成.文責/OURs LITE編集部)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Geobreeders, Part 3, First 3 chapters

Thanks to the work of a specific visitor (thanks, James!) I was able to get my hands on the first three chapters of the work that Akihiro Itou was just starting up before he became ill and stopped drawing manga. Back in 2009, he was just starting up Geobreeders Part 3 - "No Cats Allowed in the Company". Someone scanned the pages as they came out from Young King Ours, but it's hard to track down who exactly did it. Either way, I decided to translate the story just because. I put the pages here if you want to read them.

Right now, we only know of these three chapters. If you have access to a 4th, please let me know. I'm really hoping that Itou gets better because I really like his work and I want to see where the story would go in the future.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Garo #306

(All rights reserved by their respective owners. Images used her for review purposes only.)

This is the last of the three Garo issues that I bought specifically for the Tori Miki stories.

Mr. Saeki's Afternoon

This is a simple gag comic showing a good day in a man's life.

Garo #290

(All rights reserved by their owners. All images used here for review purposes only.)

Cyber People.

This is Tori Miki's "adult" story. I'm only uploading the splash page because the rest of the story may not be appropriate for minors (it's not overly graphic, though). An online detective is trying to track down a cyber perp in a program designed for virtual sex. In the end, the detective turns out to be an old man in a hotel room, and the perp (posing as a beautiful young woman) is a teenage fan boy living in his mother's house's basement.

Garo #285

(All rights reserved by their owners. All images used here for review purposes only.)

In the later Garo issues, the stories tend to be shorter (nothing like Shirato's 100-page Kamui-den monsters) with almost twice the number of artists. Since I only really want to read one of them, I'm going to stop scanning all of the others or trying to translate everyone's names. Instead, I'm just going to run the Tori Miki manga, and reprint the table of contents for anyone that wants to look at it. Tori Miki didn't appear all that regularly - maybe only every 3 or 4 months. And then again, Mandarake doesn't have every issue used for every year. So, going through what they do have, I was able to find 3 issues that Tori was in. Unfortunately, one of the issues was "alternative adult" enough to prevent me from showing it in an area that minors can access. So, I can only show 2 of the 3 stories next.

King Rilke

This is the first chapter of a potential short series, which wasn't continued in any of the other volumes I found. Click on the image to start reading it.

Ad for "Damatte ore ni tsuite koi" (which I'm translating as "Shut up and come over here").

Garo in retrospect

Now that I'm wrapping up my reviews of Garo, I'd like to take the chance to comment on my current opinions. When I first started thinking about buying Garo, my thoughts were that it was an over-hyped art magazine that people revered instead of read (kind of like with all "great" literature along the lines of the Great Gatsby and War and Peace). Every time someone in the English newspapers in Japan reviewed something translated by Drawn and Quarterly (Like Red-Colored Elegy) they'd mention Garo in reverent tones. The problem was that I'd be looking at the cover artwork and maybe a few sample pages of the title being reviewed and thinking "what a great big waste of ink". Didn't do much for giving me incentive to read Garo at all.

Naturally, as I started reading Garo on a regular basis, my opinions changed. Then we had the exhibit for the first ten years of Garo at The Center for Book Arts in New York, and this thrust the opinions of an assistant art professor (Ryan Holmberg) in front of my face. The interview on Garo with Ryan gets all artsy, and I don't agree with most of the assessments being made about the magazine during this period. Then again, I only looked at the period from July, 1966 to July, 1971, and I can't comment on anything outside this period that I didn't read.

My thoughts: Garo doesn't really have specific beginning and ending points that you can wave at and say "this is when the anti-Vietnam War era started, this is when Seiichi became anti-woman, etc.". There are waves, when other artists try to imitate the surreal works of Maki Sasaki, or the horror of Mizuki, but they overlap each other. In terms of what appealed to me most, I think I liked best the period between 1966 and 1968, specifically when Mizuki was running the Kitaro serial. During this time we had Shirato creating a balance of power in "Kamui-den", where the peasants were experiencing various successes; we had "Kitaro"; we had Kuniko Tsurita playing around in a light-hearted way trying to find her voice as a writer; and we had Yoshiharu Tsuge doing different kinds of stories. Somewhere between 1969 and 1970, Mizuki takes a break from Garo, Kamui-den turns dark and ugly, and Yoshiharo gets replaced by his brother Tadao. More artists experiment with surreal stories, and any continuity there had been from one issue to the next disappears. Shouhei stops doing Edo-era stories and goes more modern, while Ryuuichi Ikegami tries his hand at horror with limited success.

I did like it when Yuu Takita dropped his short gag strips and switched to the Terajima series, but then he too started to become less frequent and started playing around with the surreal format. By the end, between 1969 and July, 1971, Garo starts feeling like any other manga magazine at the time. I think that the gekiga concept was becoming more mainstream, and the artists that started out at Garo were finally finding other outlets to publish through. In any event, the sense of "wow, there's nothing else like this on the shelves" was strongest for me between 1966 and 1969. This is one reason why I want to set Garo aside now and move on to something else - the stories showing up from 1970 onward don't excite me anymore.

I liked:
Early Kamui-den, before the old magistrate died.
All of the Hakaba Kitaro stories.
Anything by Kuniko Tsurita.
The Terajima stories by Yuu Takita.
The first 10 stories by Shouhei Kusunoki, up to Red Water.
What little came from Manabu Ohyama.
Everything from Tamehiro Tashiro.
And most of what came from Yoshiharu Tsuge.

Would I recommend Garo? Of course. I think that anyone interested in manga history should read the first 6-7 years of the magazine. I'm not so sure I'd recommend the titles that have been commercially translated in the U.S., that originally ran in Garo, though. The people that I like the best aren't the ones getting published. I still think that titles like "Red-Colored Elegy" and "Red Snow" are over-hyped. The problem, though, is that it's getting much harder to find used issues of Garo, and unless you're living in Japan, you're pretty much going to be out of luck. If you do live here, a number of the titles have been published in collected volumes, like Kamui-den, Kitaro, and Neji-Shiki, that are still available in Japanese used from Mandarake.

As a side note, one of my favorite artists is Tori Miki, and he had several stories published through Garo in the 1980's. I picked up three more issues during this time period, and I will do two more posts containing just his stories. But, it's like the entire magazine went shojo somehow. And even the Tori Miki stories aren't that good. On the other hand, the issues from the 1980's are about 300 yen each ($4 USD). I'm not completely giving up on Garo, but I'm moving on to stuff that I like more, now.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Garo Feature #260

For the Feb., '88 issue, I'm highlighting:

Miki Tori's - Construction Sign Counterattack

路上観察物件の逆襲 (Construction Sign Counterattack)

Miki is out walking with his camera, looking for construction signs. There are a lot of different variants on the "construction worker bowing and apologizing for the inconvenience", which has attracted his attention. What he wants to know is where they come from, and what they do when they go back to wherever they came from at the end. Suddenly, one of the signs comes alive and starts to give him answers, except that a worker soon comes up to them, grabs the sign, throws it into a truck and drives off.

Ok, this is the one manga I wanted to get to. Not one of Tori Miki's best works, but it is representative of his earlier style.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Garo Feature #73

For the July, '71 issue, I'm highlighting:

Genpei Akasegawa's - Sakura Pictorial
Sanpo Yodogawa's - Mystery Man M and the Boy's Detective Club

桜画報 (Sakura Pictorial) #3

A young boy and his horse have a variety of strange dreams. Very surreal, with no actual storyline.

怪人Mと少年探偵団 (Mystery Man M and the Boy's Detective Club) #3

The story in this chapter is just the lead detective taunting M and making bad jokes. On the last page, the tables turn and M prepares to fight the team along with some henchmen.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Garo Feature #68

For the Apr., '71 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shouhei Kusunoki's - Soybean
Hiroyuki Ohtani's - Detective Inkouyoko

まめ (Soybean)

A poor Edo family is running out of things to eat, leaving a rooster and some soybeans. The father goes out to conduct business, leaving the kids at home to play games. When they get hungry, they're told to eat the raw beans. The next day, the mother prepares a big stew, and the family can't eat it because they're already filled up on soybeans. Later, a neighborhood woman complements the family for the delicious food she got from them (probably the stew leftovers), while the family just stares at her, with a single bird feather fluttering by (implying that they'd cooked the rooster but weren't hungry enough to eat it.)

探偵陰溝蝿児 (Detective Inkouyoko) #3

Inkouyo pulls out a knife and threatens the gay family member, who is suddenly guarded by the thug that had the tree fall on him (Eli). Eli takes Inkouyou out to the garden, and from a tree branch they watch a hooded figure enter the woman's room and do stuff to her. Later, the head of the family gives Inkouyou cash to leave the house and not talk to anyone about what's going on there, but Inkouyou hears a strange moaning coming from somewhere and follows it through a secret passage into a dungeon where the gay member is being tortured. Eli shoots the victim before he can talk. Inkouyou then rushes to the woman's room and tries to get her to go with him to freedom. He discovers her secret - she's actually a guy in drag, and "she" bites her tongue off. As she dies in Inkouyou's arms, Eli enters the room and shoots Inkouyou in the chest.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Garo Feature #66

For the Mar., '71 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shinichi Abe's - Miyoko Asagaya's Feeling
Tadao Tsuge's - Back West Village

美代子阿佐ヶ谷気分 (Miyoko Asagaya's Feeling) #1

A woman wakes up one morning and prepares herself for the day, putting on makeup, eating breakfast and playing guitar. At the end of the day, she says "time to go back", and climbs through a hole in the ceiling in the storage space used for keeping the futon mattresses.

うらにしの里 (Back West Village)

This looks like a travelogue story, but this time from Tadao. He takes a bus up into the mountains, but finds that the people he encounters there dislike strangers. He reaches a Shinto shrine, but the priest running the place has gotten fed-up with tourists and won't let Tadao stick around long enough to even catch his breath. In the end he finds himself walking down the other side of the mountains.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Garo Feature #61

For the Nov., '70 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shigeru Mizuki's - Man Who Seized the Star
Tadao Tsuge's - Easy-going Night

星をつかみそこねる男 (Man Who Seized the Star) #2

Shigeru is starting up a new series. In chapter 2, our "hero" is a 16-year-old boy who lives at his father's kendo dojo. A "dojo hunter" drops by to challenge the master to a fight. A medicine delivery boy steps in to defeat the dojo hunter, but is in turn defeated by the other students. The hero asks his father why someone so weak can be so strong and the father's answer is in the form of a riddle. The delivery boy wants to join the dojo, and the hero's father agrees, but only if the boy can hit the hero three times with a wooden sword. The hero just stands in place and allows himself to be hit, later telling the boy that he lost because the other boy is so strong. The hero sees some friends standing around looking at a piece of paper with a drawing of some foreign steam ships. They all want to go look at the ships in Yokohama, where the real thing is even more awe-inspiring than the fanciful drawings were. However, they encounter a very clean-cut samurai who comments on the dangers the foreigners could bring to their isolated world. Note: The splash page is a ukiyo-e-style drawing of Commodore Perry.

夜よゆるやかに (Easy-going Night)

A father living with his wife and idiot son starts suffering flashbacks to when he was serving in the Japanese Army during WW II. His wife and son live a fairly carefree life, but they insult the father a bit too much. He, meanwhile, visits a doctor, who diagnoses him with a heart condition. He continues on to his job at a factory, where his boss is trying to force him to take a shorter vacation this year to allow everyone else to take off instead. Later, the guy is heading back home when he bumps into a woman that works as a dancer in a nightclub. She talks him into buying her coffee, but she then complains about how dark and brooding he is. He says that he's just been fired, and he doesn't want to face the wife and son right now. After it gets dark, the girl decides to walk out to an abandoned field where she tries to get the guy to loosen up and dance with her. He keeps asking her if she really wants to be out in a secluded place like this with a strange man she's just met, and she ignores the question. Finally, he assaults her and forces himself on her, while asking why she's not shouting for help. Eventually, a middle-aged woman that had followed them to the field and watched them having sex, waits until they're finished and starts shouting about a rape and calling for someone to come help. The girl gets upset at having been seen, and takes this moment to call for help as well while trying to run away. The guy chases after her, demanding to know why she hadn't tried to stop him earlier. When he finally catches her, she laughs and he holds on to her for dear life, thinking that his heart condition is going to flair up.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The world according to Kiyoshi

Sorry, but there's nothing in particular I feel like highlighting for the Aug., '70 issue.

Instead, I'd like to talk about Yuu Takita a little more. One of the things that I really respect about his Terajima stories is how he tries so hard to capture the feel of the time period his manga is set in. Kiyoshi, the boy protagonist of the series, seems to be immersed in the era, with various cultural elements showing up continuously that should really appeal to the amateur manga historian.

Kiyoshi's mother has just come from the public baths. She is carrying her bath bucket, towel and soap. Then it starts to rain and she broods over how she's just thrown her money away on a bath, now that she's getting soaked all over again.

Kiyoshi's books mostly consist of manga, including a rental book copy of Norakuro.

At the kabuki theater.

Wood-covered sewage ditches along side the streets.

A genmai pan (rice bread) seller.

Playing cards. The idea here is to make your opponent's card flip over when you throw your card down.


Picking destinations to run to as part of a chase game.

An odango (pounded rice balls with flavored sauces on top) salesman.

Horse droppings.

Around 1931, a patent was issued for a reflective-style projector, called the REFCY. Unlike regular film projectors, the REFCY used a paper roll. Light from a bulb bounced off the paper and was then focused through a lens onto the projector screen. These were very popular projectors in Japan for a long time, and we have one such pictured here. The film being shown is a very famous samurai drama.

The word "chindon-ya" literally translates to "tweet + bang + shop". A chindon-ya was a person paid to play music on the streets to call attention to some product or store that hired them. At a minimum, you need a drummer and a flute player. Chindon-ya are still used occasionally in Tokyo to advertise pachinko parlors.

School punishment. Kiyoshi and his classmate got into a tussle while practicing kanji drawing in class.

An old-style kitchen. The problem is that the cat may occasionally use the rice cooker as a litter box...

Playing with tops. Battle tops are still popular in anime on TV in Japan. The two ways to fight it out in the past were in seeing whose top could knock the other out of the ring, or which would spin the longest.


Sunday, January 30, 2011

Garo Feature #56

For the July, '70 issue, I'm highlighting:

Tadao Tsuge's - Ditch Road, Final Part
Kuniko Tsurita's - Misfortune

どぶ街 (Ditch Road, Final Part)

The artist from the previous chapter is out walking around the village, and meets up with some of his old companions. He eventually makes his way back to the house of his friend's girlfriend and moves in with her (since the friend is going to be in jail for a while). Simultaneously, there's a typhoon coming, and two of the guys working at a factory debate quitting and finding new work. In the end, the older of the two workers goes home after the typhoon has ended, and steals some money from his wife to go play pachinko.

災難 (Misfortune)

A young man is imprisoned with a number of killers, but he remains optimistic because he didn't do anything wrong. His cheerfulness seems to be unappreciated and he is locked up in solitary confinement. Some months later, his jailer is back, this time to take him to the gallows to hang. He repeats that he's innocent, and the hangsmen all repeat that everyone says that. The man tries to escape but is captured again. When he says that he's just one man, and that they should let him go, the jailer repeats that everyone executed up to this point was "just one man".

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Garo Feature #54

For the May, '70 issue, I'm highlighting:

Ryouichi Ikegami's - Blurred World
Ryouichi Ikegami's - Slip

ぼやけた世界 (Blurred World)

Yukio is a former Japanese boxer who was KO'd during a title match against a black opponent. Several years later, he's a cheap thug who beats up drunks so that his partner can take their wallets. The partner promises to bring a new girl around to their regular haunt - a jazz club - that evening. Yukio doesn't care, because all he has any interest in is boxing, and no non-boxer could understand that. Unfortunately, one of the aftereffects of a lifetime of boxing is blurred vision and a smashed in nose. The partner arrives with the girl in tow. Her name is Rumi, and she acts impressed at Yukio's list of credits, saying that she loves strong men. Later, Yukio and the partner walk out to a park to look for another drunk to roll, and Yukio says that he couldn't go out with Rumi - she's a fan of his and he wouldn't do that to a fan. However, when Yukio starts pounding of their target, he's relentless, and the partner runs away in fear. The drunk collapses to the ground, and Yukio finds himself helpless - his glasses had fallen off and he can't find them on his own. The partner runs back to the bar to confirm something that Yukio had said - yes, she is indeed Yukiko's little sister. The partner calls her a slut, and she just laughs hysterically, tears rolling down her cheeks.

スリップ (Slip)

The story starts with a truck hitting a small boy. Then switches to a taxi dispatch center, where some of the drivers are putting snow chains on their tires in preparation for the snow storm predicted to hit the city that night. The main character, named "Te-chan", decides to not put on the chains since he doesn't need them. That night, he's driving a well-dressed female passenger when he slips into a daydream of being at home and playing with his wife and small son. They watch Tensai Bakabon on TV. Suddenly he snaps out of the reverie in time to barely avoid smashing into a telephone pole. As it is, he'd slid in sideways and cracked the sideview mirror. The passenger just explodes on him, demanding to know why he doesn't have chains on the tires, why he'd endanger the life of a valued passenger, and what he expects her to do now that they're stranded out in the middle of nowhere with no other cars nearby for her to ride back in. He envisions the small boy that had been hit by the truck at the beginning of the story, then snaps and attacks the woman, with her image reflected in the cracked mirror.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Garo Feature #48

For the Jan., '70 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shouhei Kusunoki's - Thief
Shigeo Masai's - Mime
Tadao Tsuge's - 2 People, 3 Legs

盗っ人 (Thief)

This is kind of a rambling story that starts out with a high school student that sees someone stealing a magazine at a bookstore. Eventually, the boy himself works up the nerve to steal a pen, which he gives to his girlfriend. He starts having dreams of a fishing boat in a storm, and things escalate, with an attack on his girlfriend, and getting drunk with another punk. At the end, the hero and the drunk go past a harbor where the hero recognizes the boats from his dream. The two of them pass out in a room, but when the hero wakes up the next morning, the other guy seems to have not existed, and the hero goes out to walk along the shore.

Mime (Mime)

Shigeo's maestro character gets stuck in a maze, and ends up seeing himself reaching the end. An ambulance arrives to cart him off to the asylum.

二人三脚 (2 People, 3 Legs)

Two guys working at a factory share the same room in an apartment building to save on rent. The hero gets disgusted at the behavior of his roommate, and escapes to the factory to take a shower. The water of the communal bath is too cool, so the hero works on the boiler to bring the temperature up, but with little success. While the rest of the workers bathe, the hero plays cards with two friends, and talks about the bad behavior of the roommate. The hero wins the game and leaves to take his bath. The roommate stumbles in, stinking drunk, and makes a mess of the bath. At the end, the hero tells the roommate that he's horribly disgusting, and the guy just stands there staring, drunk and with vomit running down his chin.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Garo Feature #50

I'm not really running anything by Seiichi Hayashi this time, even though this is a special issue dedicated to him. In part it's because a lot of the stories in this issue are from the Red-Colored Elegy series, which has already been translated into English by Drawn & Quarterly, and in part because some of the material won't play well in front of children. That, and I'm not really a fan of his later works.

For the Feb., '70 issue, I'm highlighting:
Susumu Katsumata's - Nostalgic Melody

なつかしのメロディ (Nostalgic Melody)

Susumu copies Hayashi's style to highlight the majority of his characters, with no real story.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Yumebi Exhibit on Shigeru Mizuki

This is a copy of the post I put on ThreeStepsOverJapan. Because of the relationship to Garo magazine, I decided to put it here also.

The Yumebi gallery in Hachioji has been a good place to see anime and manga related exhibits over the last year. They had both the Macoto, and Art of Mamoru Oshii exhibits over the Summer, and they closed out the year with The World of Mizuki Shigeru, running from Nov. 26, 2010, to Jan. 23, 2011, in part as a commemoration of Mizuki's 88th birthday. Entry is 500 yen ($6 USD) for adults.

My winter break at work continued to Jan. 5th, so on the 4th I took the opportunity to visit the Yumebi. As always, the gallery had some artwork in the front lobby, and a TV to one side for people to watch. This time, the DVD seems to have been about Mizuki's studio. I tried finding a copy in the gift shop, but it's apparently sold out. A second TV was playing episodes of "Gegege no Nyobo" (Wife of Gegege). And, the goods shop was stocked with post cards, art books and snack foods featuring the Kitaro youkai.

The exhibit itself starts out with a series of drawings of the Kitaro characters, accompanied by short written descriptions of each. There's a larger collection of paintings of various youkai that have appeared in the Kitaro and Akuma-kun manga, and a few really old Japanese books inside glass cases that have the same youkai that Shigeru apparently used as reference material. There's also 3D art, including life-sized statues of Kitaro, Oyaji, and the cement wall monster, plus models of Kitaro's tree house, and a diorama of a waterfall in the mountains occupied by all of the youkai that had been in the paintings on the gallery walls. The next section of the exhibit includes a parody of Hokusai's 36 Views of Mt. Fuji ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with the same youkai appearing in the villages and landscapes that were the focus of the original prints.

In the adjoining room, one wall has the original pencil artwork from selected pages of some Akuma-kun and Kitaro manga, including the page with the birth of Kitaro from the "Hakuba Kitaro" series. One half of the room also contained the complete set of Garo magazine issues from vol. 1 all the way up to #55. Now I know why all of the copies are missing from the Akihabara Mandarake shop. In addition, there is a section dedicated to some of the Garo manga artists that Mizuki worked with: Yoshiharu Tsuge, Ryouichi Ikegami and Sampei Shirato, with selected manga pages and photos of some of the artists. In fact, one full display case is dedicated to "Garo before Garo", a magazine created by Sampei Shirato entitled "Ninpou Hiwa" (Ninja Arts Secrets). Check out the Italian fan site for more images. It ran from 1960 to 1965, and included manga from Mizuki.

I should also mention that there's one corner with early copies of Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magajin. Both magazines started in 1959, and Mizuki had stories running in both of them from the beginning.

The rest of the exhibit includes masks of the Kitaro characters, collectors items like key chains, cell phone straps and toy figures, plus there's a long scroll drawn as an autobiographical manga showing Shigeru's life from birth up to about 1965. Naturally, the gallery doesn't allow photos within the exhibit, so I can't show you all the good stuff here. Suffice it to say that if you're in Hachioji before Jan. 24th, this is definitely worth the 500 yen to go inside. Highly recommended, especially if you're a Garo enthusiast.