Archive for May, 2010

Big fun with the “Terra” squad

May 22nd, 2010
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Today’s To Terra day over in our “Drawn & Quartered” column — an overview of the manga that also touches on the anime series and movie, written by yours truly. You probably already knew that by poking around our site or from my customary Twitter plugs.

But I’m not alone in writing about To Terra this week. A bunch of manga bloggers are tackling the many complexities that the series presents as well, as part of the Manga Moveable Feast. Past MMFs have included Iou Kuroda’s Sexy Voice and Robo, Kaoru Mori’s Emma and Yuki Urushibara’s Mushishi – quality series all, with a nice collection of analytical pieces to match each one. The “Drawn & Quartered” piece isn’t the first time I’ve written about To Terra — my first go-round was with The Rough Guide to Manga (still available at a fine online retailer near you!) — but it is the first time I’ve whipped up an original piece that’s debuted the same month as the MMF. (The Emma and Mushishi contributions from tag-team partner in fandom Wilma J. and I were written in previous years, and I have yet to get around to reading enough of Sexy Voice and Robo to write anything sufficient about it. Sigh. Someday.)

Kate Dacey over at The Manga Critic is this month’s gracious To Terra MMF host; be sure to check out her running MMF archive from now through next Sunday as the commentaries roll in. It’ll be a fun little virtual discussion, I’m sure, and I’m looking forward to seeing what others have to say about the series.

RIP, CMX Manga

May 18th, 2010
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The news first popped up on About.com manga blogger Deb Aoki’s feed at 6:47 a.m. today:

My initial reaction was to do what we manga bloggers are trained to do in such situations: retweet the original poster’s tweet of shocking news, then get to work on a quick post lamenting the loss of another manga publisher and pondering what this means for the future of manga in America. So here we are.

I will give DC Comics credit for actually announcing that their imprint is ending; while we’ve seen a handful of blow-cushioning announcements in the past (see: Broccoli Books, 2008), the industry standard seems to be more a long period of silence followed by the soft “thump” of another corpse being tossed into the Crypt of Anime and Manga Publishers (hello, ADV Manga; even in death, you shall forever be our example of how not to publish manga).

Still, though, every loss is a dagger to the hearts of serious manga fans everywhere. Any history of CMX has to include the whole Tenjho Tenge censorship kerfuffle, of course, but the publisher rebounded to release out one of the most beloved series in the manga blogosphere, Manga Moveable Feast subject Emma. Shojo manga series also landed squarely in CMX’s wheelhouse, with the classic ballet tale Swan leading the way. There’s also Crayon Shin-chan, which now has the dubious distinction of landing at two U.S. publishers that won’t complete its run (the other one being ComicsOne). I know quite a few people were looking forward to Usamaru Furuya’s 51 Ways to Save Her, which is now one of the many post-June releases that has been canceled. (The only one to survive: Fred Gallagher’s Megatokyo.) And then there was the lament of tag-team partner in fandom Wilma Jandoc — a woman who’s also lost Initial D and Gunslinger Girl over the years — who tweeted this morning, “Please at least bring out the promised vol. 17 of Musashi #9, @cmxmanga. Please?”

Wilma’s lament, probably being echoed by fans nationwide at the moment with various CMX series, is emblematic of what may be the saddest trend with all of these publishers shutting down: We’re now deeply entrenched in the Age of the Uncertain Future, where there are fewer guarantees that any series, from series that were just starting out their CMX runs like Diamond Girl all the way up to theĀ  ongoing omega-blockbusters like Viz’s Shonen Jump juggernauts of Naruto and One Piece, will complete their U.S. runs. Perception goes a long way in determining the future, and if fans keep seeing their favorite series canceled midway through, they’ll be more hesitant to try out something new for fear that it may happen again. It’s a trend that I fear will only snowball as the industry continues to contract … and it’s one for which there are no easy resolutions.

In closing, a trivia note: When I wrapped up the Rough Guide to Manga about a year ago this month (and hey, have I ever mentioned that it’s still on sale at finer book retailers online worldwide?), I listed 21 active mainstream manga publishers. Five of them — Aurora, DrMaster, Go! Comi, Infinity and now CMX — have since gone dormant or shut down, and Viz is 40 percent smaller in terms of workforce. Sure, one publisher also opened up during that time, but Kodansha’s release of all of two volumes of manga in six months — and re-releases of older material, at that — doesn’t exactly inspire much hope in me.

And I have a feeling I’m not quite done writing up publisher obituaries, either.

Last-minute weekend event update GO!

May 14th, 2010
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Some quick plugs for anime-related events happening around the state today and tomorrow:

First off, for those of you reading this blog today on Maui, I envy you. The Maui Matsuri is taking place today and tomorrow on the University of Hawaii-Maui College campus, and as part of a double feature screening starting at 6:30 p.m. today at the Pilina Building, you can see Howl’s Moving Castle. For free. Let me emphasize that one more time for the rest of the not-on-Maui readership to build our envy for those of you who are there right now: Howl’s Moving Castle. Hayao Miyazaki flick. Oscar-nominated. All-star voice cast. 119 minutes of pure entertainment. Part of a double feature with a film based on the exploits of the famed 442nd Regimental Combat Team, Only the Brave. And all of this absolutely, positively, 100 percent free. If I didn’t have this whole “work” thing that I had to do tonight, I would be heading to the airport to fly standby right now.

Can’t make it out tonight? The festival runs tomorrow from 2 to 9 p.m. and will feature appearances by the Kikaida Brothers (from 3:30 to 4 p.m. and 5:30 to 6 p.m.). There are also two cosplay contests — a hallway contest (where a picture gets taken and the public votes on their favorites) and a cosplay showcase (where entrants go up on stage and a panel of five judges evaluate them). Registration for those run from 2 to 5 p.m.; the showcase begins at 6 p.m. If that’s not enough for you, there’s also a Super Smash Bros. Brawl tournament (registration from 2 to 3 p.m.; tournament begins at 3:30 p.m.) and a manga and art competition showcase. Whew! And that’s not even scratching the surface of the more traditional cultural activities! Check out the Maui Matsuri website for more details.

Of course, we here on Oahu get our share of free anime screenings, too. It’s Aiea Library Anime Club meeting time again, and this month librarian Diane Masaki has episodes of Funimation’s Soul Eater cued up and ready to roll. The club meets at 3 p.m. Saturday at the library, 99-143 Moanalua Road; for more information or to RSVP, e-mail Masaki at dianem@librarieshawaii.org.

Have a fun, safe, anime-filled weekend, everyone!