Archive for July, 2011

The Cel Shaded report, 7/14: The curious case of Catholic “mangas”

July 14th, 2011
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A coworker who has ties to the local Catholic church recently pointed me to a recent issue of the Hawaii Catholic Herald, dated June 24, which featured a national story from Catholic News Service about Manga Hero, a California-based global/OEL manga publisher that is adapting stories of the faith using manga-style artwork. (A shot of the story as it appeared in the Herald is shown at right.) The article profiles company founder Jonathan Lin, some of the books he’s released — including series about the apostle Paul and Old Testament figure Judith, as well as an upcoming 32-page book about Pope Benedict XVI — and the trio working on those books, consisting of two writers who are college students in San Diego and an artist in Singapore.

The article’s an insightful read, and if you aren’t a regular reader of the Herald, it’s available on the CNS website. Fair warning to all you fans out there who have immersed yourself in the manga lifestyle and are familiar with the proper grammatical use of cultural terms: There are some points in the article that will make you cringe, particularly when there are references to “manga comics” and “mangas.” Grit your teeth, though, and soldier on.

One quote in particular caught my attention:

“I was talking to my parents. And my dad, who actually grew up in Japan, asked me, ‘How come there’s no biblical manga?’ And I was like, ‘Oh, yeah, that’s right. That’s a shame.’ There was only a couple written by Protestants and published by Protestants that basically converted the Bible into a manga series,” Lin said.

That quote brought back memories of a Drawn & Quartered column I did back in March 2008, which focused on three such titles: Doubleday’s The Manga Bible, which picked highlights from the Bible and rendered them in manga-style artwork, an idea that sounded cool in concept but ended up being rather blah in execution; Barbour Publishing/Realbuzz Studios’ Serenity, the story of a rebellious teen who really needs some sort of religious influence in her life; and Tyndale House Publishing’s Manga Messiah, which recapped key events in the life of Jesus Christ and ended up being the only book that I really loved in the end. With the Manga Hero books, as well as a manhwa adaptation of the Bible being translated and released by Zondervan, I think it may be time to do another roundup … particularly to see whether the Catholic/Protestant divide really makes a difference. Stay tuned.

And that would’ve been the end of this post had it not been for something I noticed as I was ordering one of Manga Hero’s books off Amazon — the only way you’ll be able to get those books, unless you happen to live in one of the 10 states and one Washingtonian District of Columbia that has retail outlets selling them. (Sorry, those of you who aren’t residents of California, Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey,  Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.) Amazon, it would seem, has a “special promotion” — imagine me making an “air quotes” motion here and using the most sarcastic tone of voice I can muster — going on with Paul: Tarsus to Redemption vol. 1. Buy a new copy (via Manga Hero, although Amazon’s free standard shipping rates apply), and you pay $9.99. Buy a used copy, though, and … well, here, have a look at this screenshot I grabbed off their website Wednesday night.

Chalk it up to another quirk of Amazon’s third-party seller system, I suppose.

Liliha Library Anime Art Contest countdown [UPDATE: New deadline!]

July 12th, 2011
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[UPDATE 2 p.m. 7/12: Just got off the phone with Liliha young adult librarian Linda Mediati, who confirmed with me that, because the library is normally closed on Fridays, she’ll be accepting entries through Sat., July 16. That gives you 24 more hours to finish up your artistic creations! Go go gooooooooo~~~~! Oh, and the post as originally posted earlier today is below.]

Time now for a friendly reminder, particularly for those of you students in grades 6 through 12 who procrastinate over such things: The last day to get your entries in for Liliha Library’s second Anime Art Contest, the one that I’ve talked about here and here and also promoted on the nemu*nemu website here, is July 15. Which means you have three more days to finish up your masterpieces and get them to the library.

At least, that’s the published plan, anyway.

But there’s a schmall-kine glitch that I noticed as I was preparing this post this morning, one that I can’t believe I haven’t caught until now: July 15 is on Friday. And Friday — aside from being the partyin’ fun fun fun fun day when “yesterday” would be Thursday, “tomorrow” would be Saturday and Sunday would come “afterwards” — is also when the library’s usually closed.

Which means that if you want to personally deliver your entries to the library, you may want to aim for Thursday to turn them in instead. If you want specific hours, the library’s open from 1 to 8 p.m. today and Thursday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesday. I’ll check with the library later and update this post if there’s anything new to report on the deadline.

As for how response has been this time around? “I haven’t gotten as many entries as last year, but then again, most people submitted entries in the last 2-3 days,” young adult librarian Linda Mediati wrote a few days ago. “So I’m hoping for a big last-minute rush!”

Get crackin’, kids. And good luck.

The Cel Shaded report, 7/7: Poking the SOS Brigade

July 7th, 2011
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After about a year or so of making do with an iPod Touch — a unit that I referred to as my “iPad Mini” — I recently finally broke down and treated myself to an iPad proper. Not an iPad 2, mind you … a regular ol’ iPad, hold the 3G please, Wi-Fi’s wi-fine with me. (Yes, I am cheap.)

Why splurge? It’s getting increasingly obvious that having some sort of tablet device is essential to covering the anime and manga industries properly as they slowly evolve to embrace digital media. There are quite a few anime/manga-related apps out there, and I’ve gathered a whole bunch of them over the past few weeks that I hope to discuss in this space in the future — iSeeToon’s ill-Fated Relationship, apps from Crunchyroll, Viz, Yen Press and ZQ Books and the digital version of Range Murata’s Like a Balance Life come to mind.

I would’ve even talked about at least one of those in depth today, too … if not for this Anime News Network story published today. For those of you who don’t feel like clicking through, the story talks about a trio of “AniPoke” apps released by Kadokawa Shoten, based on each of the central girls in The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya — Haruhi, Mikuru and Yuki. The apps feature what’s been dubbed “Motion Portrait” technology, which give the characters a slightly 3-D look while still retaining their 2-D charm. Haruhi’s free, while Mikuru and Yuki have been discounted to 99 cents each (normally $3.99) through Aug. 31. They’re universal apps, meaning they’ll work on your iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad just iFine.

Those of you who have been reading this blog since the beginning know that I’m a hyuuuuuuge Haruhi fanboy. If you’re like me and love that series and its character designs like I do, you’ll probably go right ahead, drop $1.98 and pick up the entire set, no questions asked. The price is certainly conducive toward doing that, and there’s a certain charm with having the characters reading the current time, spouting random lines as you tap around on the screen (each one has 90 total), and even looking toward the point where you’re tapping.

For more casual fans who might be on the fence about such things — especially those who don’t understand a bit of Japanese — there may be one small barrier toward your full enjoyment of this app.

Indeed, all the instructions are in Japanese. So I’ll be darned if I can understand a single thing any of them are saying (aside from the time, of course). Also, I figured out through trial and error how to activate all those features that I noted above. You’ll also note that the App Store isn’t very helpful in recapping the feature set for people just browsing:

And while the ANN article mentions that it’s possible to carry on a limited “conversation” with the characters, I haven’t been able to figure out how to do that. Not that I really wanted to in the first place — that part just seemed a bit … creepy … to me, the type of thing reserved for crazed hard-core fans who “share meals” with their favorite anime characters by sitting at tables with a still image of a character’s face on a monitor sitting next to them.

Still, though, it’s an amusing little diversion. Get it now while it’s still cheap and you can justify the purchase to yourself.

From nemu*nemu to *nomnomnom*

Also popping up on the App Store recently was Sushi Star, a game where you’re given a moving conveyor belt and a bunch of ingredients that you’re tasked with flinging onto a line of moving rice balls. It’s incredibly addictive, worth every penny of its $1.99 price, and definitely a fun break in between sessions of Angry Birds (which may as well be installed on every electronic device manufactured going forward, considering everyone pretty much has it by now).

Ryan Ozawa over at Hawaii Blog did a great job talking about the making of Sushi Star, so I won’t go into that here. I will, however, highlight the reason I picked up the app. Yes, the gameplay ended up being great. Yes, I love the music, and the fact that the first level is a “Waikiki”-themed level. But the reason I plopped down my money soon after the app went live was … the pretty, pretty art by Audra Furuichi, she of nemu*nemu fame.

Because you have to love a sushi chef who has two pieces of maki sushi as hair ornaments.

Not since Angel Starr in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney has rice product doubled as fashion statement so effectively. Go get it, folks.

Anime around town

>> MangaBento: This group of anime- and manga-inspired artists meets from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St., Room 200. Visit www.manga-bento.com.