Category Archives: Manga

But I’m Sailor Moon?

A scout reboot?

Anime is full of dreams that are enchanting, powerful, and legendary. Japan today may be more well-known for sushi, Hello Kitty, and Godzilla, but it was surprisingly innovative in tackling sensitive social issues in the early 90s, specifically same-sex relations. Today it is not difficult to discover media (be it in television, print, or web) that tackles this topic, making for great dialogue.  Japan brought it to the limelight in the least expected area: Naoko Takeuchi’s Sailor Moon (美少女戦士セーラームーン).

The manga featured two proud lesbian lovers (Sailor Neptune and Sailor Uranus) in a committed relationship fighting evil and protecting Usagi (うさぎ), the moon princess. The plot reads slightly borderline cheesy but it was progressive in featuring warriors in a dedicated relationship to one another.  It is a matter DC Comics has recently played with in making the Green Lantern openly gay for its Earth 2 series for the The New 52, making it the first for the super-hero. Yet it is a century behind Takeuchi’s undertaking. She provided a world to her readers where love is fluid and valid no matter the gender.

Sailor Moon had a strong audience in Japan that it was eventually picked up for an American dubbed version that unfortunately suffered severe editing for length and content and was supplemented with additional educational segments stealthily named “Sailor Moon Says.”  At least the kids were learning about recycling, bullying, and body stigma. Sailor Moon arrived at America during the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Digimon, and Pokemon era—all very male dominated—that its cult following was unanticipated. Allison, in “Japanese Superheroes for Global Girls Abroad,” attributed this devotion to Sailor Moon and the Scouts being new kinds of superheroes different from the American ones. That is, Sailor Moon kept the human and superhuman personas much more intact. Each volume never focused on an identity crisis; it targets saving the planet, forming friendships, and love. It was almost as if being a girl was a superpower of its own that allowed these murky terrains that can be unsettling and raw.  

Fans point out that Sailor Moon was a pioneer in bringing lesbian characters to a mainstream audience, but it accomplished it at a price. The series fantasized lesbianism that it took away from it at times the love and intimacy and shifted it to a basic girl-on-girl action genre. The Sailor Moon series are divided into 52 different acts following the adventures of Usagi Tsukino (月野うさぎ), a boy crazy 14-year-old, as she “morphs” into the pretty, loving, evil fighting Sailor Moon.  The Sailor Scouts each possess special powers they receive from their corresponding planets; for example, Sailor Mercury gains her power from the planet Mercury and Sailor Mars from Mars.  The first series begins with Sailor Moon (Usagi), Sailor Mercury (Amy), Sailor Mars (Raye), Sailor Jupiter (Lita), Sailor Venus (Mina) and Darien (Tuxedo Max). The Scouts all live in Tokyo, Japan and attend the American equivalent of middle school. Amy, Raye, Lita, Mina, and Usagi overcome daily obstacles in school work, love, and plans just as any other adolescent. That was certainly a connecting point for most American audiences that these characters were vulnerable and not indestructible.

A manga depicts a story through illustrations and words, using dialogs and interactions between characters to present the story. The movements and exchanges, and the facial expressions, become the focal point to readers. In Sailor Moon, lesbianism is presented in an erotic nature, maybe not intentionally, but none the less very sexualized because of the way the characters are positioned from their body stances, clothing, and mannerisms. The Sailor Scouts’ costumes, for example, for their superhero alternatives are very skimpy that it makes anyone wonder how they could possibly fight evil in 8 inch heels and 5 inch mini-skirts, and tight fitted blouses. In a later series the Sailor Star Fighters, another group of Sailor Scouts, after their transformations donning black high knee boots, extremely small bras emphasizing the body rather than the story, but this also applies to male heroes such as Superman, Batman, and Aquaman—can any realistic male achieve a lean twelve-pack? The series was probably drawing audiences with these depictions for attention risking being a caricature. Sailor Five, a hentai manga, meaning pornographic comic in English, was an erotic parody of the Sailor Moon, underscoring the hidden sexual appeal Sailor Moon unknowingly possessed (Clements 336).

The Sailor Scouts are middle school students, yet specific body parts are prematurely developed. In the Sailor Moon Stars volume, for example, Mina and Raye, Sailor Venus and Sailor Mars, respectively, confront the three new Sailor Star Lights while wearing clothing so small that is accentuates their chests and slightly curvy figure (Takeuchi 1.1.16). The Sailor Stars Lights were the most explicit in their homo-erotic behaviors apart from Sailor Uranus and Sailor Neptune. The Star Lights never label themselves lesbians, but the mannerism they exploited hinted the probable sexuality. These new fighters disguise themselves and lived as men while searching for their princess on Earth: they date, flirt with other girls, etc. When the day needs saving, they instantly transform into their female warriors; unlike Superman, the Sailor Star Lights “transform” into their new selves embodying new identities, emotions, and abilities hinting that gender is changeable, messy, and difficult depending on the context—really Sailor Moon dwelled into some gender studies 101 most 90s audiences were not ready to face, and it is definitely a magical point viewers overlook.

The transformation from female to male allowed the Star Light Scouts to no longer bottle up any act, longing, or expression. The male versions of themselves are assertive; for example, one of the Sailor Star Fighters while in her male consume kisses Usagi on the mouth to assure her she will never let anyone harm her (Sailor Moon II.4). The kiss is an obvious hint that the male versions of the female Star Fighters are extensions of the feelings they want to exhibit and repress while fighting in their female forms. In the last scene of the Sailor Stars volume, Sailor Tin Nyanko, tells Usagi, “you know [Usagi] I wouldn’t trust girls that pretend to be guys,” echoing that these heroes are imposters that need to accept their desires and show that it comes from a place of female attraction and love.

These instances and others in the animated and manga series are presented but are not marked “lesbian.” The Sailor Moon franchise taught its audience about friendship, acceptance, and support. As one critic noted about Sailor Moon’s success: its “strong plot, its earnest, honest romance, and its refusal to talk down to its audience” really made it thrive (Clements 336).  Sailor Moon remains a cult-favorite and has recently seen support from the online community that Hulu started airing unedited versions of the series that includes the same-sex relations—there’s even talk of a Takeuchi franchise reboot this Summer 2014. For all its stories Sailor Moon was beyond girl power, feminism, and heroes: it was a nucleus of love, determination, and defeating obstacles.

Poster for Patlabor Unleashed – New Movie from Oshii Mamoru Director of Ghost in the Shell Coming Soon

"Patlabor", the award-winning science fiction manga, spawned 3 anime movies, an anime series, two OVA series, a three-part series of short films and two light-novels. Whew!!! Yuki Masami’s wrote the story and the world he created is set in a futuristic Japan full of police officers using highly advanced robots called "Patrol Labors" to pummel crime.

Yuki Masami’s fantastically futuristic world will be adapted into a live-action movie thanks to legendary filmmaker Oshii Mamoru and the Tohokushinsha Film Corporation.

Announced during the Tokyo International Anime Fair back in March, little has been released until now. A new promotional poster for the project was revealed at the Taiwan International Comic Exhibition in Taipei. Stay tuned for more on this new and exciting film…

patlabor-poster

Akihabara: The One Stop Japan Spot for Otakus

Japan is notable for its many splendour tourist spots such as Shibuya, Okina and Kyoto. However, if there is one spot Otaku’s from all over the world wish to visit and this would be none other than Akihabara. Akihabara has been considered Japan’s one-stop-shop for all anime lovers and enthusiasts.

Where in Japan:

Located in Sotokanda, Tokyo Prefectur, Akihabara (秋葉原) is two stations north of Tokyo Station. Locals call the area Akiba after the local shrine. This area has gained quite the recognition from all over the world due to its diehard otaku culture. Major developments have already occurred thanks to the Akihabara Crossfield complex that promotes Akihabara as the centre for global electronics technology and trade.

How to Get There:

It’s easy to head to Akihabra thanks to Japans’ complex train systems plus their trains give meaning to “faster than a speeding bullet.” There are two options of which are as follows:

  1. From Tokyo Station: Akihabara is located two stations north of Tokyo Station by Keihin-Tohoku or JR Yamanote Line. The trip costs 130 yen and will only take three minutes. However, during the weekdays, Keihin-Tohoku line skips one station between Akihabara and Tokyo which will cut off a few seconds off travel time.
  2. From Shinjuku Station: Travellers should take the JR Chuo Line (colour orange) from Shinjuku to Ochanomizu Station of which takes approximately ten minutes. After, take a quick transfer to JR Sobu line (colour yellow) for one more station headed to Akihabara. This trip takes two minutes max. Alternate options also include taking the yellow train without transfer from Shinjuku to Akihabara for seventeen minutes trip. The fare costs 160 yen for either case.

What to See:

As mentioned, Akihabara is the centre for Otaku enthusiasts and lovers. From maid cafes to Tokyo anime centres selling merchandise and games, everything can be found here. It’s best to load up the wallet because the merchandise scattered around can easily lure Otakus in.

  1. Maid Cafes: Cosplay themed restaurants abound where food is served basically by waitresses in frilly and colourful attires. These “maids” also engage in fun activities with the guests.
  2. drinks

  3. Tokyo Anime Center: This is found on the UDX building of Akihabara Crossfield where anime related exhibitions are held.
  4. akihabara-2

  5. Gundam Café is extremely popular where food is served in gundam themes. A gift shop is also connected where visitors may purchase souvenirs and goods.

gundam-cafe

Why Visit Akihabara:

While Akihabara is heaven on earth for Otakus, some visit the area for real steals when it comes to the latest gadgets and electronics. Various centres offer whopping deals that are definitely a real steal as compared to any other place in Japan or overseas.

When to Visit:

Akihabara is open all year round! Take a trip to one of Japan’s busiest and most Otaku-friendly place on earth.

Important Reminders:

Japanese don’t like tourists taking photos inside stores. Unless you’re a famous celebrity or you’ve got special permission, keep the trigger happy camera’s to yourself or outside the store.

Shoujo-filled Anime Week in Review: From Nisekoi to Infinite Stratos

Fans of the manga, Nisekoi (ニセコイ, False Love), will be delighted to hear that an anime adaptation is slated for the works. Written by Naoshi Komi (古味 直志), Nisekoi is the usual shoujo manga with the harem plot. The story revolves around the high school boy, Raku Ichijou, who is set to become the heir of Yakuza group. In come Chitoge Kirisaki, daughter of rival gang and a confusing yet hilarious love triangle involved.

Around 6 volumes with over 75 chapters have already been released among various manga platforms. There have been no other details regarding the debut of the anime.

Next up is Infinite Stratos slated for a second season this Fall. In the announcement on the official website, second season of TV Anime Infinite Stratos will start airing on October 2013. The broadcast of a second season was made just last month and new heroines have already been mentioned. The latest new heroine has already been aired on the website namely Tatenashi Sarashiki (更識 楯無). It’s another harem in the works but still worth the watch with cute girls plus Charlotte back on track.

A quick synopsis of Infinite Stratos is as follows: “Japan engineered an armed powered exoskeleton “Infinite Stratos” (IS) and it became the mainstream of weapons. Orimura Ichika is a 15 year old boy and accidentally touches an IS placed in the IS pilot training school. He is found to be the only man who can operate IS and forced to enter the training school. Ichika’s busy school life surrounded by girls has begun.”

stratos

Last but not the least is Henneko: The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat. With twelve episodes slated, episode five has already been released. Staying true to classic manga perverse humour, the story is that of a typical high school student who wishes away his tendency to lie. The hilarity begins when the mysterious cat statue instead forces him to say everything on his mind in pure honesty. Of course, a girl comes along to heighten the fun.

It’s the usual harem/ service filled-moe plus comedy that Japan anime never runs short of.

ku

Two Weeks Countdown to One Piece’s Oda Eiichiro’s Return

Fans of the high profile manga, One Pirece, are quite used to the hiatus but this time around it’ll be a longer wait. Oda Eiichiro, the renowned creator of One Piece, has taken a break due to his health. Earlier this year, Oda had been hospitalized due to peritonsillar abscess, a complication of tonsillitis.

The series is set to resume by June 10th and counting down the days on the calendar, it’ll be a two week wait more. The official announcement was made on Shonen Jump’s website. As for One Piece, Shonen Jump issues will continue to ship by May 27 to June 3 without any action scenes from Monkey D Luffy.

While Japanese fans have June 10th to wait for, western shores will have a taste of Oda Eiichiro’s animation with the debut of One Piece on Cartoon Network. Monkey D Luffy and his gang are set to hit Toonami’s line-up. The show had already garnered a whopping 995,000 views. Hopefully, One Piece on Toonami is set to bring in more anime to the small-screen.

Miss Universe Japan 2013, Yukimi Matsuo, Aspiring Manga Artist

Yukimi Matsuo, the winner of the Miss Universe Japan (MUJ) 2013 beauty pageant on Monday, revealed in press interviews that since she had achieved the title, she now wants to become a serialized manga artist. She told reporters that she had been drawing manga since quite a few years ago, such as illustrations and four-panel comics. However, due to her modeling, she knew that she would not have any time to serialize a manga in a magazine.

However, last summer, an editor at a web manga magazine invited her to work with him with the aim of her final goal of serialization. She told reporters that she had completed her goal of modeling by winning the pageant, and wanted to take on being a manga artist as her “final challenge” in life, as she is already 25 years old.

She pointed to Ai Yazawa (NANA, Paradise Kiss) and Moyoco Anno (Sakuran, Sugar Sugar Rune) as role models for drawing the beauty of women. When asked what type of person she likes, she said it would be someone who likes manga. Using manga as an example, she specifically called out Leorio from Hunter X Hunter as her type.

Read the rest of the story: Miss Universe Japan 2013 Is Aspiring Manga Creator.

The Sequel to ‘Marmalade Boy’ will be a New Series Starting March 28th

It was announced that the sequel to Yoshizumi Wataru’s popular manga “Marmalade Boy“, titled “Marmalade Boy little” will begin serializing with the May issue of monthly manga magazine “Cocohana” (Shueisha).

“Marmalade Boy” is a love story between Miki and Yuu who happen to start living together after both of their parents divorce and remarry by swapping partners.

It was previously serialized on Ribbon (Shueisha) during 1992 ~ 1995, and it also received TV anime adaptation in 1994. There was also a live-action drama adaptation in Taiwan in 2001.

The sequel “Marmalade Boy little” will be set 13 years later from the last episode of the “Marmalade Boy”. It will feature Miki and Yuu’s little sister and brother. Reportedly, the characters from the previous series, including Miki and Yuu will gradually be making appearances in the sequel.

The May issue of Cocohana will be released on March 28th.

Giant Kuratas Robot For Sale in Japan

Like many Japanese, Kogoro Kurata grew up watching futuristic robots in movies and animation, wishing that he could bring them to life and pilot one himself. Unlike most other Japanese, he has actually done it.His 4-tonne, 4-metre 13 feet tall Kuratas robot is a grey behemoth with a built-in pilot’s seat and hand-held controller that allows an operator to flex its massive arms, move it up and down and drive it at a speed of up to 10 kph 6 mph.“The robots we saw in our generation were always big and always had people riding them, and I don’t think they have much meaning in the real world,” said Kurata, a 39-year-old artist.“But it really was my dream to ride in one of them, and I also think it’s one kind of Japanese culture. I kept thinking that it’s something that Japanese had to do.”

Read the rest of the story: Giant Kuratas robot comes to life in Japan.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vwn5V3MmI0Q&feature=player_embedded

Kis-My-Ft2′s Tamamori Yuta starring in “Nobunaga no Chef”

Nishimura Mitsuru and Kajikawa Takuro’s manga “Nobunaga no Chef” is getting a live-action drama series next season, starring Kis-My-Ft2’s Tamamori Yuta (22). Although he co-starred in the TBS drama “Ikemen Desu ne” last year, this will be his first time as the sole lead of a drama series.

Tamamori will play the role of Ken, a French chef who is transported back in time to the Sengoku period, where he winds up becoming a chef for Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga will be played by Oikawa Mitsuhiro (43).

Other cast members include Shida Mirai (19) as Natsu, a female swordsmith posing as a boy who helps out Ken; comedian Gori (40) as Toyotomi Hideyoshi; Ukaji Takashi (50) as Mori Yoshinari; comedian Takeyama Takanori (41) as Tokugawa Ieyasu; Kitaro (64) as Inoue, another of Nobunaga’s chefs; and Masana Bokuzo (42) as Ashikaga Yoshiaki.

“Nobunaga no Chef” will air on Friday nights at 11:15pm on TV Asahi, beginning in January 2013.

“Reborn!” Manga To End

Akira Amano’s “Reborn!” manga will be coming to an end in the 50th issue of Shueisha’s Weekly Shounen Jump magazine on Monday.

The 41st volume will be published on December 4, and the 42nd and final volume in March.

Although the manga is ending, Weekly Shounen Jump asks Reborn! fans to anticipate Amano’s upcoming work.

In 2010, Viz Media published the 16th volume in North America, and Crunchyroll and Viz Anime have been streaming the anime adaptation outside Japan.