Hentai Arrives at Oxford!

Since 1928, the Oxford English Dictionary has been the go-to source for all confused about word spellings and meanings. Each year, a new set of words are “accepted” by oxford and added to their future additions of dictionary releases. Often, pop-culture references found important to a generation are added to the line-up. Words such as “d’oh” (a sound of frustration uttered by Homer Simpson) and “unfriend” (an ode to the social network craze) payed honor to current trends. (“Trend” was given a new meaning a few years ago to indicate internet phenomena.)

This year’s list of words include “Lol” (laughing out loud), “OMG” (oh my god!), <3 (heart, love), and “muffin top” (the squishy bits of pudge that roll over the tops of too-tight pants).

Also included is Hentai.

What IS hentai? (No, I really don’t think I need to ask that on anime diet. You’re all ahead of Oxford!)

hentai
Pronunciation: /hɛnˈtʌɪ/
noun
[mass noun]
a subgenre of the Japanese genres of manga and anime, characterized by overtly sexualized characters and sexually explicit images and plots.
Origin:
1990s: Japanese, literally ‘abnormal, perverted’

About time! Hentai is probably one of the most famous genres of anime outside of Japan, and perhaps within as well.
Young high schoolers around the western hemisphere are most likely jumping for joy at the news as they can now inform their parents, “Honestly, I’m only doing english homework!”

March MMF: Aria/Aqua Series Artbooks

Cover of Cielo

Prior to this blog post, I was a bit worried about overly gushing a bit too much, since I am the host of this Manga Movable Feast on my own blog over at Scribblings, however I was reassure along the lines that if I loved the series enough to take on the responsibility being a host, then wouldn’t I be expected to gush about it? Similar to how my contribution was to the November’s MMF, this is going to be a post via this anime blog site on a series of artbooks that I owned from this series. I am an artbook collector for the most part, and getting three of the artbooks, was a haul I made when I visited Japan last year.

Aria The Illustration: Avvenire
Alpha – Kozue Amano Illustration Works
Stella – Kozue Amano Illustration Works II
Cielo – Kozue Amano Illustration Works III

My general impression on this set of artbooks, is a complete feast for the eyes and a balm to the soul of a collector. Every time I look within the pages, of each and every art book, I am consistently reminded of how wonderful this series is, and how much I can’t choose as to what is my favorite image, though I profess to love Alice, and Maa.

Avvenire covers the art that deals with the anime series from all three seasons, and there are cd images, group pictures, promotional images that is bound in this book.  There’s an incredible image of Akari standing with Caith Sith.

Alpha, Stella, Cielo is a series of artbooks for the manga. Aqua/Aria as the main subject piece of all three books, only has art in half of the book, a portion of the book has Amano’s other manga series’ in it (Roman Club, Crescent Noise.) I mentioned that I purchased these books when I was Japan, but I ended up purchasing it, the next day after I saw the images in my small hostel room from this link, and I seriously don’t regret it.

AKIRA’s Casting: Why Ask Why?

 

Alright, so after several prolonged discussions on both Facebook and Twitter regarding Deadline‘s news regarding the “whitewashed” casting being considered for The Hughes Bros. upcoming live-action adaptation of Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic, AKIRA, it felt only right to go ahead and help clear the air. As Warner Bros. is going out of their way to make this long in development hell project become a reality, the very idea that not only has the story’s central location been moved to “New Manhattan”, but that the main cast is likely to be populated by stars as non-Japanese as can be imagined has suddenly helped spur on these discussions.

 

But the funny part of it is that this has been long in the talks to be for years now. It isn’t as if this is a terribly new wrinkle to this project.

 

But perhaps it was the list of names mentioned as possibilities to play the iconic roles of ill-fated friends Tetsuo(Robert Pattinson, Andrew Garfield, or James McAvoy ) & Kaneda(Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Chris Pine, Justin Timberlake, or Joaquin Phoenix).  And the funny part about this is that several years ago,  there might have been a time when this fell clear through the “wrongness” cracks in my mind, and seemed natural for a moment.

 

But now, as the project gathers steam, it’s important to remember just what made the original manga, let alone the classic anime so potent in the minds of so many. At least to me, it was a combination of several striking factors that allowed the popularity to thrive, regardless of the Marvel Comics treatment, and ensuing TMNT-laden dub. It was a window into a Japan that westerners were largely unfamiliar with. Even as the western consciousness at the time was painted by the hues of a moneymaking powerhouse dream of Japan, there was also a spiritual detritus that permeated the seemingly unstoppable country that felt fresh and new. Not to mention the decade’s more fringe culture curiosity for cyberpunk, and a growing movement that questioned the very stability of the Reagan era. The stars seemed aligned for the at-times merciless spectacle of AKIRA to shine as a cult beacon for those looking for the next evolution of the superhuman comic book character/dystopian vision.

So when I see this news about RPatz being considered for a role that is not only Japanese, but should clearly be younger…all I can respond with is a drawn out..

“….of course”

 

Niche property adaptations have had their time in the spotlight as of late. And studios are in the process of doing all they can do to save these huge investments as nearly every risk that has been taken with cult comic properties have been met with either apathy, or disdain by the larger numbers of the moviegoing public. Ever since Speed Racer came onto screens in 2008, it has been clear that the then flourishing new era of adapting niche titles for big budget films was going to be a tough sell. (And as one of the few who actually still enjoys that film, it was a bitter pill to swallow.) But the reality is that the numbers who have been turning up to these films are nowhere what is needed to turn a profit of any kind. Just look at Kick-Ass, Scott Pilgrim, Watchmen, and just about every anime-turned live action film, and its all pretty self-explanatory.

 

So where I’m coming from is that this is not so much a matter of “race-bending” as it is a desperate attempt to do two things;

 

a) Get the movie made.

The geeks aren’t in as much force as anticipated, and studios are now listening. There simply isn’t enough money to be made from an audience that can be a little too nitpicky for a “gotta please them all” type of business.

 

And of course..

 

b) Make that money back.

Movies are now a terribly expensive idea for such properties. If one would have told me that Scott Pilgrim came with an almost 80 million dollar price tag a year ago, I would have deemed you fit to be locked away…but it is. Now imagine AKIRA for a second. That’s right. Let that sink in..

So what we’re looking at is a business tired of losing money/credibility, and are ready to forget the original target audience, and prepare for a film geared for a completely new one. A practice that has been done before many times, but has rarely to never worked. Even back in the days when the rights to AKIRA were in the hands of 90s powerhouses Guber-Peters, this was pretty much the same situation. And now that we’re in a time where no studio is willing to risk anything with a property that is all about risk-taking. It stands to question making it at all.

 

And I won’t even go into detail about why the original AKIRA project means so much to me, as it completely contradicts the very reason for this film to be made. The original in its visual gut punch says so much more than any live action interpretation ever could.  So even if they changed their minds, and cast actual Japanese actors to play the parts, I’d still likely not be a fan of it. The simplicity of matters for me is this; AKIRA is not only specifically Japanese cosmetically, it is also incredibly Japanese at heart. It is a Showa Era primal scream, celebrating the lives of those unwilling to allow the Bubble to encase their existence. It is also an echo of the political turmoil of Japan in the late 60s-70s. Much like Sogo Ishii’s brilliant Bakuretsu Toshi, it is less a story so much as it is an examination of a society on the brink, and a culture eager for divine release. This is the very center of what makes the project beyond anything that can simply be ported over to our shores. It is Japan’s desperate heart crying for change, despite all the concrete and steel forming around them like a tomb.

 

And even as the real Japan struggles on to re-identify itself amidst calamity now, the wind called AKIRA is a spirit best expressed from the people this spirit emanates from.

 

Personally speaking, this is about as close to western as I’m willing to be with this..

Madoka’s Magical Realism

If anything in the universe lends itself to broad, shamanic principles, it is surely entropy. Broken glass, spilled milk, and toppled stacks of books are all examples of that universal principle we are familiar with. At times, it almost seems intelligent, malicious, seeking to thwart our intentions and pervert our efforts to bring order to our lives.

The fundamental laws of thermodynamics, which govern entropy, have been stated as:

1. You can’t get ahead.
2. You can’t break even.
3. You cannot refuse to play.

Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica examines these laws not from a literal standpoint, but from a philosophical standpoint. It is not the first anime to do so – Full Metal Alchemist centered almost entirely on the point of “Equivalent Exchange,” a principle that comes pretty close to the first law of thermodynamics: to receive something, you must give up something of equal value.

The primary difference between Madoka and its intellectual predecessor is the degree of adherence to Law Two: in Alchemist, you can get some pretty good trades as well as some pretty bad ones. In Madoka, it’s all downhill, with magical girls ultimately sliding down a slippery slope of magic dependency into outright insanity.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

– W. B. Yeats, “The Second Coming”

 

In this context, what exactly is Kyuubey? He is the vengeance of entropy, the denial of hope, the cold and cruel insistence that you cannot get something for nothing, and that the house always takes a cut. With Kyuubey you can never truly get what you wish for just by asking for it, for the act of obtaining your wish in such a fashion changes the situation.  Furthermore, what you get never quite equals what you give up: it always falls short, usually in some terrible way.

Uncle Kyuubey wants you!
Uncle Kyuubey wants you!

It has been variously said that Kyuubey’s explanations of magical energy and entropy border on the laughable, and perhaps that’s right. But ultimately Kyuubey and what he represents should be considered in terms of a philosophical argument, not an accurate, one-to-one correspondence with reality and proper physics. If we ignore this level of consideration to focus on the literal, then Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica is only the story of a mailed fist punching a defenseless face in the nose, ad nauseam, over the course of a dozen episodes. Including it, we see a marvelous juxtaposition: the futility perceived in adulthood when compared with the unbounded expectations of childhood, is philosophically similar to the ultimate thermodynamic futility of all chemical and physical processes, life included.  Water runs downhill, and does not flow back up.  People become corrupt, and do not regain their innocence.  Everyone dies, in the end.

But there are miracles.

Ultimately Madoka, for all of its bleak and nihilistic scenes, cannot help but be a magical girl show.  Even at its worst, it is still in many respects cheerier than the reality the human race lives in. Thermodynamics really does state that we and the world are on a one-way trip to oblivion, and anything we do only hastens the process.  While the stories of the girls in the show are sad, examples abound of people whose daily lives are more depressing than those in the show.

The truly depressing thing about Madoka isn’t that its fictional characters are subject to horror, death and worse.  It’s that every bad thing in Madoka is actually a censored version of what really happens on our planet.

Usage of Images to reassure!

The impact of news on the Japanese earthquake and tsunami may have been getting slightly overwhelming to people, as they go on their lives. However the Japanese entertainment, and anime industry has not been stopping, although images some may lead people to agree, question, or think about how their intention is perceived as. Nothing can turn back the time to this reality, so how can people cope though?

These are only a small bit of images or news that has me thinking on their impact. Whether you think this is a positive or negative image, please take it as it is. Don’t think anything less that would possibly belittle the efforts/attempts that these images/people have.

For the first image of Full Metal Panic‘s Tessa, in a news that was shared by ANN. As an individual, and a fan of this series, I was happy to see and hear of what these Japanese industry people are doing. Yukana-Tessa’s anime seiyuu, Shoji Gatoh-FMP’s light novel author, and Shikidouji-light novel illustrator, completed those additional art work.

Second image is this representation from Arashi’s leader. Satoshi Ohno has recently starred in a Japanese drama that has adapted Fujiko Fujio’s Kaibutsu-kun manga and anime. Of course, what Ohno as Kaibutsu-kun said is intended for the kids in Japan. I am thinking about Blues Clues at this moment. >_<

Third image is from a picture shared on Twitter, of a mascot campaign. Japan has plenty of mascots, so would you feel comfortable looking at an image like this? Whether or not this is a confirmed image so, in the end a reality is quite clear, communication by an image speaks of a 1000 words. Do people feel more comfortable in knowing how images are created, and shared? On perhaps a positive note, two Fukushima reactors has been stopped safety.

Mangaka Art Work for Japan to Hold On!

Arale and Goku - Message from Toriyama Akira

Finding this link [EDIT] and more in this link, filled with wonderful Japanese artwork calling for the Japanese to hold on, is quite inspirational, and reminder of the popular industry that has roots in Japan. Being a sincere anime and manga fan. Please hold on Japan!

Haruhi prays for Japan

Despite the fact that there are delays and cancellations, have you consider your worth as an Anime/Manga fan?

Arina Tanemura's message that You're Not Alone!

There are more images from Gurren Laggen, Galaxy Express 999, Phoenix Wright. Are these images you find to be reassured by?

Chi mentions Gambatte Kudasai!

In Japan there will be a further doujinshi fund raising efforts, ANN lists the mangaka in English.

Minna Gambare! Message from Chopper and Luffy!

There are more work to be done, please consider donating for relief efforts.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan Link
Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan is just one of these relief efforts. This was an effort that was started by Daniella over at All About Manga, and further along by our own Mike. More work is going to be updating in the coming days about this newly formed site via blogging and tweeting. So Anime Diet Readers, did you think about supporting us?

Anime and Manga Bloggers For Japan: Please Join Us.

Anime and Manga Bloggers for Japan Link

Most of you are no doubt aware of the tragic situation happening in Japan. If you want to help out, please join us with the growing list of anime and manga bloggers in joining Daniella of allaboutmanga‘s drive to raise money for Doctors Without Borders and Shelterbox. Both charities are well-regarded and are already on the ground in Japan, doing their essential work for the people who need it most. Please help especially if you are a blogger yourself: spread the word on Twitter, Facebook, and other networks too! As a community, this is our moment to band together and give back to the country whose culture has enriched our lives so much.

You can find out more at the newly open website for the campaign at

http://www.bloggers4japan.com

Keep checking the site as there will be many updates to come in the next few days! Let me or Daniella know, or leave a comment on the guestbook if you are a blogger that has donated, so we can add you to the honor roll.

Thanks. Please donate as much as you can to this important cause.

Sendai Magnitude 8.9

Northern Japan was hit with an earthquake measuring 8.9 on the Richter scale.

Image courtesy of US Geological Survey.

Amid the general panic, fires broke out, glass shattered, and the Fukushima nuclear power plant was damaged, causing radiation levels to rise.  This prompted civil authorities to order an emergency evacuation of the nearby area and the US to dispatch technicians and coolant from its nearby military base.  As if that were not enough, the offshore quake (near Sendai) caused a massive tsunami.  Internet-savvy Japanese immediately started using google services, websites and social networks to communicate and coordinate their activities.  Many credit stringent Japanese building standards with reducing the effects of the quake and its aftershocks.

Continue reading Sendai Magnitude 8.9