Stepping into Shiro Kuma Cafe.

Since the summer, this happens to be one show I find myself following, though the jokes do get repetitive and there happens to be a character I want to kick… he’s black and white and not a bird.

Relatively Shiro Kuma Cafe (Polar Bear Cafe) is a series that would get the animal lovers coming out in droves. Or at least viewers who don’t mind talking animals, and like to see anime themes as this.

There’s a robust amount of supporting casts, and snippets of plots mentioned, such as mentioning the fact that the zoo keeper Handa who is a shy man has such a crush on Sasako.

Or for this fujoshi push between Shiro Kuma and Kuro Kuma. Doesn’t that make a heart melt?

Then there is the alpaca..I mean llama, who is pretty popular in Japan if any indication that I see at NYC’s Kinokuniya is an indication. (I see alpacca plushies.) But in the show, his character is an underrated character. Much like Amos in the musical Chicago’s

Still I digress, this series is actually pretty good. If you happen to not be watching it, it is available for free on Crunchyroll.

Madoka Magica Movies 1 and 2: A Roundtable Discussion

Initial Postviewing Impressions

Monsieur LaMoe: It was great. The visuals were fantastic, and the sound quality was awesome, with the amazing Yuki Kajiura soundtrack.

Wintermuted: I will just start by saying that I am in no way a fan of “clip show” features. They serve very little purpose outside of selling an already established property to another audience, while claiming to deliver scraps for the already invested.

Despite this, the first two Madoka films are a well-edited digest of the original story with occasionally updated backgrounds, new transformation animation, and updated music. If anything, this was akin to a beefed-up night at a friend’s house while peers catch up on a show. For the type of presentation this was, it was one of the least offensive of its kind, but this is clearly damning with faint praise.

gendomike: Both LaMoe and wintermuted are right, I think. The Madoka Magica movies presented the 2011 TV series in a straightforward, comprehensible way without losing too much. It’s still the well-crafted, emotionally powerful story that it always was.

The problem is that existing fans like ourselves have to judge them in relation to the series as well as on their own terms. And the word that kept ringing in my head right after I saw them was “remaster.” These movies are like those remastered CDs record companies released in the late 1990s-2000s that sounded louder and sharper than the original releases. You were really just buying the same record again, but with bonus tracks (new OP/EDs from Claris and Kalafina) and louder volume (literally in the theater—and analogously with the improved animation in spots).

Can something be both satisfying and disappointing at the same time? That was my feeling.

What did you enjoy most about the movies?

LaMoe: I enjoyed the visuals and sounds, and of course the storytelling of Gen Urobuchi. It was intense and deep. Watching it together with fans and friends, nerds, geeks, and otakus. And a dark theater at night, so the mood was right.

Winter: If anything at all, it was nice to experience the story on a large screen with brilliant sound. Of course there were snippets here and there of new animation, and the aforementioned backgrounds. But as I stated before, they truly are scraps. It was also nice to ostensibly re-watch the series without having to skip the opening & end credits.

gendomike: Watching the story continuously made the cohesion and crafting of Urobuchi’s story more evident. There wasn’t actually much fat to trim from the series, but there was some compression in favor of tightening Sayaka’s story, for instance, and eschewing some of the flashbacks in favor of portraying them in linear time. (Or not at all in a few cases, such as Mami’s flashback on how she signed her contract with Kyubey.) This helped make the story feel more concise and focused. Some of Kyubey’s explanation dialogue also felt less silly near the end, but I could be remembering wrong.

Visually, the upgraded transformation sequences, especially Mami’s first, shone brightly. Combined with the powerful Kajiura OST track “Credens Justitiam” it was one of the soaring moments that truly belonged in a theater, breaking out of the small screen limitation of the original.

Differences between movies and series

LaMoe: The new OP was really good. The chairs and tables at cafeteria were different in the scene where Hitomi basically told Sayaka that she would “NTR” her crush, a frail bishounen violinist. And the most memorable scene, during the OP, Madoka and Homura were rubbing each other’s cheeks, a very suggestive yuri innuendo, almost caused my head to explode, reminding me of Needless’ ED. That made my day (night)!

Winter: Along with what MLM mentioned, there was a greater emphasis on Kyubey’s philosophy and their relationship with objects. Most of the background updates take place in the first film, making many well-known settings more cluttered and borderline claustrophobic. There was fan service-laden animation for the transformations, as well as a new “opening” sequence that is repeated for both films.

I also noticed smaller changes such as the hair on a witch’s potential victim being changed dramatically, to Madoka being given a more sensible costume during a crucial scene. And let’s not forget a short new scene or two that help mend some cuts that offer very little in the way of anything new.

gendomike: I already covered some of the differences in my previous answer, but in truth the differences were not substantial. They were the equivalent of touchups and tweaks. One can argue that given how well-crafted the TV series was, this is how it should be, and many of the visual and storytelling changes did make things a little tighter and brighter.

Mami’s glorious transformation sequence was upgraded further in the film.

Are these movies necessary? Did they bring anything new to the table?

LaMoe: I doubt it, but I’m not against having options. I loved the first two films, because I didn’t get the same sense of the sublime by watching it on my laptop. On my laptop, the visuals were still great, but I didn’t really get sucked into the show’s unique worldview. Story-wise there was nothing new, but I think it really works well as a digest for people who never saw it before. I think the storytelling in the TV series was already really great. The movie version was better on visuals and music. Certainly, Shinbo’s visuals and Kajiura’s gothic music, and the intricate tragic mode of Urobuchi, that combination worked best on the films. I think anything new will be in the Part 3, which I’m looking forward to.

Winter: As a person who was collectively knocked on his butt by the original story and vision, I had hopes that this film version would take up a new, bolder take on matters. Sadly, what we have here merely amounts to that old saw—marketing. Outside of milking success, and hopefully gouging fans out of some additional funds, there is no good reason for this to exist outside of financial ones. Gone are the days of bold cinema interpretations such as the original Galaxy Express 999, and Adolescence Of Utena. While this is light years above Evangelion: Death, this still reeks of studio/sponsor routine that offers nothing new to think about, let alone experience.

gendomike: Heh, I like the comparison with Evangelion: Death, which was intended to buy time for Anno to try (and fail, since Rebirth was incomplete) to complete the ending. This is a much more straightforward proposition, and I see only two uses for it:

  1. to give existing fans the benefit of a movie theater experience. That’s not worthless, but it’s not enough to be truly satisfying;
  2. introduce new viewers to the story.

It is essentially a large recap episode, and given what we know about Shinbo and Urobuchi’s capabilities, I was expecting something more, especially since I doubt there are many in the second category watching these movies. As such, I cannot wholeheartedly recommend the films to those who have seen the series already unless having the cinema experience and upgraded visuals is worth the ticket price to them.

I just wanted an excuse to put this most screencappable of moments in.

The social significance of Madoka as a story

LaMoe: At first I expected Madoka to be a moe anime, but it totally betrayed my expectations by going into full tragic mode from Mami’s death onward. If Yoshiyuki Tomino was “Kill them all,” Gen Urobuchi is “Agonize them all.” And usually, the magical girl genre is moetically therapeutic to watch, but Madoka has totally ruined my moe. I think moe and agony don’t go together. Who wants to see moekko suffer? So, in that sense, Madoka was shocking, as if I was having “moe delusion” the whole time. New genre: torture moekko to bring down moe?

I think Madoka’s family was commendable. Madoka’s mom is a super career woman, and her dad stays home taking care of a baby brother. It breaks away from the traditional Japanese patriarchal family. There are more soushokukei boys right now, and many of them want to be house-husbands, staying home baking cookies and cakes. A little while ago, being house-dad was an embarrassment, but now it’s getting more acceptable, especially among the young generation that has the most otaku population.

So Madoka reflects that zeitgeist. Yet, even in more gender equal America, there are only 0.15 million house-dads. I only saw them on WifeSwap, so we still have work to do. But, to depict that in 2D is an awesome first step to take. I applaud that. So, that modern middle class family setting brings a new meaning to the anime scene, by sending a positive message about gender equality, thus making progress in society as a whole.

Winter: After now seeing the entire story from beginning to end at least four times, I’m more than a little confident in calling Madoka as an all-encompassing call-to-arms, not merely for the evolution of female roles in Japanese society, but of an entire generation weaned on feelings of disassociation and defeat after a great paradigm shift. It is concerned with society’s ambivalence toward the equalization of genders, and wonders why so many seem to be ready to throw in the towel at a moment’s notice. By establishing a world of mirrors and windows (with the title character’s name carrying “window”), Madoka is the means by which Urobuchi questions living within a society’s strict, often unreasonable social constraints. She is a window to a changing world that has long embraced a rigid construct made of gilded cages and manufactured values. Contracts must be read in full, and considered before choices are made.

Madoka is also deeply critical of past expectations of women (particularly young ones), and of many Japanese who have chosen to opt themselves out of the world, often avoiding any true challenge that may seem daunting. It is as much a meditation on faith and the lack thereof, as it is about facing up to the past, and being willing to carve your own path without need for petty reward. It is an often eloquently visualized celebration of persistence under fire, as well as a condemnation not only of otaku sidelining, but of generations’ worth of social pastimes.

And lastly, Madoka Magica posits that it might be good to examine the whys of our myths, and to not be afraid of questioning them, and thereby redefining them on a regular basis.

gendomike: All of the above. :) Not only does it contain the progressive elements that my colleagues have explained so well, it is a shining example of what is possible in anime with a strong writer/director combination. Urobuchi restrained Shinbo’s tendency to visual excess; Shinbo brought his flair for abstraction and off-kilter perspective to Urobuchi’s story. It also demonstrated that anime endings do not have to be abstracted or incoherent (I’m looking at you, Anno). Moe character designs do not always spell weak characterization and plot, or an infantizilation of women. It’s also the series that comes closest to actually using religious and spiritual elements cogently—again, as much as I love Evangelion, unlike what Anno did; he admitted publicly he only added all those crosses because they looked cool and sophisticated.

MLM: I think Wintermuted’s note about Madoka as a window is very insightful. Yes, “Mado” means window, and it reminds me of the Glass Church designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Jr.

Also, Madoka’s last name, Kaname, means “pivotal point, key point, vital point, axis.” In kanji, her last name is spelled “deer eye (鹿目).” I don’t know why it’s written that way, probably because it sounded the same. I don’t think it was because Gautama Buddha’s first lecture was at Deer Park so Madoka as a buddha was given that name. But, what’s sure is that Madoka is the culmination of all her predecessors: not just Mami and the other magical girls of her generation, but also the historical female figures going back to Jeanne d’Arc, Cleopatra, and even Himiko, the first historically recorded Japanese shaman queen. Yes, we can say that Madoka started the new Axial Age, or the new Jaspers’ Achsenzeit, and so Madoka’s family name “Kaname” means “Axis” in Japanese.

So, I agree with Wintermuted’s view on Madoka’s role as not only the advancer of women but also of her entire generation, and even on a much bigger scale, of humanity. It was a female character that became the pivot for that, which is a great step for humanity: and the one who made that footprint was Madoka, a shōjo, which I think is the most significant of all, since the pivotal figures have been exclusively male: Buddha, Mahavira, Jesus, Muhammad, Socrates, Plato, Lao-tzu, Confucius, etc.

Winter: Precisely. She is “us”. Always on the sidelines, watching, wondering, wishing. The story here is musing on what might or should happen next, that the viewer cannot always live vicariously through others, and must ultimately make a choice.

Religious and theological symbolism

MLM: When I watched the TV series, I thought the story was predominantly Christian like Evangelion, but probably because I’m Japanese with a Buddhist background, now I’ve come to think that there were also Buddhist elements like Tathagata-garbha thought. Madoka gained enormous power by repeating countless karmic cycles, with her experiences stored in Tathagata-garbha (Buddha-nature) or Alaya-shiki (Eight Senses in Saint Seiya). Her Buddha-nature reached the point to be Buddha, which was Homura’s unintended consequence in repeating time over and over. Then, Madoka becomes Tathagata, so no one can tell if she exists or not, as Gautama Buddha said: “For him who has disappeared there is no form that by which they say he is, exists for him no longer, when all things have been cut off, all kinds of dispute are also cut off.”

So to me, when Kyubey said, “Are you really going to be a god?” I thought “a buddha” would’ve been more accurate. So I find it pretty Buddhist, and I wonder if that’s where Urobuchi got the ideas from. I’d like to ask these questions if we have another chance to interview Urobuchi.

Winter: Well, my background best retains many of the themes and emotions from religious tales. And coming from Catholicism, it was easy to discern the path of the faithful as one fraught with pain, and recurrence. Much like MLM mentioned during the showing, Homura carries with her much of the faith of John the Baptist, creating a path for whom she sees to be humanity’s greatest sacrifice without considering the long term cost. But I also feel like there is enough applicability inherent in the Madoka world that it really speaks like a modern, universal allegory for Japan’s need to find its individual hearts and fight on.

gendomike: It is fascinating to me that Urobuchi was able to find both Christian and Buddhist resonances and have them fit together as seamlessly as they do. This is because, in part, there are some similarities in both the Christian mystical tradition and the Buddhist, but also because the role of Madoka is at once both Christ-like and Buddha-like. Here are some parallels that I found.

  • Madoka starts off as an ordinary, privileged person unaware of and shocked by the suffering of the world (Siddhartha Gautama’s earlier life as a prince and his encounter with the old man).
  • Homura is caught in a despairing cycle of futility in trying to fight the seemingly inevitable forces of fate (the cycle of karma and reincarnation), which Madoka’s action breaks.
  • Madoka literally draws the despair of dying magical girls into herself and gives them a peaceful end, preventing them from becoming demonic (Christ bearing the sins of humanity and defeating the forces of darkness),
  • and becomes omnipresent and invisible, promising to be with those who believe in her.
  • Homura is thus the first Evangelist, bearing an eyewitness to her saving work and dedicated to continuing her legacy.
  • It is the small child, the boy who would otherwise be her brother, who believes and remembers best who Madoka was (“if you do not become like little children, you shall certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven”), and Madoka is at this point only known by faith.
  • Madoka even tells Homura that she is going where Homura cannot (“where I am going, you cannot go”) but promises to return one day (the Second Coming).
  • Madoka did not begin as a Christ figure, but she ends as one, and also as the One that Homura longs to reunite with (a personal version of the Buddhist idea of Nirvana, or, alternatively, a version of the Beatific Vision).

I’m probably going to be writing the theological analysis of this series that I should have done last year. There’s a whole bunch to say about its view of the body and soul as well as theodicy. Stay tuned. :)

Some thoughts on the upcoming third movie

Note: the trailer for the third film, “Rebellion,” was shown after the end of the second film. It is a new story set after the events of the series. 

LaMoe: I’m looking forward to it. But I don’t know how they will come up with a new story since the original seemed totally complete, as Madoka herself has already become metaphysical. Maybe by changing the point of view? Much of the story was from Homura’s POV, so probably they will shift it to Mami’s? I don’t think we know much about Mami, about how she made a contract with Kyubey, while Homura, Sayaka, Kyoko, Madoka’s stories are all clear. In Aoi Bungaku, the Kokoro arc had each episode from each character’s POV, and it worked really well. So maybe like that? But hey, Mami is the only one who got large oppai among the magical girls, yes, she is the oldest, senpai, mentor, so as an oppai-seijin (oppai-planetarian), I want to see her arc.

Winter: I’m going to be honest. After such a movie experience, and from the footage we saw, I’m not terribly interested in another feature film. I feel like Urobuchi truly bled himself for all to see with the series, and truly said all that he needed to say. It’s the kind of work that asks for no expansion. For me, the final moments are probably among the best I have ever experienced with an anime television series, and end with enough heartfelt emotion and energy to help me envision a burning stage, while Shinbo and Urobuchi slam the mike, throwing out one last triumphant “peace” sign before leaving. Works beautifully on its own.

Life goes on. The fight always lives. (No further elaboration required.)

gendomike: it appears that the new movie will continue the story from where the ending left off, under the new witch-less set of rules that Madoka’s work made possible. Homura and the other girls will continue fighting wraiths under the new dispensation.

In my opinion, this is a mistake, because it dilutes the power of the original ending. The ending was powerful because Madoka solved that world’s essential spiritual problem: the existence of the universe will no longer depend on the human sacrifice of young girls. Moreover, the ending avoided the usual deus ex machina glibness because Madoka’s work did not completely end evil and suffering; she just transformed it into something more like how things are in our own world. This feels complete as a story. It feels over.

I suppose one could, in Biblical terms, see the third story as being like the Acts of the Apostles and showing how the fight continues even in the new world, but this doesn’t seem as compelling an idea dramawise. It reeks of sequelitis and a desire to continue a profitable franchise beyond artistic reason, and it implies that there was something deficient about the original ending.

MLM: Contrary to what my intellectual friends Gendomike and Wintermuted felt, because of the new Madoka films, I’ve actually come to love Madoka more after watching the films with my beloved Anime Diet otaku fellows and hearing their great insights and points of view. I didn’t really get Madoka at first when I watched the TV series by myself almost a year ago. I had no clue what was going on as a slow learner, but talking to friends and watching it again in a form of film, now I can safely say that I am a huge Madoka fan, though initially it ruined my moe and didn’t leave a good impression, although I thought it was unquestionably a masterpiece. So, in a way, it has strengthened my affection towards Madoka with a more positive attitude, and thus now I’m waiting for the third film to come.

Round the Sphere

Get your Halloween on with Manga Movable Feast.

This is a good point. All I had to read as a kid was Doraemon and Dragonball. I remember wishing there was some other manga to read. Then again, I could always just read a book.

Apparently Japanese umbrella use is prevalent? I still need a Pikachu umbrella.

If you haven’t already, check out the AniBlog Roundup at one of my favorite blogs which should be a favorite of yours as well.

while simultaneously whispering discussions with their same-sex peers about which potential partners they find attractive

Am I the only one who find this rude? Sounds like fun though.

Will the current Japanese trade deficit motivate more investment into alternative energy? Does this mean I can import anime on the cheap?!

This is awesome. Kind of reminds me of the first episode of You’re Under Arrest. Not as cool but nothing is cooler than Natsumi.

 

Psycho Pass – an emotional and joyful moment for Cyberpunk fans…Eh?

I wrote about my thoughts on Cyberpunk in a paper back in 2007! http://animediet.net/wp-content/uploads/2007/08/cyberpunk-anime.doc , and I must say, I’ve become much dumber and can’t carry on an intelligent conversation like that. In addition, the entire article or parts of it = tl;dr. But after years of yearning, I can’t believe (Hallelujah), they finally made another hard core Cyberpunk anime…

Continue reading Psycho Pass – an emotional and joyful moment for Cyberpunk fans…Eh?

Bridging The Gap: 30 Years Of Macross, 7 Hours Of Love

 

Taking a most unusual detour from its previous home at UCLA, I took a short trip from home to spend a few hours as part of american anime lover history celebrated 30 years of mecha, music, and love at Macrossworldcon 2012. This time, taking place deep in Arcadia (no, not that one), CA. , and within a modest-sized business & shopping center, virtually hidden from any manner of public view.  After badge pickup, and a colorful yet narrow walkway leading to the heart of the event, I found myself surrounded by a virtual cityscape of toys and items commemorating decades of the Macross franchise, from the original groundbreaking series, to the candy-heavy Frontier. UN S PACY heads from numerous generations and backgrounds convened in what remains a remnant of the anime con that once was..

 


We arrived just in time for a “Free Art Contest” where a group of talented sketch artists tried their hand at delivering a memorable Macross image with only two stipulations; A) Image must contain an audience-selected character from the franchise, and B) they only had ten minutes to make it so. (Sadly, my idea: An image of hapless Valkyrie pilot, Hayao Kakizaki–a character often characterized as a plate of steak, or a ball of flame, was never voted in.)

“Run For Your Life, Minmay!”

Couldn’t help myself from being knocked nostalgic, and also expressing deep excitement at the evolution of character and mecha goods on display. There were times when it felt like member-owned toys and items would never stop coming in to take residence on one of several counters set against the main event room’s walls. Was wonderful enough just to be in the presence of it.


But toys, raffles, and art aside, the major centerpiece of my trip occurred when beloved singer, songwriter (and inimitable voice of Lynn Minmay herself), Mari Iijima took to the main floor, and performed a short and potent set of songs. With Sunset Beach, and a haunting rendition of the legendary Ai Oboete Imasu Ka as the only Macross tracks, we were host to two of her personally written songs which were equally, if not more impressive. True to her ever-self-defining nature, the set was both emotionally charged, and wildly disarming.  (Fave track of the day, “Anatano Tame Ni Jibun No Tame Ni” offers up both a charm-filled sense of longing, and a dramatic sense of real knowing that was impressive. A stirring hint that her latest recorded effort, “Take A Picture Against The Light” may be her most deeply personal to date.)

 

 

So in all, my day in Arcadia was one filled with smiles, melancholy, and togetherness. A strange feeling again filled me as I stepped out of the venue, back into the real world that we all share, aware that I had just left a room of shared dreams and memories so many would never see. Perhaps just as well, as the event itself embraces something that is far too often missing from modern cons, a sense of unseen, yet solid community.

 

 

For Further Investigation..

http://www.macrossworld.com/

http://www.marimusic.com/

Round the Sphere

To continue with the Halloween theme, a contest for cosplayers.

And my first truly empowering moment as well.

Excellent story.

85. You buy kitchen appliances based on the songs they can sing.

I want one ~_~ How many do you agree with?

Time’s running out. Submit your entry today for FREE tickets to the Otakon Music Fest.

Speaking of FREE… totally no strings attached free manga online. Enough said.

Not sure what this is trying to accomplish. Instead of dwelling on the past, wouldn’t addressing current issues such as this prove more fruitful? Yes, I am advocating a billboard featuring this.

I find it interesting that such an intimate human gesture would be the act that binds him in servitude.

Never underestimate the power of a kiss. (spoiler alert)

@gendomike, I believe it is imperative that Anime Diet review this product. Needless to say, we will only consider the 24 carat edition for $10,000.

If a guy in a tie and a bandana spelling death can do it, so can you! The Aniblog Sphere should host a competition so we can send a representative from the community.

And you thought anime was an expensive hobby! While draconian, clearly there’s enough demand to justify those prices. At least it’s still cheaper than collecting cars.

reported being shocked to find images of two men having sex

What? I feel sorry for the kid having such an uncle. Also, why have I not thought of… er, brb.

NYCC 2012: Conversations with Gen Manga’s Nagumo

gen nycc (5 of 7)

Nagumo is a Japanese mangaka of Let’s Eat Ramen (ラ-メンを食べよう). This is a title that is included in Gen’s monthly magazine. The first two chapters are included in issue 8. Being a foodie manga fan, I fell for reading this slice of life story of a girl exploring her passion for a food outside her comfort zone.

Recently I had a meeting and conversation that I won’t be forgetting anytime soon. I am grateful for Robert McGuire of Gen Manga to allow Anime Diet and myself an opportunity to interview Nagumo who was present during NYCC’s weekend.

Nagumo-sensei that day was dressed in a blue yukata top and a black hakama bottom, with the interpretive assistance of Lily Cernak. Later I also consulted with Monsieur La Moe for translation assistance, so here is the conversation that took place.

Linda: What led you into this industry? How did you get started?

Nagumo: Oh, the first time? When I was a little, maybe four or five years old, I liked drawing. I liked it for a long time, so I continued to draw. After I graduated from high school, I thought I wanted to become an animator who drew televised anime. However, since I have drawn seriously from childhood, I noticed that I was already a manga artist.

L: What was your inspiration for writing Let’s Eat Ramen? Now the ending was pretty open ended, do you plan for a follow up? (Robert McGuire mentioned earlier to me, that there was a third issue, so there is going to be a follow up to Let’s Eat Ramen.)

N: Currently in Japan, a manga I am right now working on: Water Girls is serialized in Manga Time Kirara Carat. I am friends with another artist from the same magazine. One time I was having a conversation with him, and he asked, “Hey Nagumo-san, you like eating, so why don’t you draw manga with an eating theme?” And that was the starting point.

The story of Let’s Eat Ramen will continue.

L: What inspired Saeki, in terms of drawing and personality? Any one individual did you base her of? Looking at her drawing at times, would it have been better if you done her hair shorter or without glasses?

N: Ummm. I didn’t base Saeki on a real person or at least of one person. One thing I had in mind, I thought a girl wearing a scarf was really cute, and maybe only that.

L: Were there any real life inspiration of experiencing ramen yourself that was reflected in this story?

N: Yes. A lot. My favorite ramen is miso.

L: Have you tried any ramen places in New York yet? Do they even compare to counterparts in Japan?

N: Not yet. Right now, only pizza. It’s just four days since I arrived in America, so I haven’t been able to try many foods yet, so I can’t compare.

(I mentioned Ippudo, Naruto Ramen as a possible ramen places for Nagumo-sensei to try out.)

N: Ippudou is everywhere in Japan. Naruto ramen, guruguruguru? (reference to the fish cake)

(A brief tangent ensues with me trying to explain where Naruto Ramen was located in New York City.)

L: What is the first thing that a person should look for when they’re trying out ramen places for themselves? Any customs/rituals should they be aware of? Or any interesting ritual you yourself practice when going to ramen places?

N: That’s a difficult question.

L: What are your thoughts on ramen being like an American version of burger or pizza?

N: Ramen is a Japanese version of hamburger? Well… a little different. American hamburger in Japanese way is more like nikuman (meat bun), gyuu-don (beef bowl). Ramen is a bit different. Come again? (So many kinds of American burger). This is a difficult question. Japan has a lot of hamburgers. In America, is noodle common? Oh, I see. But I think hamburger and ramen are difficult to compare.

L: Is your awkwardness for trying out French restaurants still the same as when you mentioned in your author column?

N: Yes, the same. It’s difficult to enter a luxurious high class restaurant by myself.

L: What is a typical day like for you when you are working on a project?

N: Personally? I work the whole day facing the desk. The entire time.

(I asked roughly how long, and threw in the example roughly about 12 hours?)

N: Is that Japanese?

(I mentioned that I heard it from Felipe Smith. Nagumo affirmed that it was the same and we moved on.)

L: There has been works like Bakuman, GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class, or Dojin Work, or even parts of Genshiken that speak about the process of creation for the manga business. Is your experience anything similar or different to what American readers can read about?

N: Well, it’s partly based on real life, not entirely, but it’s pretty true. There are parts that Bakuman and Genshiken draw true to life and partly not depicted. The part that is not depicted is probably where readers may find boring, and don’t want to know about.

L: For example?

N: Example? I think I better not say that, (laughs). Yet, how to make the boring part interesting is a manga artist’s skill. It’s hard to say in one sentence, but to sum it, ummm. Genshiken has its own theme they want to draw, and Bakuman has its own theme they want to write.

L: I wanted to see if there was a difference between Doujin writers and serialized manga.

N: The difference is that we don’t have editor for doujinshi.

L: What type of subject or genre do you usually prefer to draw?

N: Food and also romantic comedy.

L: What do you view as the most challenging manga/art subject or genre that you have worked on?

N: Is it about Ramen, or commercial publishing in general? I think is a challenge in general to work on something I have never written about before.

(I mentioned thoughts on the possibility of more of his works becoming available in English?)

N: My work? I don’t have any plan other than Ramen manga. But as for the doujin that I’m writing, I’m okay with asking if these be translated in English by Gen Manga. So it depends.

L: What is your research process like?

N: Well I search online, look at books. For example if it was Ramen, then I will go out to try Ramen. A few years ago, when I was writing Radio de Go, I went to visit a radio station for research.

L: What has been your favorite Anime or manga?

N: Aria by Kozue Amano for anime as well as manga. My favorite manga also is  GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class.

L: What do you want to be remembered as?

N: The only thing I want is for readers who can enjoy my work. Only that.

L: What is a message you would love to say to American fans?

N: What? I never imagined that I had fans in America, so this is very surprising to me.

Directly after my interview with Nagumo-sensei, he began his signing session with patiently waiting fans. Due to being camera shy, I was allowed to take a photo of his hands as he drew and signed Japanese copies for Let’s Eat Ramen.

Also be sure to check out Anime Diet’s Flickr for photos of Gen Manga’s booth at NYCC 2012.

Skinship with Sawa app, Tari Tari!

Here’s app that you can have skinship with Sawania of Tari Tari. God-sent app of otaku by otaku for otaku. Just go to this link, http://up.40ch.net/swf/view.php?id=000632

If you touch her nice melons, she’ll yell at you, “Na… Hagero! (What… Go bald!)” ” Baka! Detette! (Stupid! Get out of here!)” “Baka! Otankonasu! (Stupid! Jerk!)” For do-M (super-masochist) otaku who wants to be sworn at, nothing is more grateful than this. Arigatou-gozaimashita! (Thank you very much!)

Her butt, she’ll say, “Shinjirarenai! (I can’t believe it!)” “Yareyare… (Oh dear…)” But this app only has a spanking sound if you click on her butt. I wonder why…

Her private part. “Gomen, chotto taichou warui kara…  (Sorry, I’m not feeling good…)” Yes, that means she’s having Girl’s Day!

And if you’re playing idle, she’ll say, “Hayaku! (Hurry up! What are you waiting for?)” “Nani? (What?)” “Moji-moji shite kimoi ne. (You’ve been acting hesitant and creepy).”

You can also go to Konatsu’s app if you click on her face, but as an okazu she’s…well, she’s cute in her own way!

So, enjoy!

 

 

 

NYCC 2012: SJ Event at NYC’s Kinokuniya

SJ Alpha takes over Kino’s Store Front!

It has been a while I’ve been to a Kinokuniya anime/manga themed event, but last weekend in conjunction with New York Comic Con.  Shonen Jump Alpha held a New York City Fan Meetup on Friday from 5-8 pm at the Midtown Japanese bookstore. Participants were able to receive pins, a Shonen Jump Alpha 2013 Yearbook, and a Shonen Jump bag filled with swag.

Swag Bag and Yearbook

The SJ year book includes pictures, centerfold posters, creator spotlights, and two manga shorts. The manga includes a preview of Sachie-chan Good, a collaborative work between Akira Toriyama and Mazakazu Katsura. To read the entire story, subscribers and readers are advised to wait until December 2012 issue of SJ Alpha. The other manga is Otter Man No 11, which is a spin off from Bakuman. This yearbook is a limited printed NYCC special issue, that convention goers who visited Viz Booth over the weekend were able to obtain.

kino shonen jump (11 of 16)

Fans at the event was able to mingle and talk among themselves, along with SJ Alpha staff.

Afterwards at around 7-8 pm, there was a special autograph session with Masakazu Katsura, creator and character designer for titles like Video Girl Ai, DNA2, Shadow Lady, I’s, Zetman, and Tiger & Bunny.

kino shonen jump (15 of 16)
桂先生 (Katsura Sensei)

About 120 tickets were given out for Katsura-sensei to sign. There was a line that formed from the front of the store, leading to outside and around the corner on 41st and 6th Avenue.

kino shonen jump (3 of 16)

It was a pretty amazing opportunity to meet a mangaka that I grew up with during my high school years.  Here’s a page in I’s that I got for signed.

Many fans were real happy. I heard that it also got pretty emotional for some fans as well.

kino shonen jump (12 of 16)
Beaming fans holding up their signatures!

This turned into such a positive Friday evening, amidst all that was already happening over at Jacob Javits. More photos I took of this event I placed over at Anime Diet’s Flickr, so be sure to check over there.