Anime, as I have mentioned in 101, is a growing industry here in the U.S. of Japanese animation. Behind the televised, animated entertainment though there is another layer in the form of the written word. This side of the coin is Manga.
Manga can also be referred to as graphic novels. In general you have the gray-scale, illustrated panels and the word bubbles, what you typically think a comic strip would look like. But like always there is a catch. Japanese reads right to left. Some licensors/ distributors of manga do change the images to be left to right. This is done in order to preserve the work in the way that the author wanted it to be seen.
The length of a manga series does not have a general lifespan like anime does. Anime most commonly run 23-26 episodes. Then you have what I suppose could be considered a mid season filler which would run 13 episodes. Then you have the rare ones that live into the 100’s. Manga can be as short as two volumes or go as long as 20 and not show signs of slowing down.
Lately, I have been seeing a new brand of manga emerging called Cine-Manga. This is more along the lines of graphic novels. The images are in color and are actual stills from a TV show with narrative overlay. The subjects of these particular graphic novels range from classic Disney movies like Bambi
, to live action Disney shows like Lizzie McGuire
. Some anime titles included in this style are Inuyasha, Cardcaptors
, and Akira
. I have not read too much into this style. Since the images and story are directly from the TV. show or movie, I’d just watch it.
Some licensing companies in the U.S. are:
Tokyopop - This company has an impressive collection of titles under it’s belt.Vampire Game
- A master vampire and warrior fight to the death. During the vampire’s death throws he vows to come back to have his revenge. But what happens when the Vampire King is reincarnated as a kitten? Can he still get his revenge? romantic/comedy, fantasy/action, vampires.PhD: Phantasy Degree
- Sang wants to acquire a magical ring. But the only way to get it is to enroll in the Demon School Hades. Will she be able to get past the Vampires, Werewolves and Demons to get what she wants? fantasy/action, sarcastic humor.
Viz - This company licenses and distributes both manga and anime. They are also in league with Shogakukan Inc. and Shueisha Inc. two publishing companies in Japan.Bleach
- Ichigo can see spirits, it’s not so strange until he meets Rukia, a shinigami who hunts Hollows. But when one attacks his family, Ichigo absorbs Rukia’s power to defend them. In so doing he becomes a shinigami himself and must fight the Hollows, bring peace to spirits and protect the innocent.Hikaru no Go
- Hikaru is an average kid until he discovers a bloodstained Go board. Now set free from the Go board, Fujiwara-no-Sai becomes a part of Hikaru’s consciousness. Will Hikaru be able to keep beating Go challengers? Will Fujiwara be able to rest in peace?
Del Rey - This company has a wide selection of science fiction and fantasy novels. It was just a matter of time before manga would find it’s way here.Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE
- Sakura, the princess of Clow, has lost her memories. It’s up to her childhood friend, Syaoran to gather the feathers of her memory from different worlds with some help from other notable CLAMP characters.xxxHOLIC
- Watanuki is haunted by spirits, until one day he comes upon Yuko’s shop. He accepts her offer to rid him of the spirits, until he discovers he must work for her to pay off her service. In her shop, Yuko can help anyone . . . for a price. (Holic
crosses over with Tsubasa
Boma at 10:52 PM
Cyber City: Final Collection
Boma at 12:44 AM
This past June, my friends and I traveled to the Meadowlands Expo. Center (which is about 10 minutes outside of NYC) to attend the AnimeNext 2005 Convention. Now when you go to a convention the best times to hit the dealers room is right when they open to find all the unique, hard-to-find items and about an hour or so before they close because that's when they just hand you stuff from posters to dvds. This is how I acquired Cyber City: The Final Collection
is directed by Yoshiaki Kawajiri who is also the director of Ninja Scroll
. This feature though is a series of three episodes. These episodes revolve around three convicts in a futuristic setting. These convicts (Sengoku, Benton, and Goggles) are serving life sentences when they are approached with an offer. An offer to work off their sentances by working for the police and take the "high risk" assignments. But what will keep them from running off? Explosive collars are put around their necks. If they try and take them off: Boom. If they run off: Boom. If they do not complete their tasks within the time frame given: Boom.
Each episode focuses, but not exclusively, on one of the convicts. In the first episode, "Time Bomb", Sengoku is the highlighted convict. He has to break into a building that is in lock down from terrorist activity, figure out what exactly is going on and "remedy" the situation. Not my favorite of the three but they get better. In the next episode, "The Decoy", Goggles is put up against a psychic cyborg to test it's capabilities with his life determining it's success. Last but not least in "The Vampire", there is Benton. Researchers that were working on an illegal genetic experiment are being killed. Benton needs to discover and dispatch the culprit. Question is, does he want to?
Honestly, when I started watching this it was slow going and did not really hold my attention. I watched it in english so I can't compare it to the Japanese, yet, but it seems the only way to distinguish the convicts from other people is by the number of swear words they can put in a sentance. It seemed to me most of it was unnecessary. I did however enjoy the animation style and the plotlines once they got going from their slow start. That being said and after digesting the episodes, I concluded that I enjoyed it but was glad it was a handout and not a purchase.
Some other works that Kawajiri had a hand in are: Blade of Kamui, Wicked City, Neo-Tokyo, Ninja Scroll, Ninja Scroll: the Series, X: the Series,
and Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust
Boma at 8:40 PM
A few short years ago I was introduced to anime by my brother and I have been hooked ever since. One series that had caught my eye and made its way into my collection is Chobits.Chobits
, by the four-woman artist group CLAMP, is more than it seems. The main character of this series is Hideki Motosuwa, a farm boy who didn’t quite make it into college. To get on the right path he decides to go to a prep school in the city. Here he discovers that everyone has a persocom. He was enthralled at first by these computers that look and feel like real people with the exception of their “ears”. Unfortunately for him these computers are way too expensive and he mopes all the way home. But then one night he sees an unconscious girl bound up near the garbage. He found his persocom. After discovering how to turn her on, he finds out all she can say is "Chi?" He now has to teach her about the world.
This series can be seen in different ways. At first the most obvious is the cutesy little robot that dresses in frilly dresses living with a horny, almost-in-college guy. When you hear her say her first "Chiiii?" you stop watching. But if you continue, get into it more you can start to see the levels.
Human or robot? Which is better? This is the question that is bombarded at Hideki throughout the series as Chi develops and becomes more coherent and emotional. This is exemplified through the supporting characters. They all have stories/ backgrounds that reflect this issue: Hiromu Shinbo (Hideki's helpful neighbor), Chitose Hibiya (manager of the apartment building), Minoru Kokubunji (persocom expert), Yuzuki (Minoru's custom-made persocom made to be like his deceased sister), Yumi Omura (friend and co-worker at the Japanese Pub "My Pleasure"), Takako Shimizu (prep school teacher), and Manager Ueda ( Manager of Tirol where Chi works). It is like a series of stories that support the main by how you are ushered through each stage with each couple until you get to the end where Hideki makes his decision.
The characters develop very well through this series. Chi is sweet and innocent as she explores the world and Hideki explains to the best of his ability. Hideki, (you'd think he'd bleed to death by the end with all the nosebleeds he gets) even though he likes his "magazines" and didn't make it into college, has his heart in the right place. He gives sage advice (even though he's either half asleep or half-starved when he gives it) and wants the best for everyone.
I like this series particularly its humor and the music (I have the opening theme stuck in my head now). The one thing I was not crazy over is the ending. I won't go into detail about what happens, but it could have been extended to give more airtime to the added characters. The way it was pretty much for the closure, how they handled it, to wrap things up. All in all it wasn't bad. The manga (graphic novel) is available at Amazon.com so that would probably go into further detail.
If you are interested in more of CLAMP’s work there’s X, Card Captor Sakura,
and RG Veda
to name a few. I am currently reading their work Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
and I am enjoying it.
Boma at 11:38 PM
Welcome to the world of anime! This rapidly growing industry is making it’s mark in the American market with more and more titles being licensed and released each year by companies such as Funimation, ADV, and Geneon to name the Big Three.
Remember that anime has a whole range of age groups. Just because these shows are animated does not mean that little kids should watch every anime out there. Most anime is not rated but they do have age recommendations such as13+ or 15+ etc. I would suggest parents watch and then decide whether or not to let their kids watch.
When you want to start watching this type of animation there are some things to consider. The big question is what genre do you like? Because just saying you want to watch an anime is like saying you want to watch a movie. Do you like horror? Fantasy? Romantic Comedy? Historical Fiction, even?
Next is how strong is your stomach? More often than not, since we are going up in the age group here, you are going to see varying amounts of blood etc. Also there’ll sometimes be explicit language, of course this all depends on the genre you choose to begin with.
Next consideration, remember the culture this is coming from. This is probably one of the reasons that attracted me to anime to begin with. There will be animes that show what daily life is like from going to school, to working in a shrine, to what a typical meal is like. I found the book The Anime Companion: What’s Japanese in Japanese Animation by Gilles Poitras to be quite interesting in showing these distinctions. It is set up like a dictionary A-Z with informative blurbs on topics ranging from landmarks to culture to food to people to religion just to name a few. I’d recommend this book to anyone starting to watch anime or is just plain curious about the culture.
Perhaps I should explain some terminology also. To begin with there is Shoujo and Shounen types of anime. Basically Shoujo is anime geared to a female audience. These can be the romantic comedies or the “cutesy” types of anime. Shounen on the other hand is the opposite, this type is geared toward the male audience. These are typically the more action-packed series and (more noticeably) fan service series. Now just because these animes have been declared either Shoujo or Shounen does not mean a girl should not check out a Shounen type if she wants or a boy from checking out a Shoujo series if he wants. Just revert back to the genre you would like to watch.
Some anime I would recommend are -
Fantasy: Slayers ~ Lina Inverse is a powerful sorceress, does she help fellow man with her power? She steals from the rich to give to herself!
Romantic Comedy: Fruits Basket ~ What happens to the Sohma household when Tohru Honda moves in? Would be fine, if they weren’t cursed by the spirits of the Chinese Zodiac.
Action/Fantasy: Inuyasha ~Kagome is transported to feudal Japan where she kust team up with the hot head, half demon Inuyasha to reclaim the broken shards of the Shikon Jewel.
Historical Fiction: Samurai Deeper Kyo ~ Yuya is a bounty hunter searching for her brother’s killer. What trouble has she gotten herself into when she tries to bring in Kyoshiro, a medicine peddler, who turns into Demon Eyes Kyo when trouble occurs?
Comedy: Azumanga Daioh ~ follow the exploits of a group friends as they go through high school. Their characteristics range from brainy, to clueless, athletic to lazy.
Shoujo: Pretear ~ When the Dark Princess escapes from her imprisonment, it is up to Hayate and the other Leafe Knights to find the Pretear and return balance to the world.
Shounen: Cowboy Bebop ~ Meet the crew of the Bobop. They right wrongs and bring justice to the planets . . . for the right price.
Boma at 8:42 PM
Excel Saga, 1 of 6
Boma at 10:49 PM
Excel Saga, what to say about Excel Saga? This is absolutely crazy. Basically it parodies all the different genres of anime and pokes fun at/ pays tribute to specific anime titles. For example each episode has a different characteristic from a sci-fi parody to romantic comedy (like those popular dating sim games) to horror. All topped off with Excel who, to put mildly, has coffee instead of blood running through her veins. She is overly hyper and speaks a mile a minute. About halfway through the series the english voice actress had to drop out due to possible vocal damage from having to do Excel's voice. Excel's partner in crime is Hyatt who drops dead, literally, every five minutes or less. But never fear there is an over all, barely-there plot running throughout this constantly changing series. There is a secret organization called Across headed by Illpalazo who then has Excel, Hyatt, and a mop as minions. Their mission is to take over the world but first, as a jumping off point, they are to take over the City of F. They try doing this by implementing various nonsensicle (sp?) plans like killing manga artists or making giant robots etc. But basically the only thing that goes on is random chaos. I do admit that I like the extras on the dvd. There's ad-vid notes that when activated you watch the episodes and a menchi head pops up to point out all the references which is very handy. Menchi,on a side note, is Excel's dog that she keeps as an emergency food ration. So Menchi (which literally mean's 'minced meat') is constantly trying to escape her apartment. In the beginning the show was entertaining but as it went on the novelty wears off to where you say "eh". The music sounds like it's from a video game and the animation is a bit choppy. It pretty much rates an ok with me. I only have the first two volumes maybe if I ever hit the lottery I'll pick up the rest of it but it's not number one on my "to get" list. In the end I say if you want a good wacky comedy watch Azumanga Daioh which is a lot better than this series.
Boma at 8:55 PM