Popularity of Historical Manga

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The latest Monocle Minute newsletter talks about how there’s currently a resurgence in the popularity of educational manga, like the series covering Japanese history pictured.

Japanese publishers, ever on the lookout for the next big thing, have alighted on an unlikely boom: educational manga. A spike in sales of history comics was kick-started in 2013 by a bestselling novel about a school dunce who is transformed into a top student in record time. Keen readers spotted a reference to publisher Shogakukan’s 23-volume manga series on Japanese history and sales promptly rocketed. When the book became a hit film – Biri Gyaru (or Flying Colours as it’s called in English) – sales doubled. Other publishers have now got in on the act, rereleasing old editions with fresh covers and adding new titles to the genre. Kadokawa has sold more than two million copies of its Japanese history manga series in just over a year while Shueisha’s history series has been given a makeover with new artwork and will go on sale in October. Sanseido, a venerable bookshop in Tokyo’s Jimbocho district, reports that grandparents have been buying multiple volumes of manga for their grandchildren.

Christophe Ferreira

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I came across this interview (in French) with Tokyo-based Christophe Ferreira, a French person who works in the Japanese animation industry. It’s interesting to hear him talk about how he got his start — a difficult one, considering the incredibly low wages he received as someone starting out — and to see how he managed to stick with it, while at the same producing comics of his own, in the form of the series Le Monde de Milo, which he has just launched in Japanese as well.

The interview also led me to the discovery of the site Furansujin Connection, which was created to give support to French people working in the Japanese animation industry — and to also give info on how someone can get started. As with the interview, the site is all in French, but it’s a rather impressive resource for someone looking to make it in the world of Japanese anime.

Tabling at Comiket

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I’m embarrassed to say that despite my absolute love of manga (and comics in general), I’ve never once made it out to Comiket (“Comic Market”), the world’s largest comics convention, focusing on fan/unlicensed comics, and held twice annually at the Tokyo Big Sight convention center. I have plenty of friends who have gone, but reading this post from American comic creator Caleb Goellner was fascinating, as it was the first time I’d read about the experience of actually tabling and selling your books at Comiket. His extensive post goes through every aspect of taking part in the show, and also includes a bunch of tips based on what he learned — and the experience was positive enough to make him want to take part again.

Yuichi Yokoyama’s Iceland

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I’m writing a post about something that was blogged by Momus, and suddenly I feel like it’s 2004. But no, it’s 2016, and I just came across his review of Yuichi Yokoyama’s latest manga, Iceland. The piece goes beyond said book, and does a great job of describing what is so interesting about Yokoyama’s work. But I don’t think you even really need to try and take in his work at that level — the graphic energy found in his books is reason enough to pick them up.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin

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My first steps leading to me getting into Gundam started earlier this year when I watched the episodes released so far of the OVA series Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin. This prequel series to the original 70s Mobile Suit Gundam anime really kicked off my interest and love of Gundam, and since then I’ve watched a few more series (always sticking to the “Universal Century” timeline stories), and I’m currently in the process of watching the Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam series.

Back to The Origin, it’s actually an adaptation of an original manga series, and I came across this Forbes piece that shares the news that you can currently read the first 30 issues/chapters in English for free online through publisher Kodakawa’s ComicWalker site. I’m quite looking forward to reading this, as it seems to include even more background story than what we’ve seen in the anime adaptation.

Astro Boy: Edge of Time

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I wrote about my experience playing the demo that was released alongside the just-launched Kickstarter campaign for the Astro Boy: Edge of Time digital card game, but I wanted to bring it up here as well as a project that I want to highlight. I liked the demo (more of a tech test of the gameplay) and really hope the game gets funded so we get to play the whole thing. Also, my friend Nayan Ramachandran of Playism is heavily involved in the project (he’s working on the story aspect of the game), and he even pops up a bit in the Kickstarter video. I love Tezuka Osamu’s creations — I watched a lot of the Astro Boy anime when I was a kid — and want to see what they’re going to do here, bringing all these characters together in one world.

Capsule’s Pride (Bikes)

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I just came across this fantastic tribute music collection to Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira, by Bwana. Not only is the music fantastic, but I also love the scrolling page that was created to show off the music, and the imagery that inspired it. Scroll to the bottom to get access to MP3s, or listen to the music on YouTube. Thanks for the heads-up, Ron.

The ComiPo! Manga Sequencer

This is something I posted over at SNOW Magazine a couple of weeks back, and forgot to mention here, even though I think it’s important to note in the context of all the digital publishing talk I cover here. It’s a new piece of software called ComiPo, a “manga sequencer,” and the idea is that it gives anyone — even if you have no drawing abilities — the means to create comics and manga. If you look at the video in the article, you’ll see exactly what I mean (and check Patrick’s original post for more details).

Momus in Tokyo

Momus is indeed in Tokyo for a few weeks — as you’ll know if you follow his Click Opera blog, which has turned into a literal Tokyo/Japan lovefest since his arrival — and he also has a free show planned for December 22 (from 20:30) at the recently opened GM Ten Gallery in Azabu Juban, a space produced by Osaka designers Graf.

Starting December 20, the gallery will be hosting an exhibition of works by manga legend Eico Hanamura — here’s an interview with Hanamura on PingMag which was, believe it or not, published during my short tenure there.