I’ve just discovered my new favorite TV series. Urasawa Naoki no Manben is a documentary series on NHK Educational that follows Naoki Urasawa – my favorite mangaka – as he interviews various manga creators. What’s especially interesting here is that the cameras follow the person over 4 days, as they are working on pages, and so the “interview” is basically Urasawa and the guest commenting as you (and them) watch the artist in action. Even if you can’t understand all of the Japanese, it’s fascinating to see these pages getting made, and all of the care and attention that goes into them. The episode I watched is with Kengo Hanazawa, the creator of I Am A Hero (a series I’ve recently been reading obsessively), and I was mesmerized watching him addressing issues like trying to give a creature more realism through the depiction of its muscles, or for the expression on a character during a pivotal scene. I can’t recommend this series enough, especially if you have any love for sequential art.
While I wait for the final volume of Naoki Urasawa’s Billy Bat to begin serialization this summer, I decided to explore his Master Keaton series. I’d read a couple of chapters a while back, and it hadn’t really grabbed me at the time, but this time, after reading the first few chapters, I started really appreciating the character and the types of stories that are told. At first I think I was disappointed because I wanted something that was more ongoing, like with Monster or Billy Bat, but now I really appreciate that each chapter is a self-contained story, and I’m digging the investigative nature of the series – along with the historical aspects (Keaton is an archeological professor at heart, but also works as an investigator for Lloyd’s of London). I’ve read the first 3 volumes of the original series, as well as the first few chapters of the Master Keaton Remaster series, which takes place 20 years later. Great stuff.
The serialization of the latest (and penultimate) volume of Billy Bat was recently completed, and boy does it make me look forward to the final volume, which will begin serialization in June. I can definitely say that I’ve enjoyed Billy Bat more than Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, and even though it sometimes felt like it was going nowhere, it’s fantastic to see so many pieces come together in the end – and to see some characters go to places you never imagined they’d end up going. Really can’t recommend this series enough.
Naoki Urasawa is my favorite mangaka, and his current series, Billy Bat – the story of a Mickey Mouse-like comic strip character that is more than it seems – has been a treat to follow. I hadn’t read any new chapters since earlier in the year, and just this week went and got caught up on what was published this year. If you haven’t already, do take the plunge. It’s as enjoyable if not more than Monster and 20th Century Boys.