Archive for the ‘manga’ Category

Revisiting the legacy of 'Barefoot Gen'

August 6th, 2015
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Today in Otaku Ohana, your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger is going to do something he hasn't done in a long time: actually write about manga. Gasp!

barefoot gen coverToday also marks 70 years since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, killing tens of thousands of people. It's a story that was told in Barefoot Gen, a manga by Keiji Nakazawa that relied on many of his personal experiences in telling the story of Gen Nakaoka, a boy who survived the blast.

I've talked about Barefoot Gen twice in my career on the otaku beat -- once in February 2011, in an essay in an earlier version of this blog that was part of a larger Manga Movable Feast effort, the other as part of The Canon, a roundup of 50 essential manga series to read, in The Rough Guide to Manga (available at a library or secondhand bookstore/website near you). Since Last Gasp is currently running a Kickstarter campaign to put copies of Barefoot Gen in schools and libraries across the United States (19 percent funded as of this writing, come on, people, start giving more already), I thought it would be nice to resurrect what I wrote in the Rough Guide.

And by "resurrect," I mean "reprint the entire section, right here, for free."

I'm not sure if I've ever mentioned this in print before, but the full rights to the text of the manga guide legally reverted to me about three years ago, when Rough Guides shut down its reference guide division. I'd love to write more on this topic down the line -- particularly given how Andrea Lipinski at the School Library Journal recently was kind enough to include it as one of her picks for essential reading in her "Manga 101" article -- but the bottom line is that I now have an entire pile of text that I can distribute however I see fit. Seeing as how I'll probably never have enough free time to properly update the whole thing in one go -- as you've probably seen by my erratic update schedule here, I barely have enough time/energy to update this blog, never mind 265 pages or so of text -- I felt the best way to use it would be to publish excerpts here, whenever relevant, every so often.

So let's jump right in, shall we? (more…)

[Kawaii Kon 2015] Dawn of a new con era

March 26th, 2015
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Day 0 program and badgeWell, folks, we made it to the fireworks factory. Again. We're standing here on Kawaii Kon Day 0, preregistration and dealer/Artist Alley load-in night, ready for another three-day weekend packed full of cosplay, entertainment, special guests from the animation industry and music world, panels, games and pretty much what you'd imagine otaku heaven to be like without actually moving to Japan itself. And there's your annual look at the convention guide and your friendly neighborhood anime/manga blogger's press credentials at right.

There's a bit of a different feel to this year, though ... and not just because registration ops has moved to the ground floor, next to the hall with the dealers room and Artist Alley. It's because this year, Kawaii Kon isn't just the big event on the local otaku community calendar, but the first event in a string of big events. As I mentioned in my post introducing Anime Matsuri Hawaii, it's a remarkable time to be a local fan of anime, manga, science fiction and/or comics, with Hoku Kon (July), Amazing Hawaii Comic-Con (September) and Anime Matsuri Hawaii (November) all on deck on Oahu, and HawaiiCon (September) on Hawaii island. I mean, heck, Amazing Hawaii Comic-Con unveiled its first four guests -- living legend Stan Lee and artists George Perez, Mark Kubert and Adam Bagley -- on Wednesday, and the shares pretty much lit up my Facebook feed all day.

But the people still show up at Kawaii Kon. Ohhhhhh, do they ever show up. Here's the sea of otakuness that descended on the convention for preregistration tonight, as seen from the escalators leading to/from the second-floor parking garage.

Day 0 lines

A final number will probably come at closing ceremonies as it has in previous years. By my estimates, though, there are about a bazillion people attending this year. Some of whom are even carting around replica basketball backboards.

Some last-minute notes as we head into this year's event:

  • The policy change that's generated the most social media discussion: For the first time, convention center staff will be checking for con badges on the ground floor, near the escalators to the third floor. That effectively ends the practice of nonpaying attendees lounging around the public areas outside the panel rooms, soaking up the atmosphere and taking pictures of their favorite cosplayers. It also makes complete sense from a security standpoint; as much as we'd like to think that the convention environment is a bubble world that protects us from all the bad things that go on outside, there are trolls out there who just want to come in and disrupt things for their own amusement, Besides, if you really wanted to socialize with your non-con-going friends, there's always Ala Moana Center down the street.
  • The Great Hawaiian Rubber Duckie Race, the annual fundraiser for United Cerebral Palsy of Hawaii that sends a swarm of yellow ducks down the Ala Wai Canal, is happening Saturday. (The ducks launch at 1:28 p.m. from the Kalakaua Avenue bridge, if any of you want to head down from the convention center and watch.) So is the Prince Kuhio Day Parade in Waikiki, traveling down Kalakaua Avenue between Saratoga Road and Kapiolani Park between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Expect heavy traffic congestion if you're aren't already at an area hotel and are going to be driving.
  • Kawaii Kon flyerI'm pleased to note that despite a vehicle plowing into the 7-Eleven at the corner of Atkinson Drive and Kapiolani Boulevard Wednesday evening, the store remains open (albeit a bit boarded up) and ready to sell completely out of all their bentos, nori rolls, musubis, hot dogs and whatever other prepared foods you can think of to hungry, budget-conscious con-goers on all three days. (If you go late, hope you like chewing on breath mints for your dinner!) As a bonus, if you have your badge, go to that store starting at 10 a.m. and are one of the first 200 people to do so on Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you'll get a free limited-edition Kawaii Kon lanyard. Look for the flyer in-store that looks like the one at right -- psst, look above the hot-foods warmer! -- and scan the QR code for a chance to win a trip for two to Las Vegas. Winner will be announced at closing ceremonies on Sunday. (Bonus trivia note: The artwork for this flyer was drawn by none other than Jamie Lano. You might have heard of her.) There is also a large Naruto wallscroll hanging over the ice cream freezer, so you know they're into the mood.
  • Buy all the things in Artist Alley. All. The. Things. To go through and list-link everything I've seen crossing my Facebook news feed over the past few days would probably last me well past midnight, and I'd kinda like to get some sleep before stopping in at Jamie's drawing panel around 10 a.m.-ish Friday. Also of note: nemu*nemu artist Audra Furuichi's limited-edition 10-card set, the "Modern Kitsuke" series (color drawings of girls in kimono) for $25, which 39 of you must go out and buy immediately. Maybe fewer of you, if some of you buy multiples. But the 40th set must be miiiiiiiine.

Time to rest up. See y'all tomorrow for Day 1. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and Instagram, too (both @jsyadao) for all my spur-of-the-moment updates over the weekend ahead. It's gonna be crazy. But fun! But crazy.

The Jamie Lano File, part 4: Kawaii Kon ahoy!

March 25th, 2015
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Chibis drawn by Jamie LanoThis week, in the days leading up to Kawaii Kon Day 0, I'm publishing excerpts from my conversation with manga artist/blogger/Princess of Tennis author Jamie Lano, who moved to Oahu last year and will be hosting three panels at Kawaii Kon. In case you missed it -- and maybe you did, you never know; I mean, I kinda missed promoting on social media the fact that Part 3 of this series went live yesterday, whoops -- and subscribe to the Star-Advertiser, you can check out my profile of her that ran in Sunday's paper. You can also check out the other parts of the series below:

Part 1 (Sunday): The great adventurer
Part 2 (Monday): Making a market
Part 3 (Tuesday): The Prince of Tennis legacy
Part 4 (Wednesday): Kawaii Kon ahoy!

In this installment: Kawaii Kon! It's a thing! It starts in two days! And Jamie talks about what she's going to talk about there. There are also a few more notes about her life in Japan and her manga philosophy, for those of you who can't make it to con but still want to learn more about her.

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The Jamie Lano File, part 3: The "Prince of Tennis" legacy

March 24th, 2015
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Jamie working in Konomi studioThis week, in the days leading up to Kawaii Kon Day 0, I'm publishing excerpts from my conversation with manga artist/blogger/Princess of Tennis author Jamie Lano, who moved to Oahu last year and will be hosting three panels at Kawaii Kon. In case you missed it -- and you'd better have been out claiming Ingress portals in the name of the Enlightened if you did -- and subscribe to the Star-Advertiser, you can check out my profile of her that ran in Sunday's paper. You can also check out the other parts of the series below:

Part 1 (Sunday): The great adventurer
Part 2 (Monday): Making a market
Part 3 (Tuesday): The Prince of Tennis legacy
Part 4 (Wednesday): Kawaii Kon ahoy!

In this installment, Jamie talks about her manga assistants, how she'll treat them differently from how Prince of Tennis artist Takeshi Konomi treated her and his assistants, why The Princess of Tennis will never be printed in Japanese … and a certain Konomi character that bears a striking resemblance to her.

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The Jamie Lano file, part 2: Making a market

March 23rd, 2015
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This week, in the days leading up to Kawaii Kon Day 0, I'm publishing excerpts from my conversation with manga artist/blogger/Princess of Tennis author Jamie Lano, who moved to Oahu last year and will be hosting three panels at Kawaii Kon. In case you missed it -- and where have you been? We missed you! -- and subscribe to the Star-Advertiser, you can check out my profile of her that ran in Sunday's paper. You can also check out the other parts of the series below:

Part 1 (Sunday): The great adventurer
Part 2 (Monday): Making a market
Part 3 (Tuesday): The Prince of Tennis legacy
Part 4 (Wednesday): Kawaii Kon ahoy!

In this installment, Jamie talks about her goals with her new manga studio, Jamieism Pro … and how the Prince of Tennis live-action musicals helped make her a small pile of cash on the side in Japan. (more…)