I’ll say at the start of this blog that I’m not the most knowledgeable anime fan around. I like what I like, but I don’t have an exhaustive knowledge of series, directors, studios, voice actors, and the industry as a whole. Nor am I the sort of person who has to watch things as soon as they come out – I’m happy to wait a while, and if there’s something I want, I know I’ll get it eventually. The good stuff will always filter through, given time. So this isn’t going to be an in-depth analysis of the anime industry – that’s beyond my knowledge at this stage.
I like buying anime and manga. I like the feeling of ‘owning’ something, of building up a little library of releases, however modest mine may be compared to others. I’m also in the lucky and privileged position of being a reviewer for AUKN, meaning I get review copies of DVDs and manga volumes. Aside from that, I always try to watch anime when it’s on television. I saw Cowboy Bebop for the first time on the ill-fated Anime Central channel. And this winter period, I’m looking forward to Channel 4/Film 4 hopefully showing some Studio Ghibli films, as they often do.
But there’s one medium that’s always escaped me. I have never got into watching anime online. I’ve been thinking about this lately. I think there’s a few reasons why this is.
About a month ago, my friend and I were at a loose end, so we decided to jump on a train and head to the Manchester Urbis, to check out the ‘How Manga Took Over The World’ exhibition.
About 2 hours later and we arrived in Manchester. The Urbis is a rather cool building, kinda coming out of nowhere in the middle of Manchester and juxtaposed next to an old church. Very striking and modern, and quite a fitting place for an exhibition of this nature. I took a picture of the building from atop the Manchester Wheel, which was right next to the Urbis but I think it’s not there now.
So as we got into the Urbis, we were greeted by people dressed in all manner of weird and wonderful costumes – Soul Reapers, schoolgirls, Hyrule-ians, Kiras, were among the ones I recognised. It turned out that particular day was Manga Maniacs day, and people were invited to take part in a Cosplay competition. “Ah”, I said to my friend, “seems like there’s a cosplay event going on today.” “Cozz-pulay?? What’s that?” was the reply. My friend is not into anime and manga, but he’s open-minded enough and luckily, he was entertained rather than put off (as some people are) by the cosplayers.
At the moment I’m reviewing the manga titles Tsubasa: RESERVoir CHRoNiCLE and xxxHolic, both created by CLAMP, and both published here in the UK by Tanoshimi. I can’t help but be impressed by the great job Tanoshimi have done in the presentation and translation of these (and other) titles. I’ve mentioned the excellent presentation in my reviews, but I want to expand on it here.
Firstly I think the covers are great. The ones that I have seen from Tsubasa and xxxHolic use the whole area of the cover to show an attractive, full-colour drawing. There’s no borders, there’s no space wasted. So the covers are really colourful, attractive, and eye-catching. In the case of xxxHolic, the back also features a full-colour illustration. OK, you shouldn’t “judge a book by its cover”, but I really appreciate the effort that goes into making these books aesthetically pleasing on their exterior.
Next when you open the book, you’re greeting with 2 pages explaining Japanese honorifics, their use, and why Tanoshimi have decided to keep them intact. I think it is a great decision to keep them intact. Especially in stories like Tsubasa, which often uses Japanese historical settings, the use of honorifics helps maintain the authors’ intentions and gives a more genuine and accurate flavour and context to every scene. Probably the majority of anime and manga fans are already familiar with their use, but they can just skip these pages. It’s good that Tanoshimi doesn’t assume that all their readers know about honorifcs. There are going to be more casual or new fans who aren’t au fait with honorifics yet, and for them, the guide at the front is interesting and invaluable.
FLCL began life as a collaboration between GAINAX and Production I.G, two of Japan’s most popular and successful anime studios. A six-episode OVA series, it was first released in Japan in 2000 as a succession of six, one-episode discs. Free from the constraints of working for television, Director Kazuya Tsurumaki and his staff allowed their imagination to run riot. The result was a highly experimental, challenging, and fascinating series. 8 years later, the show has finally hit UK shores. It has been collected into 3 volumes, the first of which came out last month, and the second will follow next month. I recently got my hands on Volume 1, and I’m going to use my blog today to talk about the show’s impressive visuals, story, and soundtrack.
A few months ago, I was sat in my living room with my sister and my mother, a typical lazy winter evening. They were watching some terrible reality-tv show, whilst I was minding my own business, engrossed in a volume of Death Note.
‘What are you doing?’ enquired my Mum. I explained that I was reading a Japanese comic book. ‘Oh right’, she said, ‘What is it? What’s it called?’. I told her what the series was called. ‘Ooooh, that doesn’t sound very nice!’ she exclaimed. I explained that, yes, it’s not very nice, that the Death Note is a notebook which has the power to kill a person whose name is written within its pages.
My sister chipped in. ‘That’s horrible! Why couldn’t it be a notebook where, you write someone’s name, and they, I don’t know.……..get a present?’.