Archive for manga

Empty Spaces and the Post-Something Worlds of Moebius

Posted in anime, cinema, music with tags , , , , , , , , , on March 23, 2011 by reccaphoenix

Famed French comics artist Moebius (Jean Giraud), who elevated comics to a high art, wrote Arzach in 1975.  It tells the story of a lone silent man flying around a post-something world of ancient technology atop a pterodactyl.  I have not read Arzach, but I saw many images from it at a Moebius exhibit in the Kyoto Manga Museum.  Ever since then, I have discovered multiple connections (intentional or not) to Moebius’ empty post-something landscape.

source: wikipedia

First of all, a real connection exists between Arzach and Hayao Miyazaki‘s manga (and later movie) Nausicäa of the Valley of Wind.  The manga version of Nausicäa highly resembles French comics far more than conventional Japanese manga.  It has similar motifs of post-disaster decay, a future world, emptiness, and flying, along with the “ancient technology” feel.  Miyazaki has even cited Moebius as an influence on this work.

squiggly tentacle grass in Arzach

Nausicäa walks on squiggly "grass" made of Ohm tentacles

And lastly, the arbitrary connection – Yes’s album Fragile. The cover and interior artwork by Roger Dean evokes a similar feeling, and even features an “ancient technology” flying machine.

Fragile by Yes (source: wikipedia)

Arzach flying

interior artwork of Fragile

Nausicäa in the desert

2nd interior artwork of Fragile

Nausicäa in the toxic forest (note background)

Nausicäa's greenhouse

The music itself as well contributes to the feeling of an empty landscape.  “Roundabout,” while its lyrics are hard to decipher, seems to tell of love in hardship, and “South Side of the Sky” features wind sound effects and mentions snowstorms and other natural hazards. The harmonies and vocals in many of the songs also hint at something ancient.  Furthermore, the electronic elements and beats resemble Nausicäa‘s soundtrack.

Nausicäa: Ohmu to Boso

Fragile: Heart of the Sunrise

Fragile: Cans and Brahms

Nausicäa: Kaze no Tani no Nausicaa

Fragile: Roundabout

I highly recommend listening to Fragile in its entirety; it’s a superb album by one of the founding bands of British progressive rock and features some killer bass work and Rick Wakeman’s fantastic synthesizer riffs.

The airships on the back cover of Fragile even bring to mind the airships in Nausicäa.

back cover of Fragile

Nausicäa flies to an airship

Unfortunately, this connection fails to indicate the direct influence of Moebius, as the album was completed 4 years before Arzach.  I suppose, though, that one can cite 1970s fantasy and sci-fi artwork (think Heavy Metal magazine, etc.) as the common influence on both works, though.  And as for the Nausicäa connection… who knows what Joe Hisaishi was listening to when he composed the film’s soundtrack?

-Recca 2/17/11

John Lennon Manga Ch. 2 UP!

Posted in site news/maintenance with tags , , on June 13, 2010 by reccaphoenix

John has a pretty awesome mum...

Hey, everybody!

After a long pause in translation activities, Chapter 2 of the Astro Boy John Lennon manga is up and running, fully translated for your viewing pleasure.

This chapter covers John’s life from elementary to middle school, and includes the epic moment where he discovers the magic of ROCK N’ ROLL for himself, courtesy of Elvis and pirate radio.

Enjoy!  Here’s the link.

Some silly comments:

-This artist really makes some people look much better than they did in real life (especially John and Yoko during their hippie period….)

-John has a pretty cool mum.

>>>Recca 6/13/10

‘Clockwork Orange’ manga: “Outer Alec” (アウターレック)

Posted in clockwork orange, japan, manga with tags , , , , , , , on April 17, 2009 by reccaphoenix

Not going to give a lot of background here, but the other day I got a chance to flip through a 1973 issue of the Japanese weekly shounen (boy’s) manga magazine Shounen Jump.  While perusing this, I came across what appeared to be a manga-style Alex deLarge lookalike:
(click image for fullsize)

"Outer Alec" title page, the only image of this manga I can find anywhere on the internet.

"Outer Leck" title page, the only image of this manga I can find anywhere on the internet. The subtitle for this chapter is "man-eating beasts."

This manga is called “アウターレック” which transliterates to “Outer Leck” or “Outer Alec” (I’ve seen it written as both アウターレック and あうたあれっく, but people in the manga seem to call the main character “Leck” [レック] most of the time.)  “Outer Leck” seems to be a sci-fi story packed with (ultra-)violence – Leck is some kind of wanted criminal with a price on his head.

Leck’s appearance (bowler hat, haircut, and dark false bottom-eyelashes) heavily resembles that worn by A Clockwork Orange‘s hero Alex deLarge in Stanley Kubrick’s 1971 film version of the novel, and his name (with adjustments for odd Japanese transliteration) is similar to Alex, which is アレックス in Japanese.  The manga came out in 1973, so similarities to the film are likely far more than coincedental – Leck even has a cane-sword almost exactly like Alex’s.

This manga is virtually unknown and was never issued in tankoubon (book compilations which re-publish the story outside of the magazine).  The only info I can find is in Japanese, and has not told me much.  This manga only ran for 19 issues in 1973 (Shonen Jump 1973 #8-27) and was written by the author of the popular series “Worst,” Koutarou Komuro.

This comic constitutes another example of A Clockwork Orange‘s widespread international influence.  It’s an interesting find, indeed, and I only wish there were some way that I could read this manga.

AKIRA + Clockwork Orange a.k.a. OHHHHHHHH!

Posted in animation, anime, cinema, clockwork orange, manga, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , , on November 4, 2007 by reccaphoenix

reccaspriteOHHHHHHHH!

The other day I saw a website point out this similarity and then it occurred to me – AKIRA (the manga/comic is waaaay better than the film btw) is basically A Clockwork Orange in cyberpunk Japan, at which point I said something like “OHHHHHHHHH!”  Rival gangs in which the members dress alike, who take drugs w/drinks, a kid who gets taken in and re-programmed by the government.  That’s where the similarities end, as Continue reading

John Lennon manga – 1st page up! PLUS, Tezuka’s MW (ムウ)

Posted in japan, manga, merchandise, osamu tezuka, reviews/opinions with tags , , , , , , , , , , on October 31, 2007 by reccaphoenix

reccaspriteSee the John Lennon manga page for more information.

It’s only the prologue, and it’s only one page. But I figured it was better than nothing…

Oh, speaking of Tezuka-related things, I just got the recent translation of MW (Muu), great translation by VERTICAL, who have decided to translate all of Tezuka’s more “serious” works. (Please please please do Alabaster next!) They have already done Buddha, Ode to Kirihito (a.k.a. Eulogy for Kirihito) and Song of Apollo, but I haven’t read any of those yet. I applaud VERTICAL over and over, 1) for translating Tezuka manga, 2) for translating the more obscure/dark Tezuka manga, and 3) for GREAT packaging and reasonable pricing. MW came in a single thick hardcover volume (how convenient!) with a dust jacket PLUS different art on the actual hardcover! It’s fuschia (barf) but still very sleek and modern-looking. Only problem – it has a picture on the spine of Yuki having sex with a girl. Not explicit, but it makes it look sort of hentai-esque on your shelf there. If you remove the dust jacket, no problem, but still…maybe they were looking to lure the potential hentai buyer at Barnes and Noble?

But MW….it’s reportedly one of Tezuka’s darkest and most “adult” manga. I agree. It’s also a masterpiece of suspense, my heart was pounding away at several moments. If you want a good manga to write an essay/thesis on…..look no further! MW covers political, religious, and moral issues aplenty, many of which mirror actual issues in Japanese society. College Students and bored intellectuals….get on that!

This is NOT for children and definitely not for the faint of heart. They give it a “16+” rating, which seems okay to me I guess. But here’s a rundown of what happens here for those who are wary: genocide, rape, murder, extortion, homosexuality, manipulation, government scandal, less-than-desirable portrayals of the United States, extramarital affairs, priests involved in several of the above, torture, etc.

At times I couldn’t believe it was a Tezuka manga. This is what Tezuka wrote after “The Vampires” to more fully express a story about true evil, not bound by the limits of writing a children’s manga. True, Rock in “Vampires” is “the most evil man in the world,” but Yuki in MW makes Rock look like the boy next door. If I had to draw up some kind of “scale of evil,” with 1 being naughty, 5 being bad but still appealing, and 10 being pure, unadulterated evil, here we would have….

<<—-Tolen from “The Knack” (1) —-Rock (5)—-Alex from “A Clockwork Orange,” pre-reform (book Alex, not movie Alex) (7)—–Yuki (8)—Hannibal Lecter (9)—-Satan (10)—->>

Damn, that sounded better in principle. But yeah, something like that. Boy oh boy, would I like to see Hannibal Lecter and Yuki try to kill each other off…..fanfiction writers: *wink wink nudge nudge* No way, it would probably end up horribly badly written. So scratch that.

There are many similarities between “MW” and “Vampires”, but MW has no elements of fantasy, and much more politics, controversy, philosophical issues, and evil. Even the style itself is almost “manga realism,” with the exception of the obligatory “weird gourd character” appearance and a few gag panels here and there. This makes it really weird for me to see Higeoyaji (Moustachio/Mr. Mustache) in this manga, though he plays a very minor role. Even when drawn more “realistically,” he still sticks out as a cartoony-looking Tezuka character.

I won’t give away anything, but I found the ending rather disappointing. The more I thought about it though, the darker a message it seemed. Why would Tezuka think this *message which I won’t mention here*? Damn.

Simpsons + Futurama + Captain Harlock!!!!!

Posted in animation, anime, cinema, comix, manga, shameless parody, television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on October 5, 2007 by reccaphoenix

So I was perusing a digital copy of Part 2 of the 2nd official Simpsons-Futurama crossover comic [wish I could find part one, anyone wanna send it to me? 😉 ] when….ANIME REFERENCE!!!!

no f—in way!

and not just any anime reference, CAPTAIN HARLOCK, my favorite space pirate, from the under-appreciated space-opera-awesome universe of Leiji Matsumoto!  This was the biggest “omg that’s hilarious!” moment since Excel Saga spoofed Galaxy Express 999.

Tezuka’s “Vampires”. Rock.

Posted in animation, anime, osamu tezuka, reviews/opinions, television with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2007 by reccaphoenix

the vampiresSee here for the details.

Awesome, AWESOME manga.

I know you can buy this manga in French and maybe Italian.  Tezukainenglish.com has all the details, as well as a sweet essay on Rock (one of my favorite recurring Tezuka characters) and his descent into evil and subsequent redemption. He is the main character of the Vampires, in the words of Toppei, “the most evil person in the world.” Not bad for a middle school kid, eh?  And all the while, he retains that little-kid Tezuka innocence that all his characters seem to have.

There was a live-action + animation hybrid television show of “The Vampires” made by Tezuka Productions in the ’60s. The people were played by live actors, and the animals were animated. I have never seen the show, so I don’t know if it’s any good, but there are several websites you can order the box set from if you have a region-free or region 2 DVD player. Again, tezukainenglish.com has links to where you can buy the DVDs.

Osamu Tezuka is a main character in the story (both the manga and TV show), yet somehow this doesn’t come off as Mary Sue-ing (to use fanfiction terms T_T) or being cocky. He does this in a lot of his works, actually, but the character in “Vampires” is blatantly an Osamu Tezuka who works at Mushi Productions making anime…. Sort of amusing to think that Rock was trying to kill his creator at one point during the story.

Anyhoo, Tezuka plays himself in the TV show!

Tezuka Osamu as himself.

One main story thread of “The Vampires” is based loosely on Macbeth, and Rock’s full name in the manga, “Makube Rokuro” sounds sort of like “Makubesu,” the title of Macbeth in Japanese. Macbeth is my #1 favorite Shakespeare play of all time, so that’s only further reason for me to love this manga…which is not about vampires, by the way. Technically, the group referred to as “BANPAIYA” (Vampires) in the story are were-animals (werewolves, were-tigers, were-snakes, even a were-alligator!) Kitsune (fox spirits) and some other Japanese youkai are mentioned as part of the group too in part of the story. Quite interesting.