Tag Archives: Japan

70 Aspects Of Batman: 32

JIRO KUWATA

From Wikipedia:

Jiro Kuwata (桑田二郎, Kuwata Jirō, alternatively 桑田次郎, born April 17, 1935 in Suita, Osaka) is a Japanese manga artist.

A gifted artist, Kuwata started out as a manga artist at the young age of 13, when he created The Strange Star Cluster (怪奇星団) in 1948. His turning point came in 1957, when he created Phantom Detective (まぼろし探偵) (which was adapted into a tokusatsu TV series in 1959). Since then, Kuwata devoted himself to creating science fiction/superhero adventures. His most famous was 8 Man, which he co-created with writer Kazumasa Hirai.

Unfortunately, in 1965, when he was to finish the final issue of 8 Man, he was arrested for possessing a handgun (he had contemplated suicide). With Kuwata in jail, co-creator Hirai got other manga artists to finish the final issue, but wasn’t satisfied with it. It was published in a manga magazine, but has never before been reprinted.

Nevertheless, Kuwata, released from prison shortly thereafter, continued his manga work well into the 1970s, but also ran into depression and alcoholism. In 1977, he had an epiphany and converted to Buddhism. He has since done beautiful art books about the life of Buddha. He also occasionally got back into manga work, and in 1992, he agreed to do his own version of the final issue of 8 Man, upon being asked by co-creator/friend Kazumasa Hirai.

Kuwata’s Batman work was published in Japan around the time of the huge hit TV show; like most manga adaptations of American superhero comics, its appeal seems to have been somewhat limited to the Japanese audience, and was largely unknown in the States until the publication of a compilation from a couple years ago, entitled Bat-Manga.

Bat-Manga was curated by Chip Kidd, noted graphic designer, author and Batman fan. There was a bit of a kerfluffle when the book was published because of the absence of a credit for Kuwata on the cover. While this was almost definitely an oversight, it remains an unfortunate error. Nevertheless, on its release, Kuwata finally received recognition for his work on the character; Grant Morrison even introduced the Kuwata characters Lord Death Man and Professor Gorilla to DC continuity in the initial Japan-centric arc of his Batman Inc. series.

And, since it’s from Japan, you get some amazing scenes like these:

– Greg

Thanks to the excellent ISB for several of the scans featured here.

Golden Veins Christmas Single – FREE DOWNLOAD!!!

In the giving spirit of the holiday season, Golden Veins presents “Merry Christmas (Don’t Forget To Write)”; a comic/melancholic ode to Christmas alone and on the cheap, complete with synths and fa la las. A free song for all, regardless if you’ve been bad or good.

Here’s Ryan C. Meier from Golden Veins with some insight into the song’s creation:

Back in the winter of ’04, I was teaching English in Japan. It was at that time I realized just how ingrained Christmas is in US society and all the little details that make Christmas time feel like Christmas time. There was no four-day weekend at the end of November, no hustle and bustle in department stores, and no constant barrage of holiday songs playing over the loudspeakers in grocery stores. And frankly, the decorations that were up in public seemed kind of awkward and empty. I even had to work until 10 pm on Christmas Eve!

So for that month of December, I found myself feeling quite strange, as I knew Christmas was approaching, yet feeling no different from, say, the month of March. This song was the result of that month and I actually wrote and recorded it on my handy 8-track with the intent of sending it to my friends and family back home, but for whatever reason, never quite completed it.

Please enjoy this free download gift from us to you, and keep checking in for more Singles Club info!
– Greg

Some manga series: first books and favorable first impressions

I recently remarked to my brother that Akira and Lone Wolf and Cub (and similar works by the creators of those works) were the only mangas (I’m going to pluralize it with an “s” because that’s how we fucking indicate pluralization in English) I’d ever read that weren’t retarded. Further review reveals that assertion as impulsive and over-general, as I really enjoyed the 3 volumes of Hiroshi Hirata’s Satsuma Gishiden that Dark Horse bothered to publish, and I’ve died laughing at the 4 volumes of Cromartie High School that I’ve read. Still, with as many comics as I read and how little of it is Japanese, it seemed like I must have been missing some good stuff.

I surfed around, consulted “best-of” lists, and did that sort of nonsense and came up with a list of works that I want to check out. Then I downloaded or checked out the first volumes of these series from my local library and read them. Here are the opening volumes that I thought were great and convinced to read the rest of the series (which I will do in the future).

Uzumaki
Uzumaki by Junji Ito, 1998
You won’t need a Japanese-English dictionary to figure out that uzumaki means “spiral”. The things are everywhere in this story and inspire major obsessions and eventually supernatural happenings. The characters are flat as hell but the events are creeeepy.

Drifting Classroom
The Drifting Classroom by Kazuo Umezu, 1972
An entire school is suddenly teleported to a hostile wasteland and everyone. Barely any time passes before kids started gettin’ fatal.

Parasyte
Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki, 1990
I actually read some of this series back in the 1990z when Tokyopop was serializing it in some wacky magazine my brother was buying. Anyway, I think of Parasyte as a horror version of the 1960s Spider-Man comics. A run-of-the-mill teenage boy is randomly gifted with an incredible power. However, this gift is a parasitic alien with a mind of its own that really enjoys eviscerating its alien peers.

Biomega
Biomega by Tsutomu Nihei, 2004
This is really the most cliche of the mangaz that I’m covering in this post, as it’s mostly brainless with stupid fashions and wussy heroes. However, the whole atmosphere is so gripping and several wide-lens type landscape shots are so epic that I was sucked in (also, there is a bear sleeping in a bed). A lame android rides around on his motorcycle avoiding zombies and firing RPGs at nuke missiles.

Eden
Eden: It’s an Endless World by Hiroki Endo, 1998
The story takes place in your basic, near-future, post-apocalypse but with a multi-generational twist. The character development and long stretches between major events almost give it a “slice of life” feel.

20th Century Boys
20th Century Boys by Naoki Urasawa, 1998
The story jumps back and forth in time, showing the same group of males as pre-adolescent boys and then as early middle age men. In the past, the boys hang out and have fun while in the present, a cult gets busy and starts a murder mystery.

Children of the Sea
Children of the Sea by Daisuke Igarashi, 2005
Full of beautiful depictions of the ocean and shoreline areas, as well as the animals one might find in those areas. Also, there are some kids that are kinda magic in water or something and a girl gets kicked off of her handball team.

Well, if I included a premiere volume in this post it means I think it was overall excellent and worth your time and, most importantly, I intend to read the remaining volumes in the respective series. There were definitely some first volumes that I didn’t get into but I’m just keepin’ it positive here. Also, there are several others that I haven’t gotten to yet and I’ll give a full report when I have!

-kicknz

Noising Machine Singles Club: 13

coming_around_japan_cover

TRAVIS

“COMING AROUND”

b/w “Just The Faces Change”/”The Connection”/”Rock N’ (Salad) Roll”/”The Weight” (The Band cover)

Released 6/5/00

(Fran Healy)

I used to really love Travis; from 2000 til around 2003, I would say they were one of my favorite bands. I was won over by their second album (the massive U.K. smash The Man Who) and subsequently picked up their debut, Good Feeling. By the time The Invisible Band was released in the summer of 2001, my Traviphile tendencies were at a fever pitch. My friend Ryan and I even went to a Dido concert just because Travis were opening. In the middle of this period of devotion came “Coming Around”, a non-album single released to help ease the wait between records.

Now, the first thing you might notice when you hear “Coming Around” is that it sounds like The Byrds. Not just kind of like The Byrds. Just like The Byrds. My knowledge of guitars is nil, but I’d bet dollars to donuts that’s the 12-string Ricky on the track, the kind Roger McGuinn made famous. But I’ve never let blatant borrowing ruin my appreciation of a good song (Oasis is one of my favorite bands, after all), and almost a decade later, I still really like “Coming Around”. It’s got a good Fran Healy-supplied melody, and I’ve always been a fan of jangly guitars/ Now, it’s sounds like more of a transitional song to me than it did then; the melancholy of The Man Who being replaced by the (perhaps overly) sunny tones of The Invisible Band.

Unfortunately, that change also marked the beginning of the end for my time as an ardent Travis fan. I enjoy Band still (though it’s been years since I listened to it), but I think my affection may be borne more out of nostalgia than enthusiasm. I actually liked 2003’s 12 Memories, though after that my interest in keeping track of Travis faded. I bought The Boy With No Name, but it was out of habit more than anything and I seriously doubt I’ve ever listened to it all the way through. I didn’t even bother to get Ode To J. Smith. Some bands stay with you, and some bands are destined to fall by the wayside. But I still love The Man Who and I still love “Coming Around”…like I said, it was a transition, but I think it still has enough of a sweet spot for me, enough residual TMW qualities to make the cut-off of my Travis love. I also remember listening to it on a plane ride to Japan in the summer of 2000, and anytime a song can take you back to some of the best days of your life, it’s bound to have a positive effect on you.

 

Here’s the video…there’s a giant egg in it:

 

 

 

G.

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70 Aspects Of Batman: 18

BatmanLegendsOfDarkKnightCv

SETH FISHER

BatmanLegendsOfDarkKnightCv_2

From Wikipedia:

Seth Fisher (July 22, 1972January 30, 2006) was an American comic book artist and penciller.

Fisher possessed a unique and instantly recognizable drawing style. He first gained attention for his work on DC ComicsGreen Lantern: Willworld, and was nominated for an Eisner Award for “Best Penciller/Inker” for Flash: Time Flies and Vertigo Pop! Tokyo.

Batmanfisher

In 2005, Fisher pencilled the five issue “Snow” story arc of the Batman series Legends of the Dark Knight, written by Dan Curtis Johnson and J.H. Williams III. Fisher provided the art for the Marvel mini-series Fantastic Four/Iron Man: Big in Japan (scripted by Zeb Wells) that appeared in 2005. (The series’ final issue was published in early 2006.)

Fisher produced magazine and album covers in Finland and his adopted home of Japan. He also worked for a time for Presto Studios doing concept design work for the computer game Myst III: Exile.

LegendsOfDarkKnightCv196

Fisher produced magazine and album covers in Finland and his adopted home of Japan. He also worked for a time for Presto Studios doing concept design work for the computer game Myst III: Exile.

He died as a result of injuries suffered in a fall from a seventh story roof off an Osaka, Japan club.

batsnow-717119

I became a fan of Seth Fisher’s work on Vertigo Pop! Tokyo, and was excited when heard he would be tackling Batman. His artwork had some kind of manga sensibility, but it didn’t just imitate the traits normally associated with that style. The “Snow” story-arc showed that Fisher’s cartoony pencilling and the noir-infused world of Batman need not be mutually exclusive.  Sadly, it would prove to be his sole Gotham City foray; his tragic and untimely death cut down an artist that was only just coming into his prime and who, I’m convinced, would have become one of the great comic artists of the decade. Still, at least we still have the work he did complete; for that, at least, we can be thankful.

G.

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Public Art: Japanese Farmer Style

Crop art. A bit more advanced than what those worthless UFOs do. These pieces were created in rice fields by planting various types of rice in intricate patterns.


this napoleon and warrior can both be found in the Aomori Prefecture


these cute little ducks are hanging out in the Niigata Prefecture


Doraemon and some “Deer Scarers”.

scott

info/pictures stolen from Pink Tentacle

cross blog pollination: T-Shirt Album Track 5

Okay, we’re going to change things up a bit here. For the first time ever we’re having a guest-author on TNM.  “Who?” you ask.  Well, John Adrianse, of course. He is editor and author for the blog So Not Original. Go ahead, check it out. It’s pretty sweet.

Anyway, this is a continuation from a series of posts called “T-Shirt Album Tracks.” He posts a pic of a t-shirt he owns then a corresponding song. I quite like the idea.  So click the following links for tracks 1, 2, 3, and 4. And then just peruse the rest of the posts. So enough babbling from me….

T-Shirt Album Track 5

For some reason I had the great (weird?) idea to post a bunch of pictures of my t-shirts on my blog.

Here’s track 5:

pic1

Mr. Ryan C. Meier sent me this t-shirt all they way from Japan while he was there teaching little kiddies how to talk American.
I’d like to meet one of them some time and see if they talk like him or something… maybe there’s a dozen Japanese kids that sound just like Ryan… mind blowing

Here’s a few detail shots of the shirt:

pic2
pic3
pic4

Ryan also sent me an EP by the band !!!.
here’s one of their best jams:

And there you have it folks. Something that isn’t related to  video games, Rob Dobi, or Japanese serial killers, courtesty of Mr. Adrianse  over at So Not Original.  Add it to your google reader right now!

And I almost forgot, the second entry from the “Beati Paoli Winter Tour 2009” Diary was posted there a few days back.  So to be able to follow my next entry you’ll have to check it out there,  otherwise you’ll be completely lost.