Tag Archives: Japan

70 Aspects Of Batman: 32


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 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 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 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: 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!


Noising Machine Singles Club: 13




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:





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70 Aspects Of Batman: 18




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.


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.


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.


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.


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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”.


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:


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:


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.

Austria Vs. Japan: “The Cannibal Of Japan”

i think this fits in the series?! probably a little more appropriate than the halloween costume edition

have you heard of Issei Sagawa? he’s the “godfather of cannibals”. if you don’t know him by that title, you might know him as THAT GUY WHO KILLED AND ATE A WOMAN IN FRANCE, ADMITED TO IT, AND NEVER WENT TO JAIL!

issei sagawa

in 1981, while attending the sorbonne academy, sagawa killed a fellow college student by inviting her over to his apartment and shooting her in the back of the neck. the obvious next step was to eat her butt.

” Suddenly a lot of sallow fat oozes from the wound. It reminds me of Indian corn. It continues to ooze. It is strange. Finally I find the red meat under the sallow fat. I scoop it out and put it in my mouth. I chew. It has no smell and no taste. It melts in my mouth like a perfect piece of tuna. I look in her eyes and say: ‘You are delicious.’ “

after eating some raw butt, he got out the old electric carving knife and sampled quite a few other parts of her body as well, trying a handful of cooking techniques. now, for most of us, becoming a cannibal would probably be good enough, right? well, not for issei… he decided this night was a good time to also become a necrophile. but don’t worry! issei isn’t just about fucking, mutilating, and eating humans, he also has a sensitive side – when he got tired, he brought the mangled corpse to his bed and lovingly slept along side it.

the next morning, he got up and decided to continue his feast. he would keep removing and preparing parts of her body until the flies buzzing around it became too much for him. when this happened, he began chopping her up into a bunch of little pieces that he would fit into his suitcase. this is the point where you would think the story would start to fall in line with other “chopping people up and putting them in containers” tales, but no, this one is special because most of those other stories don’t include a section where the killer gets aroused by his dismembment and uses a severed hand to masturbate. WOW!!

he fit all of the remains, minus some select pieces that he stored in his fridge, into a suitcase, got in a taxi, and went to a park to dispose of them. when some people saw him having issues with the suitcase, he panicked and ran off. human body parts were seen protruding from the suitcase, and the cops were called. a couple days later, sagawa was arrested and found to be TOO FUCKING CRAZY. he was put in an institution for a couple years, eventually being deported back to japan, where he spent aproximately one and a half more years in an asylum. then he was released. but don’t worry! this isn’t one of those cases where the disgusting murderer ends up living the rest of his days in squalor, shunned by society. no sir! issei is a regular damn celebrity; appearing on tv programs, writing restaurant reviews, and starring in softcore porn. he’s currently living in an apartment in tokyo, but has a passport to germany. THIS IS GOOD!?

issei sagawa

oh yeah. and he’s a painter:
issei sagawa painting
issei sagawa painting
issei sagawa painting

MORE INFO: 1. 2. 3.

you can find a documentary from 1993 on youtube right here. (i haven’t watched it yet, so i dunno if it’s worth it)

here’s a short piece about/staring sagawa:


here’s the video for “too much blood” by the rolling stones. the song was inspired by sagawa:


related posts:

CANON SONIQUE: a mixtape (6)

continuing the online mixtape.

song (6):

Yellow Magic Orchestra“Solid State Survivor”

off the album of the same name.
yellow magic orchestra solid state survivor

Yellow Magic Orchestra was formed in 1978 in japan. They’ve been cited by many people as the pioneers of electropop, and were supposedly so popular in their home country, that business men today still wear the YMO “techno cut” hairstyle. Everyone from Eric Clapton to J.Lo to Hitoshi Sakimoto (composer of the final fantasy tactics soundtrack, as well as numerous other video game scores) have been influenced and inspired by these crazy men. they “spread out” as a band (aka: broke up) in 1984.

“Solid State Survivor” was not released in the USA, but it looks like you can get it on amazon for about 20 bucks.

some videos:

yellow magic orchestra on soul train!

ymo covering “day tripper”


related posts:

Austria Vs. Japan: Halloween Costume Edition

sorry to step on some toes, ryan, but i feel you need a gentle shove to keep the momentum of this series going.

here is my contribution:

a post about the age old battle between japan and germany (it counts as austria) to see who can create the most amazing costume ever.

let’s get started:

round 1:



round 2:



round 3:



round 4:



round 5:







let’s try and end this war, friends. enough is enough. cast your votes!



[very VERY special thanks to cracked.com for their extensive research.]