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If there’s one mantra that’s always told to everyone, it’s that money can’t buy happiness. There is some truth to all of this. An interesting article I read at World of Psychology focused on garbage pickers who are very optimistic about life despite their living standards. Folks who go around collecting trash don’t seem to worry too much about food or money. They have good relationships and believe that the future will be bright for them.
Reading this article made me think about poor characters like Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket), Hayate Ayasaki (Hayate the Combat Butler, before he was taken in by Nagi Sanzenin), Jin Kanzaki (ZETMAN), the Yorozuya (Gintama) and many others. All of them have gone through situations where they struggle to get by, yet still enjoy the nuances of life.
Yes, being poor isn’t the greatest thing in the life. But neither is being rich. When you have people being pressured to act like complete big shots just to stay ahead, you wonder if it really is worth it to make a lot of money.
For anyone who’s poor, you’re more motivated to take on your dreams. Do you really have anything to lose? Not much, given you have nothing to begin with. You also get the best thing money can’t buy: emotional support. Almost every poor anime/manga character out there has a wonderful supporting cast of characters that push them for the better. Of course, there are exceptions, but those characters develop and gain a better understanding of what truly matters when everything is all said and done. One great example is Gintama’s “cell phone” story and its critique on how the joy of technology that may not be affordable to many can affect relationships to a huge degree.
Isn’t it time to get some dirt on your hands and grow an inner garden for your soul?
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Amazing words, Akagi-senpai. You go, girl!
My brain feels fried and I need some pretty men to get me going again. So I’m taking a break this week.
Some upcoming entries will be about Kuroko no Basket, Pandora Hearts, Blue Exorcist, Kuroshitsuji, and Gintama (Yes, I want to discuss that “Rule 63”/Dokobekko arc going on in the manga).
Now if you excuse me, I’m off to play otome games for further inspiration.
What? I…it’s not like I’m enjoying fujoshi material because I want to, ok!? I just find it a fascinating study for research purposes, ok!? You should be thankful……..
IDIOT ONEE-CHAN!!!! *runs away in tears*
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Nothing says kick-ass like a female warrior who transcends norms. March 8 has come once again, which means it’s International Women’s Day!
Here are some past articles I’ve written on some of the top female characters in anime and manga.
And for a real treat for the women who love boys being around other boys out there.
Ladies, keep on outwitting anyone that continues to underestimate you.
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“One was trying to protect Shoyo’s legacy. The other was trying to destroy Shoyo’s legacy. But they had one thing in common. They both had such sorrow in their eyes.”
Another emotional roller coaster in Gintama was recently built to bring us through more loops and turns in the form of the “Ikkoku Keisei” (Courtesan of a Nation) arc. What started off as a simple love story became a tense emotional look at the pasts of two men walking opposite paths, Gintoki Sakata and Shinsuke Takasugi. How much sorrow is enough to drive one to keep on living?
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“It galled me to do everything that young punk said…but you can’t judge a person by their age. There are young kids who’ve lived and felt more in their short lives than I have in all of mine.”
You ever had one of those moments where you talk to someone younger than you and felt like that person was actually making sense? What if someone older talking to you felt the same? Don’t worry, you’re not the only ones.
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“True, your luster may not have been as bright as gold…You only shined on occasion. You were always arguing and fighting. You had wavy hair. You were lazy. You were the king of sexual harassment. You never paid the rent. You paid your people late. Still, you were brighter than the fake glint of gold plating. When you were angry, your entire soul was enraged. When you laughed, you laughed with all your heart. Your silver was much more beautiful.”
In a world where things are taken completely at face value, perhaps we need to re-evaluate what is of true value. The beginning of Gintama Season 6 adapted a highly-touted arc from Volume 43 of the manga and highlighted a world where gold captivated it. Despite its amazing allure and beauty, the gold portrayed was tainted and corrupt. The battle between Gintoki Sakata (silver) and Kintoki Sakata (gold) reflects society’s obsessions with perfectionism and how being first place in one area doesn’t always translate well to other aspects of life that are far more important.
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Looks like catching a re-airing of your favorite anime episode can do wonders for your brain. Two recent studies reported that watching reruns of your favorite TV shows can give you the strength to stay persistent and perform tough tasks. Since the viewer already knows what’s going to happen while watching, he/she will remain relaxed while watching their favorite episodes refreshes their minds. The same can also be applied to someone who rereads their favorite books.
With that said, I know I’m extremely guilty of this with watching reruns of Gintama and/or re-reading the manga constantly. One of my favorite story arcs in Gintama was the Screwdriver/Monkey Hunter arc (Volume 22/Episodes 121-123). I repeatedly watched various scenes of that arc over and over because of Shimura Shinpachi’s outbursts over some of the characters’ antics, most particularly one gag involving Kotaro Katsura and a “quite revealing” secret about himself (which was gross and completely random). Reliving my favorite humorous moments in Gintama has kept me going and reassures me that even in dark times, things will be quite alright. I also heavily re-read manga scenes featuring Vegeta (of Dragon Ball) and Saitou Hajime (of Rurouni Kenshin). Both of those characters have had a huge influence in my life and remind me to be confident in fighting the good fight. Right now, Fullmetal Alchemist, Blue Exorcist, Flowers of Evil, and Attack on Titan are on my “Definitely Read Again” list.
I always believe that anime and manga can be refreshing and beneficial to one’s life. What series do you guys revisit when you need that extra bit of motivation? Bet you all have some interesting stories to tell!
It’s always good to visit an old friend, isn’t it?
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“It’s all right. You did well. You’re…a fine man. You’ve grown strong. Don’t look back. You made your decision. This is the path you chose. Don’t apologize. Don’t cry. You did what you set out to do. I felt proud watching you go. You’re blunt, belligerent, and bungling…but you’re kind. I love you guys. I was…very lucky…to know men like you…and to have a brother…like you…Sogo. I’m proud of you.”
In many anime/manga series, there are certain characters that resonate in our hearts. Yet they end up dead in a shocking twist and makes us go “Noooo! Why!?”. With that said, a recent poll conducted by MyNavi focused on which anime/manga characters fans wished did not die. While some of the choices were not surprising to many (i.e. Ace’s death in One Piece and Tomoe’s death in Madoka), there was one character who I was happy to see made the list and hit top 10. Look at number 8. It’s none other than Mitsuba Okita, the older sister of Gintama’s favorite sadist, Sogo Okita. She was a somewhat minor character but the fact that she was a well-refined girl with a terminal illness and had close ties to three major characters spoke greatly to many fans. Her brief time is a lesson that nothing should be taken for granted.
Mitsuba first appears in Chapter 129/Volume 15 and was presented as someone who raised Sogo all by herself. She was childhood friends with the other two main Shinsengumi members (Kondo Isao and Toshiro Hijikata) though they and Sogo left her in the countryside to move to Edo. Mitsuba immediately warmed fans’ hearts by showing off her addiction to a variety of spicy food. She has a chronic lung ailment which has affected Sogo emotionally. While Mitsuba travels to Edo to tell the Shinsengumi about her marriage to a merchant, she runs into Hijikata and faints. It is revealed that she was in love with him once. Hijikata rejected her because he didn’t want her to suffer by being with him. That moment led to the development of Sogo’s love/hate relationship with Hijikata. She is then taken to the hospital as her health begins to deteriorate even further. We then find out that her fiance is actually a terrorist and that he is using Mitsuba to take over the Shinsengumi from the inside. Hijikata confronts him (and smoothly says “I just want the woman I love to be happy”, a line that fans rank highly as one of the top moments/lines in Gintama) while Mitsuba is dying in the hospital. Sadly, there is no happy ending as Mitsuba dies in Chapter 132/Volume 16 and we’re left with sadness in a series known for humor.
When you think about Mitsuba, your life’s problems are pretty much tame compared to her’s. Her approach to life might be different. I think there are some important lessons to learn from her.
1.) Build a network of support.
Sogo said that in life, some people don’t ever make real friends. Even Mitsuba commented that Sogo never had a true friend (though she notices that Kondo, Hijikata, and even Gintoki Sakata are his closest friends). She remained tied to the Shinsengumi by sending them spicy crackers from time-to-time while Sogo sent her money to cover her healthcare costs. Even though you might be suffering, having a wide variety of helpful people in your life makes things much more bearable and will make you feel better about yourself.
2.) Do what you love.
Mitsuba loves spicy foods and is usually warned not to eat them because of her health. Yet she still does it anyway to a huge degree. Just do what you want to do without regrets. Life is short for everyone and you might as well make it enjoyable for yourself as best you can.
3.) Don’t be led and driven by fear.
This is probably the most-important lesson. We’re all victims of fear when we hear and face bad news. We all want to cry and grieve, but what good does that really do us in the end? Mitsuba continued to face things head-on and was prepared for the inevitable. She didn’t let fear stop her from enjoying life and wanting to be happy. Mitsuba also wanted to make sure to leave something behind and that was to make Sogo a strong person. She let herself be driven by her sense of self. We need to learn how to better control our negative emotions and not let them lead us astray.
I would like to say that I’m glad many anime/manga fans recognized the importance of Mitsuba Okita’s death as one that affected them greatly. I remember seeing this story arc in the Gintama anime (Episodes 86-87) first before reading it in the manga. The ending with Mitsuba’s speech to Sogo had me literally in tears. It makes me realize that my problems pale in comparison to certain individuals who have it a hundred times worse. Some of them are staying positive while I just sit there and complain. How many of you Gintama fans out there have also felt greatly impacted by what transpired with our fallen sister?
If you ever meet/know someone who has a terminal illness, please learn from those folks and you will gain newfound or renewed strength that will go a long way. I think we all need to encounter a Mitsuba Okita at least once in our lives.
To reword a certain idiom for Mitsuba, spice is the variety of life.
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As a manga fan from North America, I’ve been getting a kick out of reading Deb Aoki’s posts on “Making a Living in Manga”. The third part, entitled “The Skills to Pay the Bills: The Manga Training Gap”, had an interesting quote from someone who worked in the Japanese manga industry about the lack of writing ability in American manga creators. And it goes like this:
“One problem I’ve noticed among American ‘manga’ creators is that they tend to put artwork above interesting characters/storytelling. What I always loved about manga was the storytelling. The most successful creators tell great/interesting stories, even if they can’t draw well (look at Rumiko Takahashi). Some good artists (Tanemura Arina) are popular at first, but become obscure when they fail to produce stories with good storytelling. Almost nobody talks about her manga anymore and instead she has artbooks.”
- Jamie Lynn Lano (@jamieism), Expatriate American comics creator, now living in Japan, former assistant on the Tennis no Oujisama (Prince of Tennis) manga
For those aspiring manga artists that get criticized for an inability to tell a good story and are agitated over it, do you want to know why telling stories is about as powerful as (or even more powerful than) putting out pretty pictures? Here are some pretty good reasons as to why:
- Stories shared through others creates meaningful connections and helps bridge gaps with people.
- Stories provide ideas on how to make sense of things in life.
- Stories provide structure that certain folks may not get or experience. Everyone wants a sense of structure in their lives.
- People tend to interpret stories as real experiences that have a great deal of meaning in their lives.
- Stories help to unlock people’s imaginations. Imagination -> inspiration -> creativity. A win for everyone.
If you still don’t believe that storytelling is very important, I’ll give you two extremely notable examples of popular manga that don’t have the “greatest art”(according to certain fans): One Piece and Gintama. While the artwork may turn off some fans, both series contain some of the most memorable and well-thought-out characters you will ever see in manga. Each series has a number of wacky and emotional moments that get people talking and caring. Just read both series thoroughly and try to understand how subtlely has gotten them the huge followings they have in Japan.
Here’s another example that will get you going “WHAT!? Really!?”. Japanese mega pop-star, Kyary Pamyu Pamyu, decided to collaborate with Jigoku no Misawa, the mangaka of “Kakko-Kawaii Sengen!!” for a manga in JUMP SQUARE. For those who know about Kakko-Kawaii Sengen!!, the artwork is quite strange and looks unappealing to many. However, the comedic aspects of the manga along with the wacky art have managed to hit it off with a variety of people in Japan. Case in point: this April Fool’s 2012 joke video Shueisha and Aniplex did by having Blue Exorcist drawn in the style of Kakko-Kawaii Sengen!!
So, what do we need to teach prospective manga artists trying to make it big about storytelling? Perhaps the key thing to teach is empathy, because it seems that some manga artists don’t have any. This is mostly to their false sense of self-entitlement (which parents/peers/media need to stop encouraging). A lack of empathy can also mean that they are not experiencing things outside of their own circle. In this day and age, empathy is a huge key in how to create a story and making it work with an audience. There’s also the added benefit of making artists’ own lives more enriching.
Another important thing that needs to be stressed is that artists should be taught on how to speak to others publicly. They also need to listen to how others speak and present themselves. By understanding how people communicate with each other, artists can draw some ideas on how to present their narrative.
My final point is this: we’re all storytellers. We need to be able to tell and shape stories to survive. Everything we say and do can be made into a story to affect the people around us. A conversation is also a story. Think about that thought. Hell, I’m trying to tell a story right now.
For those who can write well, but believe their art is crappy, here’s a quote I hope will keep your spirits up.
“Writing is THE most important part of the whole. If your art is so-so, but your writing shines, you’re golden. Reversed, give up.”
- Jon Krupp (@WEKM)
A picture may be worth a thousand words, but it never tells the whole story.
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As most people will tell you, pets are awesome to have. They teach you how to be responsible and also provide some great stress relief. This may sound funny to most of you, but have you ever named your pet or associated it with notable anime/manga characters?
Case in point: here’s an example involving pets that I own. I have three red/orange blood parrot cichlids of different sizes as pets. Normally, I did not care about them until earlier this year when I started to feed them. I’ve grown to like them over time. I actually thought of those three fish as the Yorozuya from Hideaki Sorachi’s Gintama. Whenever I’m about to give them food, all three of them rush up in great speed to the top of the tank like poor, hungry folk fighting over a hotpot (which greatly reminds of Gin, Kagura, and Shinpachi).
The Big Fish
I call this one Gin because he reminds me of his “Boss of the Kids” look in Volume 16/Episode 88 of Gintama. The big dude is always going around picking on the other two fish. He gobbles rocks and shoots them when he’s bored. The “leader” is also the one who takes up all the food. A funny thing is he actually will lightly jump out of the water if you try to stick anything near him.
This fish also has great fighting spirit. My mother tried to move rocks in the fish tank around with a stick once and the big fish actually attacked the stick with determination. Gin-san also bit her hand in another incident. He’s an aquatic Shiroyasha.
The Medium-Size Fish
Kagura-chan! While Kagura is a girl’s name, she acts pretty tomboyish to the point that you can consider her a guy at times. This one likes to follow Gin-san around just for the hell of it. He gobbles rocks and shoots them as well. He picks on the smallest fish alongside Gin-san. Gin-san picks on Kagura-chan sometimes.
Of course, this Kagura could be Kaguura Jusant, her Monkey Hunter avatar.
The Semi-Medium Fish
Poor Shinpachi. All he does is go into a corner somewhere and stays there. The two other fish ALMOST ALWAYS pick on him. Shinpachi also struggles to get food from the other two sometimes. A funny note is that he seems to pay attention to food and nothing else.
Sometimes, I wonder if Shinpachi is actually a healthy fish since he seems to be somewhat lackadaisical. Does he drift off by himself to listen to Otsu-chan in his head?
Anthropomorphism, with regards to naming pets, is pretty popular and I think more people seem to be experiencing this feeling. You have to wonder if there are certain anime/manga characters that have moved fans to the point that they want to bring them to life through animals and feed their inner desire to nurture. Though you can also say the same for other fictional characters. I would love to hear any stories you guys have about pets that own whose names reflect certain character personalities.
Finally, here’s a photo that reflects the nature of Shinpachi’s treatment throughout Gintama, which greatly describes how wacky my case of anthropomorphism is.
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