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With another holiday season here, it’s often time to take a look at what manga series make good gifts. Though let’s get a bit more specific. What if you want someone to read titles that presents characters plagued by personal issues and the stress of the worlds they reside in? Have I got some ideas for you. Here are some of today’s top awesome English-licensed manga that dives deep into the recesses of the mind.
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“I feel so empty…Why should a woman living life to the fullest on her own feel so empty? Momma, I want…Mr. Mizuno!!”
With how the world is today, we often hear stories about people who make others suffer and/or have no regard for the well-being of their fellow man. The media portrays them as heartless and cruel. But what if underneath their scary exteriors, they secretly have a yearning for a connection that they hope to find? This is extremely prevalent in Osamu Tezuka’s “The Book of Human Insects” with regards to the main lead character, Toshiko Tomura. She is considered to be a very callous individual who constantly manipulates men to achieve fame and glory. However, Tomura has a deep attachment to a former flame, Ryotaro Mizuno. Her confused mindset makes you wonder if extremely apathetic individuals can truly develop feelings of attachment.
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If there’s one color that seems to be a constant favorite, most people will tell you the blue is the color that rules them all. Blue is loved by many people of both genders. Case in point: we have a manga heroine that radiates the aspects of what makes blue a popular color. Princess Sapphire, the lead heroine of Osamu Tezuka’s Princess Knight, appears to be a character that could suggest Tezuka has some deep fascination of the naturalness of blue.
First off, let’s explore the origin of Princess Sapphire. Sapphire was a girl who was given a “blue boy’s heart”, when she was supposed to receive only a “pink girl’s heart”. She ends up with both hearts and lives her life under the guise of a prince to inherit the throne of her kingdom. An angel named Tink is responsible for the blue heart transplant and is sent down by God to correct his mistake. Sapphire, however, refuses to give up her blue heart to Tink, while she struggles with love and a variety of persistent threats upon her visage.
What emotional aspects does blue represent? Blue is usually associated with calmness and focus for the most part. Of course, blue can also represent depression and being sad. When you look at the character of Sapphire, you see that she is strong, independent, courageous, determined, and calm. Despite her strengths, Sapphire has shown feelings of sadness and loneliness, as she struggles to be with Prince Franz Charming and to attend social gatherings as a “proper woman” (i.e. wearing a lovely dress). Sounds “blue” enough for you?
Another important note to point out is that the shades of blue have significant impact in people’s moods. Dark blue is considered a shade that represents power and integrity. Light blue is considered to be soft and understanding. You can say that dark blue is a lot more masculine than light blue. Sapphire appears to be an even mix of both shades, as she is an individual who demands respect, but also show compassion at the same time. There’s also the fact that Sapphire’s name herself is a shade of blue that happens to have characteristics that describe her perfectly.
I’m very curious about whether Tezuka used the psychology of the color blue when writing Princess Knight. Was he trying to point out that we all need a hint of blue in our lives to be stable? With regards to Sapphire, was Tezuka trying to inspire women using the traits of blue? The pink (a color that is considered to be the stereotypical favorite color associated with women) heart that Sapphire has was heavily targeted by an evil witch named Madame Hell. She desired it for the purpose of making her daughter, Hecate, popular. However, Hecate doesn’t show any interest in having the pink heart and was willing to give it back to Sapphire at one point. It seems as if Tezuka is trying to say that women should associate themselves with and/or appreciate colors that have better traits. If you’ve read Princess Knight, do you think Tezuka may have thought about the impact of color for the story?
In today’s world, blue still remains a constant and important color in life. Look how many logos of important companies are blue. Our skies and seas are blue. Blue is a color that will always finds a place in people’s hearts.
May blue be the color to continue enhancing our minds and bodies as it has Sapphire’s.
For more commentary on Princess Knight, you can check out Manga Bookshelf’s Off the Shelf column on the title.
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It’s that time of year once again. The season of giving. Time to find out who’s been naughty or nice. Thankfully, there are a variety of manga series that appeal to folks who’ve been good all year or just a bit bad. In collaboration with the 2011 Great Manga Gift Guides, it’s time to present Manga Therapy’s 2011 Great Manga Holiday Gift Guide!
Here are a few manga titles that I feel make great gifts for readers.
Blue Exorcist (Volume 1-5+) by Kazue Kato, VIZ Media
Does it make sense that I have to start off with one of the hottest shonen titles in 2011? Blue Exorcist is a manga that continues the dominance of female mangaka writing shonen manga. The characterization is very well-done and the plot is original. Also, girls will fall in love with Rin and Yukio Okumura.
Fullmetal Alchemist Complete Box Set (Volumes 1-27) by Hiromu Arakawa, VIZ Media
Hiromu Arakawa’s grand masterpiece in one box set. Do I really need to say anymore? FMA is arguably one of the most epic manga series ever written. This series has everything you want in a shonen manga. From start to finish, you will enjoy the journey of the Elric brothers as they show off the power & perseverance of humanity.
Drifters Volume 1 by Kohta Hirano, Dark Horse Comics
Time travel? Check. Historical figures? Check. Lots of violent fighting to stop evil? Check. Drifters is an interesting title that highlights how cruel people can be. Plus, it’s from the same guy who did Hellsing. The main villain also looks like a Nazgul from Lord of the Rings.
The Drops of God Volume 1 by Tadashi Agi & Shu Okimoto, Vertical Inc.
This is for those who want to read a manga title that doesn’t focus on violence & sex. This international phenomenon has impacted reality in many ways and has received much press attention from popular media outlets. If you’re a wine enthusiast, you will LOVE this manga. For anyone else, it’s a nice change of pace from the usual manga you see everyday.
‘A Bride’s Story’ Volumes 1-2 by Kaoru Mori, Yen Press
A title that has won critical acclaim in both Japan & America. The story focuses on a young lady named Amira, who marries a younger boy named Karluk in the Middle East. The artwork is gorgeous and realistic. This is a cute and fascinating title that takes a look at the structure of family and marriage.
20th Century Boys (Volumes 1-15+) by Naoki Urasawa, VIZ Media
One of the most suspenseful manga I have ever read, period. The Eisner Award-nominated 20th Century Boys is a title full of mystery and intrigue. If you want a title that throws crazy plot twists and you love crazy cult figures, then this is your book.
Sailor Moon (Volumes 1-2+) by Naoko Takeuchi, Kodansha Comics
This is the female role model that all the little girls should look up to. All I can say is that it’s a good title to show to young teenage female readers interested in manga. It’s also a great history lesson for them as well as they get a chance to read one of the most influential shojou manga out there.
Princess Knight Volume 1 by Osamu Tezuka, Vertical Inc.
A gem that would help set the tone for shoujo manga. You can’t help but admire Princess Sapphire and her determination to be a hero to others. This is another influential title that I feel young female manga readers HAVE to read.
The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka, Vertical Inc.
An intense, thought-provoking story where you see how certain people can be very manipulative towards others. The main protagonist isn’t someone you can actually root for. This title is recommended for those who love complex characters in their stories.
This is just a small sample of what I would recommend. What other manga titles do you think would make great gifts for readers? Post in the comments section below and let me know what you would give!
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If you’re living in the New York area, Japan Society’s JAPAN CUTS will be happening this month. This Thursday will mark the North American premiere of Osamu Tezuka’s epic biography of Siddhartha, BUDDHA. It will be shown on Thursday, July 7 at 6:45pm. If you can’t make it this Thursday, no worries. A repeat showing will be on Sunday, July 10 at 12:30pm.
And on Saturday, July 9, Japan Society & the New York Asian Film Festival will be co-presenting the live-action movie adaptations of Hiroya Oku’s popular sci-fi manga series, GANTZ. The first part will be shown at 12:30pm, followed by the North American premiere of the 2nd part “PERFECT ANSWER” at 3:00pm. For those who were horrified by the dubbing of the first part shown back in January, both movies will be in Japanese with English subtitles.
Tickets ($12 each) are limited. Please call the Japan Society Box Office at (212) 715-1258, Mon. - Fri. 11 am - 6 pm, Weekends 11 am - 5 pm. *UPDATE: Both Gantz movies are SOLD OUT.*
I’ll be reviewing GANTZ & interviewing Gantz fans this weekend. NY Japanese culture fans, see you guys there!
Vertical is one of the best manga publishers in the U.S. out there. A majority of people will agree with me & I think they pick some of the more unique releases out there. Not a lot of manga titles, but there are gems in that treasure lot.
I will be reading the following from their catalog:
- Velveteen & Mandala by Jiro Matsumoto
- The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka
- Twin Spica by Kou Yaginuma
- Chi’s Sweet Home by Konami Kanata
- Black Jack by Osamu Tezuka
- Peepo Choo by Felipe Smith
- 7 Billion Needles by Nobuaki Tadano
I am already reading Twin Spica & Chi’s Sweet Home and highly recommend both series to readers. Twin Spica is such a heartwarming tale about making your dreams come true while Chi’s Sweet Home has some huge adult themes underneath the cuteness. Peepo Choo is another interesting read, though there’s a lot of unnecessary violence & sex.
I probably will start reading Black Jack & 7 Billion Needles.
Another fun fact: I did not know Vertical published Nintendo Magic: Winning the Videogame Wars.
Happy manga reading, folks.
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Yesterday, I had the pleasure of hosting “Holiday Anime & Manga Day” at Kinokuniya Bookstore. It was the first anime/manga event that I have truly hosted. I have taken part in panels for Samurai Beat Radio there, but not hosting an entire day’s worth. I have to say it was quite a learning experience and lots of fun with introducing the guests, announcements, entertainment, & raffles.
The first panel was the “Unofficial One Piece Podcast” panel. This was very, very informative. I started following One Piece very recently & I find the series to be insanely funny. I think the one thing they stressed about the series which I thought was very apparent, was the theme of “family”. Everyone in the Straw Hat Pirates accepts each other unconditionally, despite all their differences. In some ways, it reminds me of the Yorozuya in Gintama. If you haven’t followed One Piece yet, please do so. Just flat-out funny, charming, and great.
The next panel was probably the one panel that a lot of people were waiting for (& tweeted about), the Kodansha Comics launch event. Associate Publisher Dallas Middaugh appeared in front of an anxious audience. He addressed the current situation with Kodansha USA & unveiled upcoming titles for Summer 2011. A full list of the titles can be read here.
I have to say I was impressed with what they have in store for manga fans, though the CLAMP titles (Tsubasa & xxxHolic) still being under Del Rey Manga intrigues me. One title I’m ESPECIALLY happy about is Bloody Monday. That’s one title I was wondering whether it would be brought over here and now I got my wish.
I was also impressed with fans bringing up titles that Dallas forgot to mention during the presentation. Nice to see fans care about Kodansha USA & supporting them.
Kodansha USA rewarded fans for coming by doing a raffle where they gave away 4 Air Gear posters, 2 sets of the Ghost in the Shell manga (Volumes 1 & 2), and 1 Sayonara! Zetsubou Sensei towel. Great, great start for Kodansha USA.
The next panel was “Translating Tezuka” with translator, Mari Morimoto. As many manga fans know, her resume is very noteworthy. Mari discussed her latest project, Osamu Tezuka’s “Ayako”. I have to say Ayako is very, very interesting. It makes me wonder about the difficulties of living in Japan, post World War II (the setting for the story). Another thing is the title character, Ayako, is an EXTREMELY flawed character. Just literally almost everything about her is not perfect (maybe except her physical appearance). It provides some good psychological curiosity on how someone like her would be able to fit in society today.
Also, one thing I would like to note from this panel. At the end of the panel, Mari spoke about Kodansha USA possibly bringing over their Weekly Morning manga magazine to the States. I can’t verify the truth of her statement, but this is something I feel is interesting to share with you guys.
Uncle Yo & Chris Troy took the stage next. Funny how this was Uncle Yo’s first time performing at Kinokuniya. A lot of fans enjoyed what he had to say. He made a few jokes that were outside of anime, manga, and video games. The best joke he made was how insane people are now on C-SPAN instead of being locked up in mental asylums.
Last, but not least, animator/artist Jose Velasco presented his new short animated film, Calypso Agency.
Yes, everyone gathered around like that & watched the film through his laptop due to technical difficulties with the television at the store. All I can say is that the film looked AMAZING and it shows that non-Japanese animators can make some great anime. Also, congratulations to Jose for winning the 12th TBS Digicon 6 Singapore Golden Prize in Asia for “Calypso Agency”.
There was another main raffle where many people won more prizes, courtesy of New York Anime Festival. Overall, I had a fun time hosting and I also promoted my blog as well. Someone said that I’m the heir apparent to Peter Tatara, the Programming Director for NYAF. He usually hosts the Kinokuniya events, but couldn’t make it because of the Singapore Comic Convention 2010. I still have a ways to go, though I wouldn’t mind hosting another anime/manga event again in the future.
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To everyone living in the Tri-State area, I would like to announce that I will be hosting Holiday Anime & Manga Day at Kinokuniya Bookstore this Sunday, December 12. Though it’s more like I’m hosting for Samurai Beat Radio than Manga Therapy.
In any case, a lot will be planned for this day-long event. I am extremely looking forward to the One Piece Podcast panel, the Kodansha Comics announcements, and Mari Morimoto’s (who I know personally) panel. I’m planning to check out Osamu Tezuka’s “Ayako” soon. Reading the Wiki synopsis got me interested. Vertical, Inc. already has a sample of the book up on their website, which you can view here.
So, if you’re around the area and a huge anime/manga fan, come on by, say hi, and enjoy what looks to be a day packed with anime/manga fun for everyone! See you guys there!