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13th October 2012

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The Lovely Yu Asakawa at New York Comic-Con 2012

Yu Asakawa at New York Comic-Con 2012 (and me, too).

Hey, I snagged myself a famous bimajo. Bimajos are pretty hot these days, right?

It’s interesting to see Japan finally find older women attractive when the rest of the world saw the light a long while ago. Yu Asakawa looks AMAZING for her age.

Getting past the looks, I think we need more people like Yu Asakawa to help build strong anime/manga communities outside of Japan. She is very passionate about otaku culture. Her continued desire to speak English says a lot about her commitment to the fans.

You can follow Yu Asakawa on Twitter at @Julia320.


Tagged: Yu AsakawaNew York Comic-ConNYCCbimajoanime communitymanga communityJapanese pop cultureotaku culture

8th February 2012

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Pirates and Hunters For the Win - MangaHelpers Manga Awards 2011 Winners

MangaHelpers Manga Awards 2011 promotional picture.

One of my favorite manga community sites to visit, MangaHelpers, recently had their awards event, the MH Manga Awards 2011, where users voted which manga series, characters, and moments ruled in their eyes. A wide variety of categories were available and there were a lot of good nominees that deserved to win. Without further ado, here were the winners:

Best Seinen: Vinland Saga by Makoto Yukimura

Best Sci-Fi: Gantz by Hiroya Oku

Best Mystery/Horror: MONSTER by Naoki Urasawa

Best Male Lead: Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece

Best Overall Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Best Plot Twist/Epic Moment: (tie) One Piece (Mermaid Princess Shirahoshi being revealed as the ancient weapon, Poseidon) and Naruto (Itachi Uchiha breaking free from Edo Tensei)

Best Artwork: Berserk by Kentaro Miura

Best Artistic Piece: Kokuo no Hito by Yoshiro Nabeda, Jiro Nitta, and Shinichi Sakamoto

Best Fantasy: Berserk by Kentaro Miura

Best Manga of 2011: Hunter x Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi

Best Action: One Piece by Eiichiro Oda

Best Completed Manga: Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

Best Shoujo: Kimi ni Todoke by Karuho Shiina

Best Slice of Life: Bakuman by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata

Best Female Support: Nico Robin from One Piece

Best Manhwa/Manhua: The Breaker (plus The Breaker: New Waves) by Geuk-jin Jeon and Jin-Hwan Park

Best Josei: 07-Ghost by Yuki Amemiya and Yukino Ichihara

Best Female Lead: Nami from One Piece

Best Comedy: Gintama by Hideaki Sorachi

Best Full Cast: Fullmetal Alchemist

Best Character Design: Guts from Berserk

Best Villain: Hisoka from Hunter x Hunter

Best Fight: BLEACH (Ichigo vs. Aizen)

Best Male Support: Roronoa Zoro from One Piece

Best Death: Hunter x Hunter (Meryem and Komugi’s death)

Funniest Moment: Gintama (Shogun moments)

Best Drama: Great Teacher Onizuka by Toru Fujisawa

Best Shonen: Hunter x Hunter by Yoshihiro Togashi

Best Mangaka: Eiichiro Oda

Best Sports: Slam Dunk by Takehiko Inoue

Yup, it’s clear to me that pirates and hunters truly captured the hearts of manga fans this past year. Do you guys agree with these choices? What would you have voted?

Also, if you want to see what the “STARS” and staff of MH voted for, you can view them below:

MangaHelpers “STARS” Picks

MangaHelpers Staff Picks

Let’s hope for some more manga greatness this year!


Tagged: 2011 manga awardsMangaHelpersmanga awardsmanga communitymanga newsmanga

25th January 2012

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Has The Internet Changed The Way You Think About Manga?

Welcome To The Internet!

Here’s a scenario that I want everyone to imagine with me. Ready?

Think back to a time where computers didn’t exist yet. Think back to when it was very difficult to find information about anything you wanted. Think back to when sharing one’s interests over a huge communication channel was almost impossible without going to a big-name media outlet. Now, hold those thoughts and ask yourself if the Internet has the changed the way you think about manga. Regarding manga, the Internet has truly made it global, but with a price. I sometimes wonder if the Internet is both the creator and destroyer of manga fandom.

Before the Internet became popular, the only way I found out about manga news was through the defunct WIZARD Magazine. I remember the first manga I heard about from WIZARD was Masamune Shirow’s Ghost In The Shell. After reading about the controversy surrounding Ghost in the Shell (i.e. the cybersex scene), the whole idea of manga began to appeal to me. I was watching Chinese dubs of Dragon Ball Z at the time and my interest in Japanese media continued to grow. When I found out Dragon Ball was originally a manga, I browsed text summaries of the original manga series online back in 1999. You don’t know how obsessed I was with looking for information on DBZ at the time. Thankfully, VIZ Media released the Dragon Ball Z manga in America and I bought all the volumes. The same thing also happened when I followed Rurouni Kenshin in the early 2000s’. I was reading text summaries of chapters online, visiting fansites to satisfy my cravings, and later bought all the volumes because of my love for the samurai epic.

Fast forward to the proliferation of scanlations. I decided to follow BLEACH (during college around 2005) after hearing some of my friends watching the anime. I bought the first few volumes from VIZ and was hooked. What happened next was I began using the Internet to find out more information about the characters. I found out about what was currently going on in the BLEACH manga from a fansite at the time, which was Sosuke Aizen being revealed as the main villain. That just piqued my curiosity even more and I wanted to know what happens next. As a result, the world of scanlations entered my life. I was pretty ecstatic to know that I can keep up with what’s happening with BLEACH. I also discovered many other series through scanlations as well. I was still buying manga and didn’t really think about how scanlations affected the manga-publishing industry.

And now here we are with the manga industry in a huge state of flux. What does that tell me? The Internet (the power of the creator) is great for manga since it exposes everyone to a wide variety of series and creates passionate fan communities, but the Internet (the power of the destructor) gives off this illusion to certain people that manga easily grows on a tree and everything’s dandy, when things really aren’t fine.  

I don’t know about you, but there is one thing that bugs me about scanlations. Scanlators and aggregator sites often put up a disclaimer message telling everyone to buy and support a manga series if it’s available in their region. But, what if the manga is not available in their region and possibly never will be? What if the reader is an 8-year old? Also, I know a few people who work full-time that read scanlations and are not even interested in buying physical copies of manga. Do scanlators even understand their intended audiences and their consequences as a whole? 

The Internet has made me believe that manga will be an online-only interest globally and will stay that way (though it seems like it already is). Outside of Japan, manga is still very niche to a majority of people. Combine that with free scanlations and you have a recipe for “fun interest that appeals mostly to Internet folks”. Though part of me believes the Internet is perfect for manga because most people like to read things online these days and they LOVE images on the Internet.

Another thing was that before the Internet, I thought every manga title out there was godly. Since the increased popularity of the ‘Net, I realized that there’s a lot of “junk” to sort through before you even get to the good stuff. Sometimes, I wonder how certain titles became published in the first place. Such is the harshness of reality. 

One question does plague me: should the manga community accept those that read scanlations of a certain series and don’t really buy any form of merchandise related to the series (yet are extremely passionate about it) as members of the community? Would someone care to enlighten me on how those fans should be viewed? 

With these inner thoughts in mind, I continue to research the crazy world of manga online and offline (I still buy volumes of manga) as many series have worked their charm upon my visage. Oh Internet, you’re as tempting as a bishojo girl nagging her “big brother” to spend time with her and leaving him with a colorful array of conflicted feelings. 


Tagged: globalizationmangamanga communitymanga fandommanga industryotaku culturepsychology of the Internetscanlationsmanga psychology

29th December 2011

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Pinterest - The Next Great Social Network For Anime/Manga Fans?

Pinterest logo

Recently, I got an invite to join Pinterest, a new image-sharing social network that allows users to showcase pictures of what inspires or interests them. The neat feature about Pinterest is that you can create “Boards” of images. Boards are basically categories/folders that you can put images that you find in. You can create a “Board” for any topic you can think of from the top of your head. I created an “Anime/Manga Goodies” folder to showcase anime/manga pictures that I like from the site. 

This is what Pinterest looks like when I search “anime”.

Using Pinterest to search anime.

The images posted to Pinterest are known as “Pins”. There’s even a “Pin It” button you can drag to your browser toolbar, so you can share any image you find on the Web to Pinterest.

What makes Pinterest stand out is the organization factor. Having “Boards” of certain types of photos showcases one’s varied interests and users can separate images into whatever they like. Aspiring animators/artists can use the site to find worthy pictures and put them in a Board that can go by the name of “Inspirational Pictures” or something similar.

If you’re an anime/manga blogger, this is another source of promotion. You can promote images from your blog onto Pinterest to drive traffic and network with other users. Your profile can be customized to include a link to your blog. Pinterest is another way to get readers to know you better as well. If you want readers to know about your other passions (food, music, etc.) in vivid detail, this is a great site to showcase them.

As of right now, Pinterest is still in beta and it can only be accessed by invite-only. You can go to the website and click the “Request an Invite” button.

I think the site can really take off for fans of anime and manga to share a variety of images and what they love with other fans in a clean, user-friendly format. So, get out there and start pinning your love of moe, ecchi, or whatever floats your boat!

Though it seems like mostly women will enjoy Pinterest more given the dominant topics for the site, so shall we assume that Pinterest will be a site that fujoshi will go crazy over? Suggestive male coupling pictures, here we come!


Tagged: Pinterestanimeanime imagesimage boardsmangamanga imagessocial mediasocial networkinganime communitymanga community

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