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Ever grow tired of the fact that a majority of shonen titles are always about friendship, hard work, and victory? What if the world of “dark” shonen titles takes over the spotlight? In a 2012 manga retrospect at Otaku Champloo, Khursten Santos wonders what direction shonen manga seems to be heading towards to when she talks about the amazingly-written, coming-of-age shonen title, “The Flowers of Evil”. Is it changing for the darker perhaps?
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With all the manga titles available out in Japan and the world, one wonders how much manga do we consume that’s not really “outstanding”. While titles like Naruto, BLEACH, and One Piece rule the world, readers can get bored with them from time to time. It’s either that or all they know are the mainstream manga titles. Over-consumption of certain manga titles/genres can be pretty dangerous to a reader’s mind as it can create strong biases.
A book called “The Information Diet: A Case for Conscious Consumption” discussed an “information obesity” epidemic that’s happening with people in America. There’s too much information out there and people let themselves consume a lot without ill regard. Not many people are able to filter out the distractions the age of the Internet provides.
So, I want to ask you readers what makes a good “manga diet” in your minds. Send me some of your lists/suggestions/ideas and I will post them up here for everyone to see! What manga titles should make the “fruits and vegetables” portion that people need to consume more of? What titles should be our “sugary” guilty pleasures? How much of the “meaty” shonen battle manga can one be allowed to read? Are there “whole grain” titles that naturally get you pumping?
Feel free to send your suggestions to tonyyao82 (at) gmail (dot) com with the subject title, “MANGA DIET”. You can also comment below!
Looking forward to see a variety of diet plans filled with thoughtful stories, great characterization, and riveting protagonist/antagonist conflicts!
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Have you ever read shonen battle manga and wonder why do battles drag on and on for ages? Have you thought about why there is so much talking during battles as well? More importantly, why are shonen heroes so intent on training hard? There’s one manga series that asks these same questions while providing a solution in the most average way possible.
Look out, world, because here comes Onepunch-Man. This extremely wacky webcomic series by ONE and Yusuke Murata (of Eyeshield 21 fame) takes a look at the absurdity of shonen battle manga. It gives us an unappealing superhero who kills everything with one punch and has no desire to help people. Onepunch-Man also greatly questions how motivated can a person be after they achieve their goals.
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Yes, this is the only title. Look how pretty Masakazu Katsura’s art is!
On all seriousness, Matt Blind of Rocket Bomber recently asked manga bloggers to give thanks to the manga industry for all their hard work. He also asked folks to highlight what manga titles we’re thankful for on Thanksgiving 2012. I decided to join in on this feast since hey, creators and publishers really do look out for their fans. With a bit of Jimmy Fallon quirkiness, here are some notable manga series (both licensed and a few unlicensed titles) that make me go, “Arigato, Soushite, ARIGATO!”
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For those who have been following Shonen Jump, a new action manga by Juzo Kawai has hit the magazine (both in Japan and America) and it’s called Takamagahara. The story chronicles a young man named Yamato Yamada who suddenly awakens to superpowers that were hidden inside him. Apparently, every individual is born with a “divine gift”, but only a few people can truly unleash it. Yamato has dreams of being a mangaka despite being criticized harshly for his terrible artwork by his peers. Therefore…..
The concept of the “divine gift” is really interesting as it presents moral dilemmas on how people use their powers. The 2nd chapter showcases a high school student who uses his divine gift to hurt others. I can see why Shueisha is insistent on promoting this manga in the U.S. There are a majority of young people out there that don’t know how to utilize whatever hidden talents they have in a positive manner and/or try to avoid responsibility for some of their actions.
I’m interested to see where Takamagahara goes from here and this could be a breakout hit because of the many possibilities involving the “divine gifts”.
Does anyone think Takamagahara is the “divine gift” Shonen Jump is looking for after the end of Naruto and BLEACH?
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“BURN! I WILL BURN!”
With the recent end of Oh! Great’s rollerblading/sci-fi series Air Gear, let’s look back at a major battle that occurred in Volumes 33-34 and one that led to a final growth spurt in helping an insecure young man overcome any limits he had left. Prior to the final battle of the series, Kazuma “Kazu” Mikura, the incumbent Flame King of the Flame Road, went toe-to-toe with Nike Takeuchi, the Gem King of the Jade Road and twin brother of central antagonist Sora Takeuchi. What transpired during the battle is a highlight of how powerful and significant flames are when thought of figuratively.
Kazu’s final test to gain his “wings” gets ignited when he, Onigiri (a friend/teammate of his in Kogarasumaru), and Aeon Clock (an associate of Kogarasumaru) all try to take on Nike inside a battleship. While all three put him up valiant efforts, Onigiri and Aeon suffered huge damage due to Nike showcasing his full power with the Jade Road. Aeon unfortunately dies and gives Kazu the Flame Regalia he stole from him. Kazu dons the pair of Air Treck skates that signifies his mastery of the Flame Road to unleash his full potential. He begins to do substantial damage to Nike, who is shocked that a “mere human” is hurting him. It is revealed that the Flame Regalia grants its user the ability to use the other Rider Roads that are linked up via the Skylink. The user can perform any of the Tricks used by notable AT-Riders as long as they acknowledge him/her as worthy of using them. The central theme of the fight became friendship (Kazu) versus loneliness (Nike). Kazu defeats Nike after a long struggle but not without some encouraging words from the person he always felt overshadowed by, Itsuki “Ikki” Minami. A final interesting note is that the flame unleashed by the Flame Regalia is known as “Mother”.
As everyone knows, fire in a figurative meaning means passion. Passion can inspire everyone to connect with other people. It allows everyone to open new doors and pathways. Probably the biggest concern is how to ignite that flame in your soul. How do we realize that we can achieve something great? In Kazu’s case, he had people in his life to keep him inspired. His friends and colleagues shared the warmth of their flames with him.
Before defeating Nike, Kazu told him that he was the one who helped open the “door” to greatness. His motivation was driven by the fact that Nike not only killed Aeon, but previously killed his mentor and the former Flame King, Spitfire. Does that mean that we need certain life crises to become more than we are? Perhaps so. Pain is an always-constant part of life. What people tend to forget that it can be channeled into something even greater. Pain is a catalyst for the flames of growth. Anyone that’s been successful in history has gone through all sorts of pain before reaching their goals. You learn from your mistakes and with guidance comes a renewed sense of determination. No one should suffer pain alone and support from others is our “heat” for the flames of passion to burn through it.
“Mother” is an appropriate name for the Flame Regalia’s flame. It highlights how important fire is to society. Fire is a product of both Mother Nature and humans. If you think about it, our mothers are our first connections in the outside world. Their warmth greets and gives us life. They cook food and provide shelter (both fueled by fire) so we can survive. A mother’s compassion can become inspiration to us. Their “heat” combined with our “fuel” (hey, we’re all flammable) and the “oxygen” of society starts an early chain reaction deep in our souls. Mothers will always be our initial sources of “fire”.
Air Gear is usually criticized for its storytelling, but the Kazu/Nike confrontation was very well-done and Oh! Great did a good job in presenting the emotional impact of passion using the Flame Regalia. Fire is an important part of history and one that has significant meanings in different cultures. Pairing that element with a character who had to work his butt off to succeed was a match made in heaven.
By lighting the flames in other people’s hearts, your own flame can shine bright in times of darkness.
Isn’t it about time that you start burning your way to personal victory?
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Yes, this is a man who oozes sexiness every time he walks into the room.
Like a fine wine that continues to age well, Dragon Ball is still continuing to be relevant in every anime/manga fan’s lives. Just recently, the ever-rageful Prince of the Saiyans, Vegeta, became a target both positively and negatively. Our anti-hero was voted #2 on a list of top 9 anime/manga boys that women wish were real. Gintama also made fun of his entire character in Episode 242 (Volume 42, Chapter 364 in the manga), where the girls of Gintama discuss Vegeta and question his appeal to women in front of a female Vegeta fan. As Gintama’s episode title proclaims, “Girls Like Vegeta”. Is the bad boy appeal of Vegeta extremely powerful for women to resist?
Here’s one girl’s thought about Vegeta:
“He’s always strong, but his loving tsundere-ness towards his family really gets me.” (A quote about Vegeta from the list conducted by Girl Sugoren)
After hearing that quote, it makes me wonder about Vegeta’s popularity after the Freeza arc. Most of us know that he cried during the arc and begged Goku to beat Freeza. Was that the moment made girls go “Awwww”? Vegeta’s character slowly changed afterwards, as he started to settle down a little with a family while still being the prideful Prince of Saiyans that he is. The guy was literally a complete a-hole who didn’t care about anything, except defeating Goku in battle. Vegeta did show some signs of love to his family, as he went berserk when his son, Trunks (whose future version was also VERY POPULAR among girls) was killed by Cell and risked his life to save everyone from Majin Buu. Of course, there’s that confident smirk, evil laugh, and arm fold he does that seems to draw a lot of attention.
With those characteristics that Vegeta has, why are girls drawn to them? Do we blame Hollywood? Do we blame the media? Or do we blame human nature? It could be girls’ inherent preference of “good genes”. “Good genes” in men tend to be a high level of masculinity and symmetry. Women at a younger age seem to enjoy seeing acts of bravery and risk-taking (which bad boys tend to do). There’s also the belief that girls secretly harbor the fantasy of turning the bad boy into a loving man who is committed to them.
Do Vegeta fangirls see hope that it’s possible for a bad boy to become a nice guy and still remain tough? Or do they appreciate the fact that Vegeta is a “bad boy” character that lives up to whatever perceived fantasies they have of him? It was interesting to see Bulma being attracted to Vegeta, but it somehow makes sense for her. Vegeta’s confidence in wanting to be stronger than Goku probably attracted her in the first place, since he was very determined to reach his goal at all costs. Also, as Trunks once stated, both his parents were lonely and that’s why they got together. A combination of strength and love can create interesting opportunities, don’t you think?
I do like to point out that the group of women who voted Vegeta on the Sugoren list were women in their 20s’. What happens when they get older? Will their opinions about “bad boys” change? Will they like Vegeta less? As women get older, their appreciation of certain types of men evolve.
Vegeta seems like the perfect guy to many girls. He is still a “bad boy” at heart, but he also fights with some sense of altruism. I think this is the secret to his popularity among women. The fact he’s an somewhat altruistic, tough guy. Both younger and older women can find him to be a character that satisfies their criteria for a great male character. Vegeta has been able to activate so many emotions in people’s (especially women’s) hearts, that you can’t help but react (and women tend to focus on emotions). Look at all the things he has said and done over his history in Dragon Ball.
Even though I’m not a girl, I love Vegeta. He’s played a big part in how my personality is shaped. I don’t know about this perceived notion that guys don’t like him, but like Piccolo (as Gintama hints). All I can say is that guys might feel a bit inspired to develop some sense of pride to keep themselves strong. To the female Vegeta fans out there, is his pride a strong factor in why you love the beloved Saiyan Prince and do you perhaps enjoy that quality in a man?
Power, brash confidence, and a good heart - when it comes to the ideal man, isn’t fiction just grand?
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(Rin: Not only do we got an anime that’s kicking butt, but now our manga is crushing it in Japan!)
Last Thursday while I was browsing around Kinokuniya Bookstore, I managed to see the latest Japanese volume of Kazue Kato’s Blue Exorcist (Ao No Exorcist), Volume 7, on the manga shelves. I did notice that there were more copies than usual. Later that day, I found out that Volume 7 had a print run of a million copies. Now this is pretty interesting because I’m trying to figure out what makes the series EXTREMELY popular right now in Japan. Even Japanese bookstore staff have recommended the title to consumers. Someone on the Anime News Network forums made an interesting comment: “One Piece is to Shonen Jump as Blue Exorcist is to JUMP Square”. Is it really safe to make that comparison?
The funny thing is that the series hasn’t been out for a long period of time. It’s currently at 28 chapters, which is about 2 years worth of material. This rise is somewhat similar to the rise of Hajime Isayama’s Shingeki no Kyojin (published in Kodansha’s Bessatsu Shonen Magazine). The main difference is that Blue Exorcist is published in a mainstream manga magazine under the JUMP label.
Before I began following Blue Exorcist, when I think of JUMP Square, I think of Claymore, D. Gray-man, Shin Prince of Tennis, & To-Love-Ru Darkness. When I read the first volume of Blue Exorcist, I immediately thought, “Why does it feel like I’m reading D. Gray-man?” I’m sorry to fans of both, but that’s how I felt. Both stories involved demons, feature a protagonist who has some demonic power, & also take place in a exorcist organization setting. However, I did notice that Blue Exorcist is a lot more lighthearted and relatable to teen readers & young adults because the exorcist organization in this series is more like a school.
(I can imagine the HUGE amount of RinxYukio fanfiction/fanart out there in the vast landscape of the Internet.)
As much we can credit the popularity of the anime for a heavy interest in the original source material, I think it might come down to the presence of the two main characters in the series: Rin Okumura & Yukio Okumura. Both are good-looking and appeal to many fans. A friend of mine even told me that the fujoshi in Japan really love Ao no Exorcist. When I first saw Yukio on the cover of Volume 2, I immediately thought, “Wow, he looks sooooo cool! I can definitely cosplay this with no wig!”
The “twin brothers in the same school” dynamic intrigues me. You have one brother who’s calm, smart, & talented (Yukio) and you have the other who is the opposite but seems to get more attention (Rin). I think many of us have been through sibling comparisons & rivalries. In essence, siblings interacting with each other can be quite a hectic, yet educational experience for those involved.
Kato has stated that Blue Exorcist was inspired by a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. For those familiar with the Brothers Grimm stories, they are often popular fairy tales for children with heavy mature themes. One German scholar has described them as tales of the struggle to be human.
I spoke to Alex Hoffman on Twitter about the appeal of Blue Exorcist. This is what he thought about the mass appeal of the series right now:
If you think about it, everything seems balanced in Blue Exorcist. There’s something for everyone in the series. Sure, it may feel like a typical shonen manga. However, the pacing is good. Nothing really drags on for too long. The characters are all well-done (Regarding the characters, I’m especially interested in Mephisto Pheles & where his allegiances really lie). Most importantly: the story is about a child of Satan wanting to take out his father, the big baddie, himself. That’s a pretty unique concept for a shonen manga if you ask me. Kato has managed to incorporate the theme of exorcism (which can get VERY frightening) and made it fun to read about for a young audience.
So, does JUMP Square have a legitimate flagship title in Blue Exorcist? With D.Gray-man (arguably the most popular JUMP Square title before Blue Exorcist) going in a darker & more serious direction, Blue Exorcist looks to capture even more fans of all ages with its fun blend of action, comedy, & drama. It’s also an interesting look at what happens when a class of students who all have unique personalities interact in an educational environment. Doesn’t that sound just like school in real life?
(The main cast of Blue Exorcist.)
If Blue Exorcist is going to be the “One Piece” of JUMP Square, having a huge print run is a good start. The series just needs to be even more aggressively marketed in Japan & slowly take over all aspects of real life. Who knows? There might be a day when Shiemi Moriyama garden vegetable dishes are made & served to the public.
Until then, let the blade of Kurikara continue to shine bright & set hearts ablaze in blue!
Want to jump aboard Blue Exorcist? You can watch the anime at Crunchyroll. The English-translated manga is available courtesy of VIZ Media. If you want to be up-to-date with the Japanese volumes, you can buy them at Shueisha’s website here.
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(Glad to see Ginjo & Tsukishima make it to the party.)
Has it been 10 years already? It felt like it was yesterday when I began following Tite Kubo’s BLEACH. Back when the world was not in disarray, BLEACH was one of my personal favorite anime/manga series to watch/read. I just loved following the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki, Rukia Kuchiki, & friends. As much as the series’ storyline has deteriorated over the last 3-4 years, I will still see this series to the end. Why can’t I quit BLEACH despite being disappointed multiple times in the story? Maybe because the series still resonates in my heart, like an ex-girlfriend who I can’t seem to get out of my mind.
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“Hayate The Combat Butler” Taiwanese Live-Action 8-Minute Trailer
This is currently showing in Taiwan right now. You would think the Taiwanese network, GTV, would pick really young actors to portray the characters, but this doesn’t look to be the case. (The girl playing Maria looks cute though.) Then again, what 13-year old actress can act like Nagi Sanzenin? Anyone has any good suggestions?
In other (& possibly better) news, the new Hayate animated movie, Heaven Is A Place On Earth, will be premiering in Japanese theaters on August 27!
I find Nagi’s character to be quite interesting as she is a rich hikkikomori tsundere character who wants to know what it feels like to work hard, despite her being lazy most of the time. She’s definitely on my list of characters to look at!
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