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The Google Cultural Institute has compiled images, videos and documents for an exhibit on Osamu Tezuka, marking the first time a manga artist has been featured in the digital historical archive.
Launched in 2011, the initiative is “an effort to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone and to digitally preserve it to educate and inspire future generations.” With the participation of 40 institutions in 14 countries, the Google Cultural Institute offers free access to photographs, footage and documents from historical events and figures of the 20th century.
According to Asahi Shimbun, the Tezuka exhibit was added to the “Cultural Figures” section on Monday, the fiction birthday of Astro Boy. The collection consists of 172 images, video and text pieces from Tezuka Productions and the Osamu Tezuka Manga Museum.
“Tezuka repeatedly expressed his opposition to war and discrimination and emphasized the preciousness of life through his works,” said Yoshihiro Shimizu, chief of the copyright business division of Tokyo-based Tezuka Productions. “I am happy that information concerning Tezuka is spread around the globe (through the site) and his ideas are shared.”
When Osamu Tezuka passed away in February 1989 at age 60, he left behind countless fans, an influential body of work that includes Astro Boy, Black Jack and Buddha and, tantalizingly, a locked desk with a lost key.
Rocket News 24 reports that recently, some 25 years after the death of the “god of manga,” his daughter Rumiko to open the desk, where she discovered a half-eaten piece of chocolate, a handwritten essay about Akira creator Katsuhiro Otomo and a bag of sketches, including a stash of erotic drawings by Tezuka.
Note: I feel like I should place a warning in here, but I’m honestly at a loss as to whether these sketches aren’t safe for work. They’re not so much graphic as they are … odd?
It’s not exactly Kaneda’s iconic ride, but Honda has drawn upon the likes of Akira for its new bike, the NM4 Vultus. The company acknowledges as much in its press release, describing the motorcycle as “a ground-breaking machine inspired by futuristic machines seen in the anime and manga television and film styles, known collectively as ‘Japanimation.'”
Let’s just ignore that “manga television” bit and marvel at not only the design — at least two websites make Batman references — but the wording of the press release, which uses phrases like “future-shock style,” “stealth bomber silhouette” and “brooding menace.” However, the word motorcycle never appears …
While the Vultus may indeed be mistaken for the Dark Knight’s new wheels (particularly if the rider is wearing this Bat-eared helmet), don’t think it’s a concept bike; Honda promises it’ll actually be in showrooms.
Publishing | Viz Media’s Kevin Hamric discusses how the availability of streaming anime has been boosting sales of the related manga. Series that have gotten a boost lately include Blue Exorcist and Kamisama Kiss: “Overall streaming has had a positive effect on our book sales. In recent years, Blue Exorcist is probably the biggest example I can give — one of newest hits under our Shonen Jump Advanced imprint. We launched our series [in 2010] and had very good sales (they matched our expectations), but once the anime was available through streaming, sales jumped through the roof, and that was in 2011. So streaming was fairly young at that time. Once the anime was streaming, sales of the manga were way above expectations.” [ICv2]
Designer Martin Hsu has partnered with Bigshot Toyworks to produced a limited-run figure based on anime director and manga artist Hayao Miyazaki. Proceeds from the sale of the 6-inch figure, called “Miya-san,” will be donated to Karakuwa-Maru, an organization dedicated to rebuilding Karakuwa in Kesennuma City, Japan, in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
The figure costs $95 U.S.; preorders are being accepted through Jan. 31, with a projected ship date of April.
Miyazaki, the visionary director of such films as Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, My Neighbor Totoro and Spirited Away, announced his retirement in September following the release of The Wind Rises. He’s slowly working on a samurai manga that will be serialized in the Japanese magazine Model Graphix.
In addition to guest appearances by Stan Lee and Harlan Ellison, Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons will also feature a tribute to anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement from filmmaking in September, only to return his attention to manga.
The hallucinatory sequence, which you can watch below, features Homer and a salaryman stumbling through the streets after a night of drinking, and encounter a veritable parade of nods to Miyazaki’s classics, from Otto as Catbus to Patty and Selma flying on broomsticks to a moving Kwik-E-Mart.
In case you don’t recognize all of the references, Salon.com has put together a video that annotates most of them (also below).
The Simpsons airs Sunday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Digital comics | Google was granted a patent this week for “Self-creation of comic strips in social networks and other communications,” which means the Internet giant apparently has patented a mechanism for creating comics about your status updates and chats and sharing them via social media. This sounds a lot like the wildly popular, but widely reviled, Bistrips. [Geekwire]
Best of the year | Brian Truitt takes a look back at the year in comics, picking out some significant events and offering his nominations for best creator, best comic book movie, and best comic in a variety of genres and formats. [USA Today]
Best of the year | Writing for The Advocate, cartoonist Brian Andersen reflects on the year’s 10 greatest LGBT moments in mainstream comics. [Advocate.com]
LEGO modelers the Arvo Brothers have recreated Kaneda’s bike from Katsuhiro Otomo’s landmark manga and anime Akira, using only those little Danish bricks, of course. What’s more, they’re going to share just how they did it in a 200-page book that will be available beginning next week — complete with die-cut decals.
We reported earlier this month on a truly weird case unfolding in Japan: Someone is sending threatening letters to venues connected to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball, including convention centers that host doujinshi (fan comic) events, bookstores that sell the manga, and Sophia University, where creator Tadatoshi Fujimaki attended school. Some bookstores have removed the manga, and convenience stores, including 7-Eleven, also pulled Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks after receiving letters saying they had been poisoned.
There were two developments in the case last week. The first was that a small amount of nicotine was found in one of the recalled snacks; the package appeared to be “suspiciously” sealed. However, investigators said the amount found was 1/100th of a lethal dose.
The other other was that Tokyo police announced they may have security camera footage of the suspect — and, in fact, they may have questioned him more than a year ago.
Creators | Anime legend Hayao Miyazaki, who announced his retirement just two months ago, is reportedly drawing a samurai manga set during the Warring States Period. Asked on the Japanese television show Sekai-ichi Uketai Jugyō over the weekend how the 72-year-old filmmaker will spend his retirement, Studio Ghibli producer Toshio Suzuki replied, “I think he will serialize a manga. From the beginning, he likes drawing about his favorite things. That’s his stress relief.” He also confirmed the manga’s setting before cutting off the line of questioning with, “He’ll get angry if I talk too much. Let’s stop talking about this.” Miyazaki has illustrated several manga over the past four decades, most notably the seven-volume Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. [Anime News Network]
Libraries | Mitch Stacy takes a look at the new Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum at Ohio State University, which is scheduled to open this weekend with a gala celebration. [ABC News]
In a true-crime story unfolding across Japan, stores are pulling products and venues are canceling events related to the manga and anime Kuroko’s Basketball because of a series of threatening letters targeting locations linked to the manga’s creator, Tadatoshi Fujimaki, the manga, and doujinshi (fan comic) events related to it.
The first threat letters, at least one of which may have contained deadly poison, were sent more than a year ago, but the pace seems to be accelerating: The sender has hinted he or she may commit a crime on Nov. 4, and a new set of letters has emerged claiming the perpetrator is negotiating with the editors of Japanese Shonen Jump, which serializes the manga.
On Monday, the Japanese manga, video and game rental chain Tsutuya confirmed it has removed all copies Kuroko’s Basketball manga and anime. The Yurindo and Reliable bookstore chains are also removing the books. However, a number of bookstores, including Kinokuniya, Sanseido, Junkudo and Miyawaki, say they will continue to carry the manga despite receiving threatening letters demanding its removal.
In addition, the 7-Eleven convenience store chain is removing Kuroko’s Basketball-themed snacks from 1,500 locations after receiving a letter that said, “I left food products laced with poison in 7-Eleven.” The letter included a photograph of the snacks. Another convenience chain has stopped carrying a line of Kuroko’s Basketball tie-ins, including character dolls and plush toys.
American comics fans may have their Stan Lee, Avengers and Hellboy colognes, but now manga and anime devotees are getting their own incongruous perfume: a set of three fragrances based on Attack on Titan, which has been tearing up the charts in Japan while becoming a sleeper hit in North America.
Created by Hajime Isayama, Attack on Titan (here’s a primer) is about teenagers fighting people-eating giants, and the three scents are named after three of the teenagers, not the Titans themselves (who probably just smell like guts). Each scent is tailored to the personality of a particular character: Eren, a determined fighter with the power to turn into a Titan himself (mint and citrus with notes of spice and musk, embodying his “strong desire to eradicate giant”); Mikasa, Eren’s friend who’s just as fierce and a better fighter as well (sweet floral top notes moving to sweet and sour berry and musk — its calm femininity conceals the intense feelings she harbors for Eren, if I’m reading the Google translation right); and Levi, their squad leader, who is brave, smart and a total clean freak (soap and the calming scents of cedarwood and musk, celebrating both Levi’s fastidiousness and his strength as a warrior). The perfume costs 5,775 yen (about $58) per bottle.
This all seems tame compared to the other Attack on Titan items floating around: Fans can wear Attack on Titan tights (in two patterns, boots and belts for the soldiers, raw muscles if you want to look like a Titan), sip tea from a mug topped by the Colossus Titan, and even fix their own Titan-themed pasta and potato salad while they wait for the next episode.
Edmonton, Canada’s premiere anime convention, Animethon, is celebrating their 20th Anniversary this weekend. Over 7000 fans came out to the event, enjoying the blistering summer day, with costumes, concerts, shopping and more!
More images after the jump. Warning: Image heavy!
The Japanese publisher Kodansha and anime company Toei had big news for Sailor Moon fans today: They will be producing a new Sailor Moon anime, to debut next summer.
The original Sailor Moon manga (published by Tokyopop) and anime helped kick off the anime and manga revolution, bringing a whole new cadre of fans, especially women and girls, into the world of comics. Fans have been speculating about the return of the anime ever since Kodansha USA started re-releasing the manga, with a new translation and new format, last year. The manga has been hugely popular in the U.S., with the most recent volume spending four weeks on The New York Times graphic books bestseller list.
The new anime was announced today by Sailor Moon creator Naoko Takeuchi and the idol group Momoiro Clover Z, which will perform the theme song, during a 20th anniversary event that was streamed live on the Japanese site Nico Nico. Voice actors Kotono Mitsuishi and Tohru Furuya, who played Sailor Moon and Tuxedo Mask in the original, participated in the event, but it’s not clear that they will be in the new series (although the Sailor Moon fan site Moon Chase says they will). While details are sketchy right now, it appears that the anime will be released simultaneously worldwide.
The official press release (in Japanese) is up at Kodansha’s Japanese website.
Digital comics | George Gene Gustines takes a quick trip through the landscape of digital comics, dropping in on Mark Waid, comiXology’s David Steinberger and Marvel’s Avengers vs. X-Men Infinite Comic. Much of this is familiar territory to regular readers of this blog, but hey, it’s The New York Times noticing digital comics! [The New York Times]
Digital comics | FreakAngels writer Warren Ellis looks at three recent digital comics, noting how they all limit themselves to “two-tier storytelling”: “Accepting and exploiting new limitations is always part of a new format. These three projects, though, can’t produce even a full-page spread without some serious scheming and dancing.” [Warren Ellis]