1.) The price of the fanzine has been dropped and we’re now offering the PDF for free, either via MagCloud’s website or their iPad app. We managed to sell a lot more issues than we ever expected to, so thanks for your support.
2.) Comments are currently disabled because of some behind-the-scenes difficulties. They’ll be fixed by the next time we post something interesting.
3.) The next fanzine should be out very soon. It’ll be bigger, badder and in full color.
(This article will contain spoilers for Lupin III: The Woman Named Fujiko Mine.)
The best scene by far in Lupin III: The Woman Named Fujiko Mine (hereafter Fujiko) is the opening sequence. In 90 seconds, Fujiko Mine (voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro) makes a bold, irrational spoken-word statement of intent over ominous strings and a series of surreal images of the nude Fujiko. It’s about her nihilism, her sense of mystery, the strange compulsions that drive her. The sequence leaves no doubt that this is definitely one of those artsy things.
So do the credits. Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko e Hatchin) directs, Takeshi Koike (Redline) does character design and animation direction, Dai Sato and Mari Okada are among the writers, and some of the industry’s finest animated it. (See Anipages for commentary and a thorough rundown of who does what where in a continuing series on Fujiko.) The art is decidedly in tribute to original creator Monkey Punch, and in contrast to most Lupin anime this is definitely an R-rated effort.
But is this the kind of artsy production that has a genuinely interesting angle on the least defined of a classic set of characters… or are the creators just pretentiously spinning their wheels? Unfortunately, it winds up decisively in the latter camp. The most potentially exciting anime TV series of a strong season manages to disappoint as much as it entertains, by copping out on its own mission statement.
When Tokyopop CEO and demagogue Stu Levy announced the cessation of U.S. publishing operations in 2011 some saw the event as the beginning of a slow decline for manga in America. The cancellation of print editions for both Viz Media’s Shonen Jump (2012) and Yen Press’ Yen Plus (2010) in favor of online-only distribution seemed like additional guideposts pointing towards the same destination: a shrunken, anemic American manga scene.
The reality has, so far, turned out to be somewhat different. As of the spring of 2012 the contractions in the industry have happened and continue, but many publishing bastions hold fast, more people continue to discover the different facets of manga and established niches have developed, niches in which the cleverest and most dedicated publishers can, most of the time, carve out a loyal existence. Still, many an English-speaking manga fan in 2012 is asking the same question English-speaking fans were asking in 1992, or 2002 for that matter:
Just how much are we missing out on?
Sometimes, it really feels like Satoshi Urushihara’s designs were everywhere in the 1990s. Looking back, they weren’t, because his production history only shows a handful of titles that exhibit his distinctive look, but he still seemed to contribute an awful lot to that 90s “look” as we all remember it. Plastic Little, a 1994 OAV he directed with Kinji Yoshimoto may be his most famous — and it’s complete smut. Boring, yet incredibly well-produced smut.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: a scientist builds a humanoid mecha that can only be controlled by his offspring, who it turns out have no interest in actually piloting it. This is a bit of a problem, as this giant robot is the only thing that can stop the destruction of Earth by a mysterious alien force. The show in question takes place in a version of Japan much like the present day, and the show proudly wears the influences of tokusatsu and giant robot anime.
Sound familiar? No, it’s not what you’re thinking of… it’s A.R.I.E.L.
Ah, Masamune Shirow. Remember this guy? A certain confluence of releases made him a hugely important figure to the western scene from the late ‘80s to the mid-’90s. On the manga side, Studio Proteus released, via Eclipse and Dark Horse, Appleseed, Dominion and Ghost in the Shell, while on the VHS side, U.S. Renditions brought over Appleseed and Black Magic M-66, we got Dominion via U.S. Manga Corps, and, cementing Shirow’s standing, the original Ghost in the Shell film was released (theatrically!) via Manga Entertainment. Essentially, if you were a company doing this stuff within about a ten-year window, you had something from Shirow – and if you were wandering convention halls during the time, it was impossible not to run into wall scrolls, artbooks and other miscellany plastered with Shirow’s very distinctive mecha and womenfolk.