By Jonathan Clements.
For the second year in a row, Gengen Kusano managed to cause a stir at the Seiun Awards, clambering ahead of the competition to secure the prize for best short story for his tale “Dark Seiyuu”. Unless I’m much mistaken, he added another achievement to his resumé by becoming the first Japanese science fiction author to win the field’s highest prize with a story that has already been published in English.
The collection Last and First Idol was released in an English e-book format last year, and sneaked out in a paperback edition shortly before Kusano won his second Seiun. It contains three stories, including both the Seiun Award winners from 2018 and 2019, as well as a joyously irreverent afterword by Satoshi Maejima that lists many of Kusano’s worst reviews. This is, after all, the man whose first story was described by a representative of his own publisher as “abysmal”, and by an awards panellist as “stupid”. When he won his first Seiun with his debut story, mere months after it appeared online, the distinguished author Chohei Kanbayashi was heard to wonder if there hadn’t been a terrible mistake. Continue Reading
By Shelley Pallis.
Anime music has always played a large role in the life and career of singer Konomi Suzuki. The 22-year-old star boasts that it was the sight of Sheryl Nome, the blond-tressed “Galactic Fairy” from Macross Frontier, who first inspired her to seek a career in music.
Macross Frontier wasn’t released until 2008, by which time the 12-year-old Suzuki had already spent half her life in hot-house dance classes and participating in singing competitions. “I used to sing only J-Pop until then,” she admitted to the Japanese magazine Real Sound, “Macross won me over completely to singing anime songs! Even when I went to karaoke with my friends, I would only want to do anime themes! When you go out to karaoke with anime lovers, every single song leads to a conversation about the shows.” Continue Reading
By Jonathan Clements.
From the exacting way that curator Nicole Coolidge Rousmaniere’s introduction refers to her British Museum exhibition as “Manga マンガ”, it seems that almost everybody who attended has failed to realise that the word is supposed to be said twice. This is not the BM “manga” exhibition, it is the BM “manga manga” exhibition, a doubling in two writing systems that recalls Frederik L. Schodt’s seminal 1983 book on the subject, Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics.
As the exhibition winds down, its catalogue is going to form much of its historical footprint. On shelves and coffee tables in years to come, this hefty 350-page book is going to transform into a resource and an aide-memoire, a place for people to remember and revisit what they saw. Undoubtedly, it will form the germ of some new fans’ first appreciation of what manga is. Continue Reading
By Jeremy Clarke.
In the West, Hirokazu Koreeda remains Japan’s highest-profile, living, live-action film director. Shoplifters (2018) picked up over eighty awards nominations this year including the Best Foreign-Language Picture Golden Globe and Oscar. A Blu-ray box set of four key films, each with a new commentary, plus some excellent extras and a useful book of critical essays, follows London’s recent BFI Southbank retrospective. Continue Reading
By Andrew Osmond.
If you haven’t seen the first volume of Gun Gale Online, we introduce it here; it’s spun off from the Sword Art Online franchise, but it’s quite possible to start with Gun Gale if you want. The end of the first volume set up the plucky Karen, known online as the pink pint-sized fighter Llen, preparing to enter her second “Squad Jam” tournament. Unlike the previous battle royale, when Llen was fighting beside the taciturn M, her teammate in this game is her best friend Miyu, who summons up her own cute-girl guise.
This time, though, there’s more than just a game victory at stake. Karen has learned that one of her online girl friends, the cheerfully lethal Pitohui, is obsessed with the Sword Art Online incident from a few years ago, when players who “died” in the game died for real. Now it seems that Pitohui may be planning to kill herself if she “dies” in the tournament, unless Llen can be the player who kills her… Continue Reading