Tagged: Japan

‘The Dark Knight’ Not Wowing them in Japan

‘The Dark Knight’ Not Wowing them in Japan

Apparently, Japanese audiences are more interested in the works of Hayao Miyazaki than Bob Kane and Bill Finger. The Dark Knight is performing under expectations in Japan with just $8.7 million in box office receipts after three weeks based on figures at Filmjunk.com.

Compare that with the $93.2 million Miyazaki’s Ponyo on the Cliff has earned in just four weeks.

Film critic Chika Minagawa suggests, "The story is very pessimistic. It has a dark and gloomy texture that Japanese movie fans do not find appealing in a ‘comic hero’ film… Japanese movie fans expect such films to be fun and action packed, for the hero to be attractive, for the villain to be loud and outrageous, and for the movie itself to be easy to understand and light."

The Dark Knight will break the $900 million worldwide gross receipts benchmark over the weekend and is likely to break the $500 million domestic mark in September, although possibly fall short of the $550 million Warner Bros. estimated.

Marvel Lets Japan Recreate Its Heroes

Marvel Lets Japan Recreate Its Heroes

Marvel Comics announced a deal with Japan’s Madhouse that will have their core super-heroes reimagined for Japanese audiences.  Originally designed as animated fare, the long-range plans call for the Marvel Japanese Universe to be found on mobile devices and comic books.

Essentially, the heroes will experience new origins taking into account Japanese culture and society.  Their problems, foibles ands villains will all reflect the country of origin, using “something that is part of the fabric of society” according to Jungo Maruta, the president and chief executive of Madhouse. He told the New York Times, “Marvel gives creators freedom to fly.”

The first characters to undergo transformation will be Iron Man and Wolverine in thirty-minute anime intended for Japanese television in 2010. “Although they say, ‘I want Japanese anime,’ it’s not what they actually want. They want a hybrid between Japanese and Western animation,” Alex Yeh, the chief operating officer of the studio, told the Times.

“Marvel has continuously looked to push the boundaries with the Marvel Universe and seek new mediums for our characters. Madhouse is helping us expand the Marvel brand with a truly global vision tailored to themes and artistic styles popular in Japan, creating a uniquely localized and cross-cultural adaptation of the Marvel Universe,” said Simon Philips, President, International & Worldwide Head of Animation, Wireless & Gaming for Marvel Entertainment in a release.

Marvel previously attempted this concept with an India-inspired Spider-Man which was a commercial and critical flop from Gotham Entertainment Group in 2004.

Madhouse was founded in 1972 and is seen as a creative powerhouse in Asia, perhaps best known for its Vampire Hunter D.


White Viper: Deep Background

White Viper: Deep Background

In today’s brand-new episode of White Viper, by Erin Holroyd, Dick Giordano and Frank McLaughlin, we learn the secret origin of Ta Moa, his training in Japan and his first job on his own.  Was he able to fulfill the hopes and dreams of his father?  Was his training successful?  And why doesn’t he live in Japan?  


Credits: Erin Holroyd (Writer), Dick Giordano (Penciller), Frank McLaughlin (Inker), Lovern Kindzierski (Colorist), John Workman (Letterer), Mike Gold (Editor)


Stan Lee and Hioryuki Takei’s “ULTIMO” Manga

Stan Lee and Hioryuki Takei’s “ULTIMO” Manga

Attention, true believers! Next month’s issue of manga magazine Shonen Jump will feature the premiere of Stan Lee and Hioryuki Takei’s Ultimo, which was announced back in April during New York Comic Con.

While the series is old news for readers in Japan (the issue has already been out for a few months over there), North American readers will get their chance to pick up a copy of the debut story in September.

Here’s what to expect from the series, according to the press release (which is posted after the jump):

High above Farmless City, citizens are stunned by the sudden appearance of two floating figures. Are they human boys, monolithic robots, or something much more strange? As the battle ensues between them, destruction and devastation falls on the hapless city. One figure is Vice, and seems to be as evil as his name implies. The other is Ultimo, intent on trying to stop Vice from wreaking more havoc. But who are Vice and Ultimo really? Where did they come from? A new mystery begins with the fate of the world possibly hanging in the balance!

My favorite part of the PR? The quote from Stan Lee about the project that is so very, well… Stan Lee. Check it out:

“Wow! This is just what I’ve been waiting for!” says an excited Stan Lee. “For the very first time I’m able to create superheroes in the fantastic Japanese manga style thanks to my lucky partnership with the great Hiroyuki Takei. What a kick it’ll be to join Hiroyuki-san in offering brand new, action packed stories to an army of readers in both the Eastern and Western worlds!”

Can’t you just hear him saying it in your head? Keep an eye out for the September 2008 issue of Shonen Jump for the first chapter of Ultimo.


Review: ‘Erotic Comics’ by Tim Pilcher

Review: ‘Erotic Comics’ by Tim Pilcher

Erotic Comics: A Graphic History from Tijuana Bibles to Underground Comics
By Tim Pilcher with Gene Kannenberg, Jr.
Abrams, March 2008, $29.95

We’ve reached an interesting point in modern culture, when even something as disposable and downmarket as sexy comic books can be the subject of a classy art book from a major publisher. Abrams is about as respectable an art-book publisher as you could find; they’re the official book imprint of both the Whitney and Guggenheim museums. And they’re also the publisher of [[[Erotic Comics]]], a well-crafted and thoroughly conventional art book with lots of pictures of comics panels featuring people at least half-naked – if not actively engaged in various lascivious acts.

Erotic Comics is, except for the smutty pictures, an absolutely standard coffee-table book – printed at a large but comfortable size, not too expensive, with several color reproductions on each spread, occasional background images as well, helpful, detailed captions, and a body text that’s thin beer but perfectly acceptable. It makes no sweeping claims for the field of erotic comics, and is content mostly to show some pictures and retell the same old stories about the men who drew them.


‘Heroes’ Hopes for Rebound Season

‘Heroes’ Hopes for Rebound Season

After a pretty unambiguously down second season, the NBC show Heroes is looking to get the magic back from its debut season that marked it as the network’s most important show.

In an interview with the New York Times, Heroes creator Tim Kring gave some insights into what’s to come, as well as reflecting back on what went wrong last year.

The scale tipped toward disappointment at the start of last season, as Mr. Kring acknowledged in an interview way back in November, just after production was abruptly cut off by the writers’ strike that shut down Hollywood. At that time he cited a list of early missteps, including introducing too many new characters, dabbling too much in romance and depositing one of the fans’ favorite characters, Hiro, in feudal Japan for too long. …

The new volume, which will run in 13 episodes, is called “Villains” and will focus on a single big story line, Mr. Kring said, relying almost totally on its core of main characters, and will return the show to exploring what he called “the primal questions” from Season 1: “Who am I? What is my purpose?”

The third season (volume, whatever) begins on Sept. 22.

Viz Looking for New Properties

Manga publisher Viz Media will be looking to take on new projects, and even possibly some non-Manga content, according to ICv2.

In a Q&A with Marc Weidenbaum and Eric Searleman, editor in chief and vice president respectively, ICv2 finds out more detail about these changes, and how they tie into Viz’s announced talent search at the San Diego Comic-Con.

Are you looking for manga-style properties?

If by "manga" you mean what is generally considered manga in the United States (fantasy and romance aimed at teenagers), then no. If by "manga" you mean what is meant by manga in Japan (a broad range of comics that emphasize serial storytelling, cliffhangers, reader feedback, a supportive editorial process, and a rich creator voice), then yes we are.

The story also addresses the difficulty in selling any non-Japanese content in the Japanese comics market:

Japan remains the toughest market for material from other countries to crack. But even that may be changing, as the U.S. subsidiary of the two largest manga companies in Japan begins its search for original comics. Viz Media’s Marc Weidenbaum, VP Original Publishing, and Eric Searleman, Senior Editor, the execs handling the search for original content answered in the affirmative when we asked whether there is American material that would sell well in Japan. “Certainly,” they said. “Both countries have their own rich, indigenous graphic-storytelling cultures. There are bridges yet to be built.”

(via Blog@)

Casper The Old Ghost

Casper The Old Ghost

Sixty years ago next year, the remnants of the Fleischer Studio teamed up with the folks at St. John Comics (Tor, Three Stooges, and the original 3-D comics) to create Casper The Friendly Ghost #1. It lasted five issues. Paramount, owners of the Fleischer operation, took the license over to Harvey Comics and a legend floated off the ground.

While children’s comics have been largely ignored in the American marketplace for the past decade or two, Casper stayed alive in movies and on DVD. His present owner, Classics Media, has big plans for the ghost’s 60th.

They’ve got a major Halloween push coming this fall, including clothing and music and games and toys and greeting cards and tattoos.

They’ve also got a new teevee show which already has been sold in 60 markets, including France, Britain, and Japan.

As for comics, well, Dark Horse recently released a nifty reprint anthology, mostly in black-and-white but still a great value.

Not bad for a small child who’s been dead for 60 years.




Review: ‘Tônoharu, Part One’ by Lars Martinson

Review: ‘Tônoharu, Part One’ by Lars Martinson

Tonoharu: Part One
By Lars Martinson
Pliant Press/Top Shelf, 2008, $19.95

This is another one of those books where it would be dangerous to assume too much, but it’s so tempting to do so. Martinson is a young American cartoonist who “lived and worked in southern Japan as an English teacher for three years.” The main character of this book, Dan, is a new English teacher in the Japanese town ofTônoharu. To make it even more complicated, [[[Tônoharu]]] has a prologue from the point of view of another English teacher in Tônoharu, Dan’s successor, who may or may not be Martinson. From the prologue, we already know than Dan will only last a year in Tônoharu, and that he’ll go home with “that ever-present look of defeat on his face.”

We also know that Dan’s unnamed successor isn’t particularly happy with his life in Tônoharu – the prologue sees him wrestling with the choice of staying for a second year, or bailing out – and the beginning of Dan’s story shows his unnamed predecessor leaving Japan after only a year, along with the predecessor’s only friend, another American teacher. So what is it about Tônoharu – or about Japan in general – that burns out and drives away Americans?

The main part of the story shows Dan feeling isolated and cut off from Japanese society, but he also doesn’t seem to be making much of an effort to connect to it. He has long periods of idleness at the school, which he’s supposed to use to prepare for class, but his language skills don’t get any better, and he’s always badly prepared. He doesn’t have much of a life in Tônoharu, but it’s hard to tell why that is – he says, at one point, that his hobbies are watching TV and sleeping, and he’s apparently honest about that. Honestly, he doesn’t seem to do anything, or to want to do anything in particular – he just wants not to be doing whatever he is doing.


‘Star Blazers’ Superfans Interviewed

‘Star Blazers’ Superfans Interviewed

ComicMix pals Michael Pinto and Brian Cirulnick were recently interviewed by the crew at StarBlazers.com, the official website of the Star Blazers animated series, and the conversation is an interesting read even if you’re someone who’s (*gasp*) not very familiar with the series — like me, for instance.

Along with running the show over at Anime.com and Fanboy.com, Pinto and Cirulnick were also the creators of the first official Star Blazers fan organization and the very first Star Blazers fan film, respectively. How’s that for fanboy cred, eh?

In the interview, Pinto and Cirulnick discuss the ins and outs of the superfan scene, the evolution of fan organizations through the years and how a mutual obsession admiration for a series can turn into a career.

Here, Pinto discusses the "duping parties" that made it possible for American anime fans to get their fix:

I hate to say it but in the early 80s most of our fan activity was trading video tapes from Japan. It’s funny that people talk about illegal downloads as something new, but without tape-trading, anime fandom would never have gotten started in the United States. People would have pen pals from Japan send them tapes and they would makes copies of those for other friends. Being an analogue medium, the quality of the tapes got pretty bad pretty quickly. Most of my early anime memories were of 5th generation VHS tapes, chock-full of static, noise distortion and tracking issues. At many conventions we’d have tape-duping parties where we would daisy-chain VHS decks together to make copies. These sessions would run an entire weekend and were the only source of anime for many fans.