Tagged: Japan

‘Legend of Zelda’ Manga Coming to America

‘Legend of Zelda’ Manga Coming to America

Put down your Wiimotes, folks. A variety of online retailers, including Amazon and RightStuf, have started accepting orders for The Legend of Zelda manga.

This is great news for fans of the popular Nintendo character. For several years, the series has only been in Japan and acclaimed for keeping faithful to the games while explaining some of the back story of the fantasy franchise’s universe.

Link, the elf boy from Hyrule, is perhaps Nintendo’s second biggest character, only eclipsed by Mario. There is no indication which storyline the series will start with, but it’s presumed to be published in the same order as Japan, so that means it would chronicle the events from the The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time game for the Nintendo 64. The Legend of Zelda will be brought to the U.S. by Viz Media, the publisher of bestselling manga such as Naruto and Dragonball Z.

Finally, the good news: Volume One will have 200 pages by Akira Himekawa and retail for just $7.99. And the bad news: It doesn’t come out until October 7th.

Don’t be sad. It could be worse. They could’ve revived the old Zelda comic published by Valiant.


Review: ‘Tonoharu: Part One’

In works of fiction, I always appreciate stories that know exactly what they want to be and strive toward that identity. In other words, some books are best served by not aspiring to great pretensions.

In the case of Tonoharu: Part One (Pliant Press, $19.95) I have to eat my words, as it’s a book that perfectly accomplishes what it wants to do and still falls flat.

Creator Lars Martinson gives a fictional account of serving as an English teacher in a small Japanese town, something Martinson actually did. A prologue establishes the central character, Dan Wells, as the man who held Martinson’s post right before him (it never mentions if Dan is a real person).

As the two meet at the book’s start, Martinson describes Dan as having an "ever-present look of defeat on his face." He’s something of a Biff Loman in an international setting.

Dan’s problem is that by coming to Japan, he has cut himself off from the people, culture and language he knows. His job offers no challenges, his social life offers no prospects, so every day becomes a matter of waiting out the clock.

Martinson does a thorough job of creating this cesspool of mundanity through the painfully droll dialogue, the lazing pace of the plot and the two-toned artwork. Martinson inks in an impressive layer of detail, and even that serves to entrench the book more firmly in the boring paraphernalia of everyday life.

There is conflict, but not of man against man or man against himself. It is Dan against the sheer, painful nothingness of his existence. And that leads to a second conflict: this reviewer against Tonoharu‘s gentle urge toward sleep.

Drew Goddard Is Back for ‘Buffy: Season Eight’

Drew Goddard Is Back for ‘Buffy: Season Eight’

Many of the writers who made the original Buffy: The Vampire Slayer TV series so popular have moved on to other things and been very successful. One such Buffy alum who has done particularly well for himself, especially lately, is Drew Goddard — who, after exiting Buffy, went on to write for Angel, Alias and Lost.

More recently, he transitioned to features, writing the screenplay for J.J. Abrams’ monster movie Cloverfield, as well as its sequel. Even though he’s hard at work on Cloverfield 2, Goddard isn’t forgetting his roots and is, according to Dark Horse Comics Editor Scott Allie, taking on a four-issue arc for the Buffy: Season Eight comic book.

Goddard’s arc for the comic, called Wolves at the Gate, will not, as you might expect from the title, feature the Buffy gang fighting wolves. Instead, Buffy and Co. will travel to Japan to take on an ancient group of vampires bent on world domination with the stakes, according to Allie, "staggeringly high this time."

The first issue of Goddard’s arc goes on sale March 8th.

Review: Crossing Midnight, Vol. 2

The news of Mike Carey writing a fantasy/horror comic set in Japan sounded too good to be true, and when Crossing Midnight debuted more than a year ago it struggled to live up to that promise.

Carey created a deep and supernatural world to backdrop his story of mystery: Two twins, Toshi and Kai, were born on either side of midnight, leaving each with an otherworldly power and putting them at the mercy of dark forces. But Jim Fern’s stiff art and some uneven storytelling held the series back. When sales weren’t strong, the rumors of a looming cancellation kickstarted.

After the so-so showing of that first arc, I gave up on the series. But, when Vertigo sent over a copy of the second volume (the cover seen at right is from DC’s website, but isn’t the cover on the actual book), Crossing Midnight: A Map of Midnight ($14.99), I realized I just didn’t give the series enough of a chance.

The volume picks up with Toshi, the female twin, struggling as a slave under an apparently evil spirit. She must fly through Japan at night, cutting unpleasant memories from people’s dreams and collecting them for some unrevealed purpose.

Following the archetype of most stories featuring children, Toshi’s impudence puts her and others into danger as she squares off against one of death’s faces. Perhaps because of the more fantastical nature of the content in this volume, Fern’s art loosens and adeptly adapts an ethereal tone. Later, Eric Nguyen takes over on art and, if anything, is an improvement.

Meanwhile, Kai stumbles onto a group of “telephone club” girls — early teens working essentially as prostitutes — and must help save them from an evil spirit that’s on the prowl. While this storyline feels a bit tangential to the larger theme, it is easily the high point for the series. Carey clearly has strong opinions of such clubs (he denounces them in a postscript) and how deplorable it is that they operate uncensored.

It is only then that the book goes farther than dipping a toe into Japanese culture, and Carey unleashes his horror-writing instincts. Sadly, the series seemed to be finding its footing just as the rug was being pulled out from under it. As Carey wrote on his Web site, [[[Crossing Midnight]]] will be wrapped up at issue #19.

Carey wrote that he knew a cancellation might happen, and all the plot threads will be wrapped up in that final issue.

A Deeper Origin of the Asian Horror-Film Phenomenon, by Michael H. Price

A Deeper Origin of the Asian Horror-Film Phenomenon, by Michael H. Price

Blame it on Bud Pollard, for want of a more readily identifiable scapegoat: Hollywood’s prevailing obsession with remaking scary movies from Japan seems to have caught fire with Hideo Nakata’s Ringu (1998), which led to Gore Verbinski’s The Ring in 2002, with sequels and imitations from either side of the planet.
Old-time hack filmmaker and Directors Guild co-founder Pollard (1886-1952) helped to seed the movement back during 1932–1933, though, when a domestically un-releasable flop of his called The Horror – involving an Eastern curse placed upon a Western thief – became a well-received attraction when exported to Japan.
Ignored by the Depression-era American critics and seldom shown in the U.S., The Horror garnered thoughtful, if dumbfounded, coverage in its day from Japan’s influential Kinema Junpo magazine. As translated from the archaic pre-war Japanese grammar and syntax, the Kinema Junpo review finds the critic-of-record as fascinated with the rambling, surrealistic presentation as he appears flabbergasted by the film’s refusal to follow a coherent narrative arc.
Leslie T. King – who had played the Mad Hatter in Pollard’s similarly odd 1931 Alice in Wonderland – serves The Horror as a traveler who steals a sacred idol, only to find himself besieged by weird apparitions and a disfiguring transformation. Pollard re-edited The Horror during the 1940s to convey a temperance lecture, re-titling the film as John the Drunkard and explaining the ordeal as a nightmare brought on by an alcoholic stupor. Where The Horror had gone largely unreleased in America as a theatrical attraction, its preachy condensation played long and widely in church-and-school bookings.



More Manga!

More Manga!

According to an article at Publisher’s Weekly by our friend Calvin Reid, Tor Book is teaming up with Seven Seas to release original manga titles as well as obtain manga licenses such Takashi Okzaki’s popular Afro Samurai.

Seven Seas founder and president Jason DeAngelis noted “it’s an exciting time for the manga industry,” and said the partnership with Tor “will enable us to expand the manga market, bringing all sorts of new and varied content to fans.” Tor is well-known in the science-fiction field and has published a handful of graphic novels, but no manga. Seven Seas has produced many English-language manga generally created by non-Japanese creators outside of Japan.

The first volume of Kzaki’s Afro Samurai is expected to be released next August.

Graphic Novel Review: Akira Club

Graphic Novel Review: Akira Club

You can tell how popular any particular media event or personage is by how many ancillary products emerge. Something really popular will metastasize into toothbrushes, sports cars, sleepwear, foodstuffs, architecture, and so on – the specifics depend on what the original piece was, and who the audience is, but the number of those products is a good guide to the popularity of its original.

Akira Club, thus, shows that Otomo Katsuhiro’s epic comics story [[[Akira]]] is at least moderately popular, at home in Japan and here in the USA. Akira was turned into a movie and had the usual small flood of licensed goods, and it was also thought worthy of a book to document all of the odds and ends – both the bits of art from the original serialization that didn’t make it into the collections, and some records of those many ancillary products.


Happy birthday, Pac-Man!

Happy birthday, Pac-Man!

On this day in 1979, a ravenous beast was released in Japan, devouring all that got in its way. No, not Godzilla: Pac-Man. It rapidly crossed the ocean to the US (a year later to the day, ironically) spawning multiple sequels, an animated Saturday morning show, and a top 40 single called "Pac-Man Fever" that I’m exceptionally embarassed to say that I owned.

Like all 80s culture, of course, it probably means that there’s going to be a big screen movie…

Hump Day Briefs

Hump Day Briefs

A little mini-browsing around the internets the last few days has come up with the following:

  • There is no Furries vs. Klingons bowling tournament this coming Saturday in Atlanta.  But dang, that poster is still cool.
  • Nick Mullins at The Comics Reporter notes two main reasons for the kerfuffle over the teacher who got fired over giving a 9th grader Eightball #22: the book is recommended by the Library Journal for 10th grade and up (and that recommendation applied to the series as a whole, where individual issues may vary in their amount of mature content) and, more importantly, mature situations involving art and other visuals will almost always raise more of a ruckus than those involving only words (George Carlin aside). There’s your thousand-to-one ratio at work again.
  • Nintendo has surpassed Canon to become the second biggest stock in Japan.  Toyota still rules the Japanese market.  If they come up with a car that has built-in Wii and can take pictures, it’s a lock.
  • Parallel universes have been mathematically proven to exist.  Yeah, on Earth-Geek!  Oh no wait, we are Earth-Geek aren’t we?
  • Because women aren’t exploited nearly enough in our subculture, there’s the Miss Horrorfest contest.  Self-exploit and you may win $50,000!  So there, Oscar Wilde; we’ve already established that and there’s no haggling over the price!  Is there a corresponding "Master Horrorfest" ("master" being the male equivalent of "miss" once upon a time)?  I didn’t think so.
  • Somebody let Stephen Colbert too close to the Indecision 2008 website again, as the site gets onto a Candidate Casting Couch with presidential hopefuls as superheroes.  Would you rather see Simpsons cels referencing movies juxtaposed with the actual film stills?  Sure you would.
  • Goodie, HarperCollins will be reprinting Zot!, one of my all-time favorites!  And Sony’s releasing colorized Ray Harryhausen movies!
  • Greetings from Zack Snyder on the set of the Watchmen movie.
  • Condolences to the family of the still-anonymous Batman: The Dark Knight film technician who died in a car accident (unrelated to the movie).
  • The Winnie the Pooh merchandising case has been dismissed, the main lesson being that if you’re going to sue Disney it’s probably not a good idea to be discovered poking through their trash.
Hugo, girls and guys!

Hugo, girls and guys!

Yesterday in Japan, which I believe is today here, the Hugo Awards (which some of us jokingly refer to as the Eisners of science fiction) were handed out in the first-ever Asian-based World Con, Nippon 2007.  Congratulations to all the winners (see below), especially ComicMix friend Patrick Nielsen-Hayden!

Novel: Rainbow’s End by Vernor Vinge (Tor)

Novella: "A Billion Eves" by Robert Reed (Asimov’s, October/November 2006)

Novelette: "The Djinn’s Wife" by Ian McDonald (Asimov’s, July 2006)

Short Story: "Impossible Dreams" by Timothy Pratt (Asimov’s July 2006)

Non-fiction Book: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon edited by Julie Phillips (St. Martin’s Press)

Professional Editor: Patrick Nielsen Hayden (Tor Books)

Professional Artist: Donato Giancola

Dramatic Presentation: Pan’s Labyrinth Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro. Directed by Guillermo del Toro (Picturehouse)

Short Dramatic Presentation: Doctor Who "Girl in the Fireplace" Written by Steven Moffat. Directed by Euros Lyn (BBC Wales/BBC1)

Semiprozine: Locus, edited by Charles N. Brown, Kirsten Gong-Wong, & Liza Groen Trombi

Fanzine: Science Fiction Five-yearly edited by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan & Randy Byers

Fan Writer: Dave Langford

Fan Artist: Frank Wu

Campbell Award: Naomi Novik

The full list of nominees can be found here.