Boys Loving!

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Happy 801, fellow fujos! Posting has been light around here as I try to get myself sorted for my annual pilgrimage to Japan (this year involves cats, an island, and fruit trees!), but I would be deeply remiss were I to overlook this the greatest and perviest of holidays, a day when we who love boys who love boys for our voyeuristic pleasure remember just what a pleasure it is and just what voyeurs we are.  Continue reading

Wagamama Chie-chan: Takako Shimura

Wagamama_ShimuraIs it just me or is Takako Shimura insanely prolific? Although I’ve only ever really followed her bigger series Wandering Son and Sweet Blue Flowers, I feel like I’m always coming across a new one-off tanko or a short story in some magazine or another. I follow her on Twitter too, and it seems like every other day, she is announcing some new project or retweeting reactions to another (lately, those reactions have been about her new art book, which is drool-worthy). And I know that in the very competitive, high-pressure world of Japanese manga, you pretty much have to work all the time if you want to continue to earn your living drawing comics while not being Rumiko Takahashi. But seriously! Does Shimura even sleep?

Right now, her big serialization is Musume no Iede, which looks lovely, and I have no doubt I’ll get around to reading it one of these days. But in my last big order of books from Japan (big because at the time, I was not expecting to be in Japan until November, but it turns out I’ll be there in August now, so I have a lot of books to devour in the suddenly short time before I leave), I got a recent one-shot by Shimura, Wagamama Chie-chan. And it is both very different from and so much in the same vein as her other non-BL work. Continue reading

Deathco: Atsushi Kaneko

Deathco_KanekoCan I start with a complaint? Do you mind? I know I can get quite grumbly, which is a bit off-putting, but sometimes, there are things that need to be said. Important things like we need to stop putting subtitles on non-fiction books. I get why publishers do it, I just really dislike it. But this, this thing on the cover of Deathco, I don’t even get why it’s done. Atsushi Kaneko’s Deathco. It’s basically the most pompous thing ever. Anytime I see (artist name)’s (title of the work), I want to burn that work and slander it and pop stink bombs near everyone who was involved in slapping that title on the cover. It’s so unnecessary; the artist’s name is already on there. He’s getting credit for writing the thing. Is Atsushi Kaneko so famous that a work will just fly off the shelves if his actual name is in the title? This sort of titling seems solely designed to imply that the artist is so full of himself, he insists his own name come before the title of the work. And in this case, I doubt Kaneko is this much of a bag of hot air. I’m sure it’s just one of those unfortunate English cover things that happens with Japanese manga from time to time. Like “my lovely like a cat” as the English title on Itoshi no Nekokke. But every time I look at the cover, I want to growl at it.

That said, everything else about Deathco is pretty great! Seriously, that English title thing is my only real complaint. A minor complaint that is not really a complaint–more like a fond wish for a perfect world–is that the cover colouring that looks like glow-in-the-dark ink is not actually glow-in-the-dark ink. I really want it to be glow-in-the-dark ink. Continue reading

USCA Volume 2: Keita Mori (ed.)

USCA2The cover of USCA (pronounced you-ska, as the silver katakana over the roman letters informed me) notes in English that it is an “independent manga magazine for the next generation”. Which leads me to assume the next generation speaks English? And also to hope that I will see some weird and interesting new manga being done in Japan right this second that is not welcomed by the old boys’ club that is AX. (Don’t get me wrong, I like AX, but it can get pretty dudely and punk rock snobby.) I ran across volumes two and three of USCA at Village Vanguard (the store where you will always run across a weird book you’d never heard of, but will probably like), and I got stuck on which one to pick up. They both promised me indie manga, they both had Tsuchika Nishimura’s name on the cover, and both had pretty interesting cover designs that made me want to read what was inside. But when I saw that volume two posed the question, “Don’t you wonder sometimes ‘bout sound and vision?”, my choice was made.

Unlike the serialization format of most manga magazines, USCA is made up entirely of one-shots (or at least this volume is). Seventeen authors penning seventeen different versions of the next generation’s manga. Like any anthology, it can be a little touch and go; some stuff is great, some is interesting but fails in the execution, and some is not anything I’ll be thinking about ever again. Continue reading

Tsukuroitatsu Hito: Aoi Ikebe

Tsukuroitatsu Hito_Aoi IkebeHere is a thing you may not know about me: I really like sewing. I know, I know, all I do here is jabber about books, and my job is reading books and turning them into books in English, but I actually do things that are not related to books. And one of those things is making clothes. When I was little, at least half of the clothes I wore were made by my mom, and I spent a *laht* of time watching her make them and learning by osmosis. I got my first sewing machine for my ninth birthday (because I asked for one; it was not one of those horrible you-should-be-a-lady gifts your grandma gives you), and by the time I reached junior high school and my first Home Ec class, I had been making my own clothes for a few years. So when in that first Home Ec class, my teacher made us sew on paper to learn to sew in a straight line, I was rolling my eyeballs so far back in my head, they spun right around to the other side.

When I moved to Japan, I couldn’t take my machines with me (that first move across the ocean was supposed to be a couple of years at most, so I only took whatever would fit in my allotted two suitcases), but you can’t keep a seamstress down. Within a couple of months, I was borrowing the machine of a teacher I worked with to sew new covers for the hideous dusty rose sofa I inherited with my rural apartment. And that was my first contact with Japanese sewing culture, which is, like so many other aspects of Japanese culture, both similar to and totally different from the sewing culture I was familiar with. Something so simple as the pedal I was used to pressing on with my foot turned into a lever I pushed on with my hand. Because J-peeps were more likely to be sitting on the floor. It was weird.

But perhaps now you can understand the pure delight I felt at stumbling upon Tsukuroitatsu Hito, a manga with a woman sewing on the cover. At last, my true loves of books and sewing had come together! The only question I had when buying it was why I hadn’t I learned about it sooner since volume one came out in 2011 and I only came across it last year. They even made a movie about it! It is a thing, this manga. A manga about sewing. Continue reading

Comitia 30th Chronicle Volume 1: Kimihiko Nakamura (ed.)

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For their thirtieth anniversary, in addition to delightful treats like a sake set designed by Natsume Ono (the sake in which was delicious, by the way), beloved doujinshi event Comitia released three books cramjammed full of comics by a few of the many artists who have exhibited at the quarterly event over the last thirty years. And all three books are massive, which meant that I had to limit myself to just one for fear of breaking my back on the train home. Volume one clocks in at just under seven hundred pages on some pretty nice paper bound quite beautifully in a sturdy cover stock featuring the covers of the different Comitia guides over the years, covered up by a lovely cream jacket with a translucent peek at the color cover below it. A pretty (and heavy) package for a whole lot of comics action. (Apologies in advance for terrible images. I can’t open the book far enough to get it to lay anywhere near flat on my scanner.) Continue reading

Otomen: Aya Kanno

Otomen_cvr_01_FINAL.inddTCAF! It happened! I’m not dead! All three are cause for celebration. As is the fact that I was able to find my way back to my own personality after an intense week of interpreting. Day after day of speaking for someone else tends to bring about an identity crisis in me. I have all these conversations with so many people, but I am not actually a participant in any of them; I’m just a voice. I always find this middle ground between two languages and two people to be such a strange place, especially given that the conversations I assist literally pass right through me. I generally have no recollection of anything anyone said. I’m too busy talking for everyone in the room to spend any energy on remembering what anyone said.

Which is why I’m glad I got to spend some time outside the interpreting context with TCAF guest and Otomen author Aya Kanno. At dinners, parties, a trip to Niagara, all the many extra-festivular events we took part in, I got the chance to have a tiny bit of self and hear her considered ideas on her work and gender and her growth as an artist, on top of the usual casual conversation you might expect to have at such extra-festivular events. One particularly interesting discussion we fell into was in relation to translation and the usage of words. I’m translating her latest work Requiem of the Rose King (which I will not be discussing here, given the obvious conflict of interest, but it is pretty amazeballs and I would totally recommend it if only for the adorable boar), and it was the first time she had had the chance to talk with a translator of her work (and my second time being able to talk with the author of a work I translated) (est em, in case you’re wondering). So we spent our time in the green room before panels talking about words and Shakespeare and the nuances of translation. Continue reading