October 8th, 2013

Manga and anime, my how you’ve changed!


Anime and manga have been in the global mainstream for a few decades now and like anything else, they have a way of evolving over time. Sometimes, though, the changes are so gradual that we don’t notice it until someone throws it all up in a handy infographic such as this one that surfaced on the internet recently. In it, the creator points out some key differences between female characters in the 1990s and those of the current decade. Let’s see what’s going on in the translation below.

[Spoiler (click to open)]


It seems that overall, faces in the ’90s tended to be sharper whereas current characters tend to have smoother faces both in shape and shading. On the contrary, ’90s hair was bushier and fuller while current hair drawings appear sharper and straighter.

When talking about the nose shape of ’90s women, the writer is referring to the Japanese hiragana letter for “ku” (く). Also in the middle of the image the writer refers to dōjin which is fan-made manga, anime, and so on.

Some netizens were surprised at how drastic the changes actually were when put side by side. Many seemed to have preferred the look of the ’90s, and one commenter put up this image of Mio from K-On! Drawn in the styles of each decade.



American casting for Hana Yori Dango (Boys Over Flowers) TV series receives harsh Japanese criticism


Starting this November, the first episode of a new romantic young adult series, Boys Before Friends, will be released to American audiences. The series is based on Japan’s hit manga, Hana Yori Dango (aka Boys Over Flowers). Already, the series has inspired the creation of anime, novels, and live action television dramas from Japan, Korea, and China. However, what should be a highly anticipated American adaptation of this much appreciated manga is encountering a lot of skepticism, especially from the Eastern side of the globe. It makes sense that some changes have to be made to implement an American setting for this Japanese tale, but how much change can the story endure before the tone of the original is totally lost?

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New Studio Ghibli documentary ‘Kingdom of Dreams and Madness’ gets Nov. 16 release date


Studio Ghibli
fans will have to wait one more month until they can finally watch The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness, a documentary about the famed animation studio. It is set to hit the movie theaters by November 16, just a few months after its founder, iconic director Hayao Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature filmmaking.

The documentary is directed by Mami Subada, the filmmaker who also directed Ending Note: Death of a Japanese Salesman, which was about her father’s last days after he was diagnosed with cancer. This new documentary focuses on the three filmmakers who are the heart and soul of Studio Ghibli: Miyazaki, fellow director Isao Takahata and producer Toshio Suzuki, all with an average age of 71. It also explores the secrets behind the studio that has spawned hit after hit and has also won countless awards, including a few Oscars. This is a particular landmark year for the studio as they are releasing not just one but two major films: Miyazaki’s Kaze Tachinu (“The Wind Rises”), which premiered July 20 and is already a critical and box-office, albeit controversial, hit; and Takahata’s first film in 14 years, Kaguyahime no Monogatari (“The Tale of Princess Kaguya”), that will come out on November 23.

In September this year, the legendary Miyazaki announced that Kaze Tachinu would be his last feature film as he has decided to retire from full-length filmmaking. He said he still wants to be involved with Studio Ghibli for another ten years, but also acknowledged that he is now free to do whatever he wants. He also emphasized that the young animators will now “decide the future” for the legendary studio.


Mixed-race Japanese documentary ‘Hafu’ makes its Tokyo debut


Hafu, the first documentary made about people of mixed Japanese descent opened over the weekend in Tokyo, and the filmmakers hope that their film will help those who are still struggling to assimilate themselves into the Japanese community. Megumi Nishikura and Laura Perez Takagi are both “hafus” themselves, so they understand the need to fit in in a society that still looks differently at those who look different from them.

Laura said that it is more than just about the half-Japanese experience but also the human need “to find acceptance from those around us, and ultimately within ourselves.” The film is narrated by the subjects themselves and their families as they navigate their way into the culture, the language, school, relationships and careers. One of the subjects is David, a Ghanian-born “hafu” who moved to Tokyo when he was six but had to spend years in an orphanage when his parents divorced. He said it is his dream to one day see a Japan that “embraces its diversity” and that can accept people from multicultural backgrounds. Another subject is Alex, a nine-year old Mexican-Japanese who had to move to an international school because he became too stressed at his former school because of the constant teasing from his classmates. Fusae may be the most “Japanese” looking of the subjects, but she also has the difficult life of being born to a Korean-Japanese father and Japanese mother. Her mother told her to prepare to be rejected because of her Korean ethnicity.

Statistics from the Japanese Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare say that one out of thirty babies born in Japan today are part of a family where one parent is not of Japanese descent, where that’s around 20,000 multi-racial babies every year. The documentary was funded through donations and grants from groups like The Japan Foundation and the San Francisco-based Center for Asian American Media.


Shingo Katori doesn't seem like he has a lot of friends...


People say that not a lot of celebrities know much about SMAP's Shingo Katori's private life. He even declared on TV and in interviews that he doesn't exchange contact information with other celebrities.

It's also a popular story that Koji Yamamoto, who starred alongside him in the NHK taiga drama Shinsengumi!, even had to sneak into his dressing room to "steal" his number since he didn't want to give it out.

He also revealed on the September 2 episode of SMAPxSMAP that he declined Shun Oguri's offer to have a drink while they were shooting "Odoru Daisousasen THE FINAL" (2012) and said, "I don't go to things like that so it'll be impossible".