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Saturday, January 12, 2019

Obscusion B-Side: Hey, You've Got Your Comics in My Video Games!

Video games & comic books have been close companions for at least 40 years, with one of the earliest games based on a comic being Superman for the Atari 2600 back in 1979. Eventually, the inverse started happening, with comic books based on video games coming to fruition, and now game-based comics are a pretty popular category; almost every one of the biggest game franchises today have at least one comic, of some sort. In rare instances, though, the game developer and/or publisher decides to take a more direct route with this sort of cross-promotion, and commissions a comic to be made to go with the game itself. Now these tended to be short mini-comics meant simply to help establish the backstory, because not everyone is into reading paragraphs of text inside the instruction manual (especially if the game itself doesn't explain much), but with the death of the perfect bathroom reading material for video games, these direct comics tend to be limited edition-exclusive products. Still, let's start off the new year with a fun look at five examples, from my personal collection, of video games that had some sort of comic inclusion, with having to go to your local comic shop or bookstore to read it.

Yeah, I don't know why the side banner
used the wrong color order, either.
The game that Hideo Kojima headed up after the original Metal Gear put him on the map in Japan, 1988's Snatcher remains an iconic title, both amongst "Cyberpunk" & "Adventure" games. When it got ported from the PC-88 & MSX2 to the PC-Engine CD in 1992, Konami added something cool to the instruction manual: A full-color manga Prologue. When the game was ported over to the Sega (Mega) CD for international release in 1995, the manga was actually included & translated into English, though it was sadly done in greyscale to match the rest of the manual. Though it only runs for a scant 10 pages and doesn't credit anyone for the artwork, though I'm guessing that maybe it was original character designer Tomiharu Kinoshita, let's see how it does at getting newcomers up to speed about the world Kojima created.

December 2047, Neo Kobe City. Currently, mankind is under secret attack by "Snatchers", bioroids that kill people & then take their identity using artifical skin, with their ability to sweat & bleed making them nigh-impossible to identify. To combat the Snatchers, a special police force has been formed called JUNKERs, or Japanese Undercover Neuro-Kinetic Elimination Rangers. A man is being chased after & even shot coming out of an alleyway into a crowd. Everyone sees the man, whose face is now uncovered to show that he's actually a Snatcher, before his head is blown up by the man chasing after him. When asked if he's a Junker by the police, the man only responds that he's a "Bounty Hunter". Meanwhile, Gillian Seed is meeting up with his girlfriend Jamie to tell her that he's going to become a Junker, much to her disappointment. The two suffer from extreme amnesia, with the only memory Gillian having being the word "Snatcher", so he thinks becoming a Junker will help him remember who he really is, even though Jamie is afraid that doing so will result in something terrible happening. A transport arrives to pick up Gillian & take him to Junker HQ, and while Jamie can't hear Gillian's words due to the transport's jets, she still waves him off & wishes him well.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2018!! Part 2

With me slowing down after this upcoming March, the 100th consecutive month for the blog, this will more than likely be the final favorite posts list I'll ever do, or at least in the yearly format that I've been doing ever since 2012. I have considered maybe doing just a one-part list with six entries, but I won't have to really think about that until this time next year. Anyway, it will certainly be interesting to come to the usual Boxing Day & New Year's period of time & not have a two-part list to compile, because it's always been fun to look back at what I've written throughout the year & see what I felt were either the best or meant the most to me, personally. This is especially true for this year, because often I though back to some stuff from the start of the year, only for me to constantly realize that they were indeed done this year. So, for one last time in the format that I've been using for the past six years, allow me to list another six-ish posts that I did this year that I felt had something truly special to them.

The Ages of Jump Redux (August 1 & 8)
After finishing up the original Ages of Jump back in 2016, I knew that there were some titles that I didn't really cover that probably could have been worth including, but considering how much insane work that seven-part series took over the course of two months, I think it was understandable that I didn't really want to return to it. Of course, with 2018 being the 50th Anniversary of Shonen Jump, it was the perfect time to return to what might become my most well known work & give credit to those previously indicated titles. Instead of splitting it up across another four articles, though, I instead just did it as two, with the Bronze & Golden Ages (plus a single title from the Dark Age) being Part 1, & the Silver Age being bundled with a look at the possible start of a new "Iron Age" in Part 2. I made sure to replicate the style that I gave the original Ages articles as closely as possible, and I think I succeeded in that regard.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

The Land of Obscusion's Twelve Favorite Posts of 2018!! Part 1

After an entire year of looking back at what I had done in the past & putting a close to as many loose ends as I could over the course of the past (nearly) 365 days, I close out 2018 by looking back at what I had done over the course of the entire year. Because, yo dawg, we heard you like reminiscing so we put a reminiscence in yo reminiscence so yo can look back while you look back.

In other words, reminisception... Yeah, I went to those old memes.

Anyway, I already mentioned in the 8th Anniversary post about how well I feel the "Year of Unfinished Business" worked out, and that's no lie. If anything, this has been one of the most difficult years for me to properly whittle down to the usual favorites list, and that's because it's like having to pick & choose from some of my all-time most enjoyable pieces of writing. You know when you ask an actor who their favorite character to play is, or a creator what they're favorite work is, & they respond with, "That's hard to answer, because it's like having to pick which of my children is my favorite"? That's kind of how this year feels in regards to having to make choices. Sure, there are always some that were fun to write but otherwise are obviously not going to be worthy of being my favorites, but in this year's case there really aren't too many of those. But, after deliberating & procrastinating throughout this entire month, here are what I feel are my favorite posts of "Unfinished Business".

The Truth Behind "The Disaster Anime": Game Lab's Musashi Gundoh Interview Translated! (April 1)
Being the shy & (much too) humble guy that I am, it is honestly rare for me to be the one to initiate contact with another if I feel that I am incapable of doing something, especially if it's one-on-one; contacting a company feels much more anonymous. But when I found an opportunity to get a hold of Volume 140 of Sansai Books' Game Labo Tokubestsu Henshu Gendai Shikaku Bunka Kenkyu, which held within it an infamous interview with two of the people behind the equally infamous kuso anime Gundoh Musashi, producer Nobuyuki Sugaya & director Yuki Kinoshita, just days after the show finished airing, I knew that I had to get some help to translate the two interviews. While I do know some people who know people who translate, I don't really know any personally, which is where my natural inclination to hesitate came in. After some searching, I remembered that I had previously heard of the site Chic Pixel, run by professional writer & translator Anne Lee, and I saw that she was open to offers, so I decided to see what she'd say. Anne not only was interested in the project, but her price seemed more than fair (of course, I had no prior concept of translation costs), so I scanned the pages with the interview & we were off! For the first time ever, I actually had to be the equivalent to a producer or editor, which was definitely interesting.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Sukeban Deka: Cane Sugar, Carolina Reapers, & Buckets of Blood, That's What Little Girls Are Made Of

Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, & just general Happy Holidays to everyone! It's that time of the year, so once again, for the third time, I've become a part of the Reverse Thieves' Anime Secret Santa program, where anime writers/bloggers/podcasters anonymously recommend anime to each other in an attempt to get people to check out titles they'd normally not think of watching. This time around, I was recommended three OVAs, and I've decided to just go for one. First up was All-Purpose Cat Girl Nuku Nuku, which I did heavily consider, especially since the entire series (OVA & TV) did get re-released by Discotek Media earlier this year (along with the super-obscure UK dub for the OVA!). The second was both of the 3x3 Eyes OVA series, which I did actually see once, but it was over a decade ago, and I honestly don't remember too much of it; that being said, I'd love to see a license rescue for this, so I decided not to go with it. In the end, I decided to go with the last option, primarily because it was related to something I had covered on the blog before, which would fit perfectly with this being the "Year of Unfinished Business".

I prefer using the original Japanese title splashes,
but sometimes you just have to use what's on the DVD itself.

Though Go Nagai & Masami Kurumada may have been two of the first mangaka to create manga once the word "sukeban" entered the general vernacular of Japanese language, neither Oira Sukeban nor Sukeban Arashi would really become icons of manga starring female delinquents. Just a couple of months after Kurumada's debut manga got canceled, & about a month before Nagai's delinquent manga would come to an end, Shinji Wada debuted his new manga, Sukeban Deka/Delinquent Detective, in Hakusensha's Hana to Yume magazine. Wada, who entered in the industry in 1971 & passed away back in 2011, was easily the most recognized male shojo mangaka out there, and Sukeban Deka would become his most iconic work, running for six years & 22 volumes before ending in late 1982; Wada would return for the single-volume Sukeban Deka if in 2004. Afterwards, in 1985, the manga was adapted by Toei into a live-action TV series that aired on Fuji TV & was similarly successful, running for 108 episodes across three shows until 1987, with each season starring a different woman taking up the "Saki Asamiya" moniker. After those, there were two movies in 1987 & 1988 that acted as sequels to the second & third shows, with the first movie also being a crossover of the latter two Sakis; these movies would actually see release in North America on DVD by Media Blasters' Tokyo Shock label. Then, in 2006, there was a third movie that was mostly standalone but did relate slightly to the first TV series, and in 2016 I reviewed the DVD release Magnolia Pictures put out under the name Yo-Yo Girl Cop. Between the second & third movies, though, there was one last production made, which was the two-episode OVA adaptation of Sukeban Deka from 1991, which was the third title recommended to me by Evan Minto from Ani-Gamers. So let me see if I'll be 3-for-3 in really enjoying the anime that I was recommended by my Secret Santa.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Demo Disc Vol. 14: Diminutive Delinquents

Without a doubt, one of the most curious genres in the history of manga is that of the delinquent variety. Known as "yankii" in Japan ever since the Post-War Era, delinquent culture has always maintained an allure to Japanese manga readers, which has resulted in icons of the genre, like the Crows x Worst franchise or Rokudenashi Blues, to titles that have utilized the culture to add a unique spin on a subject or simply poke fun at it, like Nyankees (where cats are portrayed as yankii); at the same time, though, this is mainly a manga genre, as yankii anime is extremely rare. This isn't simply a male-oriented culture either, as women are just as known to have their own delinquent culture, with the most well known being "sukeban", the female equivalent to a "bancho", or male delinquent boss. According to the book Beyond Polite Japanese: A Dictionary of Japanese Slang and Colloquialisms, the word sukeban was originally a bit of an insider term until 1972, when it entered the general vernacular, which makes the subject of this volume of Demo Disc all the more interesting, because it may have been one of the very first manga to use the word sukeban in its title. You see, at essentially the same exact time (there were probably only one or two weeks between their debuts), Go Nagai started the manga Oira Sukeban/Delinquent in Drag in Weekly Shonen Sunday, which was about a boy delinquent having to dress as a girl to infiltrate an all-girls school, while over at Weekly Shonen Jump a newbie mangaka made his debut in the industry with his own (sort of) take on sukeban culture.

The works of Masami Kurumada is a subject that is nowhere near foreign to this blog; hell, I've already written four prior articles regarding the man's various works this year alone. Still, for all that he's generally known for being about hot-blooded, passionate boys who grow to become "true men" by way of combat, it is interesting that his debut manga was NOT exactly like his later works. First appearing in Weekly Shonen Jump in mid-1974, though apparently the debut chapter actually got re-run due to the existing oil crisis at the time (a.k.a. the "first oil shock"), Sukeban Arashi/Delinquent Storm originally ran irregularly for six chapters until early 1975. Ten weeks later, the manga returned as a regular part of Jump's weekly schedule, but would end up canceled by the end of the year. It wouldn't be until late 1977, due to Kurumada's success with Ring ni Kakero, that Sukeban Arashi would actually be compiled into a proper tankouban release, but this two-volume edition only covered the later weekly run, plus a 1976 one-shot titled Mikeneko Rock. It wouldn't be until 1983, during the run of Fuma no Kojiro, that the original six chapters would get collected, though instead of being considered a Volume 0 or 3, they were instead treated as a bonus to the main attraction of one-shots Mabudachi Jingi & Shiro-Obi Taisho, with the former story also being the name of the book; I actually reviewed both of those one-shots years ago. Then, in 2013, a scanlation effort started up for Sukeban Arashi, which started with the original irregular run & then moved into the weekly run, but died out shortly into Volume 2; only 19 chapters were fan translated into English. Because of that, I can't properly judge the entire series, nor can I ever cover Mikeneko Rock, but I've always wanted to cover this manga, so let's see what a 20-year-old Masami Kurumada was up to in the mid-70s, before he truly made a name for himself.