75 Years After Hiroshima & Nagasaki Were "Struck By Black Rain": A Kuroi Ame ni Utarete Retrospective (August 6, 2020)
Wednesday, December 30, 2020
75 Years After Hiroshima & Nagasaki Were "Struck By Black Rain": A Kuroi Ame ni Utarete Retrospective (August 6, 2020)
Saturday, December 26, 2020
|I considered somehow getting all 27 volumes into one image,|
but that'd be insane, even for Bastard!!.
Thursday, December 24, 2020
Kill Me Baby: This Ain't the Hardy Boys or Nancy Drew Mystery, It's Just Yasuna & Sonia in Your Vicinity
|The actual title splash is rather generic,|
so here's the literal final image of the show!
Wednesday, December 16, 2020
Obscusion B-Side: The Legend of the Iron Man at the End(?) of the 3DO World: A Look at Tetsujin, Iron Angel of the Apocalypse
Saturday, December 5, 2020
|There's no eyecatch, so here's the end of the OP.|
Tuesday, December 1, 2020
Sunday, November 29, 2020
Monday, November 16, 2020
Obscusion B-Side: Dragon's Lair 3D (& III): You Either Die a Remake Hero, or You Live Long Enough to Become a Cash-Grab Villain
Monday, November 9, 2020
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Obscusion B-Side: 40 Years of "Chicken" Humanoids, Mindless Robots, & Evil Otto: A Berzerk Retrospective
|Man, Atari 2600 artwork was just amazing.|
Saturday, October 24, 2020
|Am I the only one getting a Berserk vibe here... for Zorro?!|
Monday, October 12, 2020
Friday, October 2, 2020
But this is The Land of Obscusion, so I can't take the easy way out & cover something like Queen's Blade, Qwaser of Stigmata, the Queen Emeraldas OVAs, or even Qualidea Code. No, this is "Final Jeopardy", so I'm going to "Press My Luck" on a game of "Twenty-One" (hopefully it's not rigged), and that IS my final answer!
While never managing to succeed in North America, Japan really enjoys its quiz video games, especially in the arcades; SNK had a bunch on the Neo Geo, for example, while Capcom has made a few, as well. Wanting a piece of that pie, Konami debuted Quiz Magic Academy in Japanese arcades on July 24, 2003, with its main appeal being that the cabinets could be connected online via Konami's e-AMUSEMENT service, allowing up to 16 players to compete against each other at once, though this was reduced to 9 starting in 2016; that's still a wild amount of players for a quiz game, though. Being online also allows Konami to run tournaments, update cabinets, correct mistakes in questions, & even add new questions to keep things fresh; using a touch interface also allowed for more variety in the types of questions asked, instead of just multiple choice. Every year a new entry debuts, and the previous one goes offline, with the latest being Kibou no Koku/Time of Shining Hope this past June. With that kind of success, it's no surprise that the series eventually made its way to things like old mobile phones, modern smartphones, & even two entries on the Nintendo DS. Not just that, but QMA has also seen adaptations to webcomics, books, and (finally) the focus of this review: Anime.
On September 12, 2008, to help promote the release of Quiz Magic Academy DS that same day, a half-hour OVA titled Quiz Magic Academy - The Original Animation came out on DVD. Two years later, on February 11, 2010, another half-hour OVA titled Quiz Magic Academy - The Original Animation 2 saw release to promote Quiz Magic Academy DS: Futatsu no Jikuu Ishi/The Two Spacetime Stones that same day. Since the two OVAs share the same cast & staff I'll just review them together as a single entity, so let's see what happens when an online-connected arcade quiz game gets turned into anime.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
Last we looked at Shonen Jump's 19-year run of yearly covers featuring various mangaka in all their photographed glory, we saw Shueisha slowly expand its horizons with the concept. After a few years of simple "New Years kimono" covers, we saw the mangaka dress like spacemen, American football players, ready to attend a matsuri, Warring States period daimyo, & even futuristic high-flyers. We've seen the "full runs" of mangaka like Hiroshi Motomiya, Shinji Hiramatsu, & Yoshihiro Takahashi, while the likes of Masami Kurumada, Yudetamago, Akira Miyashita, & Yoichi Takahashi have stuck in there, though we all know that their most iconic works are nearing their respective ends. Likewise, mangaka like Osamu Akimoto & Akira Toriyama are already feeling like evergreen mangaka in that they'll never leave these covers, and with the second half of the "Golden Age of Jump" left to cover, we'll be sure to see even more iconic names.
So let's get straight to this latter half & start with the end of the 80s!
After a four-year stint of single-numbered issues for these mangaka covers, we break the streak with 1989's combined Issue #5+6, which features 19 mangaka. So, after seeing everyone fly in the sky the previous year, it only makes sense that Shueisha would do something similar the next, so for this cover we have everyone donning power suits as literal "Cosmo Warriors"! No, this has no relation to Saint Seiya, though Masami Kurumada is definitely "front & center"... though not literally in the center, as those would be Hirohiko Araki & the only appearance we'll see of Kazushi Hagiwara (Bastard!!). Due to the non-standard grouping, it's tough to really say that anyone's on the "front row", but the most prominent (i.e. the largest) are easily Kurumada, Osamu Akimoto, Akira Toriyama, Akira Miyashita, & (arguably) Yoichi Takahashi, who had ended Captain Tsubasa the previous year & was now doing tennis manga Sho no Densetsu. Likewise, Tetsuo Hara is still making an appearance, even though Fist of the North Star had now ended, & in its place is Cyber Blue. Motoei Shinzawa also returns with new manga Boku wa Shitataka-kun, while Masaya Tokuhiro returns after a four-year cover hiatus with the manga he'd become most well known for, Jungle King Tar-chan; Shinji Imaizumi, who had previously appeared in 1987, also returns with his major work, Kami-sama wa Southpaw. As for newcomers, the main one is definitely Masanori Morita (Rokudenashi BLUES), who'd be on every single mangaka cover from here on out, though we shouldn't ignore Tatsuya Egawa (Magical Taruruuto-kun). Finally, though Yudetamago is nowhere to be seen anymore due to the quick end of Yurei Kozou ga Yattekita!, the duo still are in the issue, due to the original one-shot for Scrap Sandayu, which would also wind up being a really short series in the end. This is kind of the only mangaka cover that one can call a "sequel" to a previous one, and while it's not quite as memorable as 1988's weirdness, it's still a cool one, nonetheless.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
One notable thing about the manga industry today is in how many mangaka, possibly even the large majority, aren't exactly easy to find photographs of, instead simply masking their identities behind self-portraits that either exaggerate their faces or simply use something else entirely, like Hiromu Arakawa using a cow as her avatar or Paru Itagaki literally wearing a giant chicken mask when in public. Considering today's always-online world, which can make things more difficult to maintain privacy the more famous you become, it's a completely understandable thing to see happen. In the past, though, many mangaka were more willing to show their faces & let readers know what they look like; pretty much every single icon in the manga industry has a recognizable face. For a perfect example of how things were different, just take a look at the covers of a manga magazine like Weekly Shonen Jump. Today, it's always about the manga that's being serialized within its pages, but for a period of time the mangaka themselves were given a single, solitary issue every year that let them be the stars featured on the cover.
Looking over the history of Shonen Jump's covers, which are all amazingly archived over at Comic Vine, the magazine had the rare cover which starred a single mangaka, like Go Nagai in 1970 on Issue #23, Hiroshi Motomiya in 1971 on Issue #21 (up above), or Noboru Kawaski on Issue #47 that same year. However, Jump would never put all of its mangaka on the cover together until 1978, when Issue #47 showcased the creators of all 15 manga currently serialized in the magazine at the time, though this was done by way of self-portraits, each of which featuring a quick message from said creators. I can't verify it due to age, but I'd wager that this was the beginning of the author's notes that would appear in the table of contents of each issue, which continues on to this day. However, a mere 11 weeks later, 1979's combined Issue #5+6 celebrated the New Year with a group shot of the mangaka themselves... And not via self-portraits. Yes, for the first time ever, Shonen Jump put all of the creators themselves on the cover in photographic glory, and this marked the start of a yearly tradition every January that would last for nearly 20 years. So let's take a look at all 19 "mangaka covers", across two parts, & see how Jump celebrated the New Year over & over, not to mention which mangaka took part in this old tradition.
Monday, September 7, 2020
"Manga like Dragon Ball, One Piece, Naruto, and My Hero Academia all fit into the shonen action genre, and is among some of the most popular manga world-wide. However, few fans know where their favorite aspects of this genre come from, simply assuming that Dragon Ball (or, if you're lucky, Fist of the North Star) is where things originated.
Join George from The Land of Obscusion as he gives a general overview of 19 different manga to explain how shonen action came about."
2020 has been... a year, to say the least. There's nothing really I can say about what happened in the world starting this past March that you likely didn't know already, so I'll just move on to how it affected my plans. I had been asked to be a Featured Panelist for Anime Boston 2020, something which had never happened to me. Obviously, the pandemic wound up with Anime Boston getting cancelled, and in place of (most) in-person anime cons, we've had many virtual cons spring up. To act as a replacement for AB not happening, I decided to create a video version of one of my planned panels, with it first debuting at a virtual con before getting uploaded to YouTube. After turning down an invite (Anime Lockdown) & not getting accepted elsewhere (Otakon Online), I did get accepted for Virtual Crunchyroll Expo, which was cool since that's a con I'd normally never have the chance to attend, due to it being on the opposite side of the country from me.
So, after running on September 5, 2020, a finalized version of "The TRUE & SECRET History of Shonen Action Manga!" is now available over on YouTube. The main difference with this "final" version is the inclusion of two musical gags, which had to be changed for VCRX due to a "no music" policy, and an alternate final thanks to reflect the path this entire panel went through this year. As for the panel/video itself, it is a general overview of the evolution of of shonen action manga, from the early manga that inspired entire generations to the early sports manga that set up the ideas & concepts that shonen action would rely on, followed by the later sports manga that acted as the direct transition to the iconic non-sports series that would become world renown & influential. For a full list of the manga covered, with links to related articles I've written, as well as the video itself, simply continue on:
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
"Why don't these companies just use the fansubs, instead of making their own translations? I mean, the work was already done for them, so I'm sure it'd save them a ton of money, so they should just do that! It'd totally work!! I mean, those official translations suck anyway, and the fan translators obviously know better, in the first place! Man, those anime companies are such idiots for not doing this! I mean, I just thought of it right at this moment, so I'm obviously smarter than any of them!"
|"As Seen on ANN!"|
I'm reminded of this type of bizarre logic, because vintage anime streaming service RetroCrush actually did what those old anime forum "geniuses" asked, and used a fansub as their translation for an anime. Namely, the company used Johnny English Subs' fan translation for Episode 20 of Magical Idol Pastel Yumi (at least, that's the only one that lists the group's name on screen), because they had only received pre-existing English subtitles for the first 15 episodes (which is what Anime Sols had translated up to during that site's existence), and simply decided to use Johnny English Subs' translation for the remaining 10; they have since taken the entire show down until further notice. It's a bad look for RetroCrush for a variety of reasons... But were they wrong in the entire concept? For this year's Theory Musing, let's ruminate on the idea of using a fan translation for an official anime release, and the benefits, hurdles, & downright problems the concept has shown in the past.
Sunday, August 30, 2020
I say this mainly because Anno himself is a bit of a madman among otaku; in fact, he's even an admitted agnostic. Having been a part of the industry before he even finished attending Osaka University of Arts, he was one of the men behind the DAICON III & IV Opening Animations, was one of the founders of Gainax, directed the likes of Gunbuster, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, & Neon Genesis Evangelion... And whenever he's portrayed in stories by other people, he's usually shown as a bit wild & crazy. Take, for example, Aoi Honou/Blue Blazes by Kazuhiko Shimamoto, who was a classmate of Anno's while at Osaka, which features Anno as a young man obsessed with anime & manga culture, almost as if it was competition in who reigns over all. The other notable example would be the manga Insufficient Direction by Moyoco Anno, the woman who married Hideaki in 2002. Running from 2002 to 2005 for a single volume in Shodensha's josei magazine Feel Young, the manga known in Japan as Kantoku Fuyuki Todoki/The Incompetent Director told a fictionalized account of Moyoco's life as the wife of Hideaki... One which required a literal "otaku dictionary" at the end of the compiled volume, because of the sheer amount of references made in less than 140 pages. In the Spring of 2014, as part of TV Tokyo & AT-X's anime info program Animus!, an anime adaptation of Insufficient Direction aired on TV as a series of thirteen 3-minute episodes, with animation done by DLE, a studio best known for other short-length adaptations like Thermae Romae & Skull-face Bookseller Honda-san; interestingly enough, this anime adaptation was never licensed, not even for simulcast. So let's see what happens when Hideaki Anno becomes the anime character he may have always wished he could become.
Rompers is the baby-like wife of Director-kun, a man completely unabashed in his love & obsession with anime, manga, tokusatsu, & their respective theme songs, model kits, toys, & other associated merchandise. Though she felt she knew what she was getting into when she agreed to marry him, Rompers is constantly shocked at just how far Director-kun's obsessions go... And living with a madman like that only makes her more & more into an "ota-wife".
Monday, August 17, 2020
Large robotic constructs are no stranger to the restricted-viewing realm of Demo Disc. The very first volume in late 2014 was about one from each decade from the 70s to the 00s & the fifth volume in early 2016 returned to the genre with a similar focus, while the seventh, ninth, eleventh, & thirteenth volumes all featured at least one mech anime. The genre's even been featured in "single series" Demo Discs, specifically the fourth (Machine Robo) & sixteenth (Kiss Dum, though this one is tangential), and while there have been plenty of mech anime that have since seen complete English translations (both officially & by fans), I still managed to find a quartet that have only seen one or two episodes translated, much like how that original volume worked, so let's take a look at some first episodes of mech anime, even if it's for the last time as its own themed volume, from the 70s & 80s!
Gowapper 5, Moving Out!
While Tatsunoko Production is known for its various anime about heroes saving the day from evil, doing so by way of giant robots is a true rarity from the prolific studio. Sure, Gatchaman's Science Ninja Team occasionally fought a giant robot of some sort, Tekkaman had the large robot Pegas, & the original Time Bokan featured giant, robotic contraptions, but Tatsunoko didn't actually make a "standard" mech anime until 1976 with Gowapper 5 Godam, which itself would become mostly forgotten when later mech anime like Toshi Gordian, Golden Warrior Gold Lightan, & (especially) Genesis Climber Mospeada would later come out in the decade following Godam's run, which came to an early end after 36 episodes due to low ratings; one of the shows it competed against was Toei's UFO Robo Grendizer, so it had no chance. But let's instead act like it's April 4, 1976, the date Gowapper 5 Godam debuted on Japanese television, and see how well its first episode hyped kids up for this new mech anime from an already iconic studio.
(Fun Fact: Both this anime & Gold Lightan originally were each titled "Abaranger" in pre-production, though neither has any relation to the eventual Super Sentai entry that actually used this name)
Thursday, August 6, 2020
75 Years After Hiroshima & Nagasaki Were "Struck By Black Rain": A Kuroi Ame ni Utarete Retrospective
One of those survivors was the late Keiji Nakazawa.
|Nakazawa, in 2011, in front of|
the "Atomic Bomb Dome" in Hiroshima.
Born on March 14, 1939, Keiji Nakazawa was only six years old when the "Little Boy" hit Hiroshima, & he only managed to survive the blast because of a wall he was by that managed to stay standing; while his mother also survived, his father, brother, & (later) sister all died from the bomb. Come 1972, Nakazawa was a mangaka & was encouraged by his editor at Monthly Shonen Jump to publish a one-shot about what he saw on that day 27 years prior, which resulted in the short story Ore wa Mita/I Saw It. The story caught the attention of readers, almost all of which had been born long after the end of the war, so Nakazawa was asked to expand the concept, which resulted in 1973's Barefoot Gen in Weekly Shonen Jump, a fictionalized telling of how Nakazawa survived the bombing & grew up into wanting to become an artist, with the intent being to show not just the horror of the bombing, but also the hope that rose back up from those who survived. While it only lasted a year in Jump, mainly due to the magazine's size being cut in half, Nakazawa would continue the manga in other magazines, eventually ending in 1987 after 10 volumes, receiving various novels, live-action adaptations, & even two anime movie adaptations. Though Nakazawa eventually planned to create a sequel in the late 00s, he had to retire due to deteriorating health before passing away on December 19, 2012 from lung cancer, no doubt caused by irradiation from the bomb all those decades ago. Unfortunately, since his death, parts of the Japanese government have made some efforts to downplay Barefoot Gen, as Nakazawa was critical of not just the United States, but also Japan for letting things get to that point; to be fair, though, there are also efforts to make sure Nakazawa's tale is not forgotten.
This, however, is NOT that story. Instead, as the third of a three-part look at how World War II was reflected in anime (in this case, the aftermath), to remember the 75th Anniversary of the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings (& all of the lives lost from those days), & to honor the memory of Keiji Nakazawa himself, let's take a look at Kuroi Ame ni Utarete, a story from a different side of the man behind Barefoot Gen, both in its original manga from 1968 & in the feature-length anime adaptation it received in 1984.
Friday, July 24, 2020
Zipang: If a Butterfly’s Wings Can Cause a Tornado... What Can a Japanese Guided-Missile Destroyer Do?!
Sunday, July 12, 2020
Obscusion B-List: Video Game Ports That Shouldn't Have Been Possible... But Actually Happened... Again
At the same, though, I shouldn't be too picky about technicalities like that, so let's just get into yet another six games that appeared on consoles so unlikely that the only natural reaction is to ask either "What?" or "WHY?!". Also, half of this list is first-person shooters, which is totally just by freak accident, I swear. Anyway, speaking of Quake...
|Got to love how the cover is literally just the PC release,|
but with an Amiga sticker slapped on the back.
Making video games for personal computers is a veritable minefield, and that was only all the more true prior to this decade, especially during the 80s & 90s. Back before your choice was between "PC, Mac, or Linux", you had IBM, Apple, Tandy, Atari, & Commodore (to name only a small few) all releasing seemingly countless variants of personal computers, all of which likely using their own proprietary hardware & software; in fact, even computers from the same company were likely to be incompatible with each other! In Europe, Commodore was effectively "King of the 80s" with both its cost-effective Commodore 64 & its more robust Commodore Amiga line. Debuting with the Amiga 1000 in 1985, the latter line would continue to be officially updated & supported up until 1998, even outliving Commodore itself; later Amigas after the 4000T are just modern PCs using the Amiga name & its own OS. Therefore, it's not surprising that computer games would continue to get ported over to the Amiga line during the 90s... But you just know that there's a limit to what even the Amiga 4000 was capable of, right?
Well, tell that to a company called clickBOOM.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Momotaro: Sacred Sailors: I Hear It's Amazing When the Famous Peach Boy in Mitsuyo-Seo Space with the Kaigun-Sho Does a Raw Blink on Celebes Rock. I Need Anime! '63!! A-I-U-E-O!!!
Considering the environment it was released in, & its lack of showing any on-screen deaths, it's not surprising that it was a success & spawned a sequel.
|The text on the side cites that the film|
was finished in December 1944.
Let's face facts, people: World War II was an era of propaganda films. Nazi Germany had movies directed by Leni Riefenstahl, most notably Triumph of the Will. The United States had Walt Disney & the Warner Brothers producing various wartime movies, with probably the most infamous being the one where Donald Duck worked on the production line of a Nazi factory. Therefore, it's easy to see that Japan did the same and took advantage of a slowly growing animation industry to do so, just like how there were too many Looney Tunes propaganda shorts to count. Anyway, on April 12, 1945 (just months shy of the war's end in September), Momotaro: Sacred Sailors debuted in theaters, and at 74 minutes long became Japan's first theatrical-length anime; while the Japanese Naval Ministry merely "sponsored" the first film, this sequel was specifically ordered by it. Following the end of World War II & Japan's occupation by American forces, it was long presumed that Sacred Sailors was confiscated & burnt, and the fact that it had never resurfaced helped strengthen that idea. However, production company Shochiku eventually came across a negative in a warehouse in 1983, and the following year saw a new release on VHS. Come 2015, it was decided to remaster the film, to celebrate both Shochiku's 120th Anniversary & the 70th Anniversary of World War II's end, and through the financial support of partners around the world it received an HD remaster & even got screened at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. One of those financial partners was FUNimation, which in turn licensed the film for North American release in 2017, making it probably the least likely anime the company has ever released; Anime Limited did the same for the UK. So, as the first of a three-part look at how World War II was reflected in anime, not to mention tie things in with my second-ever review for the blog, let's see what all the hubbub is with Momotaro: Sacred Sailors.
After taking out the naval fleet on Devil's Island in a surprise bombing raid, sailors Sarukichi, Wankichi, Kijisuke, & Kumakichi return home to visit their families, but it's not long before they're called back to action by Momotaro. This time around, they have to help establish a new airbase on Manado, educate & endear the natives, & then launch another surprise attack on Devil's Island, this time via parachuting, with the intent to make their foes agree to unconditional surrender.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Therefore, let's just move right on!
"Kesenai Tsumi～raw "breath" track～" by Nana Kitade
(Fullmetal Alchemist  ED1)
Just like Part 1, let's start Part 2 with a theme from a pretty notable & popular anime, in this case the original TV anime adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa's Fullmetal Alchemist. A true-blue gateway anime for many, including yours truly, the original 2003 series featured an extremely strong selection of 4 OPs & 4 EDs, and what we'll be focusing on is the first ED. Ever since the 80s, anime has been a reliable way for new singers & bands to get some exposure, and the same is true for Nana Kitade, whose debut single "Kesenai Tsumi" became a bit of an instant classic by being associated with FMA, which was airing on the very lucrative Saturday 6PM time slot on MBS. Seeing as the first quarter of the anime often blended together dramatic moments with lighthearted comedy, it was appropriate for those episodes to end with an upbeat pop song, though the staff at BONES wasn't against using the song's unassuming nature to essentially troll viewers at the end of one particularly infamous episode, which ended with a real heart-wrencher.