Saturday, September 26, 2020

Looking Back at Weekly Shonen Jump's Era of Mangaka Covers Part 2: 1989-1997

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

Looking Back at Weekly Shonen Jump's Era of Mangaka Covers Part 1: 1979-1988

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

The TRUE & SECRET History of Shonen Action Manga!: First at Crunchyroll Expo, Now on YouTube!

From the Crunchyroll Expo Panel Description:
"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

Theory Musing: Can (& How Would) You Use Fansubs for an Official Anime Release?

In the before time, the long long ago, back before simulcasting existed (a.k.a. the 00s), English-speaking anime fans had two options before them if they wanted to watch a newly-debuting anime series: Hope that it eventually gets officially licensed by an anime distribution/licensing company in the region that they lived in, or download an unofficial translation made by their fellow anime fans, usually available within a day of the episode's original airing (if not even mere hours after it aired in Japan). Said fan translation would differ from the later, official translation that was made for the licensed release, and some tech-savvy anime forum posters of the time would ask a simple, seemingly logical question, & only in the most polite & reasonable of ways:

"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.