Monday, May 16, 2016

Manga pioneer Viz Media's 30th anniversary, for The Japan Times

photo courtesy of Bjoern Eichstaedt


This summer, Viz Media, LLC, North America’s first-ever distributor of Japanese popular culture, turns 30. Founded in 1986 by the intrepid Seiji Horibuchi, who has since moved on to other projects, the company is now housed in the so-called Twitter building in downtown San Francisco and boasts the largest library of Japanese media content outside of Japan.

But don’t expect buses festooned with Viz banners circling through town. Viz plans to celebrate through events with and for fans, says Chief Marketing Officer Brad Woods. That means special offers at North American anime cons, starting with July’s Anime Expo in Los Angeles and Comic Con in San Diego, and rolling out through autumn 2016.

“We’re not going to throw a ridiculous party,” Woods says. “We just want to thank the fan base. That’s what it comes down to. A high-five for the people involved who made us.”

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Live in NYC at Parsons New School on May 10: The Roots of Manga

Roland Kelts, May 10, 2016 at 7pm

The 156th meeting of the NY Comics & Picture-story Symposium will be held on Tuesday,  May 10, 2016 at 7pm at Parsons The New School for Design, 2 West 13th Street, in the Bark Room (off the lobby). Free and open to the public.

Roland Kelts on The Hybrid Roots of Manga:
How the influx of American and other Western cultural artifacts after World War II evolved into a form of expression whose visual and narrative characteristics are today considered distinctively Japanese.

Roland Kelts is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling Japanamerica. His articles, essays and fiction are published in The New Yorker, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Zoetrope: All Story, The New York Times, Newsweek Japan, Guernica, The Guardian and The Japan Times, among others. He is also a frequent contributor to CNN, the BBC, NPR and NHK. He is a visiting scholar at Keio University and contributing editor of Monkey Business, Japan’s premier literary magazine. His forthcoming novel is called Access.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Live in NYC, 4/27 - 4/30

Authors: Hideo Furukawa, Mieko Kawakami, Rebecca Brown, Linh Dinh
Editors: Ted Goossen, Roland Kelts, Motoyuki Shibata
*All events are free and open to the public, unless otherwise noted.

  • April 27 Wed, 6:30pm: New York University (7 East 12th Street, Room 321, New York, NY)
  • April 28 Thur, 6pm: Kinokuniya Bookstore (1073 Ave of the Americas, New York, NY) *Brown and Dinh will not appear at this event
  • April 29 Fri, 7pm: BookCourt (163 Court Street bet. Pacific & Dean Sts., Brooklyn, NY)
  • April 30 Sat, 2pm: Asia Society (725 Park Avenue at 70th St.) : Monkey Business: Japan/America Writers’ Dialogue. Ticket $15

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Anime goes live, for The Japan Times


The first time I attended AnimeJapan, the industry’s annual spring showcase in Odaiba, Tokyo, it was called the Tokyo International Anime Fair. Members of the public couldn’t enter during the first two days, amateur cosplay (costume play) was prohibited, and while there were some presentations, most of the offerings were brochures, catalogs and swag bags. It was primarily a trade show and almost everything was printed in Japanese.

Not so at last month’s AnimeJapan 2016, where five stages kept the main halls booming with live music, variety shows, voice-acting demonstrations, panels and seminars. One stage hosted an anime career counseling center. Another presented a nearly nonstop lineup of mascots and singalongs for parents and kids under 12.

An expanded Cosplayer’s World section replete with dressing rooms, stage sets and an outdoor platform encouraged fans to pose and preen, then eat anime-inspired cuisine at an adjacent food court. Most of the signs and exhibitions had English translations, and often Chinese and Korean. The business area was in a separate hall entirely — soberly lit, filled with information booths and roundtables, comparatively hushed.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Satoshi on Monkeys in Manila

Artist and writer Satoshi Kitamura's illustrated account of the Monkey Business team in Manila.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Thursday, April 07, 2016

Manga for beginners -- guest post by Danica Davidson

As manga has gone global, so has its fandom and its businesses. I started out as an American kid who watched anime without knowing it was anime, got interested in manga as a teen, began writing professionally about it, became involved with publishing companies to adapt and help edit manga, and am now releasing my first book on the subject, Manga Art for Beginners.

When I began writing about manga, it felt like literature’s best-kept secret in America. There were all these manga titles being brought over and sold in the manga section of bookstores, yet many people stayed away from reading manga because it was too“different” from what they’re used to (i.e., American comics). However, tides are changing.

Monday, April 04, 2016

Thank you, Tokyo Tour

Kinokuniya Bookstore, Shinjuku, Tokyo, 4/2:

Tollywood, Shimokitazawa, Tokyo 4/1:

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Live in Tokyo, Sat., 4/2: JAPANAMERICA / MONKEY talk, reading, signing @ KINOKUNIYA

Books Kinokuniya Event

Culture Update: "Japanamerica" Next

WHEN: April 2nd, Saturday 2016
TIME: 3:00 PM -
PLACE: 6th floor, event space Books Kinokuniya Tokyo
Event is free, no pre-registration necessary

Ten years have gone by since the publication of the bestseller "Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the US", one of the most popular texts on contemporary Japanese culture. With this book as the centerpiece, we hope to have a discussion on popular texts before and after "Japanamerica" to paint a landscape of Japanese contemporary culture today. The speakers are writer Roland Kelts, the author of "Japanamerica", and Benjamin Boas, the author of "Nihon no kotowa Manga to Game de Manabimashita (Everything I Learned, I Learned from Manga and Games)", who are both Tokyo residents and know pop culture inside and out!
Roland Kelts is the author of the acclaimed bestseller, Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US. He is a Steering Committee Member of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a Tokyo-based think tank.
He writes for many publications, including The New Yorker, Time magazine, Newsweek Japan, The New York Times, The Guardian and The Japan Times, and his fiction has appeared in Zoetrope: All Story, Playboy, A Public Space and others. Recently, Kelts gave talks at the World Economic Forum in China and for TED in Tokyo. He is a contributing editor of Monkey Business International, the annual English edition of a Japanese literary magazine, and his forthcoming novel is called Access.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Bringing Britain to Japan, for The Japan Times

In Japan, Western culture usually means American products: hot dogs, hamburgers, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donuts, and recent boutique outlets like Blue Bottle Coffee and the Dominique Ansel bakery — not to mention the nearly 50,000 United States military personnel still stationed across the archipelago.

The rest of the West, especially Europe, is often relegated to second-tier status. A bistro here, a trattoria there — a chain of quasi-pubs for ex-pats and tourists. While hipster Japanese may find European culture superior to American consumerism, its presence remains sparser.

British entrepreneur Dan Chuter is out to change that, at least as it applies to his homeland. Against economic odds, Chuter believes that genuine British culture can find a home in 21st-century Japan.

Monday, February 22, 2016

2/25, Tokyo: Public conversation w/this year's International Manga Award winners

(JP announcement)

Seijo University
Faculty of Arts and Literature Lecture
Israel and Manga: A Public Conversation with Asaf Hanuka and Boaz Lavie
Winners of the Foreign Ministry of Japan’s 9th International MANGA Award.

Date: Thursday, February 25, 2016 Time: 13:30~15:30
Venue: Room 321, building 3 Admission: Free
At this event, Asaf Hanuka and Boaz Lavie, winners of the Foreign Ministry of Japan’s 9th International MANGA Award, will speak about their award-winning graphic novel, The Divine (2015) and then will join writer and journalist Roland Kelts in a public conversation about their work as well as the current state of manga in Israel. After their conversation, Mr. Hanuka and Mr. Lavie will answer questions from the audience.

This event is sponsored by the Faculty of Arts and Literature, Seijo University, with support from the Embassy of Israel in Japan and the Japan Foundation
For further information, please contact:
Dr. Ryuma Shineha, Faculty of Arts and Literature, Seijo University:

Friday, February 19, 2016

CG finally a force in anime, for The Japan Times

Japanese audiences have long responded tepidly to the use of extensive computer graphics (CG) in anime. Even as CG has become the global standard for animation studios, anime fans prefer their homegrown artists to stick to labor-intensive 2-D illustration techniques and cel animation — or to at least create work that looks like they did.

Case in point: Director and designer Shinji Aramaki’s “Appleseed” film franchise, based on the best-selling manga by Masamune Shirow (famous for “Ghost in the Shell”). The three-film series has grown increasingly digitally enhanced since its inception 12 years ago, with meticulous 3-D character and set designs and blockbuster visual effects.

The second film, 2007’s “Ex Machina,” had double the budget of the first, was produced by Hong Kong-to-Hollywood director John Woo, and featured costume designs by Miuccia Prada. Yet both it and the more recent “Alpha” installment (2014), while garnering praise and interest abroad, have been relatively minor releases at home.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Naka-Kon 2016, Kansas City, March 11 - 15

Honored to be a featured guest at Naka-Kon 2016 in Kansas City, March 11-13.

Roland Kelts

Convention Year: 

Roland Kelts is the author of the critically acclaimed and bestselling book "Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture has Invaded the US." He was born to an American father and a Japanese mother and grew up in both countries. He is a visiting scholar at Keio University in Tokyo and a steering committee member of the Rebuild Japan Initiative Foundation, a Tokyo-based think tank. As a journalist, essayist, and columnist, he writes for many publications, such as The New YorkerTime magazine, Newsweek JapanThe New York TimesThe Guardian and The Japan Times. An authority on Japan’s contemporary literary and popular cultures, Roland imparts his unique perspective on Japanese pop culture to the rest of the world as a public speaker and media commentator on CNN, NPR, NHK and the BBC. Recently, Kelts delivered a lecture at the World Economic Forum and a TED Talk in Tokyo. He also serves as a contributing editor for Monkey Business, Japan’s premier literary magazine. His forthcoming novel is called "Access."