Thursday, August 14, 2008

Takehiko Inoue and Hayao Miyazaki for the Japanese

... or at least for those who read Japanese. I'm told by authoritative sources that you don't actually have to be Japanese in order to read the language. Yet I also hear from selfsame sources that you ought to at least know someone who is. Or you ought to try to get to know them. Or be nice to them, at least. Or show a flicker of recognition, like widening one eye, for example.

About a month ago, Brutus magazine, one of Japan's largest circulation twice-monthlies, devoted an entire issue to 40-something manga artist Takehiko Inoue, creator of Slam Dunk and Vagabond. Inoue's work now graces the second-floor walls of Kinokuniya's still-fresh New York outlet on Bryant Park, where he painted his mural live before an audience of entranced media folk.

A writer for Brutus contacted me in the early summer to obtain my comments on Inoue's aesthetic style and his burgeoning presence in the US manga market. The issue was apparently among the magazine's best-selling ever, going back to the printers several times--which had little to do with Inoue, said the eds, and largely reflected reader reaction to my scintillating insights--

(click on pics for larger, reader-friendly size)
--or maybe it was the other way around.

Shortly thereafter, I received a request from the editors of Dankai Punch, a monthly targeting Japan's boomers, for an interview about Hayao Miyazki's reputation in the US. Dankai devoted an entire issue exclusively to Miyazaki's work--timed for publication with the Japanese release of his latest feature, Ponyo on a Cliff by the Sea (no, I'm not at all certain of its title upon its eventual US release).

Yet again I managed to buttress the Japanese print media by kick-starting stellar sales and smashing all house records, or at least all the records in my own house.

(Okay, okay. Maybe that hack Hayao had a hand in it.)

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