[photo courtesy of Lisa Katayama @ tokyomango.com]
My good friend Fred Schodt (pictured on far right above with wife Fiona, two relatives, and Consul General Yasumasa Nagamine) was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, the Japanese government's most prestigious non-military honor, at a ceremony in San Francisco late last month. Fred's work as an author, translator and interpreter have introduced the English-speaking world not only to the wonders of manga (in the still unsurpassed Manga! Manga!), but also to overlooked Japan-American historical narratives--as in his beautifully understated book, Native American in the Land of the Shogun.
Fred is probably best known for introducing non-Japanese to the work of Osamu Tezuka, whom he befriended in the 1970s, becoming Tezuka's interpreter during overseas jaunts. And his latest book, The Astro Boy Essays, about the eponymous Tezuka icon, is especially timely, given that, for better or worse, Hollywood is finally about to release worlwide its own CGI take on the Mighty Atom on October 23.
Kudos of a different kind to another friend--author, translator and blogger Matt Alt. Matt's reporting on the ailing anime industry's recent round of self-scrutiny has been exemplary and insightful--and can be found in a tightly organized series here.
Matt's latest book, the charming and exhaustive Yokai Attack!, is another beneficiary of good timing: the Kyoto International Manga Museum, which I visited a couple of weeks ago after giving a talk in Kyoto, is about to launch an entire exhibition devoted to the history and pictorial imagery of yokai (Japanese monsters) called "Yokai Paradise Nippon: Picture Scroll to Manga."
The exhibition opens Saturday, July 11 and runs through August 31. If you can get to Kansai, check out the yokai.