Sunday, June 19, 2016

Frederik L. Schodt and new manga biography, "The Osamu Tezuka Story," for The Japan Times

Drawing on the past of Osamu Tezuka


By ROLAND KELTS

In 1977, American author and translator Frederik L. Schodt and three friends formed a manga translation group in Tokyo, with the then-quixotic dream of introducing Japanese comics to a global readership. Schodt had arrived in Japan in 1965, courtesy of a father in the United States Foreign Service. He returned in 1970 to attend university after a short stint in the U.S. At the time, manga were everywhere in Japan, he says, and a lot more fun to read than textbooks.

Schodt became addicted to the gag-and-parody series published in boys’ magazines. But one day a friend loaned him a copy of Osamu Tezuka’s epic 12-volume “Phoenix” — and he was stunned. “It made me realize that the work of Japanese manga artists was sometimes approaching the best in literature and film,” he says.

So he and his translation team went straight to Tezuka Productions to get permission for their debut project. To their surprise, the artist, already a celebrity in Japan, known as “the god of manga” for hit titles such as “Astro Boy” and “Black Jack,” greeted them personally and said yes.

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Godzilla returns to Japan after 12 years

Godzilla Resurgence: Japan Reboots Its Most Iconic Monster

After a twelve-year hiatus, Godzilla returns to theaters in Japan this July, and could be more relevant than ever.

By Jonathan DeHart


If the trailer released in April is anything to go by, Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Gojira), could set a new bar for the series.

Set to a dramatic musical score and devoid of dialog, the minute and a half of footage teases viewers with scenes of epic destruction, as Godzilla looms above, swaying what appears to be the largest tail in the series’ history. Fleets of tanks, helicopters and battleships unleash a vicious onslaught of firepower against the gigantic, irradiated lizard – to no avail – as panicked military and government officials frantically formulate a game plan and terrified citizens flee for cover.

As the 29th installment in the monster’s sprawling filmography is being met with widespread anticipation, it begs the question: What gives Godzilla so much staying power?

“Godzilla resonates because it’s a great character, visually, acting-wise, all the ways that characters become great. It is a great anthropomorphic representation of forces beyond human control,” Matt Alt, author of numerous books on Japanese culture, including Yokai Attack!: The Japanese Monster Survival Guide,  told  The Diplomat.