More Manga That Ought to be Licensed in the US
Takemitsu Zamurai by Matsumoto Taiyo and Eifuku
By McCamy Taylor
Matsumoto Taiyo is probably the best
that you have never heard of in the U.S. The live action
film version of
his manga Ping Pong is a cult classic that
Blue Spring was another successful live action adaptation
from manga. And the anime of
(Black & White) won
over the world. However,
the first work
by this mangaka to be released in the U.S., No. 5
after two volumes. If
you look around,
you can probably find a copy of the Tekkon Kinkreet
into English. If you want to read the rest of Matsumoto
Sensei’s work, you will
have to learn Japanese or read it online.
So, why Takemitsu Zamurai
(Bamboo Samurai) and not
one of the other titles? First,
is the subject matter. If you follow anime and manga, you have probably
that the most popular series in the U.S. are those that deal with
culture. What are Hayao Miyazaki’s most popular films in
America? The Japanese
folklore themed Totoro , Princess
Away . Rumiko
Takahashi has had a number of popular
series, but her big success in the U.S. came with Inu Yasha .
the longest running manga titles in the States are samurai epics
and Blade of the Immortal .
Subject wise, Takemitsu
has everything a
Japanophile could want. The manga is set in Edo (old Tokyo) and tells
of Senou Souichirou, a peace
ronin who exchanges his sword for a bamboo blade.
His past is a mystery. Just why are all those samurai
slice him up? He is a man of contradictions, a deadly fighter who opens
school for the local children and who pawns his weapon in order to save
them from slavery.
Next, there is character. No one
wants to read a stuffy
manga about history, even if there are lots
of bloody sword battles. Good writing requires good characterization,
and the hero of Takemitsu Zamurai is one of the
charming deadly swordsmen you will ever encounter in literature. Maybe
quite Rurouni Kenshin sweet---but at least Souichirou has a more
Last but not least, there is art. If
you have read some of
my other manga reviews, you know that story comes first in Japan and
second. This is the exact opposite of the U.S.
That means that many titles which are popular in Japan
will not make the
cut in this country, because of poor quality art.
In Takemitsu Zamurai the art comes first. And
second and third. There is no way you
can read this manga without noting the artwork, which is a modern,
version of old Japanese drawing. Some
people will be turned off by the art, which sometimes seems to
story. However, if you like your graphic fiction to include cutting
drawing, this is a story for you. If you are one of those people who
pick up well illustrated children’s story books, this one is
for you---and you
will not have to read about Timmy the Tiny Tortoise.
And now, a
secret bonus about anime conventions:
If you made it to the end of this
manga review, there is a
chance that you are seriously interested in anime and manga. In which
may have thought about going to an anime con. Here are a few tips which
jotted down on my recent trip
- Bring earplugs.
Even if your room is the one at the end of
the corridor on the hotel’s highest floor,
the room next door will be running an all night smash and scream party.
- Timing is
everything. Checking in at 2 instead of 4 can save you an hour when you
are registering for your room. And waiting in lines is one of the main
activities at anime cons. On Friday, I spent 3 ¼ hours
standing in lines. Tickets, elevators, shows---any one of these can eat
up hours of your weekend, unless you plan ahead.
- Bring a camera.
There is no way you will ever be
able to describe the guy in the fully operational seven foot tall mecha
outfit or the skimpiness of the cat girl costumes or the sheer
gruesomeness of the (twenty or so) Silent Hill
- Bring a shopping
bag. I have one of those lightweight, cheap but sturdy mesh bags you
get on the border of Mexico. Great for stashing that plush Kirby you could not do without,
the Naruto cell phone straps for the kids and the Gundam models you
will get around to building one day along with all the other
miscellaneous bits of anime advertising.
- Bring money. Anime
costs. Years ago, as my son persuaded me to buy his first
½ video the store clerk warned me that anime
expensive. He should have told me “Smoke crack.
- Wear something you
would not be ashamed to be seen in by a member of the opposite sex.
Unlike comic book cons, which tend to attract lots of men, anime cons
are crawling with women. If you want to get up close and personal,
consider going as an especially cute and fluffy Pokemon, like Snorlax
- Elevators are not
worth losing your life over, even at 11 am on Sunday morning when you
have not slept in 72 hours and you have to catch a flight in an hour.
See number 2 and consider leaving your room at 10 am instead.
© 2010 McCamy Taylor
McCamy Taylor is the long-fiction editor of Aphelion.
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