Hayao Miyazaki always gets the credit

Hayao Miyazaki seems to be one of the most popular and the most known Japanese animation directors out of Japan, and no wonder with movies like Spirited Away, Howl’s moving castle or Porco Rosso; movies you can, and want, to watch over and over again without ever getting sick of them. But apart from this amazing animator and his team and studio, other directors are gaining fame among manganime fans and deserve to be mentioned.

Satoshi Kon, though he passed away some time ago and therefore can no longer create new movies, was one of the first Japanese animation directors to have his movies transported to the occident. I’m sure some older fans had seen Perfect Blue when it first came out, or if not at least Paprika or Tokyo Godfathers. Satoshi Kon‘s works are heart-warming and usually have some sort of twist or double meaning. He manages to combine music, sound and picture to make astonishing masterpieces that keep you glued to the seat even after the movie has finished. His Millennium Actress is one of the best movies I’ve ever seen, counting both animation and “real people films”, and it never fails to bring a smile to my face.

I first heard of Mamoru Hosoda when I saw The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and immediately after watching it I ran to try and copy the artwork before I forgot about how lovely the characters were drawn. The backgrounds are extremely detailed and you can somehow relate to the plot and characters of his movies, as they are usually high-school teenagers in worlds similar to ours. I didn’t doubt for a second to buy his newer movies Wolf Children and Summer Wars.

Makoto Shinkai is becoming more and more known with his latest films and I dare say that his backgrounds are even more breath-taking than Hosoda-san’s ones. The pacing is usually slow and gives you enough time to enjoy the scenery; my desktop images change between the backgrounds from Shinakai’s The Garden of Words and 5 cm per Second. And the endings aren’t always predictable.

Keiichi Hara‘s works create a fine line between our reality and a world mixed with supernatural elements, therefore creating the allusion that kappas might exist (Coo’s Summer) or that once we die we can have a second chance, like in Colorful.

Hiroyuki Okiura recently presented himself to me with A Letter to Momo and I already desperately waiting for another movie of his to come to me. Definitely a promising new director.

And the list surely goes on, naming a great deal of talented directors that I won’t mention. My point in complimenting all of the above was to show that there is much more to Japanese animation than Hayao Miyazaki, who always seems to get the credit. That said, I’m now going to the movies to watch Miyazaki’s latest film, The Wind Blows, that just came out in my country.

One of my personal favourites

One of my personal favourites

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REVIEW: Cat street

Title: CAT STREET

Author / Artist: KAMIO Youko

Other works by mangaka: Hana Yori Dango, Matsuri Special, Sayonara o Arigatou

Status: Complete (8 volumes)

Genre/s: Drama, romance, school life, shoujo, slice of life

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My opinion:

It’s basically about a girl (Keito Aoyama) that is a childhood actress, but due to her weakness she fails and becomes a shut-in. Then she eventually comes out to the real world and has to deal with life, while joining a special school and making cool friends and the like.

I thought it was a great manga, especially after a long time of not reading any proper shoujo. The story’s main focus isn’t the romance either, but more “finding oneself” and “getting ahead in life”. The main character wouldn’t be what you call stupid, but I think she still could do with some extra screws to get into my cool-female-character list. I was disappointed to hear that the same mangaka also did Hana Yori dango (which I didn’t like AT ALL), but the series have little in common, apart from the art.

All in all (I still love this city), it’s worth checking out if you don’t get too frustrated with manga sometimes. Oh, and Momiji wears some great dark lolita dresses that are interesting and give you ideas if you like to draw.

 

Average rating from Manga-updates: 8.9 / 10

My rating: 7 / 10

By the way, did anyone get the Kiki’s delivery service reference in here?

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Deadman Wonderland and Chenzhuang Wonderland

This is probably just me over thinking things and trying to arrive to conclusions and see similarities in things that have nothing to do with each other, but have you read/seen the manga/anime Deadman Wonderland? And you know that the theme park-prison is called Wonderland? Well, there is actually an abandoned theme park in China called Wonderland, in a village called Chenzhuang, near Beijing. The theme park had started to be built but the construction stopped in 1998 after disagreements with the local government and farmers about land prices. In 2008, they tried to restart the construction again, but it didn’t work out. Now children and photographers can run around freely, at their own risk. Most of these photos were taken by David Gray; the pictures are from the Deadman Wonderland anime. I’m sure the mangaka of Deadman took at least the name from this place.

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REVIEW: Prunus Girl

Title: PRUNUS GIRL

Author / Artist: MATSUMOTO Tomoki

Status: Complete (6 volumes)

Genre/s: Comedy, gender bender, romance, school life

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MY OPINION:

Today was a bad manga day. There are only two days left of my summer holiday and I wanted to make the most of the free time and read a bunch of stuff. Yesterday was ok; I started Slam Dunk and another manga called Banana bread no pudding that I might make a review about. Anyway, so today I was in the mood for something short and not very profound, so I picked up some one-shots. After reading Complex Love my mood became grim, but as I was lurking through the manga-updates forums in search of a good recommendation, somebody mentioned Prunus girl. I thought “great, let’s have a doses of gender bender” and started reading it. Anybody who had walked into my room after two chapters would have seen a black aura in the corner of my bed as I muttered how I hated the world (ok, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit here).

The main character, Maki, meets a girl while he’s off to look at his school marks. The first day of school however, the girl he met turns out to be a student from his class and she also claims to be a boy, despite him wearing the girl’s uniform. So then they become friends and stuff happens.

As a genderqueer, I found Prunus girl very disturbing. There were comments in there that offended me and it seems like the whole manga revolved around her being a girl or a boy. Nearly every five pages Aikawa-san has to say “do you think I’m male or female?”, and the next four pages revolve around what Maki-kun thinks she might be. What I like about the gender-bender genre is that the characters blur the lines between the different sexes and genders and make great pink and blue pies that nobody would understand unless they were reading the manga themselves. I don’t like stereotypes. I don’t like having to hear “boys do this”, or “all I can see is a girl”, or “you must be a boy because you said this or that”. And there was too much of that in this manga.

But as a non-sentimental manga gobbling monster, I think the story itself could have led to some funny situations and the art was ok too (not great, but ok). Still I had to leave it. If you couldn’t care less about stereotypes or have a binary way of thinking, I think this manga can be enjoyable, but if not I think there are better gender-bender manga out there (like Ouran high school Host Club!).

 

Average rating from Manga-updates: 8.3 / 10

My rating: 5 / 10

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My opinion on the big three

After watching this video:

I decided to give my own opinion on the big three. I don’t have an equal knowledge of the three series, but I think I know enough to be able to comment them. I have read the whole Naruto manga series up to volume 63 (the last published in Spain) and have seen one or two episodes of the anime. I have read up to volume 45 of Bleach and have also seen a few episodes. I have read the first five volumes of One Piece and some others from the middle of the series, but I have watched many episodes of the anime.

First things first: the manga of both Bleach and Naruto are WAY better than their anime. I was nearly bored to death with the episodes I have watched of Naruto, because not only was there too much unnecessary filler, but the art wasn’t that good either. And don’t get me started on the Bleach anime.
Naruto was the second manga I ever read, and therefore has a homely feeling. I will never give up Naruto. It has taught me how to be strong (mentally) and I got through three years of bullying thanks to Masashi Kishimoto. Plus it has great quotes that you can use in philosophy classes… I love nearly all the characters, girls included (I don’t tend to like manga/anime girls) and I feel like whatever happens to them happens to me. Anyway, Naruto is a great manga that has marked my life a lot. Some say that it is getting boring, but they are usually the ones who read it on the internet, where the quality is inferior to the original.

Bleach was the third series I started collecting, and it also has a nice feeling to it. I can spend a very long time staring at one image because it’s beautifully drawn. The characters are nice and the plot is interesting, but then, they’ve been going on with the same thing for ages and I think it’s time to discover a new enemy (or finish). Regarding One Piece, I didn’t really ever get addicted to it and actually don’t even have a single manga at home of the series. Not that I find it to be bad or anything, but for some reason it just doesn’t give me the “I love reading manga” feeling. However, One Piece merchandising is great. Luffy figurines are much better than any Bleach ones I’ve ever found, and all my manga/anime T-shirts are either from Death Note or One Piece.

In all three cases I think the fan base ruins the manga. It’s not a good idea to turn to the internet when starting to read them, otherwise you will probably end up hating the series. Plus, people have already told me a great amount of spoilers that I would have preferred not to know.

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So who are you anyway?

I grew up as a happy child in a (big) house in a corner of the world, but I was soon ripped away from my freedom and was placed in a Catalan school, countries away from my previous home. My younger sibling was too small to notice this change and my older sister quickly adapted to her new life. However, I became rather unsocial and dedicated my free time to scribbling on a piece of paper and claiming I was going to be an artist. By age ten I already spoke English, Spanish and Catalan and became obsessed with manga. My master drawing skills were directed towards drawing long-legged big-headed figures on all my homework papers. This didn’t last long, since my innocence was also taken away from me when I started high school and became the main target of laughs, insults and other kinds of humiliation. I became too shy to show my pictures to people, so they were quietly hidden away in my cupboard. My parents tried hard to upgrade my self-confidence, and signed me up for drawing classes and painting classes. I went through many stages and fazes, but it was only when my personal bullies eventually left the school that I could make use of the effort I had put into my self-defence and start caring about myself. My interest in Japan grew greatly and I took up manga and Japanese classes. I also started teaching English to a little kid and learnt to cook.

At college I was great enough to attract the attention of a new group of bullies, but by that time my ego was so big that it could difficultly be popped with a few swearwords and rude fingers being pointed at me. I became aware of my queerness. I started to like cosplay. I won a writing contest and appeared in the school magazine more than once. I fell in love with a non-existent girl. I lost some friends. I made double the amount of new ones. I decided to start a blog. And here I am today. I’m probably avoiding studying for an exam to share with you some silly little picture or observation from my day-to-day life.

Me before my mum made me cut my hair.

Me before my mum made me cut my hair.

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