Shinji Kajio

“Much of Kajio’s most memorable work focuses on some aspect of time abyss, the collateral victims of time travel in its various forms, the people they leave behind or the investigators who must piece together their origins.”

Over at the Encyclopedia of SF, I write up the remarkable career of Shinji Kajio, who began by writing about War of the Worlds, and focusses recurringly on the mess people left when they went away.

Archiving Movements 2

“I only have one afureco script now, kept on my bookshelves in case I ever need to show someone what they look like. As Kim and Ishida repeatedly observe, so many media materials are disposable, like cels that are often treated like industrial waste, or scripts that are left in piles on the studio floor once the actors have given them voice. I remember once, after a two-day audio recording session on the computer game Halcyon Sun, which I wrote with Simon Jowett, there were enough scripts on the floor to fill a black plastic sack.

“‘I’ll just clear away some of this crap,’ said the audio director, shoving them into a bin. And I remember a brief moment of anguish, and a voice in my head protesting that they were not crap, that they were a story that we had laboured over for months. But I could see, even then, that they were now superfluous to requirements, jettisoned like a first-stage rocket as the work went on its journey to completion.”

Over at All the Anime I remember the bad old days while reviewing the newly published Archiving Movements #2: Short Essays on Materials of Anime and Visual Media.

Hideo Furukawa

“‘Comparing a Japanese writer with Haruki Murakami is the laziest move a reviewer can make,’ noted Iain Maloney in the Japan Times, ‘but with Slow Boat, Hideo Furukawa leaves critics no choice.'”

Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I write up Hideo Furukawa, the post-modern author whose Inu-oh has just been announced as the next film project from Masaaki Yuasa.

Reframing Disability in Manga

“Okuyama also pointedly includes every manga character you’ve ever seen with an eye-patch as a reminder that much of ‘visual impairment’ in Japanese comics is merely a costume affectation with little consideration of how it might affect the character that has it.”

Over at All the Anime, I review Yoshiko Okuyama’s Reframing Disability in Manga, which covers everything from blind swordsmen to deaf schoolgirls.

The Seeds of Anime

“Whereas Japanese animators had thrived during World War II on contracts for propaganda and instructional films, the immediate post-war period saw severe contraction in the industry. Female labourers conspicuously disappear from the story of Japanese animation in the 1940s as the menfolk returned home. Competition in the labour market was heightened not only by the return of demobbed soldiers and colonists from overseas, but by the influx of former employees of the Man’ei studio, in what had been Japanese-occupied Manchuria. The leading artists of wartime animation suffered attacks from two sides, as propagandists working in the field of ‘incitement to war’, and hence liable to prosecution, but also as suspected leftists as the Cold War began to bite.”

My recent article for Sight & Sound magazine about the post-war development of the Japanese animation industry has been put up on the magazine’s website.

Pure Invention

“This is a wonderful book, exuberant and joyful, full of love for Japan but a deep appreciation of the sorts of links that get left out of popular accounts – political economies, human-interest stories and technological determinism. We do not merely get to experience the Sony Walkman through the eyes of its designers and the company chairman who just wanted to listen to music in public, but also through the eyes of Steve Jobs, who is fascinated by its miniaturisation and utility, and the ears of William Gibson, who discovers a “strange grandeur” to Vancouver as he walks around his city with a new and personalised soundtrack.”

Over at All the Anime, I review Matt Alt’s Pure Invention, a book about the material culture and stories behind some of the inventions that changed our times: the Walkman, the Game Boy, the karaoke machine, and anime…

Hideyuki Kikuchi

“…”it recounts the efforts of Earth’s vampire aristocracy to repel an alien invasion, revealing at least some of the back-story to what appears to be Kikuchi’s magnum opus, a millennia-spanning conflict between Dracula and Cthulhu, glimpsed in mere fragments across a time abyss that only appears vast to mere mortals.”

“It surely did the franchise no harm that its unifying surtitle, written in a syllabary unintelligible to American lawyers as the word eirian, leapt out from bookshelves at passers-by who might have assumed it was a tie to the film Alien (1979). Yoshitaka Amano’s cover artwork might also be complicit in this subtle fakery, depicting the schooboy hero as an occasional lookalike of the actress Sigourney Weaver…”

Over at the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, I contribute a monstrously huge entry on the work of Hideyuki Kikuchi, creator of Wicked City, A Wind Named Amnesia, Vampire Hunter D, and many more.

Royal Space Force

“Hideaki Anno had proudly showed the pilot footage to Hayao Miyazaki, who hated it. Miyazaki told him that on the basis of the material in the trailer, the film would have to be three hours long to cram everything in…

“Miyazaki would later say that the Gainax boys had swindled Bandai, putting together a pilot that was palpably influenced by his own Nausicaä, and then ditching much of the look of the material for something completely different, as soon as they had money in their hands. That’s not how Gainax described it, with [Hiroyuki] Yamaga… explaining in great depth how he had spent a year carefully considering and reconsidering how the film should look, stripping away anything that felt too much like it resembled any fore-runners in the field. What this meant, of course, was by the time the time Gainax got to work on their project, the only promise it was still delivering on was the promise to be like nothing else.”

Over on the All the Anime blog, I write about the behind-the-scenes shenanigans on The Wings of Honneamise.