With the news of the death of Ye Yonglie, the public face of Chinese science fiction in the 1980s, I’m linking here to my extensive article about him in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.
Over at the All the Anime blog, I remember the actor Jay Benedict.
He had played Deak, one of the local slackers at Tosche Station on Tattooine, in a scene deleted from Star Wars: A New Hope, describing his performance as one of “playing space pinball” while Biggs (Garrick Hagon) told Luke Skywalker he was joining the rebel alliance, and Koo Stark “sat around looking beautiful.” When we worked together with Hagon on one anime dub, Benedict ribbed him about how Hagon’s character had made it to the final cut, only to get blown up above the Death Star.
Over at the All the Anime blog, I write the obituary for Sankichiro Kusube, a leading producer at A-Pro, and then its successor studio Shin Ei.
“Kusube not only dragged Doraemon back onto the air, but pushed for its leap into cinemas as well, personally guaranteeing the creator and the TV channel that he would take personal responsibility if Doraemon: Nobita’s Dinosaur (1980) proved to be a failure. It’s for this reason, his willingness to be the fall guy, that Kusube’s name made a rare appearance on the production credits for the film, which would go on to be the highest grossing domestic animation film of the year at the Japanese box office.”
Over at the All the Anime blog, I write an obituary for Mariko Miyagi, the actress who supplised the voice of “anime’s first pin-up.”
“It was like being in love,” wrote one fan, Hayao Miyazaki, decades later, “and Bai-Niang became a surrogate girlfriend for me at a time when I had none… I was hooked when I saw Hakujaden, and I wound up choosing to become an animator because of it.”
Over at All the Anime, my obituary for Hisashi Katsuta, the man of a thousand voices. Although maybe half of them were Professor Ochanomizu in Astro Boy.
As I predicted in my entry on Taku Mayumura in the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, his 1778 Stories for My Wife is the work that much of the Japanese media chooses to remember him by.
“In 1998, when Mayumura’s wife was diagnosed with terminal cancer, he began Nichigawari Ichi-hanashi [‘A Story A Day’] (1998) in order to distract her from her condition. Purportedly writing solely for an audience of one, this project would eventually extend to ten thousand pages, and endure for several years past Mrs Mayumura’s original estimated terminal date. Tsuma ni Sasageta 1778 Hanashi [‘1778 Stories for My Wife’] contains 19 tales of varying length, written in daily three-page instalments. The story of Mayumura’s Scheherazade-like attempt to keep death at bay was subsequently adapted into the film Watashi to Tsuma no 1778 Monogatari [“1778 Stories of My Wife and I”], likely to endure as Mayumura’s own epitaph and best-known work in the modern Japanese mainstream.”
In case you missed it, my obituary of Makoto Ogino over at All the Anime.
“Late in life, he finally seemed to find a happy groove with Oboko (2003), the tale of a plucky girl who inherits her father’s fishing boat, and finds herself renting it out to a handsome schoolteacher with a vocation for environmental activism. In one of the cruellest twists of fate, editors at the recession-hit Business Jump told him that new policies found it to not have enough sex and violence for their readership.”
“Who do you think are the greatest characters in history? I teach that the greatest character of all time is Jesus Christ, and the second is the Devil. The third? Buddha.” My obituary for manga writer Kazuo Koike, over at the All the Anime blog.
Over at the All the Anime blog, my obituary for Kazuhiko Kato.
“The editor said to me – ‘It’s hard to tell whether your art was done by a Japanese or a foreigner, so let’s create a pen-name that is indistinguishable by nationality.’ And after a lot of discussion in the editor’s room, they came up with MONKEY PUNCH.” Which was nicely inconspicuous.
My obituary for anime’s First Fan in America, Fred Patten, is up now on the Anime Limited website.
‘Fred was soon scooped up by a Japanese company, Hiro Media, which hoped to off-load straight-to-video anime on the American market, although his earnest efforts to interest American fans were hampered by two issues. “Firstly,” he wrote, “they weren’t very good.”’