Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Who is Agnes Lum?

Ok, stop me if you've heard this one...

Last week, I'm walking to Shinjuku station from my last Japanese lesson when I pass a used book store. On impulse, I step inside and end up buying a handful of books, including "This is the Police Box in front of Turtle Park" (Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kōen Mae Hashutsujo, usually shortened to "Kochikame"). Kochikame has been running in Shonen Jump since 1976, and I still read it every so often. Well, the thought occurred to me that it'd be interesting to see how the series started. So, I bought volume 1. Which I started reading yesterday.

(Kochikame cover from

I get into chapter 2 and there on the back wall of the police box is an announcement poster that reads "Agnes Lum wa hatashite 'shojo' nano darouka?" (Is Agnes Lum really a virgin)? So of course this raises the question of who Agnes Lum is. Asking aound, I'm told that she was a really famous singer from the 1970's. Checking the net, I learn that she was an Hawaiian-Chinese star that hit it off as Japan's first real pin-up star, model and singer. (I didn't know this.)

(Agnes, from wikipedia)

Further, I learn that Agnes was the model for Rumiko Takahashi's Lum-chan from "Urusei Yatsura" (all of which is actually heavily documented on the net, if you can believe the net, indicating that this stuff is new to only me).

(Lum-chan, from the website).

Finally, I get to the last page of the Kochikame chapter that started all of this, and three of the cast are being punished for breaking up the neighborhood, by having their heads shaved and having to stand with signs around their necks. One sign says "watashi wa rumuchan ga daisuki na" (I really love Lum-chan). I get the feeling that Kochikame's author, Osamu Akimoto, isn't really a big Agnes fan.

All of this from a simple impulse to step into a book store.


Kochikame started in 1976 and is still running.
Urusei Yatsura ran from 1978 to 1987.
Dr. Slump, which had character designs and poses very reminiscent of the early Ryuotsu character in Kochikame, ran from 1980 to 1984. Indicating that Toriyama may have been influenced by Akimoto.


odorobu-hilde said...

Wow, haha, and all that from curiosity. =D Most of that I didn't know either.

- Andrea C./Hilde

TSOTE said...

Hi Hilde, welcome to the blog. Since you live in Hawai'i, I'd like to ask if Agnes still has much visibility there now.

I should also add that I finished the Kochikame book And, Agnes is mentioned at least 20 times over the course of the 198 page volume. Have to argue that Akimoto was a true Lum otaku.

odorobu-hilde said...

Actually, I've never heard of Agnes until I read about her in you post. ^^; So I guess that would be a no, not much.

Wow, lol, that's quite a lot that she's mentioned in one volume! I'd have to agree. ^^;