Friday, September 25, 2009

History of Manga

Stop me if you've heard this one before...

I first got interested in anime when I saw the movie "Akira" in 1990. I started learning Japanese a short time later in order to understand the TV anime shows I was watching, and one of the tools I used for my studies was a book copy of a Lupin III TV episode. From there, I continued reading (loosely speaking; it was really more a matter of looking at the pictures and tricking myself into thinking I understood the story) a variety of manga, including 3x3 Eyes, Geobreeders, Akira, Video Girl AI, Lupin III, Dragon Ball, Dr. Slump and Gunsmith Cats.

But, before all this, I was a big fan of western cartoons, specifically the works of Bob Clampett, Chuck Jones, Tex Avery, the Fleischer Brothers and Winsor McCay. I wanted to become an animator myself, but I lacked the artistic skill. Instead, I went the history route, reading every book I could get for biographies, studio histories, industry histories, and so on. My heroes were Preston Blair, Vlad Tytla, Shamus Culhane, Max Fleischer, McCay, Avery and Jones. The more I dug, the more I learned, and the more I wanted to dig.

Then, time passed, and I discovered anime and manga. And my tendency to dig and inquire caused me to try to do the same with this new interest. Problem is, there's not that much information available in English (regardless of the number of books out and entries on Wikipedia) and my understanding of Japanese still isn't where I want it to be. But...

I'm finally having fun. I've found the "James Burke" effect in the manga field. Person A influences person B, who nurtures persons C, D and E, who turn around and create tributes to person A. I'm nowhere near the source of the material (I need to go back to SAM for that), but a series of coincidences have combined to my benefit. First, it started with my visit to the Kawasaki museum for the Shonen Sunday, Shonen Magazine DNA exhibit. There, I picked up an English translation of the exhibit, which lists 100 of the most influential manga from the two magazines.

At the same time, I saw a model of Tokiwa Manor at the DNA exhibit. Wanting to learn more, I checked Wikipedia, where I found that Tokiwa was an apartment building that Tezuka (Astro Boy) lived and worked in for 2 years. His assistants at that time lived there as well. I then started looking up the info on his assistants, including the creators of Cyborg 009 and Doraemon, and the people that usually dropped by to visit (creators of Tensai Bakabon and Gegege no Kitaro) and started reading some of their books as well. This played into the fact that earlier the curator of the Suginami Animation Museum had shown me the souvenir books of the Tokyo International Anime Fair's Awards of Merit. The Merit awards went to the people that had made major contributions to the anime industry, including Tezuka, and the creators of Doraemon and Cyborg 009. Interestingly, some of the Merit Award winners also had works published in Shonen Sunday and Shonen Magazine and are included in the list of the 100 works in the DNA exhibit.

In the midst of this, one of my students mentioned Tezuka's "The Crater" as one of his favorite manga, so I found used copies of the 2 volumes and read those. One of the stories in "The Crater" is a "shout-out" to the artists working for Shonen Champion magazine in 1969 - half of whom came from Tokiwa, most of whom found fame in the manga world, and several of whom had won the TAF Merit Awards. Then, in Tensai Bakabon, there's a tribute to Shigeru Mizuki (Gegege no Kitaro). The more I dig, the more I want to keep digging.

(Tezuka's shout-out.)

But. As you may have noticed from the length of this blog entry, I also like to record what I've learned. And that's what's happening here. I've taken some of my other posts on the net and collected them in one index page. As I write more, I'll add to that index. (Especially the DNA exhibit - there's lots of material in that English handout).

Welcome to the world of manga history. It's kind of big, rather dusty, and there are a number of major gaping holes. But, I call it "home". Hope you like it.


Below are some of the Tokiwa Manor people that are next on my list to research, their names in Japanese, followed by the name of one of their major manga titles (in Japanese) where available.

Hiroo Terada 寺田ヒロオ
Sportsman Kintarou (スポーツマン金太郎)

Fujio A Fujiko 藤子不二雄
Parasol Henbe (パラソルへんべえ)
Laughing Salesman (笑ウせえるすまん)

Hideko Mizuno 水野英子
White Troika (白いトロイカ)

Shinichi Suzuki 鈴木伸一
Bubble (バブル)

Naoya Moriyasu 森安なおや

Tokuo Yokota よこたとくお

Yoshiharu Tsuge つげ義春
The Screw (ねじ式)

Shunji Sonoyama 園山俊二
Gators (ギャートルズ)

Jirou Tsunoda つのだじろう
Scary Newspaper (恐怖新聞)

Takemaru Nagata 永田竹丸
Oh! Oyome-chan (おっと!おヨメちゃん)

Kunio Nagatani 長谷邦夫

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