Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Tokiwa-sou Playback, Part 1

I mentioned in the AX entry that I stumbled across "Tokiwa-Sou Playback" when I was at the Nakano Mandarake used bookstore recently. Right after picking it up for 1000 yen, I returned home, where I switched on the TV and caught a little news story about a new booklet that is being sold in Ikebukuro now to promote "The Heroes of Tokiwa-Sou". The booklet looks pretty similar to the one I bought last year during that museum exhibit. Also part of the news story was footage of the Tokiwa-Sou monument that's sitting in an open park a couple of miles west of the Ikebukuro train station. Strange timing.

Anyway, "Tokiwa-Sou Playback" ("Tokiwa-Sou Monogatari" in the Japanese subtitle) is a 490+ page tribute to the building where Tezuka lived and worked from 1953 to 1954, and 13 of the people that either also lived there or visited a lot. The Tokiwa Manor apartment building was just west of Ikebukuro station. It was torn down in the 80's, but for 2 years right after it was built in 1952, Tezuka used it as his studio, and some of the artists continued living there afterward. Essentially, Tokiwa was a 2-story building sectioned off into small rooms with a common kitchen and shared toilet. It was in with a number of similar buildings in kind of an artist's enclave.

The book is divided up into separate sections for each artist. Many of the stories dedicated to the memories of Tokiwa Manor first appeared in Tezuka's COM magazine (his answer to Garo) in late 1969 and early 1970. The book itself was first printed in 1987 for 1500 yen. ISBN4-905579-90-2.

I'm going to break this up into 2 or 3 parts. If you want to see the full Tokiwa Monogatari section for each artist, please go to my manga.org index page for the scans. All images here reproduced for review purposes only.

First up is Fujio Akatsuka, creator of "Tensai Bakabon". There's a 16-page autobiographical piece showing Fujio joining Tezuka's co-tenants in 1956.

Initially he is helped by Ishinomori, who takes him to the movie theater and pays for his meals. Later, when he suffers a crisis of faith, Hirou Terada helps him by selecting various gag ideas and showing him how to focus on specific storylines. Eventually he gets a shot at doing some gag manga, and is thrilled to see his works in print. There are also a couple of anecdotes, including the time when he went into the main kitchen and laid on the big sink under the water faucets to escape the oppressive summer heat. Another time, Ishinomori had returned home for the holidays, leaving Fujio in Tokyo with a box of mochi (dried rice cakes) and just enough money to buy a bottle of sauce for making soup to last several days. A friend, Takao Yokoyama comes to visit and consumes all the soup at one sitting, so that Fujio has to live off the mochi until Ishinomori gets back. Akatsuka ends the piece saying that if he hadn't gone to Tokiwa he'd probably never have become a manga artist.

After this are some sample pages of 4-panel gag strips called "Tadano Sensei", and "Youloveme-kun". The section ends with a 2-page article reminiscing on his time at the manor.

Shoutaro Ishinomori (Kamen Rider, Hotel, Cyborg 009) provides a 12-page wordless montage of sketches.

It starts with his arriving in Tokyo by train as a student, setting up in his apartment, working with Tezuka and the rest of the group, sweltering during the summer heat, working while suffering from a fever, and eventually being the last one to leave after the building has turned into a broken wreck.

There's a 12-page parody of Disney's "Fantasia", some short gags from "Dekachibi Diary", and a 2-page essay about the manor again.

Shinichi Suzuki isn't well-known as an artist, but he is the current director of the Suginami Animation Museum. His nickname at Tokiwa was "Fuu-chan".

In his "Tokiwa Monogatari" chapter, he writes that he'd received some money to come visit Tokiwa in 1955 from Terada. At the time, he was also working in Suidoubashi at a design company during the day, and wanted to assist Terada at night on the manga. But he'd be so tired that he'd fall asleep at the table and Terada would draw on his face in ink. Shinichi provides a detailed layout of the manor's floor plan, as well as stories of how Fujiko A Fujio tried going into the women's side of a public bath, and how the two Fujiko Fujio's (A and F) liked to play practical jokes on everyone else (wasabi-laced rice crackers, fake bees, whoopie cushions and mouse trap gum packs).

This is followed by stills from a Tex Avery-inspired black and white anime short film called "Plus 50,000 years". "Plus" starts out addressing the viewer, asking you to compare animals that underwent evolution over the ages to the potential changes that you'll face yourself 50,000 years from now. Shinichi posits that you'll live on light energy, float everywhere so you won't need a body, and your one remaining arm will move to the top of your head to act as an antenna for your ESP powers. You'll choose a mate based on her IQ, and you'll fight off rivals mentally. Shinichi then has a 1 page article on Tokiwa.

Jirou Tsunoda didn't actually live at Tokiwa. Instead, he'd ride over on his scooter and visit almost every day. I wrote a review of his "Scary Newspaper" series. I really like some of the designs he has for female characters, but he's very erratic, and can't seem to draw profiles to save his life.

In "Tokiwa Monogatari", he provides a street map showing the west side of Ikebukuro and a number of places that the Tokiwa gang liked to go to. He'd started out as a manga artist and heard about Tokiwa by reputation. Between 1955 and '56 he was invited over by Ishinomori to join the new "manga movement" they were starting. The problem was that every time he dropped by, all the gang would do was talk about movies they'd just seen. Jirou was desperate to compete against them as an artist, so he set himself the task of drawing at least one page of finished work a day, and would draw while standing at bus stops or when he visited the zoo. The idea that the Tokiwa gang never seemed to do anything manga related while he was there infuriated him to the point where he finally quit the group and wrote a letter of protest which he mailed to the manor. Weeks went by and he didn't hear anything back. Feeling lonely, he sheepishly returned to the manor where Shimada told him to watch the staff more closely. Eventually, Jirou realized that all of the movie watching, manga reading and magazine collecting going on was actually research occurring parallel to the drawing that they'd do. Jirou finally accepted the possibility that there was more to art than just practicing, and he fell in with Kunio Nagatani and Ishinomori. They'd go out drinking at night, then stop at a cafe and throw story ideas at each other. This routine took place often enough that the taxi drivers taking them home at night knew them on sight.

Jirou's manga is "That Supernatural Phenomenon" (Woman Series #67). Initially, the story starts out focused on a female office worker whose primary goal is to snag a husband. She sets her sights on an up-and-coming manager sent by the home office for field training. After using a number of subtle tricks (which she explains to the reader), she gets the guy to propose to her. Some months after the wedding, she's packed on 100 pounds and spends all of her time lying on the floor in front of the TV, eating chocolate. The story ends with a scientific researcher announcing that this has all been an example of a special species of woman that evolves into a pig with time. Jirou's section wraps up with a 2-page article on Tokiwa-Sou.

To be continued...

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