Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tokiwa-sou Playback, Part 2

Osamu Tezuka also has a "Tokiwa Monogatari" story in this book, which ran in COM. But he takes a different approach. The story is told from the point of view of the manor itself, which is given a feminine voice.

The building announces that it was "born" in 1952, and the following year two guys from a publishing house, one of whom was Terada, arrive with Terada moving in next to Tezuka. They were gradually joined by Fujiko Fujio, Ishinomori, and the others. The building had never seen manga artists before, then at one point there were 8 of them living there and close to 20 that would come to visit regularly. Tezuka was lazy and would try to escape to go drinking, but would be forced to work by his editors. After 10 or so years, they all moved out. Even after that, curious tourists and artist-wannabees would swing by to look the place over. Tokiwa concludes by saying that while it had a short life, it was filled with many great memories.

31-page "Monmon Mountain is Crying" features a young boy named Shigeru, who looks like Tezuka. He's weak and is picked on at school by bullies that challenge the other elementary students to "poplar sumo". The idea being that you take a twig from a poplar tree and try to pull it against the opponent's twig. The twig that doesn't snap wins. The main bully challenges Shigeru to poplar sumo and wins, gaining 7 pencils from him. The boy runs home, then continues on past up into the mountain behind the house where a massive poplar tree grew next to a shrine dedicated to a snake god. As Shigeru gathered up twigs, a strange man looking like a snake offers him the best possible sumo twig available. Shigeru wins, but the bully demands to know where the twig came from and beats Shigeru up for not talking. Shigeru returns to the shrine, and the snake guy helps train him to become stronger. Unfortunately, there's a war going on with China, and the snake guy has been drafted. Before leaving, he mentions that the mountain is crying because of the trees being cut down for lumber for the war effort. Eventually, there's a rumor that the snake guy is killed in battle and an urn with his ashes is sent to his mother's home. However, there's no ashes - just a piece of paper inside. A little later, Shigeru hears that a military road is going to run through the mountain, and the shrine and poplar tree are going to be demolished the next day. Shigeru runs out to the tree to mount a defense involving throwing toads and broken glass at the workers. Eventually he's overpowered, but the road crew takes pity on him and decline to report him to the police or military. The tree and shrine are torn down. Years pass and Shigeru returns with a young son and daughter in tow. He tells them the story of the snake god while looking out over the city that has consumed the mountain. The children think he made the story up, but he suddenly finds himself able to hear the sound of the mountain crying over the loss of all the trees.

At the end, Tezuka also has a 2-page article on Tokiwa Manor.

Hirou Terada, at age 23, was essentially "the old man" of the group, having more experience drawing than the newcomers to the manor did. He helped support most of them between paychecks, offering loans to the point where he was called "Tera-bank" behind his back. I reviewed the first half of his "Kurayami Godan" judo manga before, and he also had a kiddies baseball series called "Sportsman Kintarou". His style has a tendency to look kind of childish and dated, and has a strong flavor of "the 50's", compared to the other Tokiwa artists.

His 8-page "Tokiwa-Sou Monogatari" chapter introduces him as he first arrives at the manor at the end of 1953. He had a gig with Manga Shonen magazine, but at the beginning he was living between paychecks on cabbage soup and daikon radish salad, causing him to lose serious weight. Next door there was a hive of activity as Tezuka and an assistant worked on various titles simultaneously for several magazines. Because the editors would usually sit in the room to ensure that Tezuka would finish by the deadline, Tezuka would often slip out to escape them, and then Terada would be constantly interrupted by editors asking him where Osamu was. This was followed by artists dropping by asking Terada to introduce them to Tezuka. While he enjoyed working with the Tokiwa manor artists, the interruptions got to be too much and in June, 1957, he moved out to escape them.

The first manga included from Terada is "Shirokuro Monogatari" (White-Black Story), an 8-page gag story featuring Shiro-kun, a young boy enamored with Edo-era adventure comics. Wishing that he could have a powerful servant to help him, he succeeds in bringing his shadow - Kuro-san - to life. Shiro and Kuro soon encounter villains menacing a neighborhood girl, and Kuro defeats them. However, the idea of a living shadow proves too much for the girl, and for Shiro's mother when they return home that night, so that both of them faint on sight.

The next manga is the 3-page tear-jerker "Ojisan's Album". A young brother and sister visit their uncle and look through his photo album. They ask about the cute little girl standing next to the 5-year old uncle in one photo, and he tells them that she was a friend that lived next door, and played with him sometimes. She was really smart at age 4, but she became ill suddenly and died. At about this time the uncle's wife enters the room and asks why everyone is crying. She looks at the album and exclaims that that's her photo. The rest of the family attack the uncle, calling him a liar as he laughs away.

The third Hirou manga is from the "Seban-gou zero" series (Number 0 on the Back), entitled "Pero no Maki" (Pero's Chapter). Zero, a young boy that likes playing baseball and wearing his uniform all the time, is walking home in the rain with his younger sister, when they happen upon a puppy that has collapsed along the side of the road. The two kids bring the puppy home and try to nurse it to health while hiding it from their mother. She catches on quickly, and the three of them plot to convince their dog-hating father to let them keep it. The plan (give him his favorite food and beer, and tell him stories of famous hero dogs like Hachiko), works. The next day, Zero builds the puppy a dog house and they name it "Pero" (from the sound made when it licks people's faces). They go to the ballpark where one of the other players recognizes Pero as being from the litter his own dog had given birth to recently. The puppy had escaped the house and he was wondering where it had gone to. The boy takes Pero, leaving Zero's sister heartbroken. That night, though, the other ballplayer stops by their house, saying that the puppy had been so desperate to run away again that he's decided to let Zero keep it.

The section ends with another 2-page article by Hirou, and samples of his other works.

Takemaru Nagata was a frequent visitor to Tokiwa Manor. There's very little info on him in English, and most of what I have is from the Japanese wiki. From the bio in the "Playback" book, he was born in 1934 in Tokyo, real name Miyomaru Nagata. He debuted in Manga Shonen in 1951. In 1960, the first volume of "Bikkuri-kun" was published. While he wrote "Bikkuri-kun" and "Otto! Yome-chan!", most of his later credits were as a chief assistant to the Fujio Fujiko duo starting in 1970 (about the time at which the "Tokiwa-Sou Monogatari" stories ran originally in COM.

His 16-page chapter starts with his exiting Iidabashi station (in central Tokyo, between Shinjuku and Tokyo station) and running into the Yamane twins - Akaoni (1935-2003) and Aooni (1935-) (Red Demon and Blue Demon, real names Takashi and Tadashi Yamane. There's a long list of works on the Ohio State website, but little real info in English). He continues on to a small publisher set up in a former school building, Gakudousha (publisher of Manga Shonen), where one of the editors is piling up stacks of magazines along one wall to the ceiling. The editor offers Nagata "cut work", which is a part-time clean up job for other people's manga. The next day, when he returns with the finished clean-up, the editor introduces him to Hirou Terada. Since Nagata lives with his mother about 10 minutes from Tokiwa Manor, he starts visiting regularly. Other artists working for Gakudousha include one half of Fujiko Fujio (FFF). At a request from the editor, the artists join together to form a manga group aiming to take manga to all-new directions. Unfortunately, they're so successful that most of the Tokiwa gang get licensed to appear in other magazines and Nagata has to go to the manor to pass on the bad news that Manga Shonen was ending because of the stiff competition.

Nagata's principle manga here is "Oniichan" (Big Brother), 13 pages of 8-panel gag strips very reminiscent of the Archie comics. The main character is a teenage boy living at home. He's lazy and a little too happy-go-lucky, and his comments either irritate the rest of his family, or his girlfriend. The last page is a tribute to some of the characters he'd created.

One comment about Manga Shonen. I've written up a review of a museum exhibit on this magazine. It was formed in 1947 by Kenichi Kato, a former editor of Kodansha Publishing, and was a principle outlet for Tezuka and several break-out artists from Tokiwa at the time (i.e. - Ishinomori). It ended after 8 years in 1955, and Kato returned to Kodansha, where he went on to create several different magazines, including Shonen Magazine.

Kunio Nagatani is the pervert of the group. I've reviewed his "Aho-shiki" book, which is a collection of parodies of Yoshiharu Tsuge's "Neji-shiki", among other SF title send-offs. He worked for Fujio Akatsuka at Fujio Pro, and has the ability to mimic a wide range of other artists.

His contribution to Tokiwa Monogatari uses an art style similar to Yuu Takita's. He also worked with Go Nagai. He was an incredibly prolific artist, but remains mostly unknown in the west. His 7-page Tokiwa Monogatari chapter starts with him returning to Tokiwa one afternoon and seeing Ishinomori's and Akatsuka's shoes and geta in the shoe cabinet. An editor is in the room visiting with them, saying that another artist, Tetsuya Chiba, had cut his hand on a knife, so the magazine was searching for someone to submit something to Shojo Club in his place. Ishinomori finishes off a page while the others eat dinner. Then Abi (FAF) comes in with a movie camera and films Ishinomori clowning around in a fake mustache for a personal project. The editor leaves, and Ishinomori, Akatsuka and Nagatani go to a nearby coffee shop (the main clerk is squatting in an non-feminine way in front of the door, waiting for customers). As Fujio repairs his lighter, Ishinomori hits on the waitresses, talking about the Paul Anka Show, and Kunio tries to talk about the SF writers he likes (Fredrick Brown, Robert Sheckley and Robert Heinlein). They go back to the manor, where Chiba's sketches are waiting. Tokuo Yokota, comes in the room and Akatsuka comments on his foul smell. Going into Toku's room, they discover that he hasn't had a bath in a long time, and he's got soured milk fermenting in the fridge. Needing to take a break from Chiba's manga, Akatsuka, Ishinomori, Toku and Kunio go outside and horse around, as Abi tries to read a book in his room and calls them idiots for the noise they're making.

Kunio's first manga selection is a 6-page parody of Yoshiharu Tsuge's travelogue series, entitled "Hanabi-shi" (Fireworks Master). A character looking like Yoshiharu arrives at a village filled with disabled rockets and the remains of space explorers. The only other living creature is an old woman digging graves. He asks if there's something he can buy there and is told "no". He decides to spend time fixing up some of the rockets and rearranging the heads of the aliens. Finally, he launches the rockets and has them explode overhead, and the heads are lined up to look like people watching a festival.

The second manga is "Songs to George Akiyama", an 8-page piece with cameos from various other manga, including Tensai Bakabon's father. Kunio is walking the snow-covered winter streets of Tokyo when a naked woman gives birth to Ashura, Zeni Geba and Zankoku. This is followed by the lyrics for "Zankoku Baby". Kunio then tries drawing some manga, fails and goes to sleep. Bakabon's father declares him dead, has Kunio cremated and his bones shot into space, where they are discovered by a demon and reconstructed into a zombie. Each sequence has its own lyrics.

Finally, the 4-page "Momoe Yamaguchi" shows Kunio losing at dice against a female bar owner and another customer. They start talking about singer/actress Momoe, and Kunio gets excited over a picture of her in a swimsuit. There's also a 1-page article reminiscing about the Manor.

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