Tuesday, January 17, 2012
Big Issue - Reiko Saibara
I've talked about The Big Issue before, but not recently. It's a small, bi-weekly magazine that comes out on the 1st and 15th of each month for 300 yen a copy, and is sold by homeless people as a way to give them some kind of an income. Occasionally there's a cover story on a popular manga artist, so when I moved down to Kagoshima I immediately went online to see if it was available here. According to the website, someone does sell it in front of the Kagoshima Chuo train station, but until just a few days ago I hadn't seen any traces of them. Then again, there haven't been any issues that I've wanted to buy, so I wasn't looking very hard.
Finally, on the 12th, I was walking from the station along towards the main post office on my way back home when I saw an older gentleman holding up the latest copy and trying to get someone to pay attention to him. Since I didn't want that one, I was about to just keep going past him when he shouted out that he also has some of the back issues. Now, in Tokyo, I would only occasionally see Big Issue vendors more-or-less by accident, so there were a few times when an issue would come out that I wouldn't know about it until a month or two later. Specifically, there was the Jan. 1st, 2011, issue on Gegege no Kitaro that I really would have liked to have gotten. So I turned around and went back. The gentleman very eagerly pulled out a stack of the back issues, and apologized that he didn't have anything manga-related that I hadn't already bought. At that point, I was almost just looking for an excuse to give him the 300 yen ($3.60 USD) because it'd represent a major portion of his day's sales, when I saw the above cover.
Reiko Saibara is not one of the most visibly-talented manga artists on the market, but her stories are very popular because they're more or less autobiographical, and she does a lot of interesting things. Like visiting Egypt and Africa, or getting drunk and then writing about it. Her Mainichi Kaasan (Everyday Mother) was turned into a TV anime series and a live action movie.
The rest of the magazine has lots of articles on charity work around the world, animals, nature, and current movie reviews. Definitely recommended if you can find someone selling a copy on the streets.
(Interestingly, based on the list of back issues on the back of this issue, Saibara was also featured on April 1, 2007, which had already been sold out at the time of this publication.)