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- / Anime wallpaper

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/ Anime avatars

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Kasumi DOA

Asuka Anime Gothic


: Boris Ivanov 2:5020/779.90 18 97 04:49
: Mikhail Ramendik 19 97 15:11
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: Boris Ivanov 2:5020/779.90 18 97 05:56
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: [01/04] Otaku club

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Japan Interface and Otaku Club
An Online Chat with Scott Frazier
November 21, 1997
9:30-11:30 AM (Tokyo)
November 20, 1997
8:30-10:30 PM EST
Scott Frazier tried quite a few other avatars, including a high-tech stint
with the U.S. military, before taking the plunge into Asian animation. Talk
to Scott live about his life and work, animation jobs in Japan and around
Asia, and his personal projects (he makes his own CD-ROMs). Prep by
checking out his earlier (non-live) Otaku Club interview and his home page.
Visitor: (Mark Schultz) Ironically, the huge popularity of TV and movie
science fiction in the US is in the process of killing off the market for
quality written SF as more and more rack space, book budgets, and
advertising budgets go to media tie-in series books. Unfortunately few
Star Trek/Wars otaku seem to be making the long-hoped-for crossover to
reading the more sophisticated SF found in SF magazines and novels by
authors like Stephenson, Sterling, Swanwick, Shepard, Cadigan, Le Guin,
Wolfe, et. al.
Much of the best movie-length anime (Akira, Ghost in the Shell, etc.) make
excellent use of science fiction scenarios. In anime, as in most everything
else these days, the images get all of the attention (note the bitterness
of a word person), but somebody still has to write the story. Is there any
cross-fertilization between anime SF and written Japanese SF on either the
creation or consumption ends? Are any Japanese SF authors involved in
writing anime screenplays like William Gibson and a number of other US SF
authors are with live-action movies?
SCOTT: We sometimes see SF authors getting very deeply involved in the
preproduction work. Takachiho (Crusher Joe, Dirty Pair, etc.) is a good
example. Some authors who started out writing anime are now best selling
novelists too. (Ito (Patlabor, etc.) and Akahori Satoru come to mind.)
There is still a gap between them and it is usually the directors who
bridge the gap (if anybody does) rather than the producers. I don t know
about William Gibson s screenplay writing... maybe he should have stayed
with novels... (weak grin)
Visitor: (Fred Boyles, Austin, TX) It says above you were in the military.
Which branch? What did you do? Does it affect your anime in any way?
SCOTT: I was a 54E10B (Nuclear, Biological and Chemical
Decontamination/Warfare Specialist) in the Army. (Engineers.) It was mostly
Reserve but I did some active time. That experience/knowledge has helped in
many ways in my anime jobs. Every time anyone wants to know what nuclear
weapons, nerve gas or biological agents or whatever to use in their stories
they call me. More than that it has helped me when I ve needed to write or
help write military characters. Just the other day I was helping on a
script where someone had grossly miswritten an MP and I helped them get the
dialogue (and body language) right.
Visitor: (The Lizard aka Gareth, London) I am a graphic design student in
the London College of Printing & Distributive Trades(LCPDT) & as part of my
thesis, I am writing on Japanese pop culture, especially on the Japanese
obsession with all things retro (ie-70s culture, fashion etc). I need as
much help as possible regarding Japanese pop culture. Like, why r the
Japanese so obsessed with retro things. Is it because of the fact that
Japan is so modern that her people tend to want to look back into the past?
Or is it a belief that the 70s produced one of the best quality in pop
cultures(ie- fashions, cartoons etc)
SCOTT: That s a hard one. I know quite a few people who are really into
retro stuff. (One of the directors at a company where I worked is totally
into old US TV shows and anything dealing with Route 66.) I suppose that it
may have something to do with that (imported Confucian) "the good old days"
(i.e. the past was better than what we have now) ideology. (It s kind of
strange to me, since right after the war things were so bad and they really
didn t get to lay back and rest until the late 80s.) I wish I could help
you more with this!
Visitor: ("Alleyne," reacting to a question about the depiction of women in
manga and anime with exaggerated body features) I m really getting tired of
people talking about the "disproportionate women" or the "eating disorders
it must cause" (refering to anime) ... maybe they should take a look at
the REALLY disproportionate MEN in anime and manga. Anime and Manga are
about fantasy and escapism (MOST ART IS).I know that there s a message or
artist (belief/background) influence, but i dont think he or she means to
say that every woman and man should have ideal or distorted features.
Though at times i wish i could Ride a Motorcycle like Priss Asagiri, Fight
like Saki Asyamiya, And have the body of Rei Ayanami i would never risk my
health much less my life to do so. Even being Otaku i am, somehow i can
live quite contently, on a vicarious level through these women. Ever looked
at the work of Erte the famous graphic artist. His women aren t to near
reality and they re concidered to be master works. Nobody i know talks
about THEIR impact on female inadequacy. One has to remember that no matter
how real the characters in Anime get they are really phenominal WORKS OF
ART brought to life by talented voice actors... Who are (Correct me if i m
wrong) revered celebrities in Japan. And there not unrealistic by any
means. Hope this didn t sound TOO scathing, i sometimes loose my cool when
someone criticizes something i love. Scott, what do you think?
SCOTT: Women in manga and anime are not all "perfect" types. In fact there
are a LOT more manga where the characters are a little on the plain side in
order to be easily identifiable to the readers. Certainly, it s not like
the real world where there are normal looking people all over. But is
Hollywood that way? Are novels that way? Go way back to the works of Homer
and Shakespeare and other famous writers - heroes tend to be in the "more
human than human" category, even if only a little bit. Most of the manga
brought into the US is brought by people who know what will sell the most
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books possible. When they make their money, they bring over other things.
Look at the mainstream US comic books - now THERE S some reality
distortion! Voice actors are not really revered celebrities. They re like
all commercial idols here - products rather than individuals who rose to
the top because of their own talent. There are a lot of really terrible
voice people out there right now. It does make the great ones even greater
though. (This is why the studio I work with doesn t use the normal casting
companies for our movies and why Studio Ghibli used stage and movie actors
when they did Mononoke Hime rather than the usual crowd.)
Visitor: (Bryan Rock, Canada aka usagi ["rabbit" in Japanese])
i m usagi!
im in canada but my dream is to go to japan, learn japanese and become an
animation drawer...but it s a dream ... (Any advice?)
SCOTT: Take a look at my page about working in the animation industry here:
All the best (and sobering) advice I have is in there.
Best thing to do is just keep drawing, especially comics, for the time
being. Good luck!
Visitor: (Bill Marsh, Tokyo) What is the most common question you are asked
by people when you go to animation conventions? And what is a real
anime-kon (in Japan) like?
SCOTT: 1) "How can I get to work in the animation industry in Japan."
There s a lot of interest in it and not many sources of information. That s
why I made the aforementioned page about it. I try to keep it up to date
with new information too.
2) "Will you use my story/script/character/whatever to make an anime show?"
Most of the time the answer to this is "no" but it depends on the
situation. Anime companies don t have much money of their own and we have
to go to sponsors to get it so the things our staff members come up with
get priority. If somebody has an original idea and financial backing we re
always happy to work with them.
3) "How do you like living in Japan?" It s home now...
Cons in Japan: I ve only been to Daicon 5, over 10 years ago, WonderFest
once and a couple Comikets. They re very different from the US cons.
Comiket is vast and most people are there to buy self-published comics
(doujinshi) rather than take part in planned events. The US cons have a
whole program of shows, panels, and things like the masquerade and such but
the cons here are much more focused on one or two specific things per con.
When companies want to release something here they have their own media
events instead of doing it at cons.
Visitor: (Bill Marsh again) Who are your sponsors? Are they typical of the
industry in general? How canny do you think the people who underwrite anime
production are? Are they making the money that s there to be made, or are
they out of it, or somewhere in between?
SCOTT: Our main sponsors are music companies and toy companies. Unlike most
anime companies, we work with a variety of sponsors and creative teams.
(The president of the company decided long ago that he didn t want to be
tied down to one company - this was very wise!)
They re pretty canny. They have good minds for what will sell but will take
chances on things that might not be huge hits but will be good for smaller
market niches. They very rarely want script or story changes and virtually
never want changes to the images. This makes the production companies trust
them a lot more and makes it easier to work with them.
I d say that they re making the most out of what s there with what can be
produced. One of the reasons for the big voice actor boom (and the crowd of
poor talent) is that they ve been promoting the voice people as big stars,
releasing albums and all and then using the voice people again in other
productions so they get a continuous loop. It s a really good way of
maximizing profits.
I also think there are new market offshoots coming up that may eclipse the
existing market someday. They re aware of it too but don t want to change
until they have milked the current way for all it s worth.
Visitor: (Blue Cheer, Seattle) You really worked on GHOST IN THE SHELL?
What did you do? Were you satisfied with how it came out? Tell me some
stories about the job.
SCOTT: I did work on it but didn t really do anything very important. I
consulted on the weapons and digital technology. I joined the company just
as they were starting the production but I was in a different section. I
was installing a complete digital production system - Animo - and we needed
to run tests on it for 6 months or so before we could use it for real work.
The digital department shadowed the main production and did the same scenes
to see how they would compare to the cel versions. After the production
finished I ve also been promoting it at lots of conventions and such as
well. I was pretty happy with the way the film came out. (I d remake the
computer graphics scenes if it was up to me but it wasn t.)
The most interesting stories deal with what happened afterwards. Reading
reviews and commentary by people with the director and sometimes laughing
at what they thought about it and what their interpretations of it were.
("What s this guy talking about? Did he watch the movie or what?") I was
in Dallas with the studio president when it opened there and it was SUCH a
rush to go to a typical AMC theater and watch not only an anime movie but
one that I worked on!
I worked on the Playstation game opening as well (and did a lot more on
it). I helped composite it (do the digital camerawork) and did all the
screens for the various computer displays in the incidental animation.
Visitor: (Mark Schreiber, Tokyo) There s a lot of material in the Japanese
media about the baby boom generation, who seem to be terribly nostalgic
about Tetsuwan Atomu, Sazae-san and other figures of their own childhood.
In the U.S., comics of the 1930s and 40s appear to have continued to the
present on their own momentum. (Of course, new ones appear too.) In Japan,
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from what I can tell, this continuity appears to be lacking. Does each
generation have to lay claim to its own figure, or is there another
phenomenon that is responsible for this?
SCOTT: Most generations have their own thing, it seems. People my age (32)
are really the first generation to grow up with almost universal TV access
here so maybe things will be different. There is very little continuity
from the older shows and manga except for the few that have been kept
going all that time. Even then the characters don t grow that much. Manga
seems to be either shorter stories where there is a lot of dynamic
character growth or long stories where the characters are mostly like
There are some seemingly eternal figures though. Mach Go Go Go (Speed
Racer) is a good example. It s being remade again here and people can t
seem to get enough of it. Interesting article in the new Animation Magazine
(online) about it:
Visitor: (Marc Schultz, Kumagaya) I loved the music in Ghost in the Shell
that sounded like it was sung by a Bulgarian chorus group. It was perfect
for the futuristic atmosphere. Who gets the credit for writing/singing it?
SCOTT: The music was composed and performed by Kenji Kawai, who also did
the music for Patlabor and Blue Seed. They sent him the paperwork for the
pre-nomination for an Academy Award for Best Score but it didn t get into
the nominees. (I heard a rumor that they only would allow one animated
film (which would have been Hunchback) in the category but I don t know if
that s true or not.)
Visitor: (Blue Cheer, Seattle) You know Syd Mead? Cool. What s he like?
How d you meet him?
SCOTT: I do know him. We were introduced by a common friend who is bringing
anime to US (and worldwide) TV. He is very cool. He makes me quite
frustrated though - I have all these computers and twice the studio space
he does and I can t make something even 1/100th as cool as he can. (grin)
Visitor: (Jei Fubler Harvey (Planet AniPike)
Hey Scott! ^_^
Do you see any other anime companies taking a hard stance on the illegal
nature of some anime web pages, like ones featuring MPEG audio files, in
the upcoming year? Or one of the companies who have already taken a stance
(like Gainax) increasing pressure on web sites to respect their copyrights?
SCOTT: Hey Jei!
Anime companies, sponsors, publishers, music companies and other software
developers have been meeting since the beginning of this year and are
pounding out agreements about how to take on the problems. They re started
to move in spurts but nothing major yet. It will probably be next year
before they do something big and then they ll bring in the US lawyers and
make a few examples. There are a lot of sites that aren t any problem but
some that are just repositories for music, images and all such.
I try to not get involved with the copyright things, myself as it just gets
ugly and in the end either the owners are satisfied and the others are
really mad or the owners lose and the commercial side of things starts
getting really ugly. (Copyguards, trademarks on everything and big fights
all the time.) Not my scene!
Visitor: (Bill Marsh, Tokyo) You gave us your "favorite anime" list in your
earlier interview. Got some new favorites or additions that have come up
this fall?
SCOTT: Mononoke Hime is absolutely fantastic. Definitely see that!
I rewatched both the Shamanic Princess and Mahou Tsukaitai series earlier
this week and enjoyed them both more the second time around. (The former
has little story but is REALLY lovely. The latter is just good fun.)
Not strictly anime, A Chinese Ghost Story: the Movie is a really fun piece
of animation. The 2D drawing work was done in Japan (by Triangle Staff the
company who did the aforementioned 2 series) and it was colored, composited
and mixed with 3D in Hong Kong. It was directed by Tsui Hark, who did the
Chinese Ghost Story movies (the only Hong Kong movies I like) and Double
Team (I think it was - the movie with Van Damme and Dennis Rodman -
whatever it s called)
I kind of like the Hyper Police TV series. It s pretty decent for TV.
I think I forgot to mention the Blackjack movie in the interview. Another
Visitor: (Jei Fubler Harvey (Planet AniPike)
Is there any word on a possible stateside release of Jinrou Densetsu and
did you get to work on said film?
SCOTT: Still nothing on release in the US for Jinrou. (Our newest film by
the team that did Ghost.)
I changed off Jinrou and now I m working on another movie called
(tentatively) Blood: the Last Vampire. It s a dark, semi-horror film that
we ll release internationally sometime in Q2 of next year (if all goes
well.) It will be quite the effects and mood film.
Visitor:(Dark Star, Wichita, Kansas, USA) Are the Japanese animators doing
a lot of the "American" stuff we see lately? Starting with "Little Mermaid"
the Disney female characters are beginning to look a lot like anime.
By the way, this isn t just currently. An older TV special called "The
Hobbit" (based on Tolkien) used a Japaneese house.
SCOTT: I agree that the Little Mermaid looked "influenced" by anime. Still,
it was Disney and every line of what will go on the characters is decided
by their artists before it leaves the US. Their overseas offices can t
change anything. They re distributing Studio Ghibli s films now so maybe
they will be even more influenced...
Oddly enough, most of the US animation studio subcontractors are in China
and Korea now. Only about 1/6 of the amount that was being done here at the
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high point of Japanese subcontracting is being done here today.
I think that it s really more the designers being influenced by anime than
companies here doing it. (US comics also seem to be getting quite the taste
of the anime style too.) When I go to US animation studios now I see anime
posters and books and such lying around so I know they re very aware of
it. Maybe it s rubbing off... (grin)
I didn t know the Hobbit was done here. Rankin-Bass did such interesting,
bizarre designs on it that I couldn t figure out where it was done! I can
tell the Batman episodes that were done here versus the ones that were done
in Korea or Taiwan though just by looking at them and the way the drawings
are done.
Visitor:(Bob Wargo, Tokyo) Time just had a big story on whether the other
studios could challenge Disney s reign with "Anastazia" and some of the
other big projects in the works. What about Ghibli or Japanese animators in
general? Is there a chance of a serious commercial challenge?
SCOTT: Even though I ve been warned about saying this I m going to again
anyway. I think that Disney was so concerned with what Ghibli was making
influencing their market that they went out and tried to swallow them. All
they could get was distribution but even that is enough. The creative
staff at Disney was very excited about the possibility of working with the
Ghibli crew but most of their staff left after Mononoke was done. (It
wasn t because they didn t want to work with the Disney creative teams
though!) Miyazaki is retired now so they re not really a force to be
reckoned with anymore anyway. Now it s us (Production I.G.) and Beyond C
(Otomo s company - they did Memories) left in the movie business. Other
companies produce films but not the in the big way we do and not regularly.
I don t know whether an anime film could take on a Disney film and "win".
Mononoke has grossed 9,200,000,000 yen (love those zeroes!!!) (about, what,
US $176 million) since it was released in the summer. It s broken all
records and beaten even ET out and it s still in the theaters. How will it
fare overseas though? It s almost 3 hours long and has some pretty brutal
scenes. It s hard to say how audiences will react to it.
Copyrights (C) 1996,1997 William Marsh, PHP Institute, Inc. All rights
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Japan Interface and Otaku Club
An Online Chat with Mark Schilling
Manga and Hollywood
Final Version
Mark Schilling, author of The Encyclopedia of Japanese Pop Culture,
conducted an online chat in this space on AUGUST 29, 1997 from 9:30-11:30
AM (Tokyo Time).
Japanese film critic and industry observer as well as NHK Sumo commentator
and freelance journalist, he is qualified to speak on: Japanese pop
culture, including music, idols, manga [comic books] and anime [animation],
Tokyo night life (he s written a g uidebook) and the business scene.
VISITOR: (Dark Star, no location given) What led you to decide to study
Japanese Pop culture?
SCHILLING: Why did I start writing about pop culture? It seemed to be a
good way of getting at Japan. Pink Lady seemed to explain a lot more about
what was really going on in the 1970s here than, say, tea ceremony, but
most of the writing on it was either mindlessly adulatory,
hipper-than-thou patronizing or dryly academic. I saw an opportunity to
make a contribution.
Also, I just happened to be attracted to a lot of this stuff. I would
rather write about Godzilla than the trade deficit. A mix of opportunity
and inclination, in other words.
VISITOR: (Dark Star, no location given) What makes Japanese pop culture
*different* from other countries (not pachinko or Mac Rice, but what is
*really* different).
SCHILLING: Japanese pop culture is different because Japan is different.
Although Japan imports quite a lot of Western pop culture -- and
immediately begins Japanizing it -- a lot of pop cultural phenomena here
have deep, Japan-specific roots. Trace the origins of Shonen Jump and you
find Edo-era woodblock prints, Heian-era picture scrolls. The stylized hand
gestures of enka and idol singers have their origins in Japanese buyo. Look
at the dozens of Pocket Monsters long enough, each with its own powers
and characteristics, and you start to see the thousand-some Buddhas in
How do you define the difference? I ll get back to you in a couple years,
when I ve finished my thesis! The subject is enormous, time is limited!
VISITOR: (Dark Star) How is Japanese Pop culture *the same* as US or German
or Indian pop culture?
SCHILLING: The similarities between Japanese pop culture and US and other
pop cultures are easier to define. The major pop culture phenomena in all
developed and many developing countries -- pop music, manga (comic books),
television shows, movies -- are products of big industries that have grown
up around a few key technologies. Without television, my book would have
been shorter by more than half! The result has been the emergence of mass
cultures in which everyone essentially reads, watches and liste ns to the
same things at the same time. MTV circles the globe.
One hundred years ago, every area of Japan had its own folklore and
folkways, which had been handed down from generation to generation. Popular
songs stayed popular for years. Today, of course, you hear Komuro (or one
of his clones) everytime you turn on the TV, but who knows what will be
making teens buy CDs tomorrow. This same process has been repeated in
country after country.
Once again, I m getting into very deep waters and had better stop before I
drown in my own verbiage!
VISITOR: (Dark Star) Do you see a worldwide "Pop culture"? Something
unifying beyond the fact that Pop culture by definition means what people
between the ages of 15 and 30 think is cool?
SCHILLING: I would say a worldwide pop culture definitely exists and is
growing steadily. My wife s mother, who is now 88, and many members of her
generation, have only a shadowy awareness of non-Japanese pop culture.
Charlie Chaplin, yes, Frank Sinatra no. But by the time you get to my
wife s generation (fortysomething boomers), the horizon has widened
considerably. Is there a Japanese (or for that matter American, Brit or
Singaporean) under fifty who has not heard of John George, Paul and Ringo?
My son s generation is even more international. Is there a
thirteen-year-old boy today in the developed world today who has not played
Nintendo? As the world becomes wired to the Net this process will
VISITOR: (John Elwick, Indianapolis) Are there any Elvis type characters in
Japan ... sort of giant dead guys ... who still top the charts after they
SCHILLING: Japan s nearest equivalent to Elvis -- both in generation and
impact -- was Yujiro Ishihara. He came up as a James-Dean-type movie star
in the 1950s, with the pretty-boy looks and long legs that drove the girls
crazy, the cool-dude style, attitude and accomplishments (sailing, skiing,
sports car driving) that made him the envy of the boys. He began cutting
records, mainly enka ballads, and quickly established himself as a pop
singer. He never rocked like the Big E, but he churned out dozens of bad
movies in the sixties in which the rebellious teen persona of his early
years gave way to a conventional good-guy hero figure. As he aged, his
excesses -- he was a heavy drinker and smoker -- took their toll. He never
ballooned out of control, but t he puffy-faced cop he played in Taiyo ni
Hoero -- a hugely popular seventies TV show -- looked nothing like the teen
hearthtrob of the fifities. He died of liver cancer in 1987 at the age of
52. Immediately after, sales of his records soared, but no one, as far as I
know, has spotted him in supermarket parking lots.
VISITOR: (Jane LeFebre, Sydney) I ve heard that cross dressing on TV shows
is super-common in Japan. What s going on? Are these guys gay, or is it
some other weird gig?
SCHILLING: Cross-dressing for laughs has long been a common comic ploy
here, but then, isn t it everywhere? Remember Milton Berle, Flip Wilson?
No? What about Robin Williams in Mrs. Doubtfire? What is different about
drag on Japanese TV is the popularity of what are called "New Half" --
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young drag queens, not a few of whom really were midway in the transition
from male to female, who first started camping it up on late night shows in
the early eighties and migrated to daytime in the late eighties with a
ppearances on Tamori s popular "Waratte Ii Tomo" show. The "New Half" boom
has since peaked, but cross-dressing divas, including the fabulous Peter
and the ever-elegant Ken ichi Mikawa, have become fixtures on the tube.
Some of the biggest fans of these okama talento (tranvestite talents) are
women, who like their wit, self-assurance and style.
VISITOR: (C. Johnston, Los Angeles) Why is is that we so seldom read about
Japanese celebrities suing the media?
SCHILLING: Japanese as a whole are adverse to lawsuits, for good reason.
Court cases here commonly drag out for years and decades. If OJ had been
tried in a Tokyo court, he would be probably collecting social security
before a verdict came down. The case of Aum guru Shoko Asahara is expected
to take a decade -- and his defense lawyers are complaining that the judge
is not giving them enough time to prepare! The talent the media most loves
to bash, singer Seiko Matsuda, has never called her lawyer to sue for
slander. Why should she? The harder she is attacked by the media for her
various adulterous adventures and other peccadillos, the more her fans seem
to love her.
VISITOR: (Bill Reiley, Syracuse) Does Japan have an equivalent to Beverly
Hills, where top stars and directors live?
SCHILLING: There s no Tokyo equivalent to Beverly Hills; only the Sultan of
Brunei or Bill Gates could afford to live in Hollywood style on the world s
most expensive real estate. But many stars do live in Setagaya Ward, a
ritzy section in Western Tokyo that is a relatively short limo ride to many
of the TV studios.
VISITOR: (Harriet Sheridan, Brooklyn) Do you consider the influence of
manga (comic books) on Japanese culture insidious, benign, insignificant,
or what? How much of an influence do they have?
SCHILLING: The influence of manga is enormous -- nearly one out of three
books and magazines published in Japan are manga and readers range from
tots to middle-aged salarymen. As for whether that influence is insidious,
for years many Japanese regarded manga, even the most violent and sadistic
ones, as relatively harmless ways to blow off steam (Mothers who regarded
them as mind-rotting distractions from the study desk were major
exceptions). Though kids could buy porno manga out of neighborhood vending
machines, the social impact seemed negligible.
But with the case of the 14-year-old boy in Kobe, who was arrested in May
after placing the severed head of an acquaintance in front of a school yard
gate and was reportedly a big fans of violent manga, people are starting to
seriously question whether m anga are as benign as their supporters claim.
I personally monitor my kids manga reading, but I don t think that most
manga do any real harm. Waste time, yes. Harm, no. After all, I devoured
every issue of Mad magazine when I was a kid, and I managed to survive
(What me, worry?). I would feel like a huge hypocrite snatching Shonen Jump
out of my son s hands. But if I were to find rape manga under his mattress
-- well that s another story, isn t it?
VISITOR: (Jerry Y, Palo Alto) What makes Akebono a great Sumo wrestler?
SCHILLING: One undeniable reason why Akebono has gotten where he is today
-- grand champion of the sumo world, with nine championships to his credit
-- is that he is bigger than anybody else! But he is also a hard worker, a
fierce competitor and has a se kininkan (sense of responsibility) second to
none. As have fellow Hawaiians Konishiki and Musashimaru, he has truly
become a sumotori, with all the values that implies, and has, as a result,
won the respect of a lot of fans. (Though in his bouts with Tak anohana and
other popular Japanese rikishi, he is inevitably cast as the bad guy). His
victory in the Natsu Basho shows that he still has what it takes to win,
but his bad pins will probably keep him from dominating the sport again the
way he did in the early nineties .
VISITOR: (Charles Blankenship) Is the reason such small amounts of money
are spent in producing Godzilla and other fantasy/sci-fi films in Japan a
belief that enough money will be made locally on a film and there is no
need to worry about the international marketability of each film?
SCHILLING: The Godzilla films of the nineties, with an average budget of Y1
billion ($8.4 million), were top of the line for the Japanese film
industry. Films with higher budgets, such as Hayao Miyazaki s Mononoke Hime
(Princess Mononoke), which cost a reported Y2 billion ($17 million) to
make, can recoup in the domestic market alone, but they are rare
exceptions, for a reason. Beginning with the 1984 Godzilla revival film,
all of the films in the series earned back their production cost, with the
biggest earner being the 1993 Godzilla vs Mothre, which cleared Y2.22
billion in distributor revenues, but Toho was wise not to up the budgets;
the films did essentially zero business abroad. Thus the industry
conventional wisdom that Japanese films, of whatever description, should
only count on making money in Japan. This conventional wisdom is being
challenged now, with the overseas success of such films as Akira and, more
recently, Ghost In the Shell, but only a few brave souls, such as game
maker Namco, with its Y5 billion all-computer-graphics movie project, and
Studio Ghibli, which recently announced that it will be making a big-budget
all-CG movie for release in 1999, are putting their money on the line and
betting that Japanese animation films reall y can reach a wide
international audience.
VISITOR: (Thomas Staedeli, Switzerland) I m interested in Sumo and I want
to collect signatures of the most famous wrestlers. Therefore I would like
to ask you please if you can tell me, where I can write to the wrestlers by
snail mail. Perhaps there will be an organisation which will pass the
letter to the wrestlers or it will exist an address list of sumo wrestlers
in the internet.
SCHILLING: You can write fan letters to sumo rikishi care of their stables,
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: Boris Ivanov 2:5020/779.90 18 97 05:56
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: [03/03] Otaku club

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but don t expect them to answer unless you write in Japanese, are female
and include a photo of yourself looking drop-dead beautiful! I am kidding,
but truly, they will almost never give you an autograph at long distance,
even if you are babelicious. Instead, rikishi supply fans with signed
handprints called tegata, usually on white squares of stiff paper called
shikishi. To get one you must (1) be connected in some way to a rikishi s
support group or (2) buy one on the open market. If I were you, I would
looking for sumo web sites offering tegata of your favorite rikishi for
sale -- or advertise yourself. Happy collecting!
VISITOR: (B Elsen, LA) When I lived in France, I couldn t believe how
popular Jerry Lewis was in that country. Are there Americans that the
Japanese worship although in America they re next to invisible?
SCHILLING: There are several gaijin talento (foreign talents) who are big
here, but have no name recognition outside Japan. Perhaps the best known
(most notorious?) is Dave Spector, who came to Japan nearly a decade ago as
a producer for a long-forgotten American TV show called "Ripley s Believe
or Not" and, with the aid of blue contact lenses, blonde dyed hair, a quick
wit and a masterful command of spoken Japanese, quickly became a fixture on
the tube.
Otherwise, Japanese audiences usually toe the international line on who is
in, who is out. Tom Cruise is just as big here as he is in EveryMall USA.
There are exceptions, however. The longest enduring and most beloved are
the Ventures, a US instrumental rock group who had a few hits in the early
sixties (remember "Walk Don t Run," "Telstar" and "Pipeline"?) but have
since fallen off the pop culture radar screen in the States. In Japan,
however, they are regarded as the founding fathers of rock n roll, e
specially by middle-aged Boomers who fondly remember their concert tours of
the early- and mid-sixties, when they became the first foreign rockers to
bring their act to the Japanese hinterlands. The Ventures have since toured
Japan regularly, playing almost anywhere they can get a crowd, and still
pack them in. They have released several only-for-Japan albums and consider
Japan their second home.
VISITOR: (Mark Schultz, Saitama) Can you recommend any "good" Japanese pop
music? By that I mean good voices singing good tunes. Everyone knows most
idol singers are terrible, that s part of the genre. But even most non-idol
singers, and of course most all rock groups seem to lack high-quality, high
power voices.
SCHILLING: I m a big fan of Dreams Come True whose lead singer Miwa has a
voice that soars and a personality that shines. I also like Yuming
(Matsutoya Yumi) for her verbal wit and melodic inventiveness. Kome Kome
club is a fun act to watch and even mana ges to rock. Japanese pop music,
however, is short on rock divas; too many female vocalists, especially,
sing from their throat and try to sound sweet. The result: a lot of ear
candy that is tasty on first listen, but doesn t leave much of an
VISITOR: (Bob Wargo, Ogikubo) It seems like enka (traditional Japanese pop
ballads) are losing popularity. Is this a temporary phenomenon?
SCHILLING: I m afraid so, Bob, though I have the feeling that enka will
endure, much as blues and jazz has in the States, as an integral, if often
neglected, part of the musical culture and tradition. Can you imagine a
Japan without Misora Hibari? I can t either!
But in the mainstream pop world, enka is regarded as a genre for oldies and
has been relegated to sidelines. Watch the Sony pop music countdown show on
Saturday night: enka video clips get about one second of airtime. As I
mentioned in my book, there has been something of a revival in the
nineties, with new blood coming in as Baby Boom enka singers start to fade,
but it hard to see a kimonoed newcomer carrying the day against Namie
VISITOR: (walter x, sw usa) mr schilling what do you think of godzilla?
plus i was wondering if hes a big fan of godzilla and ultraman and are
there ways of getting video s directly from japan of godzilla and ultraman
that are not available in the us?
SCHILLING: Godzilla is a great pop culture icon and the first movie
("Godzilla," 1954), especially, is a must-see for anyone interested in
Japanese cinema. I m not a big fan of the recent entries, which are mostly
more of the SOS in ever-more-elaborate p ackages. I believe that subtitled
Godzilla tapes, particularly of the older films, are available abroad. I
would check one of the big online video stores that specialize in foreign
films (Facets) or check out the many Godizilla web site. A stone-Godzilla
fan in the States is sure to have an answer to your question!
[Note from the Moderator: You can get order info about Godzilla from the
"Godzilla" page in our "Idol Links" Page.]
VISITOR: (Pete Abrahamson, Key West) Is country music enjoying the same
popularity as it is in other countries? If so who is the favorite of the
Japanese fans?
SCHILLING: Country music is not a big genre here, despite the influence of
FEN, which ought to be called Far East Country Network for all the country
music it broadcasts to homesick servicemen (and women) here, but there is
an underground of fervent Japa nese fans. For years country music clubs in
Tokyo played the same tiny repertoire of "classic" country tunes (Hank
Williams for the ten thousandth time, anyone?), but many fans today are
more interested in contemporary sounds. I have yetto hear of any big-name
country acts touring Japan recently, though.
We recommend that you visit
Amazon Books
and search under Mark s name for his
Thanks to Mark for going 90 full minutes overtime to answer those
Copyrights (C) 1996,1997 PHP Institute, Inc. All rights reserved.
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