Not many Kio tweets in September, so this is a pretty sparse entry this month. That said, there are some drawings that notably use Kozue from Hashikko Ensemble as Kio’s avatar. It’s interesting that he regards her (or at least her design) so fondly.
Kio retweeted an image describing an idea from a Tokyo University professor, who says that motivation comes from a specific part of the brain, but in order to activate it, you have to actually start doing it. Kio comments that even if he knows this, he’s still not able to work up the motivation. He then mentions drinking the energy drink Lipovitan D, and that he seems to be putting a lot of faith in it.
A drawing of Not-Kohsaka dressed as Not-Hato from Spotted Flower. Kio comments that sometimes he does have the motivation to do a big, high-quality drawing to his satisfaction.
His right wrist hurts, but he can’t figure out what’s the matter. It doesn’t seem to be tendonitis. Kio ends up wondering if it might be that he’s using a different mouse.
This past summer, Kio’s pet tortoise started leaking some kind of snot-like liquid. To take the tortoise to the vet, he placed it in a cooler bag filled with ice, and also carried a sun umbrella. Kio remarks that this made him look like an ice cream vendor.
Apparently, the tortoise is 21 years old!! While it’s doing better, Kio thinks the issue might be a change in environment, as Kio recently moved to a place with no yard.
Kio realizes he promoted a sale for Spotted Flower too late…
There was a hodgepodge of topics this month from Kio Shimoku’s tweets.
Kio has always had a problem with the air conditioner in his work area, where 28°C (82.4°F) is too hot, but 27°C (80.6°F) is too cold. This year, though, he has an AC that can be set to a perfect 27.5°C.
Kio wishes a happy birthday to Aoki Ume, author of Hidamari Sketch. (Seeing two of my favorite authors interact makes me happy).
At an Oedo Choraliers concert.
Kio reminisces about the Zukkoke Sannin-gumi, a juvenile novel series. Because Kio turns 48 this year, he read the sequel series Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi (when the child heroes from the original are now middle-aged) and thought it was the best. He thanks the author, Nasu Masamoto.
Someone mentions buying all of the Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi, to which Kio replies, “Amazing.”
Kio is two volumes away from finishing Zukkoke Chuunen Sannin-gumi and loving it. A fan of the soccer team Sanfrecce Hiroshima replies that the Hiroshima-born author actually had a collaboration with that time, and that a lot of the matches during that period ended up being very zukkoke (unusual, foolish).
Mourning the death of Kobayashi Kiyoshi, the original voice of Jigen Daisuke in Lupin III, who played him up until last year.
Kio promoting some new digital chapters of Spotted Flower, specifically starring Not-Angela! A fan replies with an emoji for panties, and Kio finishes the statement with “Please”—another reference to Genshiken and Spotted Flower.
Mourning another apparent death. This time, it’s illustrator Suzuki Masahisa, who passed away back in June.
Kio bought a new printer with a scanner function, and has moved his old massive scanner capable of handling A3-sized (manuscript) paper off his desk. He mostly works digitally now so it’s not always practical, but that old one comes in handy with things like scanning in paper drawings to use as extra materials for manga volumes.
Having more room on his desk means being able to use a dual-monitor setup, so he can look at references while drawing. He does this most often with women’s clothing.
A fan expresses how much they love “An-san” (Not-Angela), to which Kio replies that all three extra digital chapters this month revolve around her.
Promoting the third of the extra Spotted Flower chapters.
b, the huge Kimura Jin fan, asks Kio if he wants to promote a special campaign that lets you read the first two volumes of Hashikko Ensemble until August 31, and Kio does just that.
Kio has gotten around to gathering the film recordings and books he needs to put into manga what he couldn’t before. When asked what he’s drawing and if it can be shared on Twitter, Kio replies that it might be possible but it’s better to play it safe.
Kio talks about how exciting it would be go to the live talk event for Hirakata Ikorusun, author of Special, and ask about what happens in the final volume. (Hirakata debuted in Rakuen, the magazine Spotted Flower runs in).
Kio admonishes himself for still not being good at drawing panty shots after 28 years as a manga artist, and also for still putting in panty shots after 28 years.
Apparently, it’s not exactly for “work” (or is it?).
In a story where the characters are like older, alternate-universe doppelgangers of the cast of Genshiken, not everything fits together perfectly. Characters look a little different in ways that can’t always be explained by changes in age, size, or fashion. So I long figured that the blonde living with Ogino-sensei (Not-Ogiue) was actually an amalgam of Ohno’s two American friends, Sue Hopkins and Angela Burton. After all, this character may have had much of Sue’s demeanor, but her figure and proportions were a lot more like the buxom Angela’s. Turns out, however, that there is a Not-Angela, and she’s more powerful than I could’ve imagined.
Not-Angela’s big change is that she’s somehow gone from being all-in on “boys’ love” to being obsessed with “girls’ love,” as she calls it). According to Not-Sue, she likes any story where you can see the sense of love showing, though the fact that Not-Angela has her stuff adorned with yuri buttons makes it seem like that’s not the whole story.
The Genshiken Angela was implied to be very sexually experienced compared with most, if not all of the other characters—not surprising, given most were socially awkward dorks. Spotted Flower is a different beast, as it’s a story where sex and promiscuity are present in spades. Yet, even here, the aura Not-Angela gives off is still a level above the others, even if not much is actually shown. That said, a very exposed Not-Angela both gets a gratuitous shower scene and also tries to have a threesome with Not-Sue and Not-Ogiue the first night she’s there, so it might just be a matter of time.
Her relationships with the cast seem more or less similar to her Genshiken counterpart’s, including having a thing for Not-Madarame and a long friendship with Not-Ohno. Curiously, Not-Sue seems to have even more of a love-hate relationship with Not-Angela, though no real hints have been given as to what could have changed, or if it’s tied to the fact that both original versions had a thing for Madarame in Genshiken. It’s not a complete about-face from what their Genshiken versions had, but it just seems much more aggressive. Also, she seems to dislike Not-Sasahara, claiming that he’s the type to ask for a threesome, which cuts a little deep with a tinge of irony, given recent developments.
Not-Angela’s last appearance involves her flying back to the US, but not before teasing Not-Madarame by mentioning the striped panties she’s wearing—a personal weakness of his, and one that his wife, Not-Kasukabe, is all too aware of. This suggests that Not-Angela found out about this detail at some point and is taking advantage of it, but given the adultery that Not-Madarame engaged in not long ago when his wife just had their daughter, it feels tinged with a kind of uncomfortableness only Spotted Flower can bring.
I wonder if we’ll end up seeing a meeting between Not-Angela and Not-Kohsaka at some point. They’re probably the most eager to get in people’s pants out of everyone, though I don’t see anything happening between the two.
Out of all fan conventions, I consider Otakon the one can’t-miss event. There’s certainly a sentimental component, as I’ve been attending for about 15 years at this point, but I think their approach to the concept of the anime con is vitally important: a celebration of anime fandom that’s not for profit and also gives respect to both the creators of the works and the fans themselves. This year, Otakon 2022 shattered its attendance record with a whopping 40,000+ (roughly 6,000 more than the previous record), and I’m glad to see it thrive after a combination of a risky move to Washington DC saw an attendance drop and the arrival of a global pandemic threatened its very existence.
Anyone who follows Ogiue Maniax knows that I do not take COVID-19 lightly. I’m a firm believer in the science that says vaccinations provide significant protection against severe disease and death, and that good-quality masks are an important tool for mitigating spread. I’m also not so naive as to think COVID couldn’t possibly be at the convention. So why did I still decide to attend, especially with the Omicron variants being so infectious? There are multiple reasons.
First, above all else, is that Otakon’s COVID-19 policy reassured me that they take the pandemic seriously. Much of the US has been opening up in rather unsafe ways (if they had ever closed down at all), and some other notable conventions had tried to roll back their masking and vaccination policies despite the prevalence of the Omicron variants. However, Otakon maintained that attendees must either be vaccinated or present a negative PCR test result, and that masks are mandatory. A few more things could have been done, like requiring vaccinations and boosters, period, but it’s understandable that some people still can’t get vaccinated for reasons other than hesitancy. In my view, Otakon cared more about people than attendance numbers.
Second, the Walter E. Washington Convention Center is quite spacious and has tall ceilings that can help keep air circulating—it’s being in stagnant air in small, enclosed spaces that is especially high-risk, and I could do what I can to avoid those situations and/or make sure I didn’t take my mask off under any circumstances.
Third, I trusted my own risk management. In situations that are too crowded around me or where the mask usage rate is clearly lacking, I could make the decision to change plans or abandon ship and head back to my hotel. Although it might mean not getting to see something or someone I was looking forward to, it was something I was willing to accept. You can’t do everything at Otakon anyway. I did eat out with friends once, but it was on a Sunday when the majority of attendees had already left DC.
Of course, COVID safety only goes as far as whether people actually follow them. In that regard, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the majority of people wore masks of some kind and wore them over their noses like you’re supposed to. It wasn’t perfect, and there were plenty of ineffective cloth masks still being worn, but I think having the firm requirements come from the con itself might have encouraged attendees to follow their example. I also literally saw security go after someone with no vaccination/COVID-negative wristband in a reassuring sign of vigilance. Score one for mandates.
That’s not to say the con ran 100% smoothly, however.
I enjoy getting autographs from creators, and Otakon is often good at inviting a variety of interesting guests from Japan. However, ever since the move from Baltimore, the autograph area has been in the same space as the Dealer’s Room, resulting in a less-than-ideal situation. Attendees wanting to get their stuff signed have to deal with the massive crowd trying to get into the Dealer’s Room to shop, and I thought about giving up on more than one occasion because I was worried about being surrounded by people and increasing the chances of infection.
Exacerbating this was the fact that there was a major pedestrian traffic jam in the underground tunnel connecting the Marriott to the convention center on Saturday. Normally, this is the ideal way to get to the con if you’re staying at the hotel (as I was), but the huge delays meant I couldn’t return to my room and retrieve something I hoped to get autographed until it was too late. However, that was fairly small potatoes compared with the fact that those trying to make their way through the tunnel could be stuck in there an hour or even longer. There were also lines snaking out from the Marriot and at the convention center, and on a hot summer day too. It seems like the culprit is a confluence of factors, including the gigantic boost in attendance numbers, some confusion over COVID-19 protocols, and some mechanical failures that meant inaccessible escalators. Whatever the case may be, I hope Otakon is prepared to deal with this next year
Fortunately, I actually did manage to get a couple of things signed in the end: an old family copy of NES Bionic Commando from back in the 1980s, as well as a special edition of a My Youth Romantic Comedy novel from the author and staff (not pictured).
After my hiatus from interviewing last year, I managed to speak with some guests for 2022. Check out the following interviews:
If you ever want to hear from voice actors who love their craft and want to prepare the next generation, it has to be these two industry veterans. Furukawa is famously the voice of Piccolo, Moroboshi Ataru, and Portgas D. Ace. His wife is probably best known as Naru (Molly) from Sailor Moon. Together, this husband-wife voice team provided insight on how they train talents at their school, the ways they introduce emotion to their roles, and how to sound like you’re moving around without actually doing so (because the mic won’t pick everything up). One insightful thing I learned is that COVID-19 has upended the tradition of having everyone in the same room to record a scene (which made for better recordings, in my opinion), though important dialogues might still result in a two-person session.
I actually interviewed them back in 2017, but forgot to ask them about one of my favorite works: Zambot 3, where Furukawa played Shingo. This time, I got the chance to make up for that omission, and Furukawa answered that Tomino had very meticulous instructions and planning for voice actors, and he’d talk with each voice actor one by one. Furukawa said it was a very theatrical experience compared to other roles, though I don’t know if “theatrical” is a euphemism for something else.
Studio Trigger’s Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
While it wasn’t my first choice for aTrigger anime screening, I was still curious to see what they had in store for the first episode of Cyberpunk: Edgerunners. I’ve never played Cyberpunk in any form, but I was glad to see that the studio’s approach emphasized the dystopian qualities of its, well, cyberpunk setting over the “cool factor.” The stark class differences and crushing hand of capitalism make the hero’s anger all the more poignant.
After the screening, the staff showed some of their early character design sketches. The two things that stood out to me were the degree to which they had to revise to match the Cyberpunk video game creator’s vision, as well as the fact that they straight-up said the main girl character (who barely shows up in episode 1) was inspired by Motoko from Ghost in the Shell as they explained the big influence that cyberpunk as a genre had on them as artists.
At the end, they teased the SSSS.Gridman + SSSS.Dynazenon movie, which I’m eagerly awaiting.
Bigwest’s Macross Panel
When I found out there was going to be an official Macross panel at Otakon, I felt it was my duty to attend. After all, official Macross panels have never really existed in the US prior to 2022, with the closest being whenever Kawamori Shoji is a guest. One of the biggest moments of the panel was when they showed a video of the various Macross anime (narrated by “Maximillian Jenius” Hayami Sho), and a loud cheer erupted around Macross 7. The panelists mentioned that the title would have induced silence not so long ago—a sign of the changing times. Personally, I think that similar to JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure,anime fandom had to catch up to Nekki Basara instead of the other way around.
This panel has since garnered a bit of controversy due to the fact that Otakon announced that there would be something special. To Macross fans, that can mean all sorts of things because of its unusual history when it comes to licensing and the legal issues with Harmony Gold/Robotech. Speculation ran rampant: Could it be Do You Remember Love? A new Macross? Something completely out of left field?
It turned out to be the very first US screening of Macross Frontier Short Film: The Labyrinth of Time, which was originally shown before the Macross Delta Zettai Live film. It was a treat to see and it was downright gorgeous, though not quite the first thing to come to mind as a special surprise.
If ever there was a US anime company with a catalog made for me, it would be Discotek. Even when they’re not licensing titles off my wishlist, they’re giving others similar dreams. While Machine Robo: Battle Hackers is not everyone’s first choice for long-sought-after anime, their willingness to put out such obscure works is appreciated.
By far, the two big titles announced here are Space Sheriff Gavan and the complete Urusei Yatsura TV series. Neither hit me on that deep level, but the audience went bananas for both. I’m well aware of the significance both shows have to tokusatsu and anime fandom, and I’m looking forward to checking both out.
At a dinner with friends, I learned that Gavan is such a big deal in Malaysia that it’s become a part of the language itself. Using the word “Gaban” there means to describe something as epic or to evoke an image of bravery. I have to wonder how many works of television and film can make similar claims to fame.
I’ve done plenty of panels at Otakons past, but this year is the first time I’ve had to do two back-to-back. I had considered asking for one of them to be moved, but the prospect of getting them both out of the way in one fell swoop was appealing as well. Thankfully, the vast majority of the panel rooms were in close proximity to one another this year, making the transition a relative breeze.
The first panel was “Hong Kong in Anime and Manga.” The idea was to explore different ways in which Hong Kong’s people, culture, and environment are portrayed in anime and manga. There was a technical hiccup at the beginning that delayed the start by five minutes, there were no real issues otherwise. I was surprised that there were very few Cantonese speakers in the audience, but that just meant I had underestimated the need to explain the language aspect of Hong Kong, and could adjust on the fly. I also noticed how big a reaction a clip of Cantonese-speaking VTuber Selen Tatsuki received, which gave me an idea of her extensive reach.
I hope people enjoyed the panel. I managed to briefly talk to a couple of folks who enjoyed the panel (including a longtime reader!) before I had to hoof it out of there. I was also informed that I might have made more than a few people interested in checking out G Gundam—mission accomplished.
The second panel was “Mahjong Club: RIICHI! Ten Years Later.” It was the revival of a panel I last presented in 2012 alongside Kawaiikochans creator Dave, adjusted to take into account the many opportunities English-speaking anime fans have to play Japanese mahjong compared to a decade ago. One big adjustment we made was to deemphasize some of the nitty-gritty of the rules and to better convey the excitement and tension of a game of mahjong. For the most part, the audience was new to the panel (but not necessarily new to mahjong), so I hope we were able to give something for everyone who watched us.
There was an issue with text on our slides getting cut off; it’s something we can fix when we do this again in another 10 years (?).
A History of Isekai
Isekai is the elephant in the room when it comes to modern anime, and a panel about its history could easily strike a shallow cord. Luckily, this one focused primarily on the works leading up to Sword Art Online, mentioning the mecha isekai of the 1980s, the shoujo isekai of the 1990s, and the outsized influence of The Familiar of Zero. It’s debatable whether something like Urashima Tarou can count, though if it does, then it’d be amusing to show the anime Urashiman. Of course, not every title can be mentioned in an hour, even if it means missing out on the fantastic opening to Mashin Hero Wataru.
Digital Anime Fansubs: 2000 to Now
This panel was about the rise of digital subs around the turn of the millennium, and it focused mainly on the changing formats+file sizes, the brand-new frontier of getting anime straight from Japan within days (as opposed to months or even years), as well as the ways that fansubbers tried to establish their identities through practices like fancy karaoke effects. It was probably a fun introduction to this era for people unfamiliar with it, though I wonder if there would be a way to establish a more detailed history. It wouldn’t be easy by any means, due to the fact that this sort of subject isn’t really recorded, but maybe collecting anecdotes from fellow fans (or fansubbers themselves, if possible) could be cool.
A Sophisticatedly Unsophisticated Look at Fanservice
This was a panel by Gerald from the Anime World Order podcast, and I actually saw a fledgling incarnation of it ten years ago at Otakon. It was interesting to see him tackle the topic again, and there were definitely shows I remembered—namely the infamous Manyuu Hikenchou. This time, the panel had a more concrete idea of what it wanted to show, which is fanservice in terms of being things that are gratuitously superfluous. In that regard, the panel did take things to the next level, though I thought it still didn’t quite hit the mark on what would be considered traditionally “fanservice for girls,” which I think is more rooted in context and relationship dynamics than jiggling bits and crotch shots.
Otakon 1994 AMVs
One of the pleasant surprises this year was that the con decided to screen the original Anime Music Video Contest from the very first Otakon 28 years ago. It was a window into the past, particularly in terms of the shows that were being used (Riding Bean, Bubblegum Crisis, Detonator Orgun, and so on), and it’s even more impressive when you realize that digital video editing was still in its infancy back then.
There was a particular video that was considered “non-competing” that seemed to grossly revel in detailed depictions of violence against women. While I could see the argument against showing it at all, I do think having it available as a sign of what the fandom was like, warts and all, has at least historical merit. I would say I hope this isn’t a thing anymore, but I don’t typically watch AMVs anyway.
Wada Kaoru and Hayashi Yuki Sunday Concert
Despite the prominence of K-pop at Otakon this year (enough to have Hangul on the front cover of the physical guidebook for the first (?) time!), the only concert I attended was for the music of composers Wada Kaoru (Inuyasha, Yashahime) and Hayashi Yuki (Haikyu!, My Hero Academia). I wasn’t familiar with a good chunk of the songs, but the contrasting styles between the two made for an interesting experience you usually don’t get when the focus is on a single act. The real treat was during the encore, when they played along with the combination orchestra+rock band.
So that was Otakon 2022! It had some hiccups that made me remember that attending a convention is a conscious choice that requires risk assessment, but I definitely had a great time overall. I’ll leave off with a gallery of cosplay photos I took throughout the event. Cheers to another fine year, and I hope all my fellow attendees made it out healthy in the end.
Isekai are so ubiquitous these days that there exist genre parodies of famous properties. Whether it’s being reborn as Yamcha from Dragon Ball Z or Kycilia Zabi from Gundam, we have yet another twist to a familiar gimmick. I generally don’t pay attention to such works, but I made an exception for a recent manga that asks, “What if Amiba (aka Fake Toki) from Fist of the North Star got sent to another world?”
That’s Fist of the North Star Side Story: The Genius Amiba’s Otherworld Conqueror Legend. And upon hearing this premise, it felt so perfect. After all, one common trope is that the characters who get reborn and transported tend to be pitiful “losers” given a second chance, and Amiba is among the most pathetic of Kenshiro’s opponents. He’s also a terrible person, so the story feels ripe for both comedy and the possibility of greater development. For the most part, Amiba’s Otherworld Conqueror Legend does not disappoint.
At the start, the manga reveals that the way Amiba gets isekai’d ties directly into the events of Fist of the North Star: Kenshiro makes Amiba’s hands explode, then uses his pressure-points to force the delusional villain to walk backwards off a precipice. What’s worse, he never even hits the ground before exploding into a puddle of goo. Amiba probably wishes he got killed by a truck.
He then awakens in a new world that looks oddly similar to the post-apocalypse he once called home, but there are some notable differences. Namely, fantasy elements like magic and dragons are fairly common, no one has any clue about “Hokuto Shinken” or other martial arts, and a number of characters resemble established FotNS faces. Unlike Kenshiro’s young companion Lin, the girl Amiba first runs into is Lilin, a foul-tempered mage who reluctantly teaches him magic—which he turns out to be awful at. Amiba, of course, insists that can’t be the case because he’s a genius. He does manage to make effective use of his piddling magic by the end of Volume 1, so maybe there is something to his claims, but the manga makes it clear that Amiba is perennially just as much a dumbass as he is intelligent.
The series is quite good at playing on expectations from both isekai and FotNS. Amiba isn’t a terrible fighter—he’s just hopelessly outclassed in his original world. However, in his new world his combination of fairly extensive knowledge of Hokuto Shinken and its counterpart, Nanto Seiken, makes him a unique presence as per the standard isekai protagonist trope. The manga also shows that he got a power-up after reincarnating in true isekai fashion, though the gag here is that the boost is very minimal.
As mentioned, many of the characters are intentional knock-offs of minor FotNS characters: Lilin, Pat, Devil Reversible, and so on. While their appearances are close, their personalities can differ tremendously, and often the “bad guys” aren’t so bad. A fairly major character’s counterpart even shows up at one point. I appreciate the joke, but wonder if it’s being overused, and if the series could benefit from having more characters who are original.
The idea that this is Amiba’s chance to find glory, and the way his arrogant personality both helps and hinders him, is what makes The Genius Amiba’s Otherworld Conqueror Legend work. Is he going to find an odd sort of redemption? Or is he going to repeat the same mistakes? The fact that he likely will end up doing both makes me want to see where the story goes from here.
The summer brings new anime, and new thoughts from Kio.
New chapter of Spotted Flower came out at the end of June! The digital version just came out, a month later.
Kio drew a flyer for a Night on the Galactic Railroad musical. He did some art for it last month as well.
Kio’s tablet has been acting up, leaving trails when he picks up the pen. The two images say “New book” and “Greeting cosplay wife by kissing.”
When Hashikko Ensemble first began, Kio actually drew rough sketches for all the classmates as background characters. This is actually how Shinji, Kozue, and Kanon started before being promoted to being a part of the main cast. He doesn’t really remember any traits he might have thought up for the classmates, though.
Kio at a Tower Records exhibit for BASTARD! That first image apparently was a defining part of his youth, as he wondered how the heck the artist managed to do what he did.
“Huh? Could it be that drawing manga is actually a huge pain in the ass?”
Kio is relieved that the anime adaptation of Uncle from Another World is good. He’s a huge fan (oshi) of elementary-school-era Fujimiya. (Note: Before you think that’s a lolicon thing, you have to actually see what the character was like as a kid.)
Kio struggling with a manuscript. He can’t seem to summon the physical will to work on it further.
Kio realizes that the original Genshiken was serialized for only four years. Reminiscing on that time, he remarks on how everyone who supported him helped him to develop his skills in real time. He remarks on how young he was then, looking back.
Another manuscript finished, with a little preview to boot.
This is the earlier “kiss the cosplay wife” brought to fruition. Read the latest extra chapter of Spotted Flower.
Kio would like to see an anime adaptation of the gag manga Overlord: The Undead King Oh!
Otakon 2022 is this weekend, July 29–31, and I’ll be heading back to my favorite anime convention of all. This year, I’m running two panels: one by myself, and one with an old partner in crime.
Hong Kong in Anime and Manga
Friday 4:30 PM – 5:30 PM / Panel 2
I was motivated to do this panel because I wanted to celebrate the culture of Hong Kong but also critically investigate how it is used in anime and manga. Those who’ve been to my panels will know that I tend to take a more scholarly (yet still fun) approach, and this is no exception, I hope
Mahjong Club (aka Riichi! Ten Years Later)
Friday 5:45 PM – 6:45 PM / Panel 5
It’s been ten years, the Japanese mahjong panel is back! Once again, it’ll feature myself along with Kawaiikochans creator Dave. There are more riichi mahjong players outside of Japan than ever before, and more easy ways to play too! Whether you’re an experienced hand or someone who only knows mahjong by name, this panel has something for you.
In June, Kio Shimoku saw a bunch of movies and it was rad. He also responded to a question I asked him!
Following up on some tweets from last time, Kio managed to finally pick up some steam and finish some work. I believe he was talking about the latest chapter of Spotted Flower. He mentions having some movies he’s been waiting to watch.
Isekai Quartet—He loved seeing all the characters in this crossover get their time in the sun, but is especially found of chuunibyou Ainz from Overlord.
Inu-Oh—Kio found this to be a really moving and emotional film. The characters, the music, the animation, everything is great.
Gundam: Cucuruz Doan’s Island—Yasuhiko Yoshikazu at full throttle. To Kio, it’s like seeing a manga that’s not supposed to exist bubbling up from deep within the brain (whose brain is unclear). Much praise for the staff for a satisfying film.
Top Gun: Maverick—A highly entertaining film that did everything it was supposed to, then provided second and third helpings of the awesome on top of that. Kio recalls watching the original Top Gun in elementary school and really enjoying it back then. He also had the Top Gun video game for Famicom. It was tough and he never managed to land the plane.
(His description of the confusing controls reminds me of the class Angry Video Game Nerd review.)
I asked Kio about something he wrote in a Star Wars artbook! You can read more about it here.
Kio drew a promotional poster for a stage musical of Night on the Galactic Railroad!
Kio can’t stop drinking wine.
Enjoying watching more of his physical copy of the variety show How Do You Like Wednesdays? This time, it’s a program called “Jungle Revenge.”
Hibiki: How to Become a Novelist is one of my favorite manga of the past few years. Sure, it doesn’t have the mind-blowing thrills or soul-reverberating energy of other works. The art is also decidedly mediocre. But what Hibiki does have is ridiculous humor, unpredictability, and a protagonist I would describe as “spiritually akin to Stone Cold Steve Austin.”
The series follows a teenage girl named Akui Hibiki, who one day submits a novel manuscript on a whim. As a result, she winds up on a journey that brings Hibiki in contact with titans of the field, struggling aspiring authors, an eccentric but enthusiastic school literary club, and a whole host of other unique personalities. But while Hibiki’s quiet and thoughtful personality evoke images of a bookworm archetype or perhaps a demure “literature girl,” she also refuses to take shit from anyone. Whether it’s high school bullies, dismissive fellow writers, nosy paparazzi, or even a kid getting in the way of customers at the bookstore, they’re all met immediately with unexpected violence from this skinny girl. Hibiki isn’t particularly strong or fast, and she isn’t trained to fight in any way, but she will not let anyone try to use the trappings of civility and etiquette to take advantage of her.
Hibiki is not a malicious person. She respects creative passion in all its forms, and will go out of her way to encourage everyone to try their hand at writing so that they might express what’s inside of them, be they friends or enemies. Her fellow members of the literature club run the gamut—from the granddaughter of a famous author, to a childhood friend she knows is stalker-level obsessed with her, to a girl who likes cheesy light novels—but Hibiki supports them all. She cares little about celebrity and glamor, or the aesthetics of fame, as it’s the love of craft that motivates her. What she hates possibly more than anything else is people who shower her with praise but who clearly haven’t actually read her work. Hibiki honestly engages with the creations and feelings of others, and she expects the same in return.
That unabashed authenticity is why I liken Hibiki to one of the most popular wrestlers ever. While pro wrestling is a staged performance and everyone pretty much knows this to be the case, Steve Austin is famous for feeling incredibly genuine every time he walks into the arena as the sound of shattering glass marks his arrival. Austin’s appeal was that he 1) felt convincingly real, and 2) he would constantly kick the ass of his nasty boss, Mr. McMahon, who kept trying to humiliate him. That’s Hibiki to a tee—minus the Stone Cold Stunners, but still keeping the kicks to the gut and the chair shots (really). Though, if I were to describe her exclusively with anime characters, she’s like a cross between the eerily capable mind of mahjong prodigy Akagi Shigeru and the also-aggressive Taniguchi Mio from 22/7.
As I think about the appeal of Hibiki, I’m reminded of a series of tweets I saw by translator Dan Kanemitsu. In them, he expresses the idea that the reason Japanese culture places so much value on stories about middle and high school years is because they’re assumed to be filled with potential and agency. After you grow up, things change, and it just doesn’t come across the same way when a story is about a defiant adult. I feel that the character of Hibiki speaks to this sentiment on a very visceral level, and much of the satisfaction she provides is that she won’t let anything get in the way of that agency. In fact, the last couple of volumes of Hibiki even bring up this idea that the passion of youth can’t be maintained relative to her career. Without going into spoilers, the resulting answer is worth seeing.
Kio posts a Hashikko Ensemble drawing used for a Monthly Afternoon cover. A fan mentions that they originally thought Himawari would become part of the core cast, to which Kio apologizes but in a way that makes him sound like an elderly man.
Kio clarifies that Hanyama would be Second Tenor, and was supposed to join as a tone-deaf member, but it never happened. (In the manga, it’s mentioned that Hanyama isn’t tone deaf, but rather is the son of a monk and therefore used to singing Buddhist chants, where the notes are slightly off from Western music.)
The drawing with Hanyama should be the last of the color illustrations, though Kio thinks there might be one more.
It took too many chapters to get Kousei into the Chorus Appreciation Society, which resulted in Shinji becoming the Second Tenor of the group. While that wasn’t the original plan, Shinji’s use as a tsukkomi character came in handy quite a bit.
Right when Kio starts to relax, a new manuscript is due. (It’s likely a new chapter of Spotted Flower.)
A drawing of Kozue feeling something in the stomach, with Kio saying that he thought stomach warmer season was over, but it looks like he still needs it.
A rough from the new chapter of Spotted Flower.
Kio suddenly needed to handle a bunch of administrative work, which exhausted his mental capacity to keep working on manga.
Lately, Kio has been revising his roughs into line art for color images rather than using the pen tool to do so. For some reason, the latter approach isn’t quite hitting the mark for him, even though that’s how Kio does B&W art.
It looks like Kio got drunk while watching a DVD of the “Hajimete no Africa” specials from the variety show How do you like Wednesday?