Circles, Full and Partial: Belle

There’s a general arc to the films of Hosoda Mamoru. Over time, they have been increasingly concerned with family and the raising of children, to the extent that his early works can feel like a distant memory. His latest work, Belle, feels like both a return to older titles like Summer Wars and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time that comes by way of his decade-long focus on parenting.

Belle (whose Japanese title translates to The Dragon and the Freckled Princess) is actually an incredibly difficult work to summarize, as it tries to be so many things at once. It’s the story of Suzu, a teen girl who inadvertently becomes the biggest music sensation in an interactive virtual community after being unable to sing due to childhood trauma. It’s also heavily inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, with the aforementioned Dragon being an online version of the Beast who picks fights with everyone and has to run from a Gaston-equivalent with the power of doxxing. But Suzu also struggles with the cruelty of social ostracization at school, a self-inflicted strained relationship with her dad, relationship woes, and much, much more. 

I believe the way Belle harkens back to Summer Wars is obvious enough (virtual worlds and community), but when it comes to the teen aspect, I think Hosoda basically looped all the way back around. If works like Wolf Children and Mirai come across as explorations of how the feelings of small children influence how they behave and grow, then Belle is smack-dab in the tumult of puberty. Rather than entirely centering the world around teens, there’s a sense that the story is about watching over them as adults.

Belle is a lot, especially when you get into its various topics, including but not limited to: the Internet as a place to find oneself vs. the judgmental eye of social media, the way media facades can bring out positive qualities but also obscure dangerous ones, and the particular ways in-group vs. out-group dynamics run counter to the greater good, among others. At times, Belle seem like it’s going to burst at the seams, which makes it a full and rich experience but also at times thematically convoluted. The rich visuals and stunning musical performances help to tie everything together, keeping the package from falling apart at the end and delivering a complexity that has more merits than faults.

I don’t say this often, but I wonder if Belle would have actually been better as a long-format series. As 13 episodes or maybe more, all its components could be given more room to breathe, and the journey Suzu herself takes could have benefited from the real passage of time. The lack of a film-level budget might have meant a less exquisite presentation, but I think the themes could have rung truer.

Thinking about Authenticity vs. Deception on TikTok 

I like my social media to be text-focused. I’m not camera shy, but I don’t like that to be my primary form of exposure to the world. TikTok isn’t for me, and fair disclaimer: I still have no experience with it. However, when I reflect on my preferences, I remember one significant difference between the internet experienced by Zoomers vs. previous generations: the sheer deluge of disinformation that proliferates in more recent times. In this respect, the desire for a social media platform that emphasizes personal-feeling videos might allow for a slightly better (but inevitably imperfect) defense against bad actors.

One of the challenges of appealing to younger people on TikTok is that they value authenticity. It’s a nebulous term to be sure, but sleek traditional marketing campaigns can fall short for people who feel distrust when things look a little too polished. This is not to say that TikTok is free from scam artists and propagandists—far from it—but when I began to think more about the nature of text-based online communication, I recall the sheer number of fake accounts that are created to spread false information.

A white supremacist can grab a stock photo of a black person and then engage in digital blackface to share harmful political and social messages. Bots use artificially generated profile pictures to create entirely fake personalities to amplify some poisonous ideology, and if people aren’t looking carefully, one can be fooled into thinking they’re authentic. In contrast, it takes a lot more work to pretend to be black on a video platform than it is on one where all you need is a stolen or fabricated headshot. Deepfakes are an issue, but they’re not at the point where they’re nigh-impossible to spot—at least not yet.

Of course, TikTok is not immune to disinformation. It just disseminates differently, and adjusts itself to an online culture that is not only more video-based but also focused on being “short and sweet”—little nuggets of “wisdom” and “knowledge” that are anything but. I have my concerns about the way TikTok’s algorithm might be even better at sucking people down rabbit holes. That said, I think the difference in this moment in time might be that the imposter who’s claiming to be someone they’re not has to at least put in more effort to pull the charade off.

Diamond Drama: Princess Nine

1998’s Princess Nine is the kind of sports anime with an instant hook: What if a Japanese all-girl baseball team competed against the boys in pursuit of the national championships? It’s a series I’ve seen get praise from professional reviewers and personal friends alike, and as a fan of the similarly premised Taisho Baseball Girls, I came in assuming I’d enjoy it. While that was indeed the case, what I find especially intriguing watching it now is how this 1998 anime feels like both a time capsule and anomaly whose style and particulars haven’t persisted in more recent sports series, be they shounen or shoujo.

Hayakawa Ryo is a talented female pitcher who helps out with her neighborhood’s small-time baseball team, when she gets scouted by a prestigious private all-girls’ school to be the foundation for an inaugural baseball team—not softball—with the aim of getting to Koshien, the vaunted stadium that symbolizes the romanticism of Japanese high school baseball. Along the way, she helps recruit new teammates, develops a budding romance, learns the secret past of her deceased father, develops a rivalry with a teammate that’s also a love triangle, and plays plenty of baseball.

The drama of Princess Nine takes place both on the diamond and adjacent to it, and that is what makes the anime so unusual relative to so many sports-genre titles. Oftentimes, an anime will use sports as either a central axis or a starting point. The primary conflict of Kuroko’s Basketball, for example, is how Kuroko’s cooperative philosophy fares against his self-centered former teammates from the Generation of Miracles. In contrast, a series like Touch! uses baseball as the backdrop to a portrayal of nuanced human relationships. But in Princess Nine, you’ll have episodes dedicated to mastering the Lightning Ball alongside ones focused on romance, and ones where feelings interfere with baseball and vice versa. The resulting juxtaposition can often be a double-edged sword, generally making the show more gripping but sometimes feeling a bit too overwrought. 

If there’s anything that approach reminds me of, it would be old-school shoujo sports titles like Attack No.1. I have to think this is intentional, especially because of how one character, the aforementioned rival Himuro Izumi, is very much an archetypal descendant of Ochoufujin from Aim for the Ace!—her long and luxurious hair, the way she has the adoration of her fellow students, and even her literal tennis skills are cut from that cloth.

While Ryo and Izumi feature most prominently, the rest of the team showcase distinct personalities that really gives the sense of them being a motley crew where opposites attract, in a sense. One thing that does feel like a quality from a bygone era is how long it takes for the team to fully assemble. Early episodes are basically devoted to gradually bringing in each girl and showing both what makes them tick and the specific hurdles they face (from lack of confidence to family obligations and more). The fact that it was clearly planned for 26 episodes as opposed to 13, all without being based on a long-running manga, is the kind of thing you rarely see anymore. They don’t even play a game of 9 vs 9 baseball until almost halfway!

The looks of the girls themselves also embody a specific period aesthetic for female character design. With the notable exception of Daidoji Mao, the stocky ex-Judo player turned catcher, all of the girls have a particular kind of “narrow hips and even thinner waist” look that I don’t often see these days. Anime isn’t exactly a bastion for diverse body types, but I definitely notice a difference in beauty standards for contemporary anime characters compared to the at-the-time typical appearances of Princess Nine, even when you discount the changes to face design that have occurred in the decades since.

I realize that I couldn’t have gotten this exact perspective if I had watched Princess Nine back when it was first being recommended to me around the mid to late 2000s. At the same time, the fact that this show seems to draw so heavily from a bygone era of anime at that time might also mean that I wouldn’t have appreciated its old-school flavor. 

I also don’t know if Princess Nine was ever intended for a second series, but it definitely feels like it could have gotten one and thrived in the process. I have my doubts that a sequel will ever see the light of day, but more unlikely things have happened. 

RABBIT!: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for January 2023

Yesterday, I watched the Hololive COUNTDOWN LIVE 2022▷2023. It involved 3D concert performances by a variety of members including two of my faves, the currently COVID-stricken Haachama and the on-hiatus La+ Darknesss. I highly recommend it, especially the crossover sections between the girls of Hololive and the boys of Holostars. This clearly takes some inspiration from Japan’s long-standing end-of-year musical event, Kohaku Uta Gassen, but I’ve never actually watched it.

Looking back, it didn’t hit me how long the past year felt until I saw Kio Shimoku mention that Hashikko Ensemble concluded back in January of 2022. At times, it’s like the days move by all too quickly, and other times, it’s like they slow to a crawl. I can’t tell at this point how much of it is the prolonged funk of the pandemic and how much is just me getting older.

But here we are at the start of 2023 and the Year of the Rabbit, at least if we’re going by the solar calendar. Whenever I think about it, I find myself remembering a certain old flash video from the 2000s. Thankfully, someone uploaded it to Youtube, so I can inflict it on a new generation.

January’s Patreon subscribers are looking good. Thank you, everyone, and here’s to another fine (?) year.

General:

Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado

Alex

Dsy

Naledi Ramphele

Sue Hopkins fans:

Serxeid

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Blog highlights from December:

Elegy of Fire and Metal: A Tribute to Mizuki Ichiro

Paying respects to one of the greatest singers in all of anime who passed away.

Hololive 3D Concerts and Bringing Different Fans Together

This is partly an analysis of how different fans have different expectations for their VTuber faves, and partly an excuse to post more videos of La+ Darkness’s amazing dancing skills.

Prospera Mercury, She Is a Char

How the mom in Gundam: The Witch from Mercury nails that Char Aznable feel.

And normally, I only pick three highlights, but I must mention that I’ve selected my anime characters of the year.

Kio Shimoku

Kio’s tweets mostly show his model-building progress and his thoughts on the 2022 World Cup.

Apartment 507

Chainsaw Man Anime vs. Manga.

Closing

At the start of the year, I feel myself wondering if I should be doing more both with Ogiue Maniax and outside of it. One thing I’ve thought about is starting a Substack, but I have no idea how I might divide my writing. In my head, there’s no real differentiation between “regular” posts and “premium” ones, and I’d probably have to figure out some way to make it worthwhile. One possibility is to break off the VTuber stuff into its own dedicated area in case it’s becoming too intrusive, but I don’t think it’s that bad currently.

I could also do premium posts on Patreon, but that sort of runs into the same issue. If anyone wants to see that sort of content (or if you even hate the idea), feel free to leave a comment. I think I care less about the money at this point and wonder more about how to promote Ogiue Maniax in 2023. All the old ways seem to be vanishing (and Twitter is constantly on the verge of collapse because of its moronic new boss), and I still haven’t caught up.

Whichever ways things go, though, I hope you’ll keep reading.

Best Anime Characters of 2022

BEST MALE CHARACTER

Bojji (Ranking of Kings)

In a massively oversaturated field of boy adventurers and princes with great destinies, it’s easy for a hero to get lost in the shuffle. But that suits that perpetually underestimated Bojji just fine. Deaf and undersized (especially for the son of giants), the hero of Ranking of Kings is one of the finest examples of a protagonist to ever grace the world of anime because of how his combination of cleverness, grit, and a loving heart work as one. What’s most impressive is that while he has a disability, it’s not used as inspiration porn for the able-bodied. Bojji develops himself in specific ways due to the particular challenges he faces, and he is neither wholly defined by them nor portrayed as if they don’t matter. He’s a character who will stand the rest of time.

BEST FEMALE CHARACTER

Power (Chainsaw Man)

There are very few characters that have made as immediate an impact on me in their first appearance, and even fewer who can make me laugh the way Power can. From her slightly archaic manner of speech, to the way she clearly doesn’t think through most things, to her penchant for violence and undeserved self-aggrandizement, Power is a lot to handle. But it’s in the strange yet continuously growing bond between her and Denji that she reveals what can sort of charitably be called a softer side—though it’s more like she’s the type not to care about anything beyond herself until she recognizes it as affecting her emotionally. I love her antics, and I hereby nominate Power for a Nobel Prize in Being Rad.

BEST UNCLE

Uncle (Uncle from Another World)

Here is a character who speaks to me on a deep and powerful level. His love of Sega is second to none, the combination of reclusive awkwardness, gamer brain, and a caring heart (that doesn’t always come across in the best way) makes him an amazing combination of gag character and hero. I’m extremely biased for a variety of reasons, and Uncle was a hair’s breadth away from also being the best male character of the year, but I felt it was more fitting to dedicate a category just to him for 2022.

FINAL THOUGHTS

It was a seriously tough decision picking my two favorite characters of the year. I had to think a lot about the balance between the characters that are closest to my heart vs. those who impressed me the most, and any slight reordering of priorities would have titled the scales in other characters’ favors. In fact, I think 2022 was an unusually strong year for characters in anime, and in some cases, I even held back because I expect them to do amazing things in 2023 as their shows continue. But an entire year is a long time, and I feel like there might be some upsets on the horizon.

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights December 2022

Kio reveals his love of soccer/football and pays tribute to Mizuki Ichiro in this month’s tweets.

“This is what makes soccer interesting!” (Japan beat Spain in the 2022 World Cup on December to advance out of the group stage.)

Kio declares that he won’t buy any new model kits until he gets through these The Five Star Stories kits. Some of them are actually 20 years old. 

Kio finally tries the word balloon tool in Clip Studio Paint. He thinks he’s slowly coming to understand it.

Kio got out his disk copier to make a copy of the 2018 World Cup games he recorded. He’s also impressed by Croatia’s hard-fought win in overtime over Japan. Kio wishes he could have seen Japan in Top 8, though.

Kio compares Croatia’s momentum in the World Cup to a steamroller that crushes every other country’s dreams.

Kio is building one of his The Five Star Stories/GothicMade kits, and shows the parts. When asked if it’s the Kaiserin, Kio answers that it’s the Empress.

Kio also bought paints just for it.

The assembled Empress, before painting.

Someone asks where he got a certain kit he showed back in January 2022, but Kio responds that it was a present from a reader and no longer available for purchase.

Kio responds to someone who has the same Empress kit from an old Wonder Festival, and how the knees make it hard to pose standing. However, someone else shows what they’ve managed to pull off, which impresses Kio. He also agrees with someone who finds that the way the pieces are arranged in the box is similar to Tamiya’s motorcycle model kits.

Food from the store that prepares it for Kio’s pet tortoise.

The age of the model kit shows in a bit of deterioration.

The tortoise eats! There’s a video too!

Kio pays his respects to legendary anime singer Mizuki Ichiro.

Kio talks to the store that gave him his tortoise food, and mentions how quickly his pet ate through it all.

He can’t find his Vallejo primer.

Still having trouble with the Empress’s legs. Also, there are some extra parts whose purpose he’s unsure of. 

Fully assembled without any paint or modifications.

Not a Kio tweet, but note that there are special web chapters of Spotted Flower out this month! They feature debut of Not-Sasahara’s sister, Not-Keiko.

In response to the Rakuen account saying, “We want to see you do this from the bottom of our hearts!” Kio writes, “This is editorial saying this to a manga artist.”

Kio was thinking about the career of Lionel Messi after Argentina’s 2022 World Cup victory all throughout lunch. He remembers a young Messi moving to Spain, contrasts with Maradona, how that World Cup trophy eluded him, and how we can finally call him history’s greatest footballer. (If it isn’t clear by now, Kio is definitely a fan of soccer/football).

As a follower points out, Kio wrote about Messi (written “Messhi” in Japanese) while eating a meal (meshi).

Kio discovered that he had a spray can of primer after all. He found it in a cardboard box.

More tortoise chow from the same company as before.

Tortoise activity area.

Kio mentions that he has a kit for the Engage from The Five Star Stories on the way.

Kio enjoyed the final episode of Bocchi the Rock!

The tortoise is enjoying the heat lamp, but seems to be sleeping even more than usual.

Kio tried to lightly brush the primer he sprayed, but brushing and spraying are just inherently different.

Kio wants to get better at both building plastic models and drawing ero manga, but doesn’t feel that he’s made much progress on either.

The Empress kit with the base coat fully painted.

He also bought these special glasses for plastic model building.

Using a Citadel Colour set with a brownish shade color.

Best Girl, Less-than-Best Film—The Last: Naruto the Movie

I’ve always been a big fan of Hyuuga Hinata from Naruto, as well as a believer in the Naruto-Hinata pairing from day one. After all, she loved him before the glow-up, and could see who he really was inside. Curiously, in spite of my support, I had never watched The Last: Naruto the Movie—the work that is meant to portray the moment where their mutual love becomes fully realized. I decided to change that, and now I can lay out my thoughts on this ninja romance film: Eh.

Naruto has never been about romance. Sure, it has plenty of characters with feelings for one another. And the chunk of the fandom is notoriously extremely dedicated to shipping. But the main stories focus on conflict and relationships of a different variety, and often characters are just kind of implied to get together offscreen. Take Shikamaru and Temari, who have a cool battle, come to each other’s rescue, and just seem to start hanging out more.

What The Last does is try to deliver a grandiose story of emotional epiphanies and world-shattering magical ninja action, but it all feels like too much in too little time. There’s never-before-seen flashbacks to their earliest days. There’s an antagonist who seems custom built to position Hinata as extra special but without giving her too much of a limelight. There’s really overt “red thread of fate” imagery. It’s as if the movie is trying to make up for all the lost time that could have been used to really forefront their relationship, and cram it into approximately two hours. 

The result is something that feels like it’s pulling Naruto too off its stable core. Contrast this with Boruto: Naruto the Movie, which I found to be a genuinely moving and thematically resonant film. There, the emphasis on the generation gap between Naruto and his son with Hinata, Boruto, really speaks to the fact that Naruto has to face the challenge of being a dad without having known his own. 

In the end, perhaps the reason I didn’t take to The Last: Naruto the Movie even as a big Naruto-Hinata fan is that I feel it to be superfluous. The building blocks for their romance are definitely there, and they make for a solid foundation, but Kishimoto didn’t have to try to build an entire skyscraper with half the necessary supplies.

PS: Hinata’s birthday is December 27. Merry Christmas, and Happy Early Birthday! In spite of the problems, she’s still one of my faves. In fact, I just voted for her in the big 20th Anniversary Naruto character popularity vote.

What if Luke Is Not the Actual Main Character of Street Fighter 6?

Street Fighter 6 draws ever closer, and standing at the poster child of this new game is the American MMA fighter Luke. He was even originally introduced in Street Fighter V as the bridge to the anticipated sequel. But as prominent as Luke is, I actually think another new character might be the true protagonist of Street Fighter VI: the black female ninja, Kimberly.

The new Street Fighter leans heavily into an urban street aesthetic, most notably in the use of spray paint/graffiti as reflective of hip hop culture. While this motif been around to certain degrees since the very first Street Fighter (like on the title screen), here it’s a defining part of the look and feel of SF6. And if you look at all the new characters, only Kimberly incorporates spray paint in her moveset. She combines it with her ninjutsu training under Guy from Final Fight, taking the old and giving it a fresh coat.

I’m entertaining this possibility because I see it as a way for the Street Fighter franchise to stealthily push a forward-looking diversity that celebrates its international fandom while simultaneously shielding itself from the pitchforks of overly sensitive cultural conservatives who are afraid of having their games not be represented by a conventionally muscular manly man. Luke almost feels like a Trojan horse: “Look over here at this blond American tough guy! Isn’t he what you want?” Meanwhile, Kimberly thoroughly embodies the spirit of SF6. 

And that’s on top of having Ryu, Ken, and Chun-li still around. I could be completely wrong in the end, but even if I am, I think Kimberly is already a breakout character among a crowded roster of excellent new designs. She’ll at least wind up being the Chun-Li of Street Fighter 6.

Prospera Mercury, She Is a Char

“Char clone” is a fan term to describe a certain character archetype in Gundam. It references Char Aznable from the original Mobile Suit Gundam, and is typically used with a constellation of certain traits: some combination of a rival to the protagonist, who’s masked, morally gray, and mysterious. But while Char clones are practically a given at this point in the franchise, Prospera Mercury from Gundam: The Witch from Mercury might be the most Char of them all.

While Prospera Mercury is indeed a masked character, she’s also unique in that she’s the mother of the heroine, Suletta Mercury. And this isn’t a Darth Vader–esque secret either: Suletta knows she’s her mom, and Prospera even takes off her mask on a regular basis. At this point in the story, they haven’t fought, and there’s nothing saying that they will in the future. Prospera doesn’t have a noteworthy color scheme, she isn’t battling her daughter on a regular basis, which might appear to disqualify her from the ranks of Char clones. But what she does have is body language and a cryptic/veiled way with words that immediately brings to mind the Red Comet himself.

Prospera “Momznable” Mercury is voiced by Noto Mamiko, who’s famous for her gentle voice. Yet, every time she speaks, I can practically hear Char’s actor (the inimitable Ikeda Shuichi) reciting those lines. And every time Prospera is shown interacting with others, it’s like I can picture Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (the original Gundam character designer), drawing her making those exact physical expressions. It’s uncanny, probably intentional, and gives me goosebumps.

Other Char clones have the visual trappings or follow the tropes. Be it Zechs Marquise, Schwarz Bruder, Lancerow Dawell, Mr. Samurai, Harry Ord, Raww Le Kleuze, McGillis Fareed, or others, they look and act the role of the Char. But Prospera Mercury captures the soul of Char, and it makes her the most intriguing figure in all of The Witch from Mercury.

Elegy of Fire and Metal: A Tribute to Mizuki Ichiro

It’s poetic coincidence that the man who sang the Mazinger Z theme would die the same year as the man who composed it. Mizuki Ichiro, aka Aniki, the Emperor of Anime Songs, died at age 74 after a bout with numerous health issues. It’s especially sad that what took him ended up affecting his greatest gift: his voice. But rather than dwell on sorrow, I think it’s important to celebrate what made Mizuki one of the all-time elder statesmen of anime music: the undeniable passion that he imbued in everything he sang.

I’m not going to cover his life and history because that’s already been done elsewhere. Rather, like with Watanabe Chuumei, I want to explore my own history with the songs of Mizuki Ichiro. 

I can remember exactly how I first heard Mizuki’s 70s singing: On a VHS fansub there was extra space at the end, and the fansubber had placed some old anime openings. And among them were Mazinger Z, Combattler V, and Steel Jeeg. At the time, my appreciation for retro stuff was a bit mixed, as I found all those songs to be varying degrees of hoaky—though the intensity of Mazinger Z in particular stood out. If anything, I at least preferred the music from the then-modern sequels such as Shin Getter Robo Armageddon and Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo. Of course, Mizuki was also a singer for those OVAs as well, and I think something clicked in me as a result. He was one of my gateways into classic anime.

I gradually transitioned into having a greater love of old school anime songs, and I remember watching videos of live concerts that featured Mizuki alongside greats such as Sasaki Isao, Kageyama Hironobu, Taira Isao, Kushida Akira, Horie Mitsuko, and MIQ. And while Mizuki wasn’t as prolific as in his heyday, he could still deliver. When paired with Horie in particular, the two could make some real magic, such as in Dangaioh and Godannar.

It was also around this time that I learned about one of Mizuki’s greatest creations: JAM Project.

There are two basic strains of anime music: Songs made for anime and songs placed into anime. Neither means a tune is automatically good or bad, but in 2000, the art of making theme songs dedicated to the anime had long been an increasing rarity. After all, using a 90-second opening as a commercial for a new single has its practical uses. But Mizuki is one of the greatest examples of the first style—the kind where you shout the robot’s name and all the attacks and talk about how they defend justice—and he formed JAM Project, a band that still celebrates anime songs meant for anime. Though members have come and gone, including Mizuki himself, the roster over the years is a veritable Justice League of anison: Kageyama “Dragon Ball Z” Hironobu, Matsumoto “Pokemon” Rica, Kitadani “One Piece” Hiroshi, Endoh “Gaogaigar” Masaaki, Yoffy from the band Psychic Lover, Fukuyama “Nekki Basara” Yoshiki, Okui “Utena” Masami, Brazilian singer Ricardo Cruz.

And even among these younger singers whose styles were more modern, Mizuki could hold his own. In fact, whenever I listen to the JAM Project songs featuring him, I’m struck by how his old-fashioned sound added an extra layer of depth. Whether it’s “Soul Taker,” “Hagane no Messiah,” or “Koutetsushin Jeeg,” Mizuki’s voice provided a sense of history like only a handful of people ever could. Additionally, although he wasn’t part of JAM Project by the time Super Robot Wars Alpha 3 came out, the game made him the voice of the ultimate enemy, Keisar Ephes. I think that says so much about the respect given to him for his contribution to anime, tokusatsu, mecha, and so many parts of Japanese pop culture. I eventually got to see JAM Project at Otakon 2008, but by that time, Mizuki had long been out of the group. I regret not being able to see him in concert, but am grateful that I could experience his music at all. Playing Super Robot Wars 30 this past year, I found myself continuing to listen to his iconic themes.

Among my manga tweets and retweets about Mizuki is an abbreviated translation I did for Nagai Go’s message to Aniki. I think I’ll leave off with it, as it sums up everyone’s feelings well.

“We owe Mizuki for guiding the Mazinger Z theme song to becoming such a big hit.

Through 50 longer years of Mazinger Z, its continued popularity was ensured thanks to Mizuki. Every time, he would never let up, singing the theme with love and soul—that was his power.

He was someone who always went all-out, bringing out high spirits. This was the case for his stage performances, of course, but even when we got together normally, he was cheerful and humorous.

He cherished his fans, and he’d always bow his head from how he felt.

Thank you, Mizuki Ichiro. I pray for your passage into the next world.”