I Have a Choco: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for February 2017

February might be Valentine’s Day Month, but how much I’ll actually discuss romance on the blog remains a mystery even to me!

Whatever the situation, I know that if I were in Japan, I’d be giving giri choco to my Patreon sponsors.

General:

Johnny Trovato

Ko Ransom

Alex

Diogo Prado

Viga

Yoshitake Rika fans:

Elliot Page

Hato Kenjirou fans:

Elizabeth

Yajima Mirei fans:

Machi-Kurada

Given that this will be the tenth year of Ogiue Maniax, I decided last November to do a Genshiken series 1 re-read. I’ve started with Volume 1, and you should expect to see them come out every other month. (I would have said bi-monthly but that phrase can also mean “twice a month,” so…) I’ve already felt like I’m stepping back into a different world, so I’m looking forward to the next article too.

Speaking of Genshiken, I also wrote a little post comparing Kasukabe Saki to Love Live‘s Nishikino Maki. The latter’s cooldere attitude reminded me of Madarame’s fantasy version of the former.

Perhaps the most important post I’ve written this month is on the subject of butts in anime. In it, I detail increasing presence of large rears in Japanese animation, and put forth my own hypothesis on why this has occurred. The seeds of this post have been germinating in my head for a very long time, even before Ogiue Maniax ever began. If you want to see more content like this, let me know. I just hope it doesn’t take me another 10 years to write one!\

I was also sad to see the end of Soredemo Machi ga Mawatteiru aka And Yet the Town Moves. It’s a very unique series in a lot of ways, and I look forward to seeing what the artist does next.

On the video game side, I’ve written a couple of posts thinking about what how players view competitive games, and what they can potentially do to both bring in a bigger audience and keep them from running away in fear.

As for this month’s Patreon-sponsored post, I looked at the subject of babies in anime and manga. My rating of babies is based on how much they make their parents suffer, I guess. If you have a subject you really, really want me to write about, it’s just a one-time $30 pledge.

If you’re wondering why I have it at that price, it’s just because I don’t necessarily want the blog to consist primarily of requests as opposed to my own ideas. That being said, I am considering maybe offering a poll with three or four topics that can be voted on with Patreon pledges. Is this an idea readers would be on board for?

Overall, I think this was a pretty solid month. I don’t have a wholly solid idea of what’s going to come next, but it might be a bit less review-heavy compared to this one.

 

 

 

 

And Yet the Town Concludes: Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru Final Chapter (and Other) Thoughts

soremachi-finalchapter

Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru (“And Yet the Town Moves”) recently concluded its 11-year manga run in Japan. Even to the very end Soremachi captures the souls of the town members who populate its setting, telling their stories with a kind of quirky levity.

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The premise of Soremachi is as follows: Arashiyama Hotori is a high school student, a clutz, an aspiring detective, and (ostensibly) a maid at a cafe. However, this is less a “maid cafe” and more a “cafe that happens to have waitresses dressed as maids.” With only the most nebulous notion of the maid cafe as the focal point of many of its stories, Soremachi proceeds to explore the lives of its characters. From occult mysteries to unrequited teenage love triangles to old men arguing about the past, the manga basically plays fast and loose with its narrative, but the consistent charms and personality traits of its eclectic cast always keep it a joy to read.

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So how does an open-ended manga such as Soremachi close the book on its story? The answer is that it finishes much as it began: frivolous and free-wheeling in its continuous portrayal of an occasionally bizarre “everyday,”

Warning: Ending Spoilers

In the penultimate chapter of Soremachi,  Hotori appears to be visited by a higher-dimensional being. This is not the first time that Hotori has seemingly encountered otherworldly entities. From angels to time travelers to aliens, somehow Hotori’s life has continued to remain fairly mundane. However, this time the visitor gives Kotori a challenge. The following day, there is going to be a typhoon, and Hotori has to choose between saving everyone in town but vanishing from history in the process, or stay alive but sacrifice 3,000 lives in her place.

In the final chapter, Hotori’s classmates are all discussing that there appears to be something wrong with their memories. For some reason, they all seem to remember a classmate, possibly a girl, who was cheerful and energetic. Suddenly, Sanada and Tatsuno, Hotori’s two closest friends, spot a girl on the other side of the building. They follow her, and…

It’s revealed that they were rehearsing a play. Hotori did not sacrifice the memory of her existence, and everything about the mysterious girl lingering in their minds was from the script, which Hotori wrote. They’re chasing her down because she hasn’t written the ending yet, to which Hotori replies that, essentially, if the climax was made dramatic enough, then an ending would naturally follow. The chapter, and the series, ends with Hotori as author-surrogate proclaiming:

soremachi-endingpage

While the conclusion of Soremachi might feel at first to be a cop-out, given that there were plot threads that could have seen resolution, I think it’s all too appropriate for the series. Much like the lackadaisical attitude the manga and its characters took towards its own premise of a “maid cafe,” having a last chapter pretty much negate the gravitas of the previous one, and then turn into a “non-ending” is very indicative of a series about a town that keeps moving. Also, because many of the smaller subplots were able to resolve in the chapters leading up to the end, the series unwinds in a satisfying way.

soremachi-konfutaba

My only complaint in the end is not enough of my favorite Soremachi character, Kon Futaba. This is no fault of the manga itself, because she’s actually in it very often, even a couple of chapters from the finish. She’s just amazing, is all.

Further Reading:

And Yet the Digital Manga Moves: Soremachi is Back

Soremachi Creator Ishiguro and His Two Biggest Influences

 

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Soremachi Creator Ishiguro and His Two Biggest Influences

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In the June 2016 issue of Monthly Afternoon released in April (it’s confusing, I know), there’s an interview with two previous winners of the Afternoon Four Seasons Award, which is a manga competition run by the magazine. One of the winners is Ishiguro Masakazu, creator of And Yet the Town Moves (Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru). When talking about his influences, Ishiguro mentions a number of manga artists, but two in particular are especially important to him and his style. Those would be Otomo Katsuhiro of Akira fame, and Fujiko F. Fujio, creator of Doraemon.

akira2_0 doraemon-sticker

Although it isn’t terribly surprising that these two titans of manga would influence other manga artists, in the case of Ishiguro this is a really big deal. That’s because, if you think about what Soremachi is, how it’s drawn in terms of environment and character expressions, and how the stories range from the dramatic to the silly, from the everyday to the alien, Soremachi is pretty much an even fusion between Akira and Doraemon. There was even a story about time travel that revolves around some super delicious snack cake!

Quite a few years ago my friend, translator Ko Ransom, mentioned to me that he felt Ishiguro’s art style reminded him a lot of Akira. As it turns out, he was right on the nose with that one. When you think about it, it’s not like it’s immediately obvious given how different those two stories are, which makes me all the more impressed by his keen eye.

If you liked this post, consider becoming a sponsor of Ogiue Maniax through Patreon. You can get rewards for higher pledges, including a chance to request topics for the blog.

And Yet the Digital Manga Moves: Soremachi is Back

Back when JManga was still alive, Soredemo Machi ga Mawatteiru, aka And Yet the Town Moves, was one of its most popular titles. While that didn’t mean much in the grand scheme of things, it’s clear it did have at least something of a fanbase. When JManga went under, it was a big loss in my opinion, but fortunately Crunchyroll Manga has brought it back.

Soremachi (as it’s called by fans) is a manga ostensibly about a maid cafe, which is better described as “a coffee shop which happens to have maids.” Its main character is a teenage girl named Arashiyama Hotori who has a love of detective fiction and a knack for thinking outside the box but is otherwise dumb as bricks. The humor is clever and varied, and it shares a number of qualities with Yotsuba&.

As far as I can tell, it’s the exact same translation as the one that was on JManga. Also, though it doesn’t really matter that much, one casualty of the switch to Crunchyroll is the original Japanese version. JManga originally allowed readers to switch back and forth between English and Japanese text, and it was fun seeing what certain jokes or puns were originally. Hotori mishearing “calculus” as “calculator” was, in Japanese, confusing “bibun sekibun” (calculus) as “sebun irebun” (Seven-Eleven).

That said, I’m willing to make that “sacrifice” for Crunchyroll’s more sensible pricing structure.

Why I Bought a JManga Subscription

JManga, a 100% legal digital manga distribution site, is an interesting phenomenon. Good intentions mixed with a hodgepodge of titles and a bizarre pricing structure, which I can basically describe as paying the site to give you an allowance, have made it questionable as to whether or not anyone should try it out. Ultimately I decided to subscribe myself (the $10/month deal), and there are two major reasons for my decision.

The first reason is that it is now available in Europe. Up to only a few months ago, JManga as a service was restricted to the US and Canada, and so I wouldn’t have been able to use it anyway. With their roll-out into Europe, however, I wanted to at the very least support that decision. Even if I don’t get terribly many manga on there, I wanted to encourage the idea that regional restrictions for books in digital form is nonsense. Though I know that I’m only one subscriber, I also want other similar services in the future to follow suit.

The second reason is that JManga actually has a feature that I have not seen on any other manga site, legitimate or otherwise. Sure, tons of scanlation sites exist and they provide easy access to thousands of titles, but JManga actually gives you the option to switch back and forth between Japanese and English. One click of a button and the page you’re on changes into the other language. For someone like me who wants to read more manga in Japanese but might have trouble with particularly difficult phrasings or unknown vocabulary, it’s a far simpler solution than constantly running to consult good ol’ Jim Breen. It’s even more convenient than owning the physical books in two languages in certain ways, though the load time between versions can be a bit long, and the interface itself still needs some work.

I’m well aware that this utility really only helps readers with strong (but not perfect) Japanese literacy skills, people who can read a manga in Japanese for the most part, people with a good grasp of kanji, who have a firm enough understanding of the grammatical structure of the language to know what specific part of the sentence in a potentially quite liberal translation corresponds to the original, and who can spot when a joke has been localized for the English version. For beginners, it may be too much of a chore to consult the Japanese versions, and for someone who’s fully fluent or even a native speaker, there’s simply no need to switch to English at all, unless perhaps that person wants to learn English. I happen to fall in that “sweet spot” though, and in that respect I’ve found it quite useful. If you do too, then maybe it’s something worth considering.

By the way, it seems like the most popular manga on JManga are yaoi titles, yuri titles, and Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru. Makes sense to me.