20th Century Boys, and Naoki Urasawa’s work in general, may borrow from popular culture quite a bit. However, he may be ill-matched by Hirohiko Araki, the author of long-runner Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. If you know of JJBA, you may be aware of the fact that the author regularly copies the poses of fashion models and the everythings of the music industry. He also, midway through the series’ fourth installment, manages to parody the movie Speed. You know, the one where a large number of innocent commuters are stuck on a bus and if the bus goes slower than 50 miles per hour, it blows up? Just replace the bus with a motorcycle and the blowing up with crippling dessication, and you’ve got a pretty good idea of how this arc goes.
The difference? Comedy. Unlike Keanu Reeves, Josuke doesn’t have a radio link to his backup. So when he needs a phone, he resorts to sticky-fingers swiping it from a person who happened to need his to close a million-dollar deal:
And it doesn’t even work, so he has to break up a marriage proposal too:
JJBA gets up to plenty of out-and-out ridiculous stuff, but these phone-grab scenes are some of the better examples of it nailing under-the-top comedy with the practiced finesse of an author who’d already been in this business a decade since a decade ago.
It’s fairly frequent among people who have started to get interested in anime enough to start knowing things about the people who make it find themselves encountering the names of certain directors and studios over and over. Kasai Kenichi excels at college life stories. Hiroshi Nagahama was the bold visionary who directed Mushishi. Perhaps one of the more preeminent studios in that regard are Madhouse and Gonzo, the studios behind Death Note and Gankutsou, respectively. They can flash those series names on “from the studio that brought you” title cards of the trailer for anything else they make, despite the fact that Madhouse made the Marvel anime and Gonzo hasn’t been run by the people who made Gankutsuou since 2008. I’m here to make the case for why Madhouse’s reputation, along with a number of others, may be a bit overblown. It’s not that they’re not making awesome anime, but they are picking source material that gives them a lot of help.
This situation with directors can sometimes be a bit like that of the quarterback in American football; they get too much credit when things go well, and too much blame when things go wrong. In reality, lots of factors beyond the men at the top contribute to an anime’s success. I’m here today to take a look at one in particular; the pre-production choice of high-quality of source material. What follows is a look at anime adaptations of Shogakukan/Kodansha Award-Winning manga, including observations based on both their relative frequency over the years, their strength as a function of which studio makes them, and their performance in the marketplace.
I thought it’d be a fun little exercise to try and pull out as many mangaka names as I could without relying on references. This is that list, written on lockdown mode and complete with the reasons why I remember them.
Yoshida Motoi is an irregular manga artist who makes up for his bi-quarterly release pace with the best aesthetic concepts this side of Yusuke Murata and a detail-fixated, thorough art style.* It’s fitting, then, that the manga he’s currently drawing, Natsu no Zenjitsu, deals with art itself.
As the title suggests, this particular chapter focuses on the male lead’s sense of touch, and aims to convey how it factors into both his life and his paintings to the readers. Part of that goal is accomplished in conventional means via the script, but the chapter also provides a clinic of how to incorporate the sense of touch into seemingly flat pages of manga. Nor does it just run an art clinic; these depictions are intimately related to a growing and somewhat contradictory set of emotions in the manga’s male lead.
Different anime and manga, and really all works of entertainment, have different ways of captivating their audiences. Some of them create mental mementos so strong that they last forever whether you want them to or not, and others leave light footprints that disappear with the first snowfall, but are no less beautiful.