Making Manga – in anime

I like manga; I like drawing and work in the publishing business, so anime about making manga should be right up my alley, right? Most of the time it is.

This season I started watching Gekkan shojou Nozaki-kun, strangely enough, since seemed like a fairly typical shojou staple. But it’s about a mangaka, and that made me give it a go.

   Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun - 02 - Large 04 Mangaka and assistants.

At first it seems like the typical shojou school thing. A girl confesses to a boy he likes, but instead of running away/ignoring her/blushing or whatever they usually do he gives her an autograph. Then he invites her to following him home. When she does she realizes that he’s a popular mangaka, drawing shojou manga for a weekly magazine. She gets roped in to help him drawing backgrounds and gets to know the other people helping him. There is a bit of gender stretching (I won’t say bending, since it’s really not that), since the mangaka’s heroine inspiration is a boy and some of the other females aren’t exactly traditionally feminine (one is called the prince, for instance, and is fawned over by all the girls, well that’s not unusual, another is fighting and running away). One thing I don’t get is why the protagonist in this case is so smitten by Nozaki, since he’s about as charming as a block of wood, well he can draw, but that shouldn’t be enough. But he’s completely clueless in many ways and that’s a tad charming. Funniest thing so far, when Nozaki and his best friend stay up all night drawing a BL manga for the best friend of the protagonist in a dating game. Well, I guess you had to be there.

 

Sekai-ichi-hatsukoi Making manga, not all about the drawing stuff, mostly about the publishing side. I do work in the publishing business, and I can relate to much that is happening (the cyclical stress, the ranting on people not delivering the material on time or perfect and things like that).

sekai1 Realistic stress levels in publishing…

This is somewhat in the same universe as Junjou Romantica, one of my all time favs. Some of the characters show up in this one too, but only as extras. And yes, it’s BL (or Yaoi if you make that distinction where yaoi is more explicit). But as usual the manga is much more explicit. And like in some of the most enjoyable fanfic everyone is gay. Everyone on the shojou magazine staff is gay (well, one hasn’t been partnered off in the manga or anime – at least not yet). The mangaka. The only male assistant. The staff on the shounen magazine. The sales staff. The literature department. The CEO. Especially the CEO, Isaka, but we know that only because we’ve watched Junjou and his story isn’t included here. The people working in manga stores (even when they don’t know it). Everyone except the girls (well, they might be, but this is Yaoi, not Yuri).

sekai2This is what it’s all about

Well, I can’t say I watch this only for the portrayal of publishing, since I’m all about the BL, and the story isn’t called “the world’s greatest first love” for nothing, but the well thought-out industry portrayal is an extra plus in my book.

 

The mangaka and his assistants. I’ve watched half an episode and that was enough. I hated it, even though it supposedly is about making manga. Supposedly, since all I could see were tits and ass gags. Or tits and pants since this is Japan, where pants are more sexy than derrieres. PWP is a fairly common term in fanfic, for those short stories with lots of sex without any semblance of storyline, hence PWP, or porn without plot. This is worse. Pants without plot and more juvenile than any childish manga I’ve ever watched. I won’t give this a second chance.

mangaka_san_to_assistant_san_to___01___large_34Level of jokes in this anime

Bakuman – I can’t believe I didn’t find this earlier, since it’s by Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, who did Death Note together, and Obata did draw another all-time fav of mine: Hikaru no Go. Well, I guess I’ve wanted Hikago to go on, and couldn’t really accept that the manga was over and by some stupid principle refused to watch or read anything later. But now I’ve changed that, and I’m glad I did.

Bakuman - 01 Making manga.

 In Bakuman the main character Mashiro Moritaka, called Saiko, is convinced to try being a mangaka by a classmate, Tagaki Akito – who happened to see his drawings. Saiko is very good at drawing and the classmate is going to write the story. There is some romance going on too, but not too disturbing, more on the cute side, actually. And he inherits his late uncle’s studio (the uncle was a sometime popular but later failed mangaka), which his grandfather has kept intact for three years, just waiting for the grandson to want it. The anime is about their struggle to get published and serialized in “Jack” (badly disguised Shounen Jump). And there are a lot of other quirky mangakas too (not the real ones, though), like adorable little wingnut Eiji, who, like several of the others, seems to have some kind of psychiatric diagnose. I think I have to do a chart… or a list of those soon. There are a lot of other manga mentioned, with real names, posters and drawings, not only barely concealed made up names (like in Genshiken, where I get less than half of the manga mentioned). Their editor, who at one point mentions that he’s taking over editing One Piece. And when they show the “Jack” issues there are lots of pretty covers with Ichigo and Naruto. This is one of those series where you seriously root for the main characters – and quite a bit for the others too. I like that it’s not super short: Three seasons with 25 episodes each is enough for a while, and probably very rewatchable too.

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Boybands with violins – Corda d’Oro: Blue Sky

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It’s nothing more than your average reverse harem anime, like the first season. Except with music, classical music. And that’s the most forgiving aspect of this season. There is a huge timeskip of eight years from the first season, so none of the original characters are in the story, except in three short cameos.

Everyone is exceptionally good-looking and talented. It follows the usual Snow White and the 7 dwarfs boyband formula. The boys are as follows: cute, serious, dangerous, surly, obnoxious, smiley, delinquent and glasses. Sorry, Serious is the one with glasses. All are beautiful and have hair colors sparkling like rainbows, one color each, though. And I really cannot keep all of them apart. There are also megalomaniac, granny glasses with extreme mullet, their butler, the dark lord wannabe, slightly psycho, the death metal cellist and suicidal ditto. Everyone is thoroughly smitten with the protagonist (who actually seems a bit retarded, sorry, I mean just your average shojo lead) except death metal cellist, who’s obsessed with dark lord wannabe. But it’s not for the girls we watch r-harem anime. And certainly not to imagine ourselves in the protagonist’s place. Far from it. It’s for the overabundance of slashing opportunities, and it’s the sole raison d’ètre for the genre. At least the reason I (and my fujoshi brethren) like these kinds of things.

There are a lot of clichés and stuff, but also pretty boys who might be making out just out of camera. In my head. And now in yours too.

Since it is centered on classical music, it is extremely irritating is that I can’t find the music listed, and believe me, I’ve looked. I might have missed some, but I acutally made a Spotify playlist of the pieces I recognized or were mentioned: Corda d’Oro Blue Sky

It was cute and all, but to be honest I liked the first season better. Except for the backstory of slightly retarded shojo character since the story in the first season was a little bit too much (and to say that the storyline in an anime is too unrealistic is really something in this world of completely crazy settings).

Country Life – Barakamon

barakamon-anime-handaseisyu

One of the new animes this season. I wasn’t sure about this one but started watching since Daisuke Ono, who also does Sebastian in Kuroshitsuji and Midorima in Kuroko no Baskue, voices the lead character.

It’s a cute and lovely little gem where a young calligraphy master, while participating in a calligraphy contest, gets snubbed by a prestigious curator. (His calligraphy is described as bland and mediocre). He promptly punches the curator in the face. Everyone is shocked (and rightfully so, since the man is quite old and walks with a cane). So he leaves and regroups in a little village on an island, far out in the country. And then it’s the all about the small village life, finding yourself, getting friends and all that jazz. But it it’s the kind of story that makes me feel happy and calm.

It reminds me a little of Doc Hollywood, where Michael J. Fox is a plastic surgeon wannabee who gets stranded in a small village and comes to enjoy the village life where everyone is quirky and nice. Except with calligraphy instead of medicine and not so stereotypically Hollywoodish in the characters.