20 Years of Protoculture


This article was first published in Protoculture Addicts #94 (Nov.-Dec. 2007): 21-27. It was celebrating the 20th anniversary of the magazine. For this version, I have added a few details and corrections, and I have omitted some illustrations (but added some new ones), as well as removed the sidebars (Uh?! for episodes 1-6, Top Uh?!, Where are they now) and the articles’ index that were part of the original article.

It might be hard to believe, but this magazine has been in publication for twenty years. I, myself, am amazed by this fact. Twenty years already? It didn’t feel that long. But, yeah, I’ve spent nearly half my life working on Protoculture Addicts, and I don’t regret a single moment of it. Like any anniversary, it makes me nostalgic (well, the fact that I am listening to soundtracks from Macross, Mospeada and Robotech while writing this certainly add to this feeling). It makes me think of the good ol’ years, of friends that I have not seen in a long time. But there’s no time for melancholy— anniversaries need to be celebrated! In the past, when I wanted to do a special issue, I usually added more colour. 

Unfortunately, I cannot do that now since we are already full-colour and we are still not big enough to add goodies like a free DVD. However, I quickly realized that the best way to celebrate the magazine was to tell you its story. I am sure that, once you know a little more about where it’s coming from, you’ll better appreciate the magazine. After all, it started like an episode of Comic Party or Doujin Work—a crazy idea in the mind of a bunch of idle college kids. So please, gather around, be quiet (gee, I feel like Uncle Carl when he was telling one of his anecdotes), and listen to this very special anime story… 

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Suggestion list of adult manga

At the library where I work we have a small to medium size collection of manga but only in French (very few in English). That’s to be expected since one of the mandates of our library is to foster the learning of French among the city’s (or the province’s) new-comer population. However, since the population we are serving is in majority anglophone, one of the librarians thought that it would be nice to develop a little more our nearly inexistant English manga collection. I am offering a few suggestions…

Most of the manga publishers target their releases toward kids and teenagers (kodomo, shōnen, shōjo) and just a few publishers put out manga really aimed at adults (seinen, josei, gekiga) — and I am not talking here about manga of sensual or erotic nature (LadiComi, yaoi, yuri, etc.).

The more traditional manga are translated and distributed by publishers like:

while the more serious and alternative titles (and unfortunately often less popular) comes from publishers like:

For this list, I avoided titles that we already had in our collection in French and — considering that we already had a few gekiga in French, that seinen or josei are also often targeted at teenagers, and that I think we should support local publishers like Drawn & Quarterly — I tried instead to favour more classical or serious manga (hence a selection of mostly gekiga, including mangaka in the likes of Shigeru Mizuki, Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Osamu Tezuka, or the more recent Jiro Taniguchi). I am indicating in the list if a title is already available in the Montreal Libraries’s network (even if it is only in French or only in one library).

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The Controversial Art of Reviewing

Last September I wrote an essay on the “Subtile art of writing a review/commentary” (in French, but it is also available in a machine-translated English version). It is an essay I wanted to write for a long time, explaining how I was approaching the writing of a book or movie review — which I did for twenty years for a magazine. The funny thing is that I discovered a few weeks ago that I had already written that article in 2009 (in English) and forgot about it! I was checking out some old hard drives looking for something and stumble upon this article that I had written for a special issue (PAX #3) of the magazine I was working for, but we stop publication before it was released. It is based on the guidelines I wrote for our staff writers. My views on how to write a review have not change much since then. I thought it would be interesting to share it with the readers of this blog.

Reviewing a media product (wether it is a book, a manga, an anime series or a live-action movie) might seems an easy task, but in reality it is far from being simple. In fact, we are all doing it when we express an opinion to friends, but it is usually done in an emotional and very imprecise manner: “it was so bad, man” or “it was really cool.” In opposition, a professional reviewer—someone who does it for a living—must do his/her best to remain objective, precise and rigorous.

I admit that, if I always try to be an objective and precise reviewer, I am rarely rigorous. I am lazy and tend to keep my reviews short, introducing the subject and expressing my opinion in the most elementary manner. Today everybody is a critic as they can easily post what they think of this or that on their blog , but what makes the appraisal of a professional reviewer more interesting and valuable is experience. I’ve spent about two decades watching videos or films and reading books related to the subjects I review. I have therefore developped a methodology to assess the subject, an understanding of its workings and a set of criteria that—I hope—better equip me to examine and judge a particular media product.

In this article I have attempted to explain how I approach the writing of a review, what I think a review should be and what aspects of a medium I take in consideration when writing a review. I wanted to talked about this for a long time as I think it can offer interesting insights to both our readers and would-be reviewers.

First, there is two types of reviews: the basic or elementary review (the one I tend to favour) and the exhaustive review.

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Genres et littératures (3)

Sources et Bibliographie complémentaire

Pour compléter mon essai sur les Genres et littérature (0: Introduction, 1: Littératures rationnelles, 2: Littératures de l’Imaginaire) je vous présente ici la liste des sources que j’ai utilisé ainsi qu’une bibliographie complémentaire pour ceux et celles qui désireraient pousser plus loin sur le sujet.


ALLARD, Yvon. Paralittérature. Montréal, La Centrale des Bibliothèques, 1979. 728 p. ISBN 2-89059-000-3. [ BiblioWorldCat ]

AMALRIC, Hélène. Le guide des 100 polars incontournables. Paris, Libris, 2008. 110 p. ISBN 978-2-290-00919-2. [ BiblioWorldCat ]

BARETS, Stan. Catalogue des âmes et cycles de la S.F.. Paris: Denoël, 1979. 298 p. [ BiblioWorldCat ]

BARETS, Stan. Le Science-fictionnaire 2. Paris, Denoël (Présence du Futur #549), 1994. 332 p. ISBN 978-2-207-30565-1. [ BiblioWorldCat ]

BOGDANOFF, Igor & Grichka. Clefs pour la science-fiction. Paris, Seghers, 1976. 378 p. [ WorldCat ]

Collections : La revue de la littérature d’ici pour les bibliothèques d’ici. Montreal, Association Nationale des Éditeurs de Livres, 52 p. Vol. 1, No 3 (Avril 2014): Le roman historique, Vol. 1, No 4 (Juin 2014): Polars, thrillers et romans policiers et Vol. 2, No 6 (Novembre 2015): Littérature et imaginaire.

Éditions Alire: Catalogue 2015-2016. Québec, Éditions Alire, 2015. 98 p.

JANELLE, Claude. Le DALIAF: Dictionnaire des auteurs des littératures de l’imaginaire en Amérique française. Québec, Les éditions Alire, 2011. 535 p. ISBN 978-2-8961507-4-8. [ BiblioWorldCat ]

Lire: Special Polar (Juin 2010).

SPINRAD, Norman, ”Les Neuromantiques” in Univers 1987. Paris: J’ai Lu (#2165), pp. 256-278. [ WorldCat ]

J’ai également essayé d’inclure le plus d’hyper-liens possible (principalement vers Wikipedia) afin de renvoyer les lecteurs vers des références plus développées et ainsi limiter cet essai à un bref schéma visant simplement à introduire le sujet. Veuillez prendre note que d’autres hyper-liens seront ajouté avec le temps (pour les auteurs et les titres).

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Genres et littératures (2)

Littératures de l’imaginaire

J’ai précédemment parlé des genres littéraires rationnels (les genres ordinaires, voir banal — mundane comme ils disent en anglais) qui sont ancrés dans la réalité. Il me reste donc à vous entretenir des genres littéraires de l’imaginaire. Un collègue les avait sommairement définit comme “des histoires qui ne se peuvent pas”, qui se déroulent dans un monde entièrement ou partiellement créé par l’auteur. Ils se divisent en trois grandes catégories qui se définissent grossièrement comme suit:

  1. le fantastique, où l’on imagine ce qui est, mais autrement, ce qui existe en dehors des normes, de façon irrationnel, caché, ailleurs ou au-delà de notre réalité quotidienne (par exemple: le surnaturel)
  2. la fantasy, où l’on imagine ce qui aurait pu être dans le passé ou dans un autre monde (par exemple : la magie)
  3. la science-fiction, où l’on imagine ce qui sera dans un avenir immédiat ou lointain (par exemple : un empire galactique)

Les genres tendent à être définit par leurs styles littéraires et les thèmes qu’ils utilisent. Je ne m’attarderai pas vraiment sur le style mais plutôt sur les thèmes et les sujets qui caractérisent un genre. De ce point de vue, les trois grands genres de l’imaginaire sont assez aisé à définir. Ce qui est plus difficile à définir ce sont les nombreux sous-genres pour chacune de ces catégories. Non seulement les érudits ne semblent pas s’entendre sur leur nomenclature mais la frontière est parfois floue entre les différents sous-genres (leurs multiples variantes ont parfois des tonalités assez similaires). Alors, comme je l’ai fait pour les genres rationnels, je vais vous présenter ici les principaux genres des littératures de l’imaginaire, les définir du mieux que je peux, en expliquer les sous-genres majeures (ou les regrouper selon leurs similarités) et donner quelques exemples d’auteurs ou de titres.

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I am putting under the Category “References” all the posts that are more articles then quick blurb on my principal subjects of interest (like anime & manga, literature, etc.). This will includes my own Bibliography, the Essential anime- & manga-related bibliography that I have compiled over the years, and my (still incomplete) article on the various genres and sub-genres of literature.

Of course, those articles would probably fit better as “pages” rather than “posts”, but since they were created as posts (and I couldn’t find a way to convert them) I decided to keep them that way. Future articles will probably be formated as pages.

Also, since this is a crucial part of this blog, this category will have its own set of sub-menu.

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Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons

Many elements of the Japanese teens subculture are generated, influenced or more often simply expressed by anime & manga: otaku, enjo k?sai (teenage prostitution), hikikomori, kar?shi (overwork death), idols, cosplay (as well as various fashion styles like gothic lolita, kogal or ganguro), hentai (including yaoi [“Boys’ Love”, i.e. manga showing romantic relationships between male characters], yuri [“Girls’ love”], lolicon [underage love], panchira [panties shots] and burusera [stores for panties & school uniforms fetishists]), manga café, kawaii, moe — just to name the few that quickly come to mind. Also, Japanese (pop)culture is having (as it often had in the past, i.e. “japonisme”) a great influence on our western culture (and particularly, lately, on the teen pop-culture, with the so-called Japanification).

Therefore, this is a subject particular enough to deserve a separate entry in my “Anime & Manga Bibliography”.


The essentials
More anime & manga references
Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons
Japanese culture
Japanese drama & cinema
Japanese economy, geography & history
Japanese language
Japanese literature
Various others

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Otaku & other popular (sub)culture phenomenons

(Collectif). Cosplay Girls: Japan’s live animation heroines. Tokyo, DH Publishing (Cocoro books), 2003. 96 pg. $30.00 US. ISBN 978-0-9723124-2-0.


(Collectif). Eastern Standard Time: A Guide to Asian Influence on American Culture from Astro Boy to Zen Buddhism. Boston, Mariner Books, 344 pg. $24.95. ISBN 978-0-395-76341-X. See the review in PA.


(Collectif). Japan Edge: The Insider’s Guide to Japanese Pop Subculture. San Francisco, Cadence Books, 1999. 200 pg. $19.95 US / $29.95 Can. ISBN 978-1-56931-345-8.


AZUMA, Hiroki (Translated by Abel, Jonathan E. & KONO, Shion). Otaku: Japan’s database animals. Minneapolis, University of Minnesota Press, 2009. 144 pg. ISBN 978-0-8166-5352-2.


BARRAL, Étienne. Otaku: Les enfants du virtuel. Paris, Denoël (Impacts), 1999. 314 pg. ISBN 978-2-207-24319-2.


KELTS, Roland. Japanamerica: How Japanese Pop Culture Has Invaded the U.S. Hampshire (UK), Palgrave MacMillan, 2007. 242 pg. $14.95 / $17.25 Can. ISBN 978-1-4039-8476-0.


MACWILLIAMS, Mark W. (Ed.). Japanese Visual Culture. Explorations in the World of Manga and Anime. Armonk NY, ME Sharpe/East Gate, 2008. 352 pg. ISBN 978-0765616029.


WEST, Mark I. (Ed.). The Japanification of Children’s Popular Culture: From Godzilla to Miyazaki. Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2009. 294 pg. ISBN 978-0-8108-5121-4.


WICHMANN, Siegfried. Japonisme: The Japanese influence on Western art since 1858. New York, Thames & Hudson, 1981. 432 p. ISBN 978-0-500-28163-7.

Next: Japanese Culture