Discovery: Mujin

Mujin_1I read mostly manga and I am particularly interested in historical manga. Every now and then I discover a new one. Earlier this week, Imagine-nation — a TV show airing on NHK World and dedicated to Japanese pop culture — talked about the manga series Mujin by Tetuzoh Okadaya. The show first aired on Monday December 11 and will be available for streaming until December 19.

Tetuzoh Okadaya is a former doujin writer who publish regularly in Hakusensha‘s Hanamaru. She seems to specialize in boys love manga but has also dabbled in period drama. Her first manga, Tango no Otoko, has been translated in English (available as The Man of Tango from SuBLime, a yaoi / boys love publisher formed by the partnership between Viz and Animate). You can find more details about her on Baka Updates, Goodreads, Wikipedia and her official web page.

Mujin_v4p6Mujin (無尽 / むじん / lit. “ending” or “expiring”) is a historical manga set in the Bakumatsu period (late Edo period). It tells the story of real-life swordsman Hachiro Iba (1844-1869). He was a bakushin (Shogun’s personal guard) who lost his left arm in the Boshin war and became later the head of the “Yugekitai” (guerilla corps). He was a master of the Shingyōtō-ryū style and died at the battle of Hakodate. Not much is known about him (although he was famously illustrated by Yoshitoshi) so it leaves Tetuzoh Okadaya some freedom to develop her fictitious story around the character. Many manga are set in this fascinating period (Blade of the immortal, Hidamari no ki, Lone wolf and cub, Nobunaga Concerto, Nobunaga no chef, Ooku: The inner chamber, Rurouni Kenshin, Shigurui, Vagabond, etc.) but, unfortunately, this one is not available in English. Nonetheless, it seems quite interesting. (You can find more details on the manga on the Google-translated version of Wikipedia).

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JCCCM Craft and Food Sale

JCCCM-logoYesterday, I went to the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre of Montreal for their craft and food sale held each year in the beginning of December to raise funds and offer Christmas gifts opportunities. In previous years I bought some Japanese-style pottery but that potter was not at the sale this time. Instead I bought a trinket (a bag of acorns made of semi-precious stones — very nice) and my wife bought some of Masaki Endo’s Natto.

The sale is rather small as there is only a dozen vendors like Stephen H. Kawai (the guy selling those semi-precious acorns), Lou Hideyoshi’s Sekken SoapM of Leema’s custom made laptop & tablet kimono covers (cool!), Hiromi Ono’s Fleur DesignOnigiri Justice, Miyabi handmade soap, Sho-Raku-An Japanese calligraphy, Hana Hana Kokoro Handmade, Kimono Vintage (Wow! see also their web page), etc. If you are interested in Japanese-style goods and culture those kind of places are worth checking.

Découverte: le dernier manga de Taniguchi

la-foret-millenaire-covIl y a quelques semaines j’ai découvert sur le site de Animeland (et puis dans un article du #217) qu’un dernier manga de Jiro Taniguchi devait paraître à la fin de septembre (disponible ici probablement à la fin octobre). Il s’agit d’un projet que Taniguchi produisait pour l’éditeur Rue de Sèvres et qui devait paraître simultanément en France et au Japon. Le projet était inachevé lors de son décès en février (l’histoire devait comporter au moins cinq volumes) mais l’éditeur à tout de même décidé de le publier, agrémenté du storyboard du reste de l’histoire, d’illustrations, d’un interview avec son éditeur japonais et de tout un dossier éditorial en hommage à l’auteur.

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Ishiguro gets Nobel Prize in literature !

British writer Kazuo Ishiguro (mostly known for his books The remains of the day [1989] and Never let me go [2005], which were both adapted into movies) has received the 2017 Nobel Prize in Literature. The award was announced on October 5th. Sara Danius, the secretary of the Swedish Academy, said that his novels showed “great emotional force” as he was uncovering “the abyss beneath our illusory sense of connection with the world.” She also described his style as a “mix of Jane Austen, comedy of manners and Franz Kafka.” His recurrent themes seem to be identity, memory, time and self-delusion.

Kazuo Ishiguro was born in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1954 but moved to Surrey, England, at age five because of his father’s work as an oceanographer for the NOCS. He always stayed close to his Japanese roots because, until age fifteen, he had planned to go back to Japan but, instead, his family decided to settle in England (he received British citizenship in 1982). He graduated from UKC in English and Philosophy in 1978 and received a Master in creative writing from UEA in 1980.  Before starting his writing career in 1982, he wanted to be a musician and worked as a social worker. Strangely, his life background and relationship with Japan is very similar with Belgian author Amélie Nothomb and their writings share some themes.

To celebrate Ishiguro’s Nobel Prize, NHK World re-broadcasted a two-part special where the writer gives a lecture about his work. Originally broadcasted on October 22nd and November 5th 2016, the show is titled “First Class [in literature], Kazuo Ishiguro: My Secret of Writing” and is still available for streaming until October 25th, 2017 [Part 1 and Part 2]. It is also partly available on Youtube [in English and in Japanese]. It is very interesting and well worth watching.

Sources: BBC, Le Devoir, Goodreads, HazLitt, Japan Times, NHK World, Wikipedia.

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Edu-Manga: Anne Frank

Edumanga-Anne-Frank-cov“For two years, Anne Frank and her family lived in hiding from the Nazis in a secret annex. Though her young life was threatened on a daily basis, Anne channeled all of her fears and dreams into the pages of a private diary. Anne kept her hope for peace alive in the midst of the tragedy of war. Her indomitable spirit lives on to this day in the words of her very special diary.”

“Astro Boy can’t wait for you to meet this incredible young girl! Join him as he shares the day-to-day life of Anne Frank, her family, and the time they spent in the secret annex. Anne’s strength of spirit and joy in the face of impossible odds come together to create one of the most inspiring stories of our time.” (Text from the back cover)

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