Breaking the comic book glass ceiling

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Mar 18, 2017

Breaking the comic book glass ceiling

by Roland Kelts

Four years ago, Chinese-American writer Marjorie Liu had a simple but persistent idea: create an epic fantasy comic book series about a classic Japanese kaijū (strange beast) movie monster that has a connection to a girl. She knew it should take place entirely in Asia, ...

Japanese folklore meets anime in Kyoto

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Jan 21, 2017

Japanese folklore meets anime in Kyoto

by Roland Kelts

The colors were jarring. Beneath the vermillion torii gates of Kyoto's Shimogamo Shrine and surrounded by the olive broadleaves of Tadasu Forest was a pool of furry, bright yellow ponchos, decorated with the brown facial features, rounded ears and bulbous oblong tails of the ...

Anime discovers a rural outpost

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Jul 16, 2016

Anime discovers a rural outpost

by Roland Kelts

For the past few years, the beginning of July has found me on a flight from Tokyo to Los Angeles to attend Anime Expo (AX), the largest annual North American convention devoted to Japanese popular culture, and its related industry-only event, Project Anime (PA). ...

Drawing on the past of Osamu Tezuka

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Jun 18, 2016

Drawing on the past of Osamu Tezuka

by Roland Kelts

In 1977, American author and translator Frederik L. Schodt and three friends formed a manga-translation group in Tokyo, with the then-quixotic dream of introducing Japanese comics to a global readership. Schodt had arrived in Japan in 1965, courtesy of a father in the United ...

Viz's 30 years pack a punch in the U.S.

Culture | CULTURE SMASH May 14, 2016

Viz's 30 years pack a punch in the U.S.

by Roland Kelts

This summer, Viz Media, LLC, North America's first-ever distributor of Japanese popular culture, turns 30. Founded in 1986 by the intrepid Seiji Horibuchi, who has since moved on to other projects, the company is now housed in the so-called Twitter building in downtown San ...

Anime biz sings the praises of shows

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Apr 16, 2016

Anime biz sings the praises of shows

by Roland Kelts

The first time I attended AnimeJapan, the industry's annual spring showcase in Odaiba, Tokyo, it was called the Tokyo International Anime Fair. Members of the public couldn't enter during the first two days, amateur cosplay (costume play) was prohibited, and while there were some ...

From Cool Britannia to True Britannia

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Mar 19, 2016

From Cool Britannia to True Britannia

by Roland Kelts

In Japan, Western culture usually means American products: hot dogs, hamburgers, Starbucks and Krispy Kreme donuts, and recent boutique outlets like Blue Bottle Coffee and the Dominique Ansel bakery — not to mention the nearly 50,000 United States military personnel still stationed across the ...

CG gains a 'real' foothold in anime

Culture | CULTURE SMASH Feb 20, 2016

CG gains a 'real' foothold in anime

by Roland Kelts

Japanese audiences have long responded tepidly to the use of extensive computer graphics (CG) in anime. Even as CG has become the global standard for animation studios, anime fans prefer their homegrown artists to stick to labor-intensive 2-D illustration techniques and cel animation — ...