21 Apr 07

I’m back from an anime and manga panel discussion at the Smithsonian. I sat literally a few feet away from Monkey Punch (creator of Lupin III), Mitsuhisa Ishikawa (president of Production I.G.), and Ryuhei Kitamura (live-action movie director). A few random notes:

  • In one month in 2007, 250 manga magazines are published in Japan, and 750 volumes of manga are published.
  • The average manga reader can read two pages of manga in ten seconds. As a result, manga writers know how to write fast stories. This constrasts with typical slow Asian live-action films.
  • Ishikawa: When I show violence, I show how it hurts.
  • Monkey Punch: In manga, each panel is equivalent to one word in a sentence, so that many panels are strung together to form a complete thought. In Western comics, each panel is its own concept, which can be much more restrictive (and wordy).
  • Ishikawa: Children want to experience a world that’s slightly beyond their own. So, fantasy, but not wild fantasy. This was a signature of Disney films pre-Katzenberg, but Pixar is bringing it back.
  • Kitamura: I was asked about the best ten films of last year. My number one was Cars, because it was just such a solid movie.
  • Monkey Punch went to the San Diego Comic Con in the 70’s, and found that Americans hated manga, especially the “weird glassy eyes.” So he got together about ten big names in manga—including Osamu Tezuka and Go Nagai—and they all went to the 1980 Comic Con. This made a big splash and was a major initial turning point in manga acceptance in America.
  • Astro Boy (the character) is quite similar to Mickey Mouse.
  • The best thing Japanese creators do is take many influences and harmonize them.
  • Neon Genesis Evangelion was huge in Japan, while Ghost in the Shell (the first movie) was not so much. But they were both big in America, which fueled success back in Japan and led to the recent Ghost in the Shell projects.
  • Sam Raimi has said that the flying sequences in the Spider-Man movies are based on the flying sequences in Nausicaa.
  • Ishikawa: The hardest thing about his job is just not failing.

Interesting stuff.

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