Once again, I’m summing up a thread I wrote on recent pop culture criticism on anime and manga I’ve enjoyed recently! This is part one, covering January to the end of June. I’ve decided to split this into two (with the second part covering the rest of the year) to allow for even more pieces to be featured.
As a reminder, this thread is not meant to be exhaustive; there are almost recently pieces I’ve missed, and others just as deserving of mention I passed over for one reason or another. If you have any more recommendations, feel free to message me on Twitter and I’ll take a look!
Frog-kun wrote about a crucial piece of Spy x Family‘s legacy: the chairs on each volume cover of the manga series!
Later, Frog-kun investigates a claim made by Gaku Narita, Japan Disney’s executive director of content: are the riches earned by anime’s booming popularity really trickling down to “the artists on the ground?”
In other Spy x Family news, AsusWay dug into the series’s use of 60s fashion and iconography.
Finally, Alex Henderson wrote a piece examining Spy x Family as a sly commentary on heteronormativity, whether or not the author intended it to be as such.
On Anime Herald, Jenn Coulter connected the dots between the infamous Neon Genesis Evangelion and the ongoing history of metal and industrial music.
The substack Animation Obsessive shares some thoughts and images selected from 90s anime fansites. A blast from the past…
Raffael Coronelli wrote about the similarities between the mega-popular magical girl franchise Pretty Cure and ongoing “tokusatsu” series” like Kamen Rider and Super Sentai. Not only did Precure take inspiration from tokusatsu, but recent tokusatsu has been overtly inspired by Precure itself!
The Macross Frontier films were just recently aired in United States theaters, but English subtitles existed long before that! Coop Bicknell sought out several of the translators of an English subtitle release for BluRays to hear their story.
At Anime Feminist, Lillian King wrote about the blind spots of One Piece creator Eiichiro Oda, and how he has often chosen to lean directly into them over the course of the series rather than adjusting his approach.
Over the course of 2022, Ravel Monte has been writing up a very detailed history of Digimon‘s creation on their personal blog, Digital World Archive. I recommend starting with Digital History 1: Creating a Digital World.
Japanese to English translator Meru wrote about the translation process, and the many small misunderstandings held by folks outside of the industry.
Alicia Haddick, a big fan of tokusatsu and kaiju (giant monster) media, reviewed Evangelion director Hideaki Anno’s exciting new project Shin Ultraman.
David Cabera wrote about one of Spring 2022’s most unexpected sleeper hits, the outrageous sports anime Birdie Wing.
At Polygon, Claire Napier ripped into Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045, a series that has run out of ideas.
Evan Minto’s been covering the organizing beat at Anime News Network. He wrote about union discussion in the anime dubbing scene back in March…
And then again in May, as companies pushed for their voice actors to “return to the office” (even when many new voice actors had been relying on remote work opportunities.)
Meanwhile, Graeme McMillan interviewed the manga publishing house Seven Seas about their newly formed union. Recently, the owner of the company has agreed to a card check; that said, plenty of work still lies ahead.
The Canipa Effect released a video covering the making of Arcane, a very stylish TV series set in the League of Legends universe. Does this quality as “anime?” Who cares.
hazel’s released a number of neat videos so far this year, but I’m going to have to honor her video discussing the legendarily cursed anime series Eiken, which features the largest boobs you’ve ever seen in your life.
Noelle put out an hour-long treatise on the Ayayo-san series of games, a janky but earnest assembly of porn game tropes and impressive-for-its-time character art. I never knew anything about this series before watching this video, but it seems charming!
The Sakuga Corner
kViN wrote about the recent career of Toei animator Megumi Ishitani, whose episodes of One Piece are arguably the best ever made. What does her future look like when Toei has abandoned original material for franchise work?
kViN also tackled the Revue Starlight movie and its eccentric director Tomohiro Furukawa. Speaking as someone whose anime club flipped the heck out for the film when we saw it together, I’m excited to see what comes next in Furukawa’s career!
Animetudes has slowly but surely been releasing histories of the influential World Masterpiece Theater anime franchise. All are worth reading, but I especially recommend their article on Anne of Green Gables and the ugliness that lurks beneath an otherwise beloved work of animation.
anime_unknown featured a two-part interview between Iluvatar and animator Vincent Chansard, whose work has been featured in projects like One Piece and Boruto. Blou (of Studio Tonton fame) translated the interview into English.
The Manga Nook
Helen Chazan went deep on Rumiko Takahashi’s influential series Urusei Yatsura, particularly discussing the character Ryunosuke. I also enjoyed her write-up of Imai Arata’s fascinating comic F.
For Solrad Press, Isabelle Ryan discussed the strengths and weaknesses of Boys Run the Riot, a trailblazing comic by exciting young artist Keito Gaku. I also enjoyed her write-up of Peyo’s Boy Meets Maria.
Over the past few years, The Comics Journal has been translating columns by Japanese manga scholar Natsume Fusanosuke. I enjoyed this piece discussing the works of Fumi Yoshinaga, a creator of shoujo and josei artist who’s long been a favorite of hardcore manga readers!
Carlo Vanstiphout wrote about PaperaQ, a very odd webcomic drawn by Toyokazu Matsunaga, creator of cult classic series Bakune Young. This piece is especially fascinating because a) the English release of PaperaQ is separate from the traditional manga publishing industry, and b) the translator is a former member of the fan translation group Mangascreener!
On Yatta Tachi, Bill Curtis wrote a guide to Japanese girl’s comics for curious folks. A number of my favorites are missing from this list, but the range of genre and overall quality represented here is otherwise quite good.
Three Cayla Coats interviews:
- Ed Chavez, the head of the small but powerful manga publisher Denpa. Their books in English include An Invitation from a Crab, Heavenly Delusion and (eventually) March Comes in Like a Lion. This interview also features some fun publishing industry skullduggery, if you’re into that!
- Nerd Otaku, a fan organization in Zambia that recently screened Jujutsu Kaisen 0 in the country.
- Keito Gaku, the artist of acclaimed comic Boys Run the Riot.
Matthew Hill interviewed the enigmatic artist Machiko Kyo.
Joseph Luster interviewed MAYUKO, the composer for fantasy anime Ranking of Kings.
Frog-kun interviewed Kensuke Ushio about his score for fascinating anime The Heike Story.