It’s Wednesday and that means it’s time for another Question of The Week! Now if you don’t know already, I thoroughly enjoy anime. From the zany antics of a slice of life comedy to the unbearable sorrow of a heart wrenching drama, I will watch it all. However, nothing gets me more pumped up for a show then a good opening song. (I’ve even been known to keep watching an objectively terrible show because the opening theme is too good.) Here are a few of my favorite openings:
“Obsession” – .hack/Sign
The first theme song that I can recall leaving a lasting impression in my head was “Obsession” by See-Saw for the show .hack//Sign. The shrill noise in the first two seconds gets my heart beating at full throttle every time.
“Forever We Can Make It” – To Love Ru
When it comes to bad shows, I think it’s pretty difficult to top something like To Love Ru, but damned if it doesn’t have a banging opening song. With its catchy lyrics and heavy hitting pop punk attitude “Forever We Can Make It” by Thyme is hard to ignore.
“Sawakaze” – Kimi Ni Todoke
It would be an egregious act if I didn’t introduce more people to one of the greatest romance anime of all time, Kimi Ni Todoke. While I can admit the opening of the first season didn’t quite hook me, the second season’s opening really hits me where it hurts. If any show could be perfectly defined by its theme song, Kimi Ni Todoke is encapsulated exquisitely by “Sawakaze” by Tomofumi Tanizawa. With no embarrassment, I can state this song makes me cry with each listen.
Those are some of my favorite anime openings. What are some of yours? Please let us know in the comments!
In October of 2016, Kodansha Comics released the Attack On Titan Anthology, a book based upon the extremely popular manga franchise. The anthology was made specifically for the large following the original manga had gained in North America. The Anthology’s stories were made exclusively by Western comic creators, and it was a big deal because of its western origins and the diverse stable of creators that worked on it. While there hasn’t been any word about how well the Attack On Titan anthology has done, a mark of its success is the similar Ghost In The Shell Anthology coming next year from the same publisher.
While the Attack On Titan Anthology was a big push toward the crossover between western comics and manga, it was hardly the first. Western comic creators working with anime and manga intellectual properties for over fifty years.
In 1965 Gold Key Comics, a publisher largely known for their work on licensed TV and cartoon comics, gained the license for Astro Boy from NBC. My source, this article from Manga Bookshelf, only claims that one issue was created but from what I’ve found, it’s the earliest Western comic adaption of anime. This wasn’t the last time Astro Boy was adapted to American comics, either.
Astro Boy was adapted again by NOW! Comics as The Original Astro Boy and ran from 1987 to 1989. In 2009, IDW Comics put out two miniseries to coincide with the animated movie’s release: a prequel and an adaption.
However, I’m getting way ahead of myself. The single-issue Astro Boy comic was a huge outlier: the first few adaptions from anime and manga to comic started in the 1980. A lot of manga in the 80s and 90s was released in single-issue floppies, not unlike the weekly releases from Marvel and DC. In fact, it was Marvel’s imprint Epic Comics that initially colorized and released Akira in that floppy format with a run lasting from 1989 to 1995.
Early translated manga was far more niche than anything you’d see today: initially, these floppy-style translated manga were only sold in comic shops and were generally obscure. These comic-style manga existed until the early 2000s, when the “graphic novel” or tankōbon format prevailed, and the manga section in your local Barnes and Noble became commonplace. Yet, despite manga’s obscurity, this early environment was when multiple western comics based upon anime/manga began their run.
Hirohiko Araki, Baoh, 1989, Viz Media
Katsuhiro Otomo, Akira, 1989, Epic Comics
Koichi Tokita, Gundam Wing, 2000, Tokyopop
In the late 70s and early 80s, Marvel found that licensed comics based upon toy properties were extremely lucrative. In fact, one of the licenses that they obtained was Shogun Warriors, a line of toys based upon imported super robot properties that most people in the United States had little access to. The comic Shogun Warriors only focused on three mecha and their pilots: Combatra which was based upon Combattler V, Raydeen which was based upon Brave Raideen, and Danguard Ace which was based upon Planetary Robot Danguard Ace.
The Shogun Warriors comics have a degree of separation due to this being an adaption of the toy line rather than the anime and manga themselves. It’s extremely notable due to its age: the first issue came out in 1979 and the series lasted until 1980.
The Jack Kirby Museum website indicates that the King himself was tapped to work on a Gigantor comic around the same time the Shogun Warriors comics were released. The article notes that plans feel through, and I couldn’t find any other sources than this on a Gigantor comic from Marvel.
Herb Trimpe, Shogun Warriors, July 1980, Marvel Comics
Jack Kirby, Gigantor, 1979?, Marvel Comics,
Norm Dwyer and Brian Thomas, Speed Racer, September 1990, NOW! Comics
Similarly to Astro Boy, in 1987 Speed Racer, another classic anime, was adapted into a comic by Now! Comics. The book ran from 1987 to 1990 and even outlasted the Astro Boy book, with an Astro Boy back-up story being featured in Speed Racer #17 after it’s cancellation.
The longest running comic series I could find based upon an anime is the Toren Smith and Adam Warren-written Dirty Pair comics, published initially by Eclipse Comics and then by Dark Horse Comics. While a fairly short run in terms of issue count (24), the way that the Dirty Pair Comics worked was that it wasn’t really an ongoing comic. Dirty Pair began as multiple miniseries, but later were just published straight to graphic novel format.
While Toren Smith left early, he and Adam Warren were some of the earliest manga-influenced artists found in Western comics. Toren Smith at the time was known for Ninja High School, whereas Adam Warren is a little more relevant today due to his Empowered superhero comic. Adam Warren also worked on Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal for Dark Horse in 1995. Dirty Pair led to a long run, from 1988 to 2002: fourteen years of Adam Warren art evolution and original English manga.
Adam Warren and Torren Smith, the Dirty Pair, 1988, Eclipse Comics
Torren Smith, Bubblegum Crisis: Grand Mal, 1995, Dark Horse Comics
Adam Warren, Dirty Pair: Run from the Future, 2002, Dark Horse Comics
While most of what I’ve found is exhausted, there’s one last oddity I’d like to talk about. In 2013, BOOM! Comics imprint Archaia released a graphic novel based upon Cyborg 009. The book was written by F.J. DeSanto and Bradley Cramp and drawn by Marcus To and Ian Herring. Some of these Western adaptions are really interesting for their place in history: the Dirty Pair book, for example, shows that the Dirty Pair anime was popular enough in certain circles for it to be adapted into a western comic with a fourteen year run. Personally, when I came upon this book I was extremely curious why a Cyborg 009 Graphic Novel by a western team was published in 2014, when the original series doesn’t have much of a fandom in the West. According to this interview with F. J. DeSanto, the book was part of a push to make Shotaro Ishinomori’s work more well-known in the US.
While there isn’t a ton of Western comics adapting these Japanese properties, I’d like to think that the crossover between East and West when it comes to comics is a part of the future. There are other things I likely overlooked, but if you have any Western comics about anime and manga you’d like to share with me, leave a comment below! I may write a follow-up on this, possibly from the other end: anime and manga about American comics and properties. Until next time, thank you.
Heart. Absurdity. Chaos. These are the words I would choose to describe the brand-new comedy anime Love Tyrant. While most shows spend their first episode slathering everything with so much forced exposition it can feel like you’re drowning slowly in molasses, Love Tyrant bucks the trend by simply not caring. Each piece of information about the characters or answers to questions are absolutely ridiculous. It makes for a very entertaining watch on top of an already interesting premise: what happens when a girl comes to your door and tells you that if you don’t kiss death will come? How does one react to such an absurd statement? Hilariously apparently. Unfortunately, the premise itself spoils a lot of good jokes so I won’t go too far into some areas, I’ll just dance around most of the subjects.
What makes this show so hysterical is not just the bizarre and unrealistic situations the characters get themselves into, but the characters themselves. Everyone except for the main character is insane. Aino Seiji, is an ordinary high school student who goes against a lot of the tropes you see with main characters in harem type shows. He’s handsome, smart, he’s kind, he acts on his impulses instead of just mulling them over until it’s too late and most importantly, he’s the sound of reason. He’s just an all-around good guy, not too weird, not too bland. His partner in crime however, the mysterious girl Guri who shows up at his doorstep, is another story. She suffers from a lack of a filter, lack of self-control and honestly, in some areas, just a general lack of intelligence and maturity. She’s like a baby sister that never was disciplined by her siblings or parents. She does what she wants and gets what she wants with no consequence. Thankfully, this works in the show’s favor as it plays very well with the crazy situations that unfold and the aspects of the other characters such as Akane Hiyama, Seiji’s crush who excels at everything she does, even when those things are less than savory or kind.
Love Tyrant is a hard anime to describe without spoiling. With each moment being filled with jokes, twists and romance, I can safely confirm after watching the first two episodes that this will be the comedy of the season.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid surprised me. From the art and the music to the premise and the characters I expected a typical slice of life comedy. MKDM turned out to be less comedic and more realistic. I don’t mean the dragons or anything, but in the way the creators told a story of the mundane. It gives you the chance to see how easily you can get used to something no matter how drastic of a change it may be to your world. But the best part? It’s the story of love and friendship that isn’t force-fed. You get to enjoy the little pleasures of Kobayashi’s and Tohru’s life together.
With any ensemble cast what matters most are the characters. All the characters are quirky enough for any commonplace anime comedy, but how the characters interact with each other is where the show really shines. The three main characters, Kobayashi, Tohru and Kanna, depict an idealistic concept of family. With Kobayashi and Tohru being the parents and Kanna playing the part of the daughter, the show has a lot of heartwarming stories about growing together and realizing that blood isn’t the only thing that makes you family.
Occasionally, the show will pull focus off of the main three and onto a side character, my favorite being Fafnir, a reclusive dragon who discovers the true enjoyment of gaming upon entering the human world. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid does a superb job of conveying the idea that every person has a place where they fit in and are accepted.
I would definitely recommend this anime to anyone who is a fan of heartwarming and amusing tales of humans and dragons or just for the reason that Kanna is by far the most adorable anime character I’ve been introduced to in quite some time.