Thursday, May 31, 2007


First the good news: There was recently a radical gallery exhibit featuring the work of Suehiro Maruo and Akino Kondoh, one of the first of its kind outside of Japan. The exhibit included original art, prints, manga and other items on display by both creators.

Now the bad news: The exhibit was way the hell over in France, and ended a few weeks ago. BUMMER. Happily though, event sponsor/avant-garde French publisher Le Lézard Noir has documented the exhibit on their blog for us to enjoy.

For French speakers, here is the exhibit description, taken from the The Media Library François Mitterand of Poitiers site:

La Médiathèque François Mitterand de Poitiers, organise du 27 mars au 12 mai une exposition croisée autour des travaux de Suehiro Maruo et Akino Kondoh. Au programme une salle entière de livres rares, dessins originaux, gravures, planches, tableaux, figurines et autres joyeusetés de nos deux auteurs maisons. Une exposition à ne louper sous aucun prétexte, l'entrée est libre et "tous publics", si si vous pouvez même y aller en famille.


We've been friends with Lézard for a few months, so I'm not sure why we haven't posted about them until now. Le Lézard is basically the French equivalent of the dream publishing house I would run if I had the funds and time. They specialize in avant-guarde and ero-guro manga, and have also published the rare How To Take a Japanese Bath guidebook, illustated by Maruo.

They also have published what I think is the only complete non-Japanese edition of the art/mindfuck post-WWII detritus of angst epic: MUTANT HANAKO by Makoto Aida. I wish there was a publisher like Le Lézard Noir in the US! Here is a quick snapshot of their titles:

Check out their site for more information, or add them on Myspace!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007


I wanted the first post after our unplanned 3 week absence to be killer. So here I go, compiling everything awesome from the English and Japanese versions of Kazuo Umezu's Homepage; Your guide you to a bountiful spread of mp3s, video, games and other fun stuff for Umezu freaks.

A month or so ago, we posted about Kazuo Umezu's online photo gallery, hosted on Picasa Web Albums. He continues to add new photos to the album on a regular basis, so check it out again for his most recent snapshots from media events and convention thingies.

My GF pointed out that Umezz seems to really enjoy being famous. And it's true, more than most other mangaka that we talk about on this site (stoically badass Mr. Hino, or terse Mr. Maruo, or semi-reclusive Junji Ito, etc), Umezz seems to be continually cultivating his image, and perpetuates a persona that is really wacky and expressive. Smartly, this in turn encourages a relationship not just with his manga and works, but with him as a media figure and icon.

To this end, Umezu's site is PACKED FULL of MANY, MANY GOODIES. Now, it may be Umezu's idea (homeboy is 80 years old, keep in mind), but it appears that the day-to-day site operations are run by his weird/cute webmaster DEMERIN. She comes up on his site often, and you can learn more at her personal site. She's young, draws comics (including a recent biography/horror manga about Umezu's life), and from what I can gather, works as Umezu's personal assistant and webmaster. She also has a hat that reads DEMERIN, akin to Umezu's helmet reading KAZZ. Pretty chill.

Now, like other internationally-minded creators, he has versions of his site in English and German along with the Japanese edition. But to be frank, the non-Japanese are wimpy and have only a pittance of information and are rarely updated. Well, after our last post I sortof assumed that maybe people had digged through his homepage and found all the goodies; But actually, I can totally see how the busy Japanese interface can be intimidating to the casual visitor.

So, okay dudes... If you can read Japanese, I definitely recommend you simply check out his site yourself--- but for everyone else, we here present an authoritative Umezu Site AV Compendium:

First up: Kazuo Umezu ring tones!

Click here for about 15 different ringtones, which are conveniently hosted in four different sound file types to choose from. You'll find:

+ メールなのら! - meeru nanora!
+ 電話なのら! - denwa nanora!
+ 着信なのら! - chakushin nanora!
+ マッチョメ マッチョメ - macchome macchome
+ グワシ!(その1) - gwashi!(1)
+ グワシ!(その2) - gwashi!(2)
+ サバラ! - sabara!
+ イボイボうつれー! - ipo ipo utsuree!
+ メールどすえ! - meeru dosue!
+ 電話どすえ! - denwa dosue!
+ 着信どすえ! - chakushin dosue!
+ ごんぬずぱ! - gon'nuzupa!
+ ハプ、ハプ! - hapu hapu!
+ ガーン! - gaan!
+ アウ、アウ! - au, au!
+ グワシ!楳図かずおです! - gwashi! Kazuo Umezu desu!
+ エグリエグリポテグリプッシュン! - eguri eguri poteguri pusshun!
+ エグリエグリポテグリプッチン!間違えた!(NG Version) - eguri eguri poteguri putchin! machigaeta!
+ イアラー! - iaraa!

For the lazy folks, we've hosted the two most quintessential files here... Umezu belting out his catchphrase 'Gwashi'!

This sounds crazy, but the site goes as far as to feature a history of Gwashi, and panels from his oeuvre detailing wacky mandatory hand poses that accompany shouting of said phrase. Click here for Google Translate mangled (but decipherable) English version.

Next up: Kazuo Umezu television commercial!
In the same Download section of the site, you can find a commercial from 1995 for the opening of the Kazuo Umezu Haunted House. The Haunted House was located in Ōita prefecture, and depicted a number of creepy scenes sourced from Umezu's manga. For easy viewing, I've uploaded the file to our Same Hat channel on YouTube:

Pretty, um, scary right? I guess the pencil drawings overlaid on flames isn't the most convincing, but Umezu looks and sounds pretty creepy. If you don't like watching it lower-res on YouTube, you can download it as WMV from his site (Right-click here).

The next goodies are probably my favorite-- a series of posts where Kazuo Umezu reads panels from Drifting Classroom.
This is a fucking brilliant idea (My hat's off to him or Demerin or whoever thought of this one) and makes me wish I could buy an 'audiobook' recording of say, 14 or Left hand of God, Right hand of the Devil!

Click each panel to hear Umezu read the text (and in some cases, the sound effects!). To make it even cooler, he's mostly reading the dialogue of the Sekiya-san, the lunchlady-turned-child-murderer!!









「ザザザザザザ・・・」(and Version 2)

Okay, penultimate media artifact of amazement: Podcasts!

Yes, the site has featured a series of 10 interview-format podcasts, where Umezu discusses topics ranging from his childhood to the film & anime adaptations of his manga to his biggest fear (the hospital!), and tons and tons of other topics. They also bring in a variety of related folks to talk with Umezu. The podcasts are in Japanese (duh), and are both extremely informative and manic (that's not surprising, right?).

After listening to these conversations, I've become sortof obsessed with Umezu (more so with his voice specifically!) Click each link below to view the post on his blog for each podcast (with a summary and pictures), or click 'mp3' to download the file directly.

Umezzcast 1 (mp3)
Umezzcast 2 (mp3)
Umezzcast 3 (mp3)
Umezzcast 4 (mp3)
Umezzcast 5 (mp3)
Umezzcast 6 (mp3)
Umezzcast 7 (mp3)
Umezzcast 8 (mp3)
Umezzcast 9 (mp3)
Umezzcast 10 (mp3)

Finally, I present to you the best thing EVER:

You can download it here (unfortunately, PC only) and begin the madness. Basically Memory + Spastic Umezu = HOURS OF FUN. Check out these screenshots:

Hope you enjoyed the Umezu AV Compendium. And yes, SAME HAT is BACK in BUSINESS!

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

NEW COMICS DAY: Parasyte redux

It's Wednesday, which means it's time to visit your local shop and pick up new books. I took a healthy 1.5 week break from buying any comics or manga after APE, but I think it's time to start up again :)

A few titles of note, issue 3 of Jeff Smith's Shazam and um, Buffy Season Eight #3 are out today, and might be worth checking out. The manga we're most hyped about is the Del Rey re-release of Hitoshi Iwaaki's PARASYTE!

Now, if you've been into manga for a while, you've likely heard of this title before. The series originally debuted as one of the main titles seralized in the manga monthly Mixx Magazine (Mixx being the former name for Toykopop), and was later published in 11 volumes. I remember personally being an avid reader of Mixx waaaay back in 1997 (I was 15 years old, yes), and Parasyte was probably the first "horror" manga I ever encountered.

Briefly, the story of Parasyte (Kiseiju in Japanese) involves weird pods landing on Earth bearing parasitic worms that take over humans, turning them into shape-shifting cannibals. In some cases, the worms inhabit dogs, or fail to fully take over their hosts. The main character, Shin, is one of the lucky infected, and the sentient parasyte merely takes over his arm. The rest of the story follows Shin and his talking/shapeshifting killer parasyte hand (which is dubbed 'Lefty' in the flipped Mixx edition) navigating a symbiotic relationship with each other, which includes hunting down other parasytes and dealing with Shin's very normal slew of high school problems: teachers, homework and dating.

The overarching plot is a mishmash of Day of the Triffids, John Carpenter's The Thing and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, but the main story is suspenseful (other parasytes wanna kill Shin/Lefty since Lefty failed at taking over his host properly, etc), gory (parasytes can shapeshift their head's into huge razor-like whips or simply turn into a giant mouth and chomp their human victims) and comical (Shin talking to Lefty in a men's room, Lefty doing Shin's homework). People have rightly criticized the art as sparse and stiff, but I remember it servicing the story well enough. I have a nostalgic memory of really getting sucked in to the weird juxtaposition of gnarly gore scenes with humor and high school dating angst and digging this manga. I'm looking forward to seeing how that experience holds up 10 years later.

My overview of the plot was, admittedly, a mess, so I recommend you check out Viz editor Shaenon Garrity's excellent review (with some panels and pages from the original releases) in her latest overlooked manga column.

Despite the Mixx/Tokyopop editions being pretty ubiquitous at used book shops, the series has been out of print for a number of years. Along the way, relative newbie manga imprint Del Rey picked up the rights to this series and is planning to reissue the entire Parasyte series. The new editions are in the usual Tokyopop size, unflipped this time and featuring a new and improved translation. As you can tell by the cover, above, they're deftly trying to capitalize on the strong (but tottering) resurgence of horror manga.

An interesting note, in the Japanese edition, the worm infects Shin's RIGHT arm, and is referred to simply as Migi (literally right in Japanese). Mixx used the name Lefty in their edition because of the flipped pages (hey, they get points for being consistent). I was wondering how they'd fix this in the unflipped Del Rey releases-- Some ideas include Righty (dorky), Migi (possibly unclear), or as an AoD forum poster suggested, Dexter. I heard from the translator Andrew that they did go with Migi, but included a translator's note (and mention of Lefty) in the back of the book.

Another weird piece of cultural debris in my head was that I strongly remember the series being censored in certain spots when I originally read it. The censored panels I saw were from reading it in the original Mixx Magazine release, but according to Evan and others, the Mixx graphic novels and the new Del Rey editions are uncensored.

One hilarious example of the Mixx Magazine censorship involves a scene where Shin is at a restaurant with his crush. She makes a flirty joke (or he sees her bra or something like that) and Lefty manifests Shin's entire forearm as a giant phallus, causing Shin's shock and embarrassment. But when I first read this panel, I remember his arm depicted as a cobra snake. This doesn't REALLY match up with the joke, and I remember at 15 being like, 'HUH? It he afraid it's going to bite him? What?' Thanks to Evan (for the penis version) and AoD poster shuironeko (for digging up his old MiXX). Here is the scene in question (from the first issue of Mixx Magazine, August 1997, page 102) and then the uncensored version (from the graphic novel release):




It's a good time to re-release this series, as a live-action film directed by Ju-on's Takashi Shimizu is rumored to be in the works! According to IMBD and Twitch, the movie may finally happen. This film is a no-brainer, really, as the manga is teen-orientated and pretty cinematic in its pacing and action sequences. It turns out I'm not the only one who thinks so, as Mixx editor Stu Levy said way back in 1999 at Otakon VI that a live-action Parasyte film could happen soon, and again here in an old post from Anime News Network, there is talk of a movie.

I also found an old interview with Brian Yuzna, writer and director of a number of Lovecraft adaptations including Beyond Re-Animator, and it sounds like he was very interested at one point in doing an American version of the film too (perhaps is the person hinted at above that purchased the rights?). He said,

"KISEIJU is a manga that I was obsessed with making into a film for quite a while. The problem was with acquiring the rights. But the idea very much appealed to me and the plasticity of the body parts infected by the alien parasite was a visual that inspired me. I would still love to adapt that manga."

It's interesting to imagine Shimizu doing a horror film that's more SF, with tangible fight scenes and lots of humor; I imagine that getting the CGI and voice correct for Migi/Lefty could make or break some fans' enjoyment of the film, like Ryuk in the adaptation of Death Note. We'll post again on the film if we hear more news. I'm off to the comic shop in a few hours-- let me know what you picked up and any recommendations as well.

EDIT/UPDATE: I got my copy at Kinokuniya yesterday (they never let me down) and I really enjoyed it. The Del Rey edition looks sharper, the translation is spot on, and the touch-up and lettering looks really great. And yes, the McDonald's hand-penis uncensored panel is intact. The translator notes were interesting, and here is the aforementioned section on calling the parasyte hand 'Migi'