Monday, August 31, 2009


SAY WHAT? I had been expecting this for a while, but am bummed that the dates just can't work for me this year. The big news is that UMEZZ CARNIVAL 2009 dates have been set! UMEZZ CARNIVAL is an annual event/show/revue hosted by Kazuo Umezu and his assistants and friends, a mini UmezuCon. Like the last few years, this event is sponsored by the toy marker ArtStorm and some of the festivities are being hosted at STAR PINE'S CAFE (location noted on the SHGTE). Unlike last year, the event is being split over two weekends in September.

Here are the details, taken from Umezu's blog:


Sunday, September 13: Live onstage event at Kudanshita's Scientific Museum's SCIENCE HALL, featuring dancing, an interview with Kazuo Umezu, limited edition commemorative goodies, photographs, figurines and rare works exhibit, and signing opportunities.

Doors at 3PM, Event starts at 4PM. For more details go here.
Ticket: Advance 3800 Yen, 4300 Yen at the door.


Sunday, September 23: Umezu's inaugural rock 'n' roll live concert, featuring his new band performing songs. This event is held at STAR PINE'S in Umezu's Kichijoji neighborhood. Check this YouTube video for a message from the master:

Doors at 3PM, Event starts at 4PM. For more details go here.
Ticket: Advance 3800 Yen + one drink minimum.

If the description wasn't enough to get everyone psyched/jealous, here's photo recap from a previous Umezz Carnival I posted last year. So... anyone over in Japan going to attend this thing? Do you want to write a field report for Same Hat?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


[RSS readers, this post features galleries using PictoBrowser; Please click through to the blog to view them!]

It's been a bit of a photo bonanza on Same Hat lately, hope that's been alright for folks (My apologies if you're reading the blog on a slow connection!). As I'd hoped, San Francisco's new NEW PEOPLE complex is a goldmine of blog posts for Same Hat :)

While bumming around at the Junko Mizuno signing last weekend, I noticed that many of the Yuichi Yokoyama manga for sale at NEW PEOPLE are signed by the artist himself, and feature original sketches. Naturally, each one is different since Yokoyama is an abstraction machine. Check out these signs from various copies of Travel, Niwa, and Outdoor:

Get the flash player here:

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


Well, damn. Based on the feedback to the last post, I think another CYBER BLUE post is in order. There are many, many more goodies to share if you'd like to see them.

Meanwhile, I forgot to post these two photos from manga hunting at the Cafe Mika going-out-of-business sale:

First up: AT THE MERCY OF DARKNESS (yami no mani mani)by Shungicu Uchida, aka Shigeko Uchida-- prolific and multifaceted performer/artist/cartoonist.

Also: ZASHIKI ONNA by Minetaro Mochizuki (Dragon Head, Maiwai). This is a one-shot horror manga about a creepy stalker woman; My buddy Haruna pointed out the title is a nod to the yokai folk spirit 座敷童 (zashiki warashi). I really love the way they did the type treatment on the kanji on the cover.

Any fans of these two books? Okay, real posts with actual substance coming very soon. I'm getting stressed about Issue 2 of Electric Ant and having trouble thinking straight right now!

Monday, August 24, 2009


This weekend, I stopped by the Cafe Mika manga sale. Cafe Mika was San Francisco's first (and only) manga cafe, which seemed to be on shaky financial footing for a while and finally had to close their doors this month. As a final going-out-of-business sale, they were selling all their original manga series (that is, in Japanese) at DEEP discounts.

We're talking the entire original Ranma 1/2 series for $12, all ten volumes of Dragon Head for $3 (snagged those, worth it for the covers alone) and other, more obscure and forgettable series. I found something absolutely incredible in the stacks... all 4 volumes of CYBER BLUE (CYBERブルー), a late-80s cyberpunk/fantasy battle manga for a dollar a book!

I had heard of CYBER BLUE but never seen it... until now. The series was written by "BOB" and Ryuichi Mitsui, and (most importantly) features art by Tetsuo Hara! This short series (4 volumes in total) was the manga Hara worked on right after Fist of the Northstar in 1988.

Let me tell you, this is one of the most hilarious and badass books I've read in a long, long time. It's like if Boris Vallejo had sex with the film Commando and then strapped that baby to the demon offspring of gay Mad Max and Lando Calrissian's mustache. Basically, it's unadultered Hara goodness.

Please enjoy this photo-heavy showcase:

This is the first spread of the book, introducing our protagonist, Blue. He has a gun and puts it in people's faces. And also shoots them in the head.

Oh yeah, all of the above panels are just from Volume 1. Here's from the other three book:

Did I mention that the villain in Volume 3 looks exactly like Prince?

I mean, except if Prince was humongously muscle-bound and banged mermaids!

In addition to guns, Blue is sorta good with his hands. I wouldn't recommend messing with him.

In volume 4, we find out the full extent of what can happen when you tussle with Blue:

I hope you enjoyed this collection of beautiful insanity. Please pass this post on to friends who dig extreme violence and/or pulsating pecs!

[For large versions of all the photos in this post, please see the Flickr set.]

Sunday, August 23, 2009


Follow up news to my Friday post about the Junko Mizuno signing at NEW PEOPLE in San Francisco. I headed over yesterday to make a second visit to the shop, meet Junko and get my Disneyland autograph book signed.

Junko was signing in support of her new manga from Last Gasp, Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU, Volume 1. Lots of local manga folks were in attendance, including Colin from Last Gasp, Otaku USA editor-in-chief Patrick Macias (whose jaPRESS did the English adaptation of PELU),'s Deb Aoki, and some editorial Viz friends.

Junko Mizuno recently moved to San Francisco earlier this year. She mentioned hating the summer weather in Tokyo and that SF was a way more comfortable place to work on art and comics.

A number of people lined up, bringing comics, toys and even a Junko Mizuno-designed skateboard deck for her to sign.

Deb Aoki brought Junko a bunch of presents :)

I mentioned this a little in my previous posts about NEW PEOPLE, but the shop is not the Viz/Shogakukan-centric store I expected. While they sell some Viz books (most notably, Naoki Urasawa's 20th Century Boys and Pluto), they carry lots of other publisher's book-- both English and Japanese editions.

The shop is pretty snazzy and all, but the main thing I like is having NEW PEOPLE as a place to host events, readings, and signings like this. Previously, I guess the Cartoon Art Museum would suffice, but it's great having a manga-centric gallery and store for when creators come into town.

NEW PEOPLE features two Junko-designed t-shirts, in addition to a new Yokoyama shirts and other designs.

And finally, the latest addition to the autograph book :)

UPDATE:'s Deb Aoki has now published her own signing scene report, along with an interview with Junko.

Friday, August 21, 2009


For Bay Area folks, quick announcement that Junko Mizuno will be signing copies of her new manga, Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU Vol. 1 , at the NEW PEOPLE Store in San Francisco. The signing was put together by publisher Last Gasp and will take place tomorrow (8/22/09) at 2pm.

[You can check out a preview and buy it on the Last Gasp site.]

Junko Mizuno will be signing her new book, Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU Vol. 1, on Saturday, August 22 at 2pm at NEW PEOPLE The Store in San Francisco’s Japan Town.

PELU is a cute extraterrestrial critter who travels to Earth to find happiness in the form of a bride. Prepare to be astounded as the search for fulfillment takes him from the surface of his fantastic alien planet to an off-kilter modern Japan inhabited by aspiring enka singers, sassy girls, paint-sniffing bad boys, sushi chefs with unspeakable secrets and the body-switching students of a mysterious high school.

1746 Post St.
San Francisco, CA 94115
Saturday, August 22, 2pm

Praise for Little Fluffy Gigolo PELU:
…Fluffy Gigolo Pelu suggests that her work is only veering into more vividly mischievous territory. It offers a look at an exercise that is comparable to taking the broken crumbs from the bottom of a bag of candy and trying to melt them into a lollipop – bright and supposedly sweet, but deformed and foul smelling where it’s burned. Pelu’s stories of alienation, unconventional pregnancy and huffing are overtly cracked, but the view that it presents of less incendiary subjects like office work dreariness and career dissatisfaction similarly fit into its scheme of candy colored unhappiness.

…noting the diversity of Earth’s population, Pelu leaps into a magic mirror hoping to find someone like himself. His mad anti-trip-to-Oz whirlwind is captured in a montage of dreary meetings, lottery wins, and over eating – framed by a psychedelic expectoration of bubbles.
Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu features enough dire absurdity that it’ll force you to laugh.
Scott Green, Ain’t It Cool News

Whether her stories titillate you or not, it’s hard to deny their unique place in the world of manga. Sans narrative, they’re vintage candy wrappers that you hold on to because you know you’re going to want to just look at them again sometime down the road. In that respect, maybe Little Fluffy Gigolo Pelu is the lovelorn-tragedy-laced Laffy Taffy of the bunch.
…is there enough love on our cruel planet to include a vomit-green, bow-tie-wearing cotton ball like Pelu? Maybe the answer lies in volume two, but I’m digging the journey so far.
Joseph Luster, Otaku USA

The book is filled with bizarre, disturbing, but utterly engaging adventures, like the chapter where Pelu’s friend the Space Hippo arrives on Earth, eats too many unfamiliar foods, and ends up vomiting an acid-like substance all over the town’s local poodle ranch.
John Jakala, Robot 6

Here are some photos from a Junko Mizuno singing in Barcelona:

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Another month, another creepy and disturbingly good chapter of Suehiro Maruo's fantastic Imomushi was released. Chapter 3 debuted in the August issue of COMIC BEAM, which came out in July and arrived at my local Kinokuniya last week.

Check out my first post for details on the plot of Edogawa Rampo's short story, The Caterpillar.

I heard from Moni again, it turns out that Chapter 4 is the final installment of Imomushi. It came out last week in Japan, and that issue of COMIC BEAM features a commemorative Maruo clear file insert thingy. Four chapters doesn't add up to a full-length book, so I wonder what Maruo has up his sleeve next. Perhaps another Rampo adaptation to publish together in a Panorama Island-length book from EnterBrain? Here's hoping!


Like in Panorama Island, the new chapter of Imomushi starts with parallels to Taisho spectacle and technologies to make its points. Here, Tokiko visits a fair featuring peephole painted scenes.

The peephole scenes depict events from famous stories and dramatized news accounts.

Subtle and disturbing scene of Tokiko encountering a used condom on her walk back to her home (and her disfigured husband Lt. Sunaga).

Trouble brewing on the home front. Maruo employs an interesting mix of formal panel layouts on some pages and broken, jagged flow on others.

DOSUN! The sound of a limbless man falling over and flopping angrily?

Many opportunities are taken to depict 1920s storefronts and urban life.

Don't try to look away from Sunaga's disfigurement.

Did I mention this comic is way more NSFW than Panorama Island? SEMI-METAPHORIC SEX FANTASY TIME.



I heard from my friend Moni that the September issue features the fourth and final chapter of Imomushi. This issue came out a few days ago in Japan, I should have it in my hands the second week of September :) It doesn't seem long enough to make up a book... I wonder what Maruo is planning for his next manga?

Monday, August 17, 2009


The "BUILD THE SHGTE" Contest ended Friday night, and in the course of a week 68 new hotspots were added to our community map. THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!! I'm extremely stoked to have had this great response, and I really appreciate your help in building out this map.

View Larger Map

The Same Hat Guide to Everything continues to be a work in progress, and when I finalllllly launch, it will be a key part of the site. I will keep adding cool stuff that I hear about or visit, and hope you'll do the same.

Now for the results: there were a lot of great additions to the map. I wrote down names for everyone who added items, but it got confusing to remember who added 1 or 2, etc. I've decided to give everyone who added items a Junko Mizuno sticker and a copy of my zine (plus some mail from me!). Please send your email and mailing address to SAMEHAT[at]GMAIL[dot]COM.

For the winners, four contributors stood out for adding the most numerous and interesting additions to the map. These 4 people will get the stickers/zine and a Shintaro Kago postcard, purchased in Tokyo from Kago-san himself. These are the Google Nicknames that showed up on the maps, send me your name/address to claim your prizes:

Many, many thanks again to everyone who helped improve the map. Keep up the great work!


As mentioned in my previous post from Friday, the NEW PEOPLE center opened to the public on Saturday in San Francisco, accompanied by a street fair with 2-3 different stages hosting performances and signing/panel events. I spent most of my time stalking Yuichi Yokoyama, but took other pictures too. Here is my (photo-heavy) recap of the afternoon!

NEW PEOPLE is officially open! The inside of the store is sleek, clean, and full of interesting goods from Japan... or so I heard! From the opening until the late afternoon, there was a non-stop line to get in to the building and check out the shops. I heard from folks that waited that it took over an hour in the sun to get in :( I opted to skip this, and am planning to visit the shop leisurely tomorrow afternoon on my day off.

That said, the store was constantly hopping and looked pretty slick from the outside.

Right by the entrance to the building, they had set up a stage for conducting interviews. Over the course of the morning and afternoon they interviewed Yoshitaka Amano, cast members and the producer of the 20th Century Boys film adaptations, and various gothic-lolita designers featured on the 2nd floor of NEW PEOPLE. Here is the head lady who runs the "BABY The Stars Shine Bright" label:

The apparel component of NEW PEOPLE is a welcome addition for San Francisco teenagers-- they get access to a subset of Japanese fashions that other Americans won't get. I'm expecting to see more lace and parasols very soon in the Bay Area. That said, the fashion show I saw showed off a lot of gimmicky and sorta cheap looking outfits. Oh well.

Down the way from the front of the NEW PEOPLE building were a bunch of tents/booths for local businesses, vendors, and the Asian Art Museum. On the other side of the main Peace Plaza area were local food vendors, selling shaved ice, onigiri, hot dogs and Beard Papa pastries.

ANONYMOUS was also out in force, giving out free hugs and dancing to a boombox.

4-chan people are not as fearsome (and younger) in person than expected.

This booth sold dozens of colorway block shirts, and offered custom color combos you could order and have sewn on demand.

Toto Washlet had a booth. The NEW PEOPLE folks said it's the first public building in the US with Toto toilets. The only other building in the US where I've seen the washlet in effect was at the Google offices. I wonder if they will catch on in the US?

Workers setting up the FRIEND banner for the 20th Century Boys film premiere event. The film is playing all week at Viz Cinema (in the basement of NEW PEOPLE), with the 2nd and 3rd films playing in subsequent weeks. Just read Volume 4 last night, holy shit the Friend logo is starting to terrify me when I see it. So good.


I can't remember if I said this above, but the main highlight of the day was catching a live painting demonstration by geometric genius Yuichi Yokoyama (of Travel, New Engineering fame, duh). Apologies to the fainthearted or uninterested, here are like a million photos of Yokoyama at work:

[In this one you see the small flashcards he used to pre-plan the mural elements]

I also shot a short video of Yokoyama putting finishing touches on the last of the "faces":

In the Peace Plaza, MTV IGGY had a tent and were MC-ing the live acts and contents on the bandshell stage. MTV IGGY is a global news/music channel that (I believe) is predominantly online content and focuses on Asian and Asian-American artists. A cool dude I met through mutual friends named Woody Fu works for them, but I didn't see him around. Woody's is submitting a comic for Electric Ant #2, and also interviewed Jim Lee dressed up as Cyclops.

Girl rock group TsuShiMaMire played a long set, and got a good response from the crowd.

These same bands played a bigger show Sunday night at Yoshi's.

Merch table for the various bands.

All rock ladies, all the time.

A bunch of local girls got made-up and took part in a nerdy HARAJUKU KAWAII(???) fashion contest.

Hosted by MTV IGGY, the winner of the contest won a free round-trip flight to Tokyo courtesy of JAL. Pretty chill prize, no?

Last thing before I got my pale ass out of the sun, I had the chance to meet Yuichi Yokoyama and get him to sign the Disneyland autograph book. There was a very short line to meet Yokoyama (4 people including me?) which sorta confirmed the general anonymity he enjoys/suffers among most J-pop/manga fans. I talked to him for all of 20 seconds, mostly me showing him my PictureBox bag and gushing about his work inarticulately. As our small group made its way to the signing table, others noticed and started lining up to meet the man as well.

For folks without books/things to sign, Viz was handing out rad/creepy paper masks of Yokoyama's designs. These same designs were all over the inside of NEW PEOPLE and the main part of much of the advertisements, volunteer t-shirts and motif for the center. Very cool, but I wondered how it was hooked up? I assume Seiji (Viz's president) is buddies with him :)

Yokoyama was not into my brush pen and silver sharpie. It is red & blue all the way.

Signing my book! His sketch was right after the Yoshihiro Tatsumi and Frank Santoro sketches I got at TCAF earlier this year.


I again shot a really short video of Yokoyama in action.

Finally, after getting back home I here "model" the Yokoyama mask. It conveniently covered up my sunburned face:

Other folks are probably writing more representative posts of like, the actual inside of NEW PEOPLE, and the other events I skipped (Amano happenings, gothic lolita fashion show). The first (and biggest) comes in from's Deb Aoki (who was at NEW PEOPLE on Saturday from 8am to 1am). Check out her full write-up here.

UPDATE: Another great post, with lots of video tours, can be found over at ANIME VICE.