If there’s one thing I enjoy about pop culture, it’s the idea that it can connect people from different walks of life. Comics, gaming, anime and cosplaying are all part of the same phenomenon. Anime has experienced a huge increase in popularity and it’s writers like Helen McCarthy who’ve championed it as a legitimate field of study. Helen has written 13 books, which have been translated into seven languages, on anime, manga, art and Japanese pop culture. They include 500 Essential Anime Movies, Hayao Miyazaki: Master of Japanese Animation and Anime! A Beginner’s Guide To Japanese Animation.
I’m pleased to present an interview with Helen about her writing experiences and her connection to pop culture. Read on to find out about what it was like meeting Jonathan Ross in a comic book store and how she braved a snow storm to see her favourite Japanese shrine. Continue reading “Helen McCarthy Talks About What It Means To Be An Anime Writer”
In the pop culture world, there are a variety of festivals that cater to different niches. Pop culture has a habit of infiltrating every culture and one of my favourite events of the year is the Doki Doki Festival in Manchester. A celebration of Japanese culture, Doki Doki brings together people from all walks of life. Anime, manga, comics and history are housed under one roof. The 2018 event featured a diverse set of talks and stalls, ranging from Japanese woodcut prints to cosplaying.
Continue reading “Pop Culture, Cosplay And Japanese History Unite At A Successful Doki Doki 2018”
Japan is associated with a lot of images, with the samurai being the most famous in my opinion. The image of a noble warrior living by the code of bushido has become a romanticised ideal. Samurai lived and died by their duty, but men weren’t the only people who could take up the sword. Female samurai existed as well. Called onna-bugeisha (female martial artists), they belonged to the same class as male samurai and were allowed to carry weapons to protect their household.
I think the best comic representation of a female samurai is Katana. The character’s backstory is rooted in tragedy and it follows the tropes of family honour, revenge and sacrifice. Katana is a reflection of the fearlessness of the onna-bugeisha, so I’m looking into her importance as a superhero. Continue reading “Katana And The Representation Of Female Samurai”
Japan features some of the most distinctive superheroes in the world, particularly in the Marvel Universe. The most famous is Sunfire, a mutant who stirs the same national pride as Captain America does in the USA. Shiro Yoshida has been a part of the X-Men, Avengers and Big Hero 6, highlighting his prominence. The character’s backstory has turned him into a symbol for post-WW2 Japan and I’m looking into Sunfire’s history to see what makes him so important.
Continue reading “What Makes Sunfire A Symbol For Post-WW2 Japan?”
Superhero teams can be found all over the world, especially in the Marvel Universe. America is known for The Avengers, England has Excalibur and Canada has Alpha Flight. With its technological prowess and booming economy, you’d think Japan would have a superhero team, and you’d be right. Japan’s Big Hero 6 protects the nation from outside and inside threats. The team was featured prominently in a 2014 film of the same name, though Big Hero 6 got its start in Marvel.
The original comic team was made up of Silver Samurai, Sunfire, Hiro Takachiho, Honey Lemon, Baymax and Go-Go Tomago. I’m looking into the history of the group to see how it was formed and what brought each member onto the team. Continue reading “The History Of Big Hero 6 And Their Quest To Protect Japan”
When it comes to the representation of Japan in comics, Wolverine is the ideal character for providing a Western perspective. The Land of the Rising Sun is an essential part of Logan’s backstory, and I’ve waxed lyrically about how important Japan is to his identity. Many stories have been told about Wolverine and Japan, showing the divide between man and beast, ronin and samurai. The Comic Vault is listing five key stories that will give you an idea of how Wolverine fits into Japanese culture. Continue reading “5 Must-Read Wolverine Comics That Will Make You Appreciate Japan”
Controlling how you’re remembered is part of the human condition, even when it’s impossible to do. Everyone will be remembered differently, but it doesn’t stop some people from wanting to define their legacy. When a person is gone, what do they leave behind? That is the essence of legacy. A character that’s battled to define herself is Lady Deathstrike. An enemy of Wolverine, Deathstrike has fought against the X-Men for years. When her motivations are pulled apart, an intriguing character is revealed. Deathstrike’s upbringing and nature have shaped the way she wants to be remembered. Continue reading “What Kind Of Legacy Will Lady Deathstrike Leave Behind?”
Everyone has their own way of coping with death, whether through carrying out their own personal rituals or spending time with loved ones. The passing of my grandad has made me think about the burial ceremonies from different cultures, with comics offering an insight into the various practices. After all, death is never constant in comics. But we still mourn characters if we’ve read about them for years. Japanese funerals are some of the most elaborate, so it seemed appropriate that Wolverine’s death would be honoured through a culture that shaped his life.
During the Death of Wolverine arc, Logan’s son, Daken, carried out a traditional Shinto funeral for his father. Shinto funerals have twenty steps and I’m looking into each one as a way of seeing how grief is processed. Continue reading “Analysing The Nature Of Shinto Funerals With Daken And Wolverine”
In terms of mythology, Japanese folklore makes up some of the most intriguing stories. Japanese religion is based around the kami, spirits that are linked to nature and embody different virtues. Kami are known to exhibit good and evil characteristics, with their nature being ambiguous. Marvel has always represented Japanese culture in a faithful way, which extends to the mythology. A character that represents the power of kami is Amatsu-Mikaboshi, the Japanese god of darkness and one of the greatest threats to the Marvel Universe. Mikaboshi’s existence offers a window into the idea of chaos. Continue reading “The Chaotic Nature Of Kami: Amatsu-Mikaboshi And Japanese Mythology”
Samurai are traditionally depicted as brave warriors who value honour and duty. They were known to serve their masters loyally, to lay down their lives and sacrifice everything in the pursuit of Bushido. Marvel has done a great job of emphasising Japanese culture, with the Silver Samurai representing a traditional image. The identity has been used by two characters, though it has been linked with dishonour, due to Kenuichio Harada starting off as a villain. Over time, Harada looked to regain his honour and The Comic Vault is looking into the history of the Silver Samurai to see how the identity contrasts with conventional Japanese imagery. Continue reading “How Does Silver Samurai Break The Mould For Traditional Japanese Imagery?”