Archive | Manga

Adult shipment from Japanese Amazon Marketplace

My Amazon order from Monday 6 April 2015 also contained a couple of items from Amazon Marketplace, which are then shipped separately from those sellers (just like Amazon in other countries works). I realised that main Amazon doesn’t ship adult goods abroad, but Marketplace sellers do. So I got myself a few used adult manga …

The first Marketplace order arrived today in the regular mail. So it took quite exactly one week for it to arrive (after all, I placed the order at 23.24 on Monday last week). Finding this colourful parcel in the mail is half the fun:

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In addition, last month I had Kohei bring me my favourite manga back from his last Japan trip, after having placed an Amazon order which I had delivered to his place. It’s a lush mix of Yowamushi Pedal, Kokoro Button and Yotsuba to = manga for boys, girls and children:

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I’ve already finished the first Yotsuba volume (which is volume 3 in total). I think it takes me about 3 hours to read one of those volumes; about 30 minutes per chapter. I don’t look anything up, because Yotsuba to is so simple that I understand everything, well maybe except a few words here and there. Fireworks was the theme of this volume, very sweet.

Bicycle manga

Amazing, Akira Yomoyama has released his previous doujinshi booklets + a new story in this beautiful volume, so thick, with perfect print quality and a tasty obi!

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So fresh it's not even officially released until next week! (15th April 2015)

So fresh it’s not even officially released until next week! (15th April 2015)

As for the shipment:

  • Monday 6 April at 23.24: I place the order on Amazon.co.jp.
  • Tuesday 7 April at 5.27: Amazon ships it from Japan.
  • Friday 10 April at 14.40: DHL delivers it to my door in Berlin.

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This is perfect post-ride entertainment now that Yowamushi Pedal has ended! And perfect timing wheatherwise, people are strolling around in t-shirt today in Berlin, and some are wearing shorts.

You can buy Akira’s bicycle manga here. It costs 907 yen (about 7.12 euro) and you don’t pay the eight percent sales tax that people within Japan have to pay. Shipping to Europe is 1,400 yen ≈ 10.99 euro.

『自転車男子に恋をした④』をGET!

Last weekend, it was Comitia 109 in Tokyo. It’s a doujinshi event for original works only (no parodies). I visited Comitia 106 last autumn and met my favorite bicycle mangaka Akira Yomoyama there. He usually releases his new works in time for Comitia, and I’ve come to like them very much. So I ordered the fourth part of his “自転車男子に恋をした” from the kind folks at Alice Books – carefully packaged as you can see. They shipped it on 22 August and it arrived 2 September after being cleared by German customs (that’s the green sticker). Always a happy day when a parcel from Japan arrives!

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  • 印刷物(いんさつぶつ)printed matter

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The series is very down to earth and focuses on the everyday life of a male bicyclist, Soma-kun.

Each volume contains three chapters of about 10 pages each. It takes me about one hour to read one chapter. That’s when I do this close-reading and write down all the words I don’t recognize, and also many words that I know, but whose kanji I didn’t recognize (like 怪我 and 奇麗), or which I need to repeat (like 人間 and 秒).

There is no furigana, but nowadays it’s so easy to draw kanji in for example Kanji Recognizer or Google Translate. In fact, since my kanji studies started at the same time as this kanji recognition revolution, I’ve never used a kanji dictionary. I use my Wacom board since drawing with the mouse is tedious. Here is the last part of 怪我:

Google translate Japanese kanji recognizer

Chapter 1

In the first chapter, Soma-kun’s chain breaks.

  • メンテ=メンテナンス maintenance
  • 切れそう about to expire
  • 兆候(ちょうこう)sign, indication
    • 「チェーンが切れそうな兆候なんて無かったけどなあ」The chain didn’t show any signs of being about to expire
  • 地面 the ground
  • 水面 the water (surface)
  • 怪我 injury
  • 人間 a human
  • 反射(はんしゃ)する to reflect (compare 反映する)
  • 奇麗(な)beautiful

Some frames were perfectly readable without look-up help, like this one, where a bicyclist with a badly adjusted light comes closer:

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“Bright is good, but … turn it down a bit towards the ground please … or else I won’t be able to open my eyes …”

Chapter 2

In the second story, Soma-kun goes to Akihabara and realizes that the road is closed for traffic since it’s Sunday (I learned this too). Note Comic ZIN, a famous doujinshi shop:

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He meets another bicyclist with a TT frame but drop bars – an unusual combination.

  • 艦(かん)ship(戦艦・せんかん battleship)
  • 新刊(しんかん)new title/issue (compare 週刊)
  • 秒(びょう)a second
  • 嫁(よめ)daughter-in-law
  • 盗難(とうなん)theft (盗む+難しい!)
  • 現る=現れる(あらわれる)to appear
  • 珍しい rare
  • 知名度(ちめいど)name recognition, awareness

Soma-kun compliments him on his radical choice:

  • 常識 common sense
  • 定説 dogma, established theory
    • 常識や定説を疑ってみる To try to question common sense and established theories

My tandem partner taught me how to use the new word 拘わり(こだわり)properly:

  • 「僕は自転車に拘りがある」Bicycles are precious to me/I’m a connoisseur in bicycles
  • 「このフォントは拘りだから、変更しないでください」I like this font/This font is precious to me, so please don’t change it

Soma-kun ultimately gets to try the other’s bike. He is excited when describing its qualities afterwards:

  • 真剣(しんけん)(な)earnest, serious
  • 加速(かそく)acceleration
  • 減速(げんそく)deceleration, slowdown
  • 巡航速度(じゅんこう そくど)cruising speed
    • 「巡航速度はイメージ以上」The cruising speed exceeded my expectations
  • 素直(すなお)straightforward, obedient
  • 安心感(あんしんかん)sense of security
  • モデル名(モデルめい)model name

As for the realism of this manga, here’s the TT bike in the story’s Akihabara:

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And here is what I shot in Akihabara in December 2011, maybe Soma-kun in winter gear:

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Even the three bars of the fence are the same! And the girl is in the same position. I guess that’s the standard position to make her fit in the wheel, but still. (I think I want a TT bike. My Tempelhof friend Robert S has one and says that it increases his “top average” speed for a lap with about 2 km/h.)

Chapter 3

In the only slightly romantic story in this volume, Soma-kun meets his friend/date Hoshino-san, who has bought a cute jersey, white with red dots. Soma-kun explains that that is the jersey awarded to the King of the Mountain in Tour de France.

  • 衝動買い(しょうどうがい)impulse shopping(衝動買いをする)
  • 衝動的にXをする to do something on impulse
  • テンション feeling
  • 山岳王(さんがくおう)”king of the mountains”

自転車男子に恋をした③

四方山哲:自転車男子に恋をした③

I used my Wacom Bamboo to look up kanji (no furigana here!) while reading the third part of Akira Yomoyama’s doujinshi series 自転車男子に恋をした (“I fell in love with a male bicyclist”). It took 2,5 hours for me to finish it, but then I was simultaneously watching Nacer Bouhanni get a double puncture, catch up again and finally win the very slippery Stage 4 of Giro d’Italia (so many people fell in the end!).

Very nice, sweet and simple story as usual, and perfectly drawn. They went to the same bicycle shop (chain?) that I visited last autumn: Y’s Road:

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Bicycle shop Y's Road in Ueno, Tokyo

Soma-kun’s date Hoshino-san wanted to buy a road bike, but Soma-kun was reluctant to help her so she was afraid she would buy the wrong bike. But Soma-kun assured her that there wasn’t a single bad bike in this shop, so whatever bike she chose, she wouldn’t make a mistake.

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  • 巨人(きょじん)giant
  • 体育会系 athlete
  • 罰(ばつ)punishment

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  • はた迷惑・な nuisance to other people
  • 原付(げんつき)moped
  • ノーヘル = ノーヘルメット no helmet
  • 逆走(ぎゃくそう)running backwards (?)
  • 野郎(やろう)ass
  • チャリンコ(チャリ)bike
  • しなやか・な supple, flexible (limbs)
  • サラサラ silky (hair)
  • ツヤツヤ glossy (skin)
  • 体型(たいけい)body type
  • 適度(てきど)・な moderate
  • つき方 ?

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  • 超(ちょう)ultra- (例:超目立つ)
  • 派手(はで)・な flashy
  • 律儀(りちぎ)に dutifully
  • 高橋 尚子
  • 野口 みずき
  • 有酸素(ゆうさんそ)運動 aerobic exercise
  • 日焼け (sun) tan

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I looove realism!

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  • 用途(ようと)use
  • 予算(よさん)budget
  • …に応じる depends on …
  • 種類 type, category
  • 試乗車(しじょうしゃ)test car/bike
  • 原稿(げんこう)manuscript
  • 輝き(かがやき)sparkle

And here’s when I read the second volume:

ウソツキ!ゴクオーくん 第2・3話

I’ve now read chapter 2 and 3 of Liar! Gokuoh-kun and they were actually quite exciting.

第2話

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Chapter 2 is about poor little Tenko’s attempts to jump the vaulting box at height 5. Doya teases her and says that he could jump over it at height 10 – if he only hadn’t hurt himself and walked on crutches. In the end it turns out that he has just made up the crutch thing because he was too afraid of jumping the box. He admits it all after Gokuoh has summoned the Lord of Hell to grab Doya’s lying tongue.

  • 放課後 = after school
  • 球技 = ball game (compare 競技)
  • 跳び箱 = vaulting box (sv. bock)
  • 跳ぶ = to jump
  • 距離(きょり) = distance
  • 松葉杖(まつばづえ)= crutch

第3話

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In chapter 3, all the children look forward to curry-rice for school lunch. They get very disappointed when they find all the curry and the school cook spread out on the floor of the school corridor. Well the cook wasn’t spread out, he just stood there and everyone thought it was his fault, despite he said he was at the toilet when it happened.

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Gokuoh-kun solves the mystery in a thriller-like tour de force – and it turns out that nothing was what it seemed! For example, the incriminating curry stain on Banzaki’s t-shirt actually came from Omusubi’s mouth which he happened to press against Banzaki’s fat stomach when Banzaki tripped over him. Who would have known. And yes, the Lord of Hell appears here as well with his terrifying tongue-gripping metal claw.

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  • 容赦(ようしゃ)する = to pardon, to forgive, to condone
  • 反応(はんのう)= reaction
  • 習字(しゅうじ)= shuji/Japanese calligraphy (which is “a required subject in elementary and junior high school in Japan”)
  • 染み(しみ)= stain
  • 修業(しゅぎょう)= studying, learning, the pursuit of knowledge
  • 飛び散る = to scatter, to fly around
  • 逆(ぎゃく)= reverse (adj.)
  • 悪気(わるぎ)= malice
  • つまみ食いする = to snitch food

We’ll end with these words of wisdom by Gokuoh-kun:

風と同じで嘘はうつるんだよ!

Just like the wind, a lie will turn around!

ウソツキ!

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I bought ウソツキ!ゴクオーくん (Gokuoh-kun the Liar!) by 吉もと 誠 (Yoshimoto Makoto) at Yodobashi (and sent it home with sea mail) partly because its tagline in English:

“A small lie is useful in some cases.”

It seemed like a smart shounen manga, a bit like I pictured the PCP (Perfect Crime Party) manga in Bakuman.

Last night I read the first chapter, page 1-40, while looking up all words I didn’t understand or was unsure about. It took a bit more than 2 hours.

The manga began with an introduction of the characters. The main protagonist is of course Gokuoh-kun, who is described as a constantly lying elementary schooler and transfer student. The other two characters are his classmates Tenko Ono, a cute and too honest girl, and Banzaki, the school bully.

登場人物(とうじょう じんぶつ)= character (in a story)

謎(なぞ・ナゾ)= mystery

転校生(てんこうせい)= transfer student

見破る(みやぶる)= to detect

正直・な(しょうじき・な)= honest

頑張り屋(がんばりや)= hard worker

側近(そっきん)= assistant

After the introduction, the chapter starts:

第1話:ウソツキ転校生現る!

Chapter 1: The lying transfer student shows up!

現す(あらわす)= to show
現る(あらわる)= to show up

Banzaki rages through the corridors until he finds Tenko in the classroom. He starts abusing her.

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It turns out someone has posted a note on the blackboard saying: “Banzaki got 0 points on the test!” The message is written on a paper from Tenko’s notebook, and it’s a unique notebook since she won it in a lottery.

こっそり = secretly

覚悟(がくご)= resolution

懸賞(けんしょう)= lottery

非売品(ひばいひん)= not for sale

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Banzaki’s case is strong, and all the classmates turn against Tenko, screaming “liar, liar” at her. Tenko say’s she lost her notebook the day before, but no one believes her.

暴れる(あばれる)= to rage

下らない(くだらない)= worthless

給食(きゅうしょく)= school lunch

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Then Gokuoh asks Banzaki to show him his test. He refuses, saying “I’ll never show my points to anyone!” So how could Tenko know his scores, Gokuoh asks, if he hadn’t shown them to anyone? The mystery deepens.

ぼける = be blurred/play dumb/pretend not to remember

宝物(たからもの)= treasure

まるで = like (how use?)

答案 用紙(とうあん ようし)= answer sheet

捨てる(すてる)= to throw away

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Gokuoh concludes that only one person could know Banzaki’s scores is the teacher, who denies Gokuoh’s accusations.

まさか = surely

好物(こうぶつ)= favourite food or thing

まみれる = be covered (in something)

仕業(しわざ)= work (“this is your work/workings”)

ふざけん・な!= The motherfucker! Give me a break!

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Then Gokuoh summons the Lord of Hell, who grabs the teacher’s tongue and throws him around. At the same time Gokuoh’s pet, the Cat Crow, flies to the teacher’s desk to get – tadaa – Tenko’s notebook!

ネコカラス = cat crow

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The principal enters the classroom and asks what is going on with all the sounds. Since the Lord of Hell has made the teacher’s tongue speak the truth, he frantically tells the whole story about how he stole Tenko’s notebook and posted the paper from it on the blackboard so that Banzaki would abuse her. This was the teacher’s way at getting back at Tenko for making a fool of him in front of class, when she corrected the teacher.

担任(たんにん)= homeroom teacher

指摘 する(してき する)= to point out

評判(ひょうばん)= reputation

分際(ぶんざい)= social standing

The chapter ends with the principal dragging the teacher in his ear through the corridor.

本人(ほんにん)= (school) principal

初代(しょだい)= founder

悪漢(あっかん)= villain

(Sample scans from コロコロ.)

Finally reading Yotsuba to!

I finished volume 30 of Yowamushi Pedal and to be honest, I was a bit tired of it in the end. It takes such long time for me to read in Japanese! So I blame that, not the manga.

Then I started reading something I found at Ayumi Books in Gotanda: 湯神くんには友達がいない/Yugami-kun does not have any friends. It looks like a new high school manga, this was volume 3. I like realism and the school setting, but this one – or shall I say the first 14 pages – wasn’t that exciting. So far just girls talking about the lonely Yugami-kun in some kind of Bechdel orgasm. I guess this is shoujo. (For the record: I find the Bechdel test, or rather how it’s used, the conclusions drawn from it, ridiculous. I might explain why in a later post.)

Anyway, almost the same day I stumbled upon the Yotsuba to series at Book Ruue in Kichijouji. This is the children’s manga that opened my eyes way back here. However, I didn’t really read it then. My Japanese was too bad (despite I had it in scanlation too), but most of all I find it very hard to read on a screen; you’re always distracted by something. So I bought the first volume, just as I promised the publisher in my earlier post: “Don’t worry, Yotsuba-to! publisher, I will probably buy the print versions eventually”, I wrote.

I started reading on the train, and I was immediately hooked. Yotsuba is the girl’s name and “to” means “and”, so each chapter is about Yotsuba and something else; moving, greetings, global warming, TV, etc. The girl is five years old. And I adore her like a little kitten! Me who usually find kids a nuisance, but I guess I can stand them in manga form. In some ways Yotsuba is like a younger Pippi; a characteristic haircut (though all manga characters have that actually) and quite wild, climbing out of windows and up electricity poles.

Both the art and the story are fantastic. They make me smile on the train! I especially like the frames where Yotsuba is reduced to a few strokes and circles. I love how the artist manages to convey the exact feeling through such a minimal expression.

Oh, and I forgot a very important thing: That I can read it pretty fast (already halfway through after maybe 5 reading sessions on the train) and understand 100 percent of it! Ok, maybe I miss a word here and there, so let’s say 95 percent. But still. What a feeling!

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It’s so good!

I first found Yotsuba to through this post on Sankaku Complex, but it’s a very famous manga in Japan and once made the cover of Idea.

My moment with Yowamushi Pedal 30

Yowamushi Pedal 29 & 30

I just finished part 29 of Yowamushi Pedal, the bicycle manga. (I haven’t read part 1 to 28.) It’s the first thick, normal, mainstream manga that I read in Japanese, so it feels like an accomplishment. I never looked up words, because I read it mainly on the trains and while eating my tendons. But I think just reading without looking up words is as important as reading carefully and looking up every single word. Both ways are good ways to study. The first one gives you flow, the second one deep understanding. The doujinshis are perfect for the second method, because they are so slim. Likewise, it would spoil the fun in a thick manga since you would get bored reading a full volume at such a slow pace.

Anyway, my interest in manga and anime isn’t actually that genuine. Or at least it wasn’t in the beginning. I wanted to read manga because it’s a vital part of the Japanese culture, but a novel by Mishima or Murakami is more what I consider my culture. Or used to do at least. All the more fun when you actually take real pleasure in anime and manga.

For anime, this has been the case for some time now. I used to say that anime simply wasn’t my kind of art form, just like opera isn’t. But now I would say it is. In the last three years, I’ve watched more hours of anime than of feature films and tv series. Maybe anime make up for 60 percent of my screen time. In the beginning it was a strategy, I wanted to get to know this famous art form. But then it started to come naturally and then I started to love it. It was Ashita no Joe and Bakuman that really got me hooked. I discovered anime through Loveless, but even though I love the theme in that anime, the actual watching was a bit like enduring an opera.

I’ve watched some Japanese drama with real actors too. They’re all terrible. Actually, I’ve only watched two; the first episode of a bowling series and the first four episodes of Attention Please, about a flight attendant school. Oh, and an episode of a sushi drama as well, that was the worst one. It’s the acting/directing that sucks. It’s amazing to me that anime can be so well done – because it almost always is – whereas drama sucks so much. (This goes for the first feature film of Ashita no Joe too.) I mean, anime demands acting too, by voice actors. It’s amazing that the creators of an anime can get exactly the right facial expression where a real actor fails.

Anime is usually considered a superficial art form, at least from a Western perspective. It’s often pointed out that this is because we connect it to children’s television and Donald Duck. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that everyone watches anime in Japan no matter the ages (as the defense often goes), because most anime is actually made for young people (though teenagers rather than children), which goes for many tv series and other pop culture as well. But to claim it’s like cartoons for children or superficial is just ignorant.

I would argue that anime in a way is “higher” (if we’re using those labels) than movies and tv series with real actors. Anime is closer to a book, and books are usually considered to be a higher, or let’s say harder to consume art form. Isn’t watching people (real actors) the thing that demands the lowest resistance for a human being? Whereas anime distils that world to simple pictures, a process that is taken even further in manga (even fewer lines) and furthest in novels (the world distilled to kanji images). (I’ve discussed this process before in the post My epiphany with Yotsuba to!)

So the scale from lowbrow to highbrow culture should actually go like this:

drama → anime → manga → novels

Over to manga. Maybe I’m in the same process with manga now as I’ve been with anime for the last years, going from reading it “because one should”, via actually enjoying it, to finding it fantastic and brilliant. I had such a moment today, as I continued the roadbike race between Naruko and Midousuji that began at the end of volume 29. Is it only because I bike myself that I find it so fantastic? I hope not. This is what it looked like when Naruko had taken the lead and Midousuji suddenly felt his powers grow:

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Looks almost avant garde, but keep in mind this is a mainstream manga and that it’s not SF. It’s just brilliant. I love how the drawing looks so rough despite all the strokes are in the right places to convey this extreme feeling to the reader. What a moment. I’ll remember these pages, and how they made me smile on the Chuuou train.

I’d like to add a couple of things about “Western manga”, but I’ll save that for another post. It’s just about to become “otsukaresama desu” at the coworking space where I’m sitting today, and apparently we will drink some beer together afterwards.

自転車男子に恋をした②

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Tonight I read Yomoyama Akira’s new (released today!) manga 自転車男子に恋をした②, the highly anticipated sequel to 自転車男子に恋をした①. It took me three hours to read it (including the afterword), because I look up all words that I don’t understand. They become fewer and fewer though!

I really like this series. It has humor and warmth, and is very well-drawn. In addition, I like the main character Soma-kun. He’s a quiet guy but who always attracts attention. The author writes in the afterword that the idea was to make the manga a bit BL, so that male readers would want to be Soma-kun, and female readers would want to fall in love with him. I guess a bit of both applies for me. ^^ Not least, the biking scenes make me long for spring… but I’ll try to suppress those feelings, it’s much too early!

I hope Yomoyama Akira will continue to draw this series. The next Comitia is in February.