Tag Archives: japan

Around the Tubes

It’s new comic book day! What are you all excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for shops to open, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web to start the day.

Comicbook – Japan Announces Groundbreaking Regulations on AI to Protect Artists – Good.


Atomic Junk Shop – In Hell We Fight #1-4
Atomic Junk Shop – Pistolfist: Revolutionary Warrior
Comicbook – Steelworks #1

Steelworks #1

Movie Review: Suzume is a visually stunning tale of disaster and healing


To contemplate death in the face of natural disasters requires an eagerness to reckon with the uncomfortable, something director Makoto Shinkai has shown he’s more than willing to do in his films. His latest, Suzume, does this in as approachable a way as possible with a story that mixes magical-realism with deep loss to produce a visual marvel that impresses on multiple fronts. In the process, Shinkai presents audiences with the possibility of healing despite the cruel suddenness of death during events that hit with the full force of nature.

Suzume follows the titular character, a seventeen-year-old teen (voiced by Nanoka Hara), as mysterious doors start appearing in moderately populated and highly populated areas to release a giant supernatural worm that can bring about massive earthquakes if allowed to touch ground. She’s aided by a Closer called Souta (voiced by Hokuto Matsumura), a man that travels the country hunting and closing these doors to prevent disasters.

A mysterious talking cat with magical powers turns Souta into a small wooden chair that can run and speak, a development that pushes Suzume to help the man-chair close the new doors that start popping up throughout Japan. As disasters start getting averted, we learn of Suzume’s own history with destructive natural events and the things it can take from people. In her case, it’s her mother’s death that’s reshaped her reality and her dedication to the Closer’s mission.

Despite what the subject matter might suggest, Suzume is a movie that favors a vision of hope and healing in the face of trauma and the grieving process. It’s not difficult to view the doors and the giant worm as representative of the things people wish they could control but ultimately can’t. An inability to accept that preventing every single disaster is impossible, that death can come in many different forms at any given time. The task becomes progressively difficult and riskier the more you attempt to contain the uncontainable.


The story portrays the prevention of natural catastrophes as a kind of fool’s journey that essentially negates life by requiring such an exhaustive dedication to vigilance and readiness. There’s a sense of inevitability to it, of relentless force, that makes the character of Suzume come off as both noble and stubborn at the same time.

The visuals do an excellent job of showing the worm as an unstoppable force without an unmovable object in sight. It can be delayed, but never fully stopped. To an extent, the movie invites a reading that frames the phenomenon as a thing we have to accept, be it as a metaphor for the guarantee of death or as one for the unpredictable certainty of mass traumatic events that we simply can’t always prepare for (or survive regardless of preparedness).

What keeps the story from falling off the deep end into despair is the magical-realist element of the world the movie creates. Only Suzume, Souta, and the cat can see the doors and the worm, but everyone can see the living chair and the talking cat. People react to them with wonder rather than fear or panic and it makes for a very light and colorful experience with several sequences that garner attention just on spectacle alone.

Rounding out the experience are the characters Suzume meets along the way towards each door. They each offer different avenues towards the idea of hope and acceptance and they turn the movie into a living journey with a variety of locations and color palettes to boot. They feel like short stories in their own right and they carry their own arcs.


There are too many metaphors and ideas inhabiting Suzume to account for here, but discovering them on your own is quite rewarding. I latched on to those regarding Japan’s history with natural disasters and crises, especially in recent times with the earthquakes that rocked the country’s nuclear sites. The doors that the worm uses, for instance, are all found in abandoned places such as schools and amusement parks, as if they belong to past traumas people would rather forget than process collectively. There are just so many ways into the story and its characters that repeat viewings are essentially a requirement.

Thankfully, going back into the world of Suzume is an easy sell. It’s a movie that welcomes complexity without overcomplicating the conversations it wants to have on grief, the memory of disasters, and the magic of hope. It truly is a remarkable story that impresses by being as inventive as it is emotionally grounded, and it will become a highlight in anyone’s film education upon watching.

The Smithsonian presents Wonder Tales from Japan lecture

The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child
The Bamboo-Cutter and the Moon-Child

The Smithsonian isn’t just wonderful museums, they also put on some fantastic events and lectures on a wide range of topics, including pop culture. Coming up in April is “Wonder Tales from Japan” an online program meaning anyone can watch.

Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman of the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic will discuss traditional tales from Japan and part of that will include their influence on anime and manga.

For those interested in Japanese storytelling, this could be an entertaining and educational time.

Taking place April 3rd, it’s $20 for members of the Smithsonian and $25 for non-members.

You can read the full description below.

Whether they’re called fairy tales or something else, fantastical stories are found the world over. Like their Western fairy tale counterpart, Japan’s fantastical stories—otogi-banashi—are part of the body of stories folklorists call “wonder tales”: They contain supernatural elements, are set in the land of once upon a time, and feature marvelous situations. Sometimes, otogi-banashi even include the mysterious yokai, ghosts and spirits that take numerous forms that can range from a magical raccoon dog (the tanuki) to an umbrella (a tsukumogami)!

Folklorists Sara Cleto and Brittany Warman of the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic explore traditional tales from Japan, the yokai that haunt them, and how contemporary Japanese creators adapt the Western fairy tale and combine it with local lore. They look at traditional stories like “Momotaro,” the tale of a peach boy; “Urashima Taro,” the story of a fisherman who gets more than he bargains for; and “The Mirror of Matsuyama,” a relative of “Snow White.” Learn how Japanese wonder tales and fairy tales combine their enchantments in modern genres like anime (animation) and manga (comics).

Cleto and Warman are former instructors of folklore and literature at The Ohio State University and co-founders of the Carterhaugh School of Folklore and the Fantastic.

Around the Tubes

Deadly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you enjoy? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Kotaku – Gotham Knights On Consoles Is Stuck At 30FPS, While PC Requires Some Serious Hardware – This doesn’t sound very good.

Comicbook – New Law May Force Manga Creators and Vtubers to Reveal Their Real Identities – Intriguing.


Collected Editions – Batman ’89
Comicbook – Deadly Class #56
CBR – Deadly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1
Comicbook – Hellboy in Love #1

Around the Tubes

Blue Beetle Question

It’s new comic book day! What are you all getting? What are you excited for? Sound off in the comments below. While you wait for comic shops to open, here’s some comic news from around the web.

HPPR – Texas librarians face harassment as they navigate book bans – Not acceptable. Not ok.

Book Riot – 8 Mandatory Multiverse Comics To Read No Matter What Timeline You Live In – What would you add to the list?

The Mary Sue – Here Are All the Characters and Cast in the ‘Blue Beetle’ Movie (So Far!) – For those wondering.

Comicbook – Japan Politician Pitches New Plan to Curb Anime Industry’s Wage Gaps – Interesting

Around the Tubes

It was new comic book day yesterday! What’d you all get? What’d you enjoy? What’d you dislike? Sound off in the comments below! While you think about that, here’s some comic news from around the web.

CBR – Japan’s First Black-Owned Anime Studio Should Be on Every Fan’s Radar – Definitely need to check this out.

The Beat – A pair of long-time Seattle-area comic book stores are closing up shop – This isn’t surprising and there’s probably many more to come.

Board Game Today – Freedom Five, A Sentinel Comics Board Game Coming from Arcane Wonders and Greater Than Games – This sounds pretty cool.

Around the Tubes

Civil_War_II_0_CoverThe weekend is almost here! Who’s going to see Captain America: Civil War in its third week? What other geeky things are you all doing? Sound off in the comments!

While you decide on what you’re doing, here’s some comic news and reviews from around the web.

Around the Tubes

10 Rules for Drawing Comics – Benjamin Marra’s 10 Rules – Solid rules to follow.

Kotaku – Doom‘s Got A Reference To A Comic Book Meme From 1996 – Well ok then.

The Guardian – Why the Punisher’s Netflix series will need more than big guns  – Yes. It. Will.

Japan Today Insight – What is the Origin of Comic Books in Japan? – No idea if this is right, but interesting info.

Montgomery News – Comics In The Classroom: How one Wissahickon teacher uses comic books to connect with his students – Awesome to see this!


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Attack – Black Panther #2

The Beat – Civil War II #0

CBR – Civil War II #0

Newsarama – Best Shots Rapid-Fire Reviews: Spider-Man #4, Future Quest #1, Archangel #1, More

WowBox Unboxing and Tasting! We try the Japanese Candy and Snack Box

WowBox is a mystery box delivering Japanese candy and snacks to your door step each month. There’s three different types of boxes and three different levels.

We not only open up and show off January’s “Original Fun & Tasty” box, but we also do a taste test of the various goodies inside.

You can order your own box and get some tasty food yourself.

You can get a 10% off your purchase. Use the code S-QIJSPTUD at the check out section of the WOWBOX website. This discount expires on February 29, 2016

MogMog provided Graphic Policy with a FREE box for review.

Around the Tubes

The weekend is here! I’m spending it reading comics, playing some Heroclix, and maybe watching How to Train Your Dragon 2. What’s everyone else doing?

Around the Tubes

Kotaku – Two Men Arrested for Allegedly Stealing…320 Yu-Gi-Oh! Cards – Explain that one to your cell mate.

CBR – DC President Diane Nelson Says Female Representation a Priority – Good to hear.

Bleeding Cool – Marvel Comics To Be Paid A Million Dollars To Turn Captain Citrus Into A Man – Hand. Forehead. Slap.

CBLDF – What Does Japan’s New Child Porn Law Mean for Manga and Anime? – Actually a difficult issue one way or another.


Around the Tubes Reviews

CBR – Astro City #13

IGN – Miracleman Book 1

CBR – The United States of Murder Inc. #2


Japan To Tax Foreign Downloads Starting Next Year

japanese-moneyFans of digital downloads that live in Japan, will have to pay a little bit more starting in 2015. As reported by Nikkei digital content like music, e-books, apps, game downloads, comics, etc., from foreign servers will have a consumption tax added. Physical goods imported into Japan are already taxed, this will do the same for foreign downloads.

The argument is similar to the battles over taxing digital goods here in the United States. It is argued that by purchasing digital goods or those online are automatically cheaper because there is no tax, in essence a built in discount. In Japan, downloads from domestic Japanese servers are taxed. Japanese merchants have complained for years, just as American brick-and-mortar stores also have complained.

Here in the United States there is a massive lobbying effort to change this with retailers focusing on states and the federal government to pass legislation to collect taxes from customers.

Just a heads up for our readers in Japan, expect to pay more for your digital comics and manga starting in 2015.

(via Kotaku and GamePolitics)

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