Let´s Read: Astro Boy!

Astro Boy 

While visiting Serieteket on Schous Plass in Oslo I noticed that they had a collection of Astro Boy manga on their shelf. Several volumes of one of the most famous manga ever, by the late sensei Osamu Tezuka. Most people instantly recognize Astro Boywhen they see him, even though he was first created in the 1950s.

Right away I grabbed the three first volumes and popped my library card out of my pocket. Personally I am not too familiar with Astro Boy, but I do know the basics of his backstory and powers (as most people with a slight interest for the comic medium). As I left Serieteket and walked home I could not resist reading through the first chapter. So I walked through the streets of Oslo trying to dodge pedestrians, cars and the occasional dog while reading Astro Boy.

Sadly I do not know Japanese so I had to settle with the American translation in English. But for the medium of comics I think that this is fine because I would not have enjoyed it in Japanese as I can´t understand it. And the same goes for all comics; translations are fine if that´s the only alternative. Cartoons and Anime are different; I refuse to watch the translated/dubbed versions. I want the original audio with subtitles. If the original audio is in Spanish, I want to watch it in Spanish. I don´t know that much Spanish so I would need subtitles, but subtitles doesn´t change the movie that I am trying to watch. Dubbing cartoons is just as absurd as it is to dub live action movies in my opinion. But I transgress.

I thought that I would make a Let´s Read series, and first up will be Astro Boy. Not a proper Let´s Read because I don´t think that would be very entertaining at all. It will be more like a mix of a review and a commentary. I will show scenes and panels that I find interesting, give short explanations of backstories and such and probably go off on the occasional incomprehensive rant. In other words; It will be a lot of fun!

Mangapolis at Desucon: Cosplay

On Saturday the 13th I attended Desucon: Cosplay (aka Coscon) 2012 and I made it out alive to tell the tale.

Entering Oslo kongressenter I did not know what to expect, I had never been at any Desucon events and I had never seen a cosplay competition. Except for a brief encounter with a few cosplayers at the opening night of Mangapolis I knew absolutely no one. Armed with a borrowed camera and a press pass, but with no costume, I soon realized that I would stick out like a sore thumb in the enthusiastic crowd of avatars.

A sea of costumes.

After handing in my jacket I started to get nervous that I would be viewed as an outsider. But my fears were unfounded, after just ten minutes of me milling about taking photographs I found out that everyone was very friendly, and I felt included. Later, after about a million free hugs, I had talked to a lot of very friendly people of different age and gender.


A mix of people of different age and gender

Seeing all the great costumes I was excited to get a glimpse of round 2 of the cosplay competition (sadly, I missed the first round). I found myself a seat on the back rows and braced myself for the show. A lot of really amazing costumes had made it into round 2 so I was in for a treat. My favorite was Oogie Boogie which came in second, if my memory is not mistaken. I am glad I got the chance to experience this great show, but I am a bit annoyed that I missed the first round. Probably missed out on a whole lot!

Ooogie Boogie on stage!

When time had come to head back to the office and to resume my duties at the Films from the South Festival I considered myself very lucky to have experienced Coscon this year. And I would very much like to thank Desucon for their hospitality and lots of thanks to everyone that took the time to speak to me!

Amazing News for the First Ever Mangapolis

As I am writing this I am at a party at Filmens Hus with this year´s staff and volunteers, here we celebrate an amazing week with Films from the South. There is however one news that no party can prevent me from reporting.

On Saturday a week ago Mangapolis had its grand opening. When the doors opened and a wide range of different kind people had shown up and were treated with Japanese candy and sweets. All these people were here to experience an evening that had Japanese manga and anime as its main event. It became clear that those attending the grand opening were of different age and background, but they were all there to experience what Mangapolis had to offer. And except for the warm welcome, candy, curiosity and the chance to make friends most of those attending were there to see the screening of Wolf Children; the movie by Mamoru Hosoda that would mark the official launch of the first ever Mangapolis.

And now, one week later, we at Films from the South can look back on a Mangapolis that has been a huge success. We knew before it started and we had it confirmed during this amazing week of films that there is a high demand for Japanese anime. The audience testifies to this, all of our screenings have been popular. But one movie in particular stood out. None other than the movie that started it all, the movie that launched Mangapolis a week ago; Wolf Children.

Not only did Wolf Children fill all the seats on almost every screening, Wolf Children also won two awards this year at Films from the South, one of the awards was The Silver Mirror, which is Films from the South´s main award, and the second award is The Audience Award. Both of these awards testify that Wolf Children is a spectacular movie and a must-see for everyone with an interest for movies and in particular Japanese anime and manga.

Both the awards and the sold out screenings of Wolf Children are an important testament that if you show Japanese anime in Norway IN JAPANESE you will attract an audience!

Many thanks to our audience!

Mangapolis Weekend!

We are quickly approaching the last weekend of the Films from the South Festival, but do not despair because this weekend Mangapolis will screen three anime movies; Møte på valmueåsen, Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below and Metropolis. If you are a fan of anime and manga then Mangapolis is the place to be, and if you are attending Desucon: Cosplay this weekend, why not stop by to see what all the buzz is all about. “When in Rome”, as they say.

After the screening of Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below on Tuesday Films from the South ambushed a bunch of movie-goers as they left the movie theatre to ask them what they thought of the movie. These spontaneous-on-the-spot reviews all agreed that Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below is a beautiful and captivating movie with an appealing visual style. Check out the full reviews by the audience at filmfrasor.no!

Morten Harper´s First Manga Experience

On Saturday we had a screening of Metropolis at Vika Kino where Morten Harper held a lecture on the use of architecture in Japanese anime and manga. You can read about this event in this blog post.

I asked Morten how he first encountered manga and he told me that the first manga he ever read was Lone Wolf and Cub sometime in the late 80s and he remember thinking that the storytelling and choreography of the action scenes were something out of this world. Morten was immediately impressed and recognized the differences from the comics that he was used to.

The american edition of Lone Wolf and Cub had artwork on the covers by influential artists such as Frank Miller and Bill Sienkiewicz. This, Morten tells us, testify to the impact manga had on the West at the time and that this foreshadowed the huge popularity of manga  about a decade later.

Here´s a photo of Morten Harper (left) and me standing in front of the majestic Mangapolis roll-up poster at Vika Kino. Photo by Films from the South´s Lasse Skagen.

Remember that the last screening of Metropolis will be on Sunday the 14th at Vika Kino at 2pm. Sadly, Morten Harper will not be there this time with a brilliant lecture before the movie, but we very much hope that you will enjoy the screening anyway. And let us hope that Morten will be available for future projects at Mangapolis.

Mangapolis No.1 – First Issue Spectacular


Mangapolis No.1 is out! This will be a regular addition to the blog and will include my thoughts on anime and manga (and a bit of everything). Each issue will feature a comic cover like the one above. I have little to no experience drawing manga covers, but hopefully YOU will give me input and constructive criticism to help me improve. The cover of this first issue is far from a masterpiece, so I am sure you will have no challenge pointing out its flaws. Enjoy!

Character Archetypes in Manga and Cosplay

In the cover of Mangapolis No.1 I have tried to give an example of a character archetype.  In fact, there are two archetypes in this character;  1) Kemonomimi, or more specific in this case; Catgirl, 2) Chibi. The gun really has no purpose except for the bad-ass factor.

Kemonomimi has a bunch of subsets and subcategories, but in short it means a character which is entirely humanoid with the exception of certain traits that makes them characterizations of objects, animals or even concepts. My character above has cat traits and therefore falls into the subcategory of a “catgirl”. The usual character traits of a “catgirl” are the tail and the ears, and sometimes pawlike hands and feet.

Even though the word chibi can be translated as “little one” or just “little” the usual archetypical trait of chibi characters is that they are small and extremely cute. The common usage of the chibi characters is comic relief, but not necessarily. Often in anime and manga a non-chubi character will turn into a chibi archetype for a few scenes, often to express certain emotions or to depict that character as a child version of themselves. When used in this way they are usually drawn in the “super deformed” style with oversized heads and a tiny body, but otherwise normal.

There´s a ton of different character archetypes in manga and amine, some are rare and others are almost mandatory. One of my favorite is the ahoge archetype which means something like “silly hair”. The name derives from the single strand of hair that sticks out of the top of the head of ahoge characters. The main role of ahoge characters is that of the fool, often for comic relief. Of course this archetype is common also in western culture, in everything from Shakespeare literature to Disney movies. But the use of the actual “silly hair” is less common in western culture. But not unheard of, consider the character Alfalfa from The Little Rascals as an example:

“He´s got it! My personality!”, said Alfalfa when a chicken bit off, or rips off rather, his characteristic lock of hair on one occasion. And that´s the point of these character archetypes, they symbolize a certain personality in the character. A personality that we recognize and remember. They are references.

When you´re into Cosplay, it is all about references. The pleasure of dressing up in a character that you and all your friends will recognize is what it´s all about for many cosplayers. That means that the costume must be as authentic as possible and every detail of the costume should have some reference to the character that it mimics.

 That is why Cosplay is a group event, it is enjoyable for both cosplayer and spectator.
Lars signing out!

Mangapolis Opening Night

At the 6th of October at 5pm Mangapolis invited fans of Manga and Anime to Vika Kino to celebrate the official opening of Mangapolis. We had Japanese candy, anime fans Cosplayers and a great screening of the magnificent anime Wolf Children! Watch Films from the South´s video coverage of the event on their official youtube channel:

Interview with Helen McCarthy! Your Beginners Guide to Japanese Animation

Films from the South´s writer Geir Ivar Lien gives us an interview with the british anime and manga guru Helen McCarthy. When we heard that McCarthy was in Norway for a seminar at Norsk filmklubbforbund we spared no resources to hook her for this interview.

In 1993 McCarthy wrote the book Anime! A Beginners Guide to Japanese Animation, which explains my clever pun in the title. And this really sums up the role Helen McCarthy has played to bring Japanese anime and manga to the West. Since her involvement in the early 80s with anime and manga she has helped to legitimize anime and manga as something more than just poorly dubbed saturday morning children television. She recognized the quality and the potential in manga and anime before most of the West had even heard of it. The impact that this part of Japanese culture would later have, and still have, on the West would prove her right.

So, for a brief beginners guide to Helen McCarthy´s thoughts on anime and manga as well as her thoughts on this years Mangapolis program, go read the interview with  Helen McCarthy!

Manga and Anime Seminar at Vika Kino with Morten Harper

On the 6th of october at 12:30 pm Mangapolis can proudly announce a manga and anime seminar with Morten Harper in conjunction with a screening of the masterpiece Metropolis from 2001. Morten Harper is a known authority on comics in Norway and he has written several books on a wide array of topics concerning comics, also manga. He has also written the script to the conan-esque comic Blodøks and you are likely to have seen him at Oslo Comic Expo and Raptus.

Before the screening of Metropolis Morten Harper will hold a seminar where he discusses the architectural expression in the movie and compares this with other works within the genre of japanese manga and anime. What influences were drawn from Fritz Lang´s version and what influences where drawn from Osamu Tezuka´s manga of the same name? We can trust Morten Harper, with his expertise on the topic, to give all of us an interesting angle in this seminar.

If you want to know more about Morten Harper and his background, you should go see his website at www.harper.as.

And I trust I will see you on the 6th of october for this seminar at 12:30 and the grand opening of Mangapolis at 5:00 pm, both events at Vika Kino in Oslo!