What a great screening of a great movie!

Yesterday Mangapolis had a screening of From up on Poppy Hill (Møte på Valmueåsen) at Cinemateket and, needless to say, I was very exited about it! This movie is absolutely fantastic. It is not the first time I have seen it on the big screen as it was part of the Mangapolis program at this year´s Films from the South Festival. Knowing that the movie is great I was even more exited about the great audience that we were so lucky to have at the screening. Both Svend form Arthaus and I agreed that it was a real pleasure to host the screening, and that the audience really made it into such a great event! I hope all of you felt the same way.

Arthaus had supplied us with three blu-ray copies of Arrietta that we had taped under three random seats in a proper Oprah Show fashion. Congratulations to the three lucky moviegoers that found a copy under their seat! You will definitely enjoy Arrietta.

In today´s issue of Aftenposten Erlend Loe gives his opinion of From up on Poppy Hill. Loe gives an honest review of the movie and I recommend to the highest degree that you read his review.

Now Mangapolis plans what can only be an amazing year for japanese manga and anime in 2013 and we have a lot of exciting stuff lined up! So keep your eyes peeled for more from Mangapolis and visit this blog regularly for news on events and manga and anime related  blogposts.

Screening of From up on Poppy Hill at Cinemateket!

At Wednesday the 21st of November at 6pm Mangapolis invites, together with Films from the South and Arthaus, to the prerelease screening of From up on Poppy Hill (Møte på Valmueåsen) at Cinemateket in Oslo. Tickets are free, but in limited quantities, so take the opportunity to order a ticket by e-mail to this address: forpremiere@filmfrasor.no (Include your full name in the e-mail)

From up on Poppy Hill is a visual masterpiece and takes you back to Japan in the not too distant 1960s, but a very different Japan from the japan we know today. In a time of great change in Japan an old neglected school clubhouse is scheduled to be demolished. These plans to destroy the clubhouse do not sit well with the students at the school which see the potential and the value in the old building. In an attempt to stop the plans that will destroy their clubhouse the students get together to formulate a plan of their own.

Join Mangapolis at Cinemateket for a screening of an excellent japanese movie. Hope we will see you there!


Let´s Read: Astro Boy No.3

Growing up I was very fascinated by the concept of robots and until I reached my early teens comics was my main source of literature. I read comics all the time. I remember owning a single Batman comic at a very young age. At the back cover there was a very graphic and scary image of a cyborg ( I do not remember, but I think it was the Cyborg Superman). This image was extremely graphic and back then it looked real to me. I remember his face being half robot and half human, metal and flesh merged together. I was terrified of that image and it fueled my imagination in the worst way. Needless to say, it kept me up at night.

I don´t know what happened to the comic, perhaps I threw it away or hid it somewhere so that I would never have to see it again. Whatever happened to it I never forgot that image. But looking back I think this experience was a good thing. The fact that I remember this experience so vividly it must have made an impact on me. And judging from my fascination with robots, cyborg and the utterly bizarre,  I think it is safe to say that that dreadful image of the cyborg at the back of a Batman comic inspired me. For that I am grateful.

Before this turns into a Let´s Read: My Childhood Phobia let us get back to the topic of the day: Tezuka, Robots and Astro Boy. As I promised in my last Let´s Read: Astro Boy I shall give an account of Tezuka´s take on robots. I didn´t discuss this in the Origin of Astro Boy, and the reason is that I wanted to focus on Astro Boy alone. Of course, the origin of robots is vital to understanding the origin of Astro Boy and therefore I will follow up on this now.

As we know Astro Boy is a robot and a darn amazing robot as well! Originally, however, Astro Boy was just a robot image of a boy. No superpowers (he learned this later with the help of professor Ochanomizu) and his robot brain had not reached its full potential. At the time of his creation as Tobio, Astro Boy was like most other robots.

Tezuka´s universe have robots gradually become more and more like humans as science progress. At first, advanced robots are more or less humanoid machines designed to do physical labor, they are crude and with metal skin. But over time robots not only starts to look exactly like humans, but they think and acts like humans to the point where it is hard to see the difference. This of course makes things complicated on a moral and ethical level.

With time it becomes necessary to make robots laws to both protect and limit robot rights. At the time that the Astro Boy Comic takes place robots are not subject to human rights, but robot laws. There are however forces in the world that wants robots to have the same civic rigths as humans, like voting and to be permitted to run for office. And there are those that seek to undermine robots as nothing more than slaves for the humans that created them.

This is what I like about Tezuka´s take on robots, he has it thought through. Tezuka tries to answer some of the philosophical aspects concerning intelligent robots (and also cyborgs). I guess this is what intrigues me about Tezuka´s universe. Being a fan of Star Trek and Sci-Fi I am easily fascinated by the moral issues with scientific progress.

Imagine how this would work in our world. If we imagine that we produced robots that had feelings and a conscience, just like humans, would we give them the privilege of human rights? Considering how we treat our livestock and wild animals of this world I am not optimistic. But I think there are quite a few great philosophical dilemma that would present themselves if we ever get to this level of technology.

Above I mentioned the cyborg at the back of a Batman issue and cyborg technology would present to us a moral dilemma that would be even more complicated than just robots. Imagine a humanoid robot that looked and could feel pain exactly like a human, but had the brain of a real cow. And then imagine a real cow with a robot brain that gave the cow a conscience just like a human. How would we deal with this?

Of course most of Tezuka´s “intelligent” robots are humanoid and that is probably no coincidence.

That concludes this episode of Let´s Read: Astro Boy, but it does not conclude my comment on robots and cyborgs  in Tezuka´s universe. As we read on we will encounter more great stories about robots and cyborgs and more ethical conundrums that we shall ponder.

Next episode of Let´s Read: Astro Boy we will read a story from 1961 called the Hot Dog Corps.

Let´s Read: Astro Boy No.2

The origin of Astro Boy was not fully explained until 1975 and this origin story, called “The Birth of Astro Boy”, is actually the first story in the collection of Astro Boy stories that I am currently reading. This collection does not follow the original order that the Astro Boy stories were published. In fact, the very first Astro Boy story from 1951 is not told until in volume fifteen. Even though I would have liked the stories to be in  the original order I will read the stories in the order that they have been collected in the edition that I have.

The Birth of Astro Boy is a classic origin story. Not too complicated and told in a fast paced fashion, jumping years ahead from panel to panel. The reason why the robot Astro Boy is built in the first place is a tragic traffic accident involving the son of the director of the Ministry of Science called Dr.Tenma.



Driven mad with grief of the death of his son Tobio, Dr.Tenma uses the researches at his disposal as head of the Ministry of Science to create a robot version of Tobio.

Even though the robot copy looks exactly like Tobio in every way Dr.Tenma soon realizes that Tobio can´t really be replaced. And even if the robot tries to comfort Dr.Tenma in every way that it can think of it does not impress the grieving father one bit. But it makes for some really funny panels:

Having tried everything Dr.Tenma does the only logical thing; he decides to sell the robot copy of his only son to a circus. And apparently the robot is quite the attraction as one day a scientist named Ochanomizu sees the robot perform and adopts the robot. At Ochanomizu´s lab the robot becomes Astro Boy; and so Astro Boy is born!

As Origin Stories goes Astro Boy´s origin isn´t really that unique in my opinion, but it manages to be sad and funny at the same time, which I like. Also, since I am used to american superhero comics I have not seen many robot heroes. In fact, I very much enjoy Tezuka´s take on the whole robot thing and I will come back to this in my next Let´s Read: Astro Boy! Stay tuned!