It’s no secret to my pals that I’m a big anime geek, but for those of you who only know me through my writing it may not be so obvious. AWAKENING doesn’t exactly beam with Japanese influence in the storytelling (though the PopGun short, RUSTED: FADED SIGNAL starts to tilt toward home), but I can tell you that of the next three books on my docket, two of them have pretty strong ties to my upbringing in the house that SAILOR MOON built for me.
Still, even the nearest of those books is still at least a year out, if not more. Needless to say I got an inappropriate nosebleed when one of those pals who knows my love of otaku (anime/manga fan) culture, the author Tom Pinchuk, invited me to write some columns for Anime Vice, where he moonlights as an editor and contributor.
My personal stomping ground has been affectionately titled OTAKU COMING HOME. The plan is to discuss the stuff that was, and is, important to me in the world of Japanese pop culture. Anime and manga had a huge influence on me as a writer and I think it’s time to showcase some love and maybe start some fun discussions about overlooked elements in the medium. It’s a freeform thesis, but it’s there.
The inaugural article, HOW FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST SAVED ANIME (FOR ME) was a discussion about falling out of love with anime, how I’d gotten into it in the first place, and what had me beating down the door to get back in the club. We cover everything, from the annoyance of repetitive story tropes, how much the industry has changed–from bootleg Chinatown fansubs on VHS to same-day streaming via Crunchyroll and Funimation–between my childhood and today, how anime fits into my marriage (including a honeymoon in Tokyo) and, of course, the brilliance of FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST.
But hey, that was just a warm up, a getting-to-know-you love letter to both anime and the fans who make up the community over at Anime Vice. So this past week it was time to dive in with gusto. And that meant professing my love of SAILOR MOON in an article titled SAILOR MOON IS FOR BOYS (TOO).
This is me starting to get comfortable in my own columnist skin, as OTAKU COMING HOME is my first go at a regular assignment like this. Like the first article, the goal was to show how something impacted my young, geeky life and made me into the older geek I am today. In this case, it’s an exploration of the shojo (magical girl, to the uninitiated) and shonen (high action, humorous, geared toward boys) divide and the fusion of the two that SAILOR MOON popularized. It’s a challenge to all the tough guys in the room to set aside preconceived notions about a “girl’s show” and it, and the manga, a try. The piece was a bit tongue in cheek, but the message tied in to the first article: don’t judge a show (or anything really, but let’s stick with anime and manga for now) out of hand.
It’s also playing host to a picture of me at twelve years old with embarrassingly long hair. You’ll have to read the article for that one.
The next article is likely to be a divergence into video games, KINGDOM HEARTS specifically, and rounds out my trilogy of introductory articles. After that I’m planning another three article series about the spate of remakes and reimaginings in anime over the last couple years (and those coming over the next few, too). Here again you’ll get to hear me be an old man, talk about the original shows from “back in my day” and yell at kids to get off my lawn. If I’m able to squeeze it in between my prune juice and early bird dinner, I’ll even talk about how they’re being remade/represented today and why both versions may still be relevant without being contradictory.
After that… Who knows. I’m four articles ahead, so I’m gonna try to let my brain catch up.
The best part of all this, for me, has been the incredibly active community over at Anime Vice. Each of the articles has gotten great responses and started some interesting discussions. It’s nice to be able to find common ground so easily with complete strangers. If you’re an anime/manga fan, or would like to be, I can’t think of a better online community to hang around.
That’s what I’m up to between manuscript drafts of all the new projects that I want to tell you about but, sadly, can’t yet. One’s already written and set up at a publisher, so news is going to break on that one in the next few weeks/months I imagine. The other two are being actively developed and I may even break embargo to show you some of that before they’re pitched and sold, since I hate posting these “no, seriously, I’m writing stuff” paragraphs.
Maybe I can sneak them under the guise of a tutorial on comic book development (or how it looks from my desk, anyway).
I may be tied up writing books that won’t hit you guys for a while, but if you’re looking to talk geek with me on the regular I’m always responding to comments on my OTAKU COMING HOME articles at Anime Vice. Whether you’re a die-hard fan (or a DIE HARD fan) or just curious, come join the conversation and the awesome.