Hel-LO Kitty!

You know that any mainstream-news story that leads with the Hello Kitty vibrator is going to be bad news, and this MSNBC column by Brian Alexander does not disappoint. Did I miss the moment when maid cafes became mainstream in the U.S.? Maybe Boston is just behind the times. I don’t have all day to take apart the fallacies in this article, but let me point out one obvious howler:

Within the adult realm of otaku culture, cuteness is fetishized (hence the Hello Kitty sex toys) and gender is often bent or dissolves altogether. Women are penetrated by octopi and young women in short school-girl skirts save the world. Men, on the other hand, are often passive worshipers of small figurines depicting sexy characters.

OK, unless he is seriously misinformed, the writer makes a major shift in that last sentence: The first part, about the women, refers to characters in anime and manga; the second part describes the men who read it. Apples and oranges. Also, I haven’t run across any passive figurine-worshipers in my travels, although maybe it’s just one of those things that everyone does and nobody admits to. (Moe headphones image taken from JBox, the more wholesome part of JList.)

Real manga-ka Takehiko Inoue interviews Shingo Fujii, captain of the Japanese wheelchair basketball team, for the Yomiuri Shimbun on the eve of the 2008 Paralympic Games.

David Doub interviews global manga creator Queenie Chan at Manga Punk.

Like many of us, Ed Sizemore is heading to NYAF, but he can’t be there on Friday or Sunday, so he has generously offered to share his VIP tickets to the MC Chris concert and autograph sessions with other fest-goers. If you would like tickets to an event, e-mail me at the address on the upper right and I’ll forward your request to Ed. It’s first-come, first-serve, so don’t delay.

Alex Woolfson has an interesting post on finding bara (gay comics) in English at Yaoi 911, with lots of links to other sites and resources. The post itself is SFW, but the links are not.

John Thomas wraps up his roundup of worthwhile summer releases at Mecha Mecha Media.

Yoshitoshi ABe will be speaking at the Schoolgirls and Mobile Suits conference at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design on Sept. 26-28.

EigoManga has revamped its website. The new site runs on Flash, which looks slick but eliminates the possibility of permalinks to individual pages. Also, the menus are hard to find—look for the teeny-tiny green type on the left-hand side to get started. (Via ComiPress.)

News from Japan: Minetaro Mochizuki, creator of Dragon Head, will be launching a new manga in Kodansha’s Morning magazine soon.

Reviews: Ed Sizemore reviews vol. 1 of Faust and Johanna Draper Carlson recommends vol. 5 of High School Debut at Comics Worth Reading. Dick Hyacinth has some nice things to say about Cowa! Tiamat’s Disciple checks out vol. 1 of Slayers Premium. Julie enjoys vol. 3 of Sand Chronicles at the Manga Maniac Cafe. Even Erica Friedman’s father, who prefers crappy manga, can’t take vol. 1 of Shin Megami Tensei Kahn; read about it at Okazu. John Thomas reviews vol. 6 of MPD-Psycho at Comics Village. Melinda Beasi takes a look at vols. 1-3 of Nana at there it is, plain as daylight.

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  1. What a crappy article. I especially enjoyed how he attempted to prove that Otaku culture is growing mainstream because you know, there’s more girls at the conventions. I’m curious about that quotation about how Japanese culture is “moral-free”, since I have yet to encounter a manga or anime that doesn’t have some kind of good vs. evil theme, which kind of implies morality. I mean yes, some of the morals are different than what most Americans are used to, but they are very much there.

  2. I thought those doinky “all anime and manga are pr0n!!!111!!!” articles had died out by now but apparently there are still doinks writing them -_- I particularly like how the writer mentioned Gurren Lagann and Legend of the Overfiend in the same sentence, implying that Gurren Lagann is hentai when it’s not. Not to mention the many, many facts they got wrong in this article. -_- -_-

  3. Simon Jones says:

    I *actively* worship small figurines depicting sexy characters.

    And no self-respecting otaku uses a Hello Kitty vibrator while reading a Pikachu porno… he’d use a Pikachu vibrator instead.

  4. I hate websites in Flash. They look nice, but they never actually help navigation. It mostly just makes pages load slower.

  5. MSNBC

    “We are more concerned about fireing sexist, out of touch, drugged out of their mind, radio personalities rather than our own idiotic staff who botches up articles full of wrong facts in a time where maybe whats going on in Iraq is more important that animoo”

    Granted it would be a long slogan but I think it would be one that fits MSNBC perfectly.

  6. Form me this MSNBC column is full of incorrect information. The author places hentai (*and an old one*) together with a mainstream shounen or seinen anime. The article is full of opinions that may be disputed, information that are worng and weak where it should be sharp in the criticism.

  7. I was surprised at how the MSNBC column wasn’t really too critical of it, especially in regards to lolicon. It seems like they really tried to present it accurately, but failed due tons of misinformation.

  8. Talk about an article that minces words and doesn’t get its facts straight.

    I like Murakami’s pop art that borrows from anime and manga, but it itself is not. He’s a pop artist with heavy sexual overtones. I picked up a small collectible figure of his lactating Hiropon while in Japan. From his Boston exhibit, I got a mushroom (ie aphrodisiac) filled print framed in my room. I almost had him sign the art book I also got, but he had to leave to catch his plane.

    It’s messed up when they mix the sexually suggestive Gurren Lagen in the same sentence as the sexually explicit Legend of the Overfiend. You might as well mix The O.C. with Debbie Does Dallas.

    Oh and reading the forum replies at Anime News Network, Patrick Macias complains about being misquoted on his blog.

    Meanwhile, the sexual undertones or outright overt sexual issues of manga and anime fandom would make for an interesting article. Clearly this one doesn’t get it.

  9. Boston is certainly not behind the times. lol. I live there.

    There’s just so much wrong information. He’s mixing lolicon with cosplaying, for one. Lolicon usually does not appear in real life. Take porn for instance. I can bet you that not many of the ones who watch porn act on it. And furthermore, cosplaying in general is for fun. They make/buy clothes, they have fun, they like putting thought into their outfit and generally go for cuteness, not sexiness.

    And there’s just a bad attitude coming from the article… It’s almost as if he’s saying “We’re being influenced badly by the Japanese otaku culture. We’re not there yet, but we will be.” And what about the men who watches 18 and over women pretend to be younger than 18 in porn? Or even JUST porn? At least with hentai, those women aren’t acted by real women. There’s a lot of grey area stuff in America as well. It seems as if he thinks the whole otaku fandom is a bad idea towards America. What about the other awesome stuff that’s out there, NOT associated with hentai? I consider myself an otaku… but I don’t like such. *shakes head*

    The IDEA of exploring otaku fandom is actually very enticing, but otaku fandom itself is very wide. He needs to do more research, narrow down his focus, and give a more diverse opinions. And he needs to DO MORE RESEARCH. I agree with you about the whole apples and oranges thing too. He’s either misinformed or too firm in his thinking to see otherwise. The article needs more objectivity. I’d like to see someone give it a shot and do it rightly. The first part where it talks about more than 50% of the otakufandom being women intrigues me… What PART of otaku fandom? To hentai? And if hentai, what is its appeal to both men and women? It didn’t answer any of that objectively.

    Maybe what upsets me the most is that it takes hentai and makes it as if all otakus love that stuff. There is so much amazing stuff out there in anime/manga that having it graded on one area (and graded wrong on THAT area) annoys me. Mainstream Japanese pop culture somehow only means males,hentai and lolicon. The first line about women being interested in it goes nowhere… I called cluttered writing as well as misinformation. Plus, the last lines annoys me the most because it sounds so negative, when in fact, reading anything, including some manga, is really very eye-opening… These articles are what makes manga and anime seems such a low, vile, dirty thing to Americans, when like anything, there is entertainment and literary stuff, and even the entertainment has its points worth exploring, like said above.

    @Xenos-I can see why Patrick Macias would be mad… Some of his quotes sounded strange, like they had something else to say, was cut-off, and ended turned up on its head.


  1. […] began as a comment in Brigid Alverson’s recent entry at mangablog, but it got so long and foot-stompy that I felt it was more appropriately posted in my […]

  2. […] Brigid links to an interview that Takehiko Inoue (mangaka, Slamdunk!, REAL) does with wheelchair basketball team captain Shingo Fujii for the Yomiuri Shimbun: […]