Rocket Bomber - found

Found: Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential

filed under , 26 June 2010, 01:25 by


Japanese Schoolgirl Confidential: How Teenage Girls Made a Nation Cool

Paperback, 192 pages, Kodansha International, isbn 9784770031150

Releases August 1.

from the publisher:

From manga and anime to movies, magazines, video games, advertising and music, Japanese schoolgirls are everywhere. For years, schoolgirls have shown up in internationally popular anime such as Sailor Moon, The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, and Blood: The Last Vampire. Films such as Battle Royale inspired Quentin Tarantino to include a fighting schoolgirl in Kill Bill; and recently, Rinko Kikuchi received an Oscar nomination for her role as a schoolgirl in the film Babel. There are schoolgirl characters in video games such as Street Fighter. And the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column in Wired magazine has long kept an eye on the trends emerging among these stylish teens. In effect, the Japanese schoolgirl has all but replaced the “geisha-girl” as Japan’s new female icon.

Brian Ashcraft, the author of Arcade Mania!, and his sidekick, Shoko Ueda, take the reader beneath the surface to discover the secrets of this iconic figure. By talking to Japanese women, including former and current J-pop idols, well-known actresses, models, writers, and artists — along with film directors, historians and marketers — the authors reveal the true story behind Japan’s obsession with schoolgirls and answer such burning questions as:
· Where did the sailor-style uniform come from?
· How did the Japanese schoolgirl develop into a brand that can be used to sell anything from kimchi to insurance?
· Why have Japanese schoolgirls become such a symbol of girl power?
· And, most importantly, why are they so very, very cool?

About the Authors

BRIAN ASHCRAFT is the author of Arcade Mania! published by Kodansha International, and is Contributing Editor to Wired magazine, where he regularly writes the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column. He also contributes to Kotaku, one of the world’s most widely-read blogs, and has written for such publications as Metropolis, Popular Science, Ready Made and Otaku USA.

SHOKO UEDA has been the research assistant for the “Japanese Schoolgirl Watch” column, and draws on her own experiences as a former Japanese schoolgirl. This is her first book.

submitted without further commentary.


Found: The Art of Osamu Tezuka, God of Manga

filed under , 12 January 2010, 20:27 by

What did I just say about checking Abrams ComicsArts once a month?


The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga

by Helen McCarthy [for gods’ sakes, how did I miss this?], Abrams ComicsArts, isbn 9780810982499

Osamu Tezuka. Art. Do I have to sell this to you? OK, fine… from the publ.:

Osamu Tezuka has often been called “the god of manga” and “the Walt Disney of Japan,” but he was far more than that. Tezuka was Walt Disney, Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Tim Burton, and Carl Sagan all rolled into one incredibly prolific creator, changing the face of Japanese culture forever.

[editorial insert: Word. blurb continues.]

Best known for Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, Tezuka was instrumental in developing Japanese animation and modern manga comics.

The Art of Osamu Tezuka is the first authorized biography celebrating his work and life and featuring over 300 images—many of which have never been seen outside of Japan. With text by respected manga expert Helen McCarthy, The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga pays tribute to the work of an artist, writer, animator, doctor, entrepreneur, and traveler whose curious mind spawned dozens of animated films, and over 170,000 pages of comics art in one astonishingly creative lifetime.

The Art of Osamu Tezuka: God of Manga also includes an exclusive 45-minute DVD documentary covering Tezuka’s prolific career, from his early manga characters to his later animation work. The package is out of the ordinary as well. It is a hardcover with an onlay and a vinyl jacket.


Found -- Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater

filed under , 12 January 2010, 11:47 by

Came out this past September; not surprisingly I completely missed it.

It only appears on my radar because of my charts; it’s one more reason to exhaustively research online graphic novel sales, and one more reward for the work. (this one lodged somewhere in the 900’s on Amazon — on their graphic novel chart so that’s the nine-hundred-and-nth book in a very small niche — might be so far down now that if I looked again today, I’d miss it entirely.)

but this is exactly what my ‘found’ category is for:


Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater
Eric P. Nash, with an introduction by Fred Schodt, Abrams ComicsArts, isbn 9780810953031

from the publisher:

Before giant robots, space ships, and masked super heroes filled the pages of Japanese comic books—known as manga—such characters were regularly seen on the streets of Japan in kamishibai stories. Manga Kamishibai: The Art of Japanese Paper Theater tells the history of this fascinating and nearly vanished Japanese art form that paved the way for modern-day comic books, and is the missing link in the development of modern manga.

During the height of kamishibai in the 1930s, storytellers would travel to villages and set up their butais (miniature wooden prosceniums), through which illustrated boards were shown. The storytellers acted as entertainers and reporters, narrating tales that ranged from action-packed westerns, period pieces, traditional folk tales, and melodramas, to nightly news reporting on World War II. More than just explaining the pictures, a good storyteller would act out the parts of each character with different voices and facial expressions. Through extensive research and interviews, author Eric P. Nash pieces together the remarkable history of this art and its creators. With rare images reproduced for the first time from Japanese archives, including full-length kamishibai stories, combined with expert writing, this book is an essential guide to the origins of manga.

There are samples on the Abrams site, like this one:

Someone remind me to just check Abrams ComicArts once a month.


Found: Brave Story.

filed under , 4 January 2010, 12:32 by

Not much new here, actually. The book came out 6 ½ years ago in Japan, the hardcover came out (under the Viz Fiction imprint) 2 years ago — there’s a movie (which isn’t licensed for North America yet), there are manga (5 of the 20 volumes have been released by Tokyopop— unfortunately the rest may be in licensing limbo), and games in three flavours (PS2, PSP, and DS) — and Gia over at Anime Vice also recommends it.

So what’s new?

A paperback edition (only $17 for 820 pages), which released in November, and a helpful pointer from me to you for this work. (meh. sometimes that’s all you get)

It’s a classic epic fantasy gloss over one boy’s family problems and internal struggles. (a bright overlay on some really dark ‘real’ stuff: His father abandoned him, and his mom was recently hospitalized after a suicide attempt.)

There is a lot here to enjoy, and a lot to chew on. I recommend it.


Brave Story TPB, written & illustrated by Miyuki Miyabe. Viz Media, isbn 9781421527734


Found: Miyazaki, Starting Point 1979-1996

filed under , 15 September 2009, 13:01 by


Starting Point: 1979-1996
by Hiyao Miyazaki


released by Viz under the Ghibli Library imprint (natch), published August 2009, isbn 9781421505947

From the Publisher:

In the first two decades of his career, filmmaker Hayao Miyazaki laid the groundwork for his legendary movies. Starting Point is a collection of essays, interviews, and memoir that go back to the roots of Miyazaki’s childhood, the formulation of his theories of animation, and the founding of Studio Ghibli.

Before directing such acclaimed films as Spirited Away, Miyazaki was just another salaried animator, but with a vision of his own. Follow him as he takes his first steps on the road to success, experience his frustrations with the manga and animation industries that often suffocate creativity, and realize the importance of bringing the childhood dreams of the world to life.

The first of a two-volume series, Starting Point: 1979-1996 is not just a chronicle of the life of a man whose own dreams have come true, it is a tribute to the power of the moving image.

can’t believe I missed this; pointing this out for everyone (if you also missed this) is what the ‘found’ category is for.


Found, and a suggestion: The Dark Age

filed under , 21 August 2009, 11:12 by


The Dark Age: Grim, Great and Gimmicky Post-Modern Comics

by Mark Voger, TwoMorrows, published 3 1/2 years ago. isbn 9781893905535

After the Golden, Silver, and Bronze Ages of comics, might we find a space for a Dark Age? A brief time of edgy, adult, darker work, but Before comics descended into the current age of Superhero Decadence? (ref. Deppey, first citation and formal definition, and with a tip of the hat to The Groovy Age of Horror — and we’re all adults here but some images used to make the point are NSFW, browse at your discretion)

Did a Dark Age start in 1986 (Dark Knight & Watchmen) or back even further? — maybe 1983, cit. A Groovy Age of Horror again — or other mainstream comics of the late 70s, or the Comix of the late 60s?

If I had to pick a date, I’d go with May, 1971 and Amazing Spider-Man #96 when the up-till-then inviolate Comics Code began loosening their Victorian-prudish preferences and the industry could finally pick back up where they left off in 1954. (well, that and the emergence of a whole slate of comic publishers who gave less than a rat’s-ass for the CCA)

Please note: I haven’t read Voger’s book; it is possible he’s made all these points and more — I just came across the listing on Amazon this morning and felt the need to point it out.

Which is what my ‘found’ category is for.

Found -- Usagi Yojimbo: Yokai

filed under , 14 August 2009, 10:24 by


Full-color Hardcover Original Graphic Novel featuring a stand-alone story of my second favorite rabbit*

From the source and font of all Usagi

Update: This year also marks the 25th anniversary of ‘Usagi Yojimbo, ‘and probably the coolest of all the various anniversary events Stan and I have planned is ‘Yokai,’ a hardcover original graphic novel, fully painted by Stan! Yokai are the monsters, demons, and spirits of Japanese folklore, so they are perfect subjects for a Usagi story in which every page is a color painting. Previews coming soon, but for now check out the awesome cover painting (4.6MB full size scan available here). Pages 26 and 27 also available in full size!

Dark Horse is planning a new, fully painted 57 page graphic novel to celebrate UY’s 25th anniversary. It will take Stan a full three months to write, draw, and paint it, so expect it in fall of 2009. He’s debating between a couple of stories for this one—the return of Jei, or Sasuke and obakemono monsters. He’s leaning toward Sasuke because it would be fun to draw all those obake from the scary stuff to the goofy ones.

I love full color, hand painted art. I love the effort and passion Sakai is willing to put into this work, and I’m sure I’ll love the final product.

[and allow me a moment to correct an earlier error — granted, it was an error I made by linking to and copy-pasting from the Amazon description of the title, but I should have known better — by directing curious readers to the Official History & FAQ of the Rabbit Ronin in question.]


  • Max of Purcell’s Sam & Max will always be my all-time favorite lagomorph. I appreciate Miyamoto Usagi on a completely different level, and in this case, there is no shame in coming in second.

included image ©2009 Stan Sakai, ganked from his website.

Found: Vermonia, vol 1

filed under , 12 August 2009, 01:24 by


Vermonia, vol. 1:

From the publisher:

On a distant Blue Star, Mel, Jim, Naomi, and Doug — friends obsessed with their garage band — don’t seem that different from any of the other twelve-year-old skateboarders at Union Middle School. But everything changes when Mel is kidnapped and imprisoned in a world called the Turtle Realm. As her friends rush to save her, guided by the magical squelp Satorin, they find a world terrorized by a conquering army, a land whose villagers’ only hope is an ancient prophecy foretelling the arrival of four heroes. Will they be brave enough to release their true warrior spirits — and return the rightful queen to her throne?

The battle for Vermonia begins! Fabulous manga artwork highlights this graphic tale of four friends who hold the fate of three worlds in their hands.

Looks oh so normal so far — so why the highlight?

1. it’s from YoYo, a new manga ‘studio’ — young graduates of a manga & anime school in Japan
2. it’s release in the States is from Candlewick — an established children’s imprint but new to both graphic novels and manga

a search of various Amazonia (.ca & .au) reveal that there are at least 3 volumes in the series, even though only the first volume has been released in the U.S. (and that one just today.)

edit: icv2 reported on this weeks ago


Found: The State complete series box.

filed under , 15 July 2009, 17:32 by

“Whatcha eating?”

“. . . muppet.”


MTV’s The State, complete series on DVD.

…while they bill it as ‘the complete series’ — which it is — it’s only a couple dozen episodes padded out with a pilot and some previously un-aired material.

Still, this is golden. Must Own.
[Amazon has it for less that half-price.]


← previous posts          

Yes, all the links are broken.

On June 1, 2015 (after 6 years and 11 months) I needed to relaunch/restart this blog, or at least rekindle my interest in maintaining and updating it.

Rather than delete and discard the whole thing, I instead moved the blog -- database, cms, files, archives, and all -- to this subdomain. When you encounter broken links (and you will encounter broken links) just change the URL in the address bar from to

I know this is inconvenient, and for that I apologise. In addition to breaking tens of thousands of links, this also adversely affects the blog visibility on search engines -- but that, I'm willing to live with. Between the Wayback Machine at and my own half-hearted preservation efforts (which you are currently reading) I feel nothing has been lost, though you may have to dig a bit harder for it.

As always, thank you for reading. Writing version 1.0 of Rocket Bomber was a blast. For those that would like to follow me on the 2.0 - I'll see you back on the main site.



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