by Ulrich HEINZE/裕理葉印杖
Lift-off for the Blog of the new Centre for Japanese Studies (CJS). This is a real start-up at the University of East Anglia! What could fit better than Astro-Boy, the rocket-propelled robot of the “Godfather of Manga”, Tezuka Osamu? Saying “The future, which is not only a dream” in this ad, he even shows a prophetic talent.
Most students of Japanese culture today answer that manga (Japanese comics) made them interested in Japan. Especially girls’ manga, boys’ love, science fiction, and narratives that were turned into TV anime: “Captain Tsubasa”, “Dragon Ball”, “Naruto”, “Detective Konan”, and lately, films like “Boys over Flowers” or “Norwegian Wood”. Here’s my question: How many of Tezuka’s good old characters do you (still) know?
Don’t worry. In the “mangamania” UG module at UEA, you’ll get to know them all… Astro-Boy and his girl-friend Urane, the magic surgeon Black Jack, little Princess Knight (the first heroine of girls’ manga), and even Astro’s creator, Dr Tenma. He is basically Tezuka’s Alterego and obviously still active on screen…
Little robot Astro-Boy was constructed/born near the station of Takadanobaba on the Tokyo circle line, the green Yamanote line. Every time a train stops or departs today, you hear the melody of Astro’s TV anime. From this departure point, we’ll explore the huge field of Japanese visual pop culture. Where is your favourite manga writer? What stories do you read and why? How does manga relate to the other Japanese mass media?
Now, students, it’s up to you! Let us know, what you’d like to learn. What do you want to know about Japan, in addition to the language? What do you expect from our next CJS events (Manga writer Christina Plaka [“Yonen Buzz”] coming to Norwich and the exhibition “Kingdom of Characters” at the Sainsbury Centre in 2012)? What questions do you have about the history and theory of manga? Which are your favourite anime and why? 頑張って下さい！！Don’t hesitate!!! Always write your comments on this Blog!!! Ask your questions at firstname.lastname@example.org!!! Check out the new Centre for Japanese Studies website. And join us at our events!!! Just make our start-up FLY like Tetsuwan Atomu!!!
(All photos taken by UH in summer 2010 in Japan)