CJS at CdA: Cote d’Azur

A collaboration with the community of Vallauris in the south of France brought me to give a talk on Time Travel Manga. Starting, of course, with Nr. 1 Time Traveller, the blue cat Doraemon and his gang. You see me here with a major problem: talking French… But thanks to Nathalie, who prepared the translation, all went well. The kids enjoyed the whole event with martial arts, a bamboo orchestra, shiatsu, anime screenings, video games – and I bought Tezuka Osamu’s autobiography to practice for next time.

Manga writer Christina Plaka taught the kids some drawing lessons. HArd to do are faces and moving bodies and their proportions. Luckily, Christina is half Greek, therefore half Mediterranean, and therefore speaks French fluently. Thank you, Christina, for your wonderful lessons! And thanks to the kids for showing their talents.

Remember the figurine Christina is pointit at here n the placard of the Vallauris Biennale “Japan Aurea”? It was also done by her : a manga version of an Aztec figurine from the Sainsbury collection on UEA campus.  CJS is bridging the gap between the cultures: Mexico, Japan, England, France, Greece, Germany. Vallauris was great fun. Let’s do it again! I know how to order “un café crème” and “une pression”… Alors, a bientôt !

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BAJS Conference 大成功 ! Big Success!  

The keynote speech on 7 September was delivered by Prof. Yoshimi Shunya, University of Tokyo. The renowned media theorist analysed the postwar nuclear relationship between America and Japan. His talk was entitled “Atoms for Dream. Holding the American Umbrella in the Atomic Driving Rain”. The full audio record of his talk will be available on the CJS webpage soon.

This year’s BAJS Conference attracted about 200 delegates and speakers from around the world,  covering all aspects of Japanese Studies: translation and media studies,  manga and media, history and archaeology, cultural heritage and sociology, literature and pop culture. We enjoyed two lovely and sunny days on UEA campus, and finally descended to 64 The Close for a wonderful reception and the closing remarks.

(left to right:) Conference organiser Dr Ulrich Heinze, UEA VC Prof Edward Acton, BAJS President Prof Chris Hughes, JF Director-General Mr. Tsuyoshi Takahashi, Director of the Centre for Japanese Studies at UEA Dr Simon Kaner.


The conference extended to 41 panels in 7 timeslots. If the trains hadn’t broken down on Friday between Norwich and Diss, everything would have been perfect. Lord Nelson would have been proud of our logistic and academic manoeuvres…  Many thanks to all contributors, volunteers, sponsors and organisers, and see you again in Norwich next time !!!

P.S. Will make sure the talks can place via Skype and the Canaries have a home match then.

P.P.S. Please send us your comments for our feedback to the conference office!

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Go-Sign for BAJS Conference !!!

Thanks to all volunteers, helpers, colleagues, Natsue-san from CJS, and our funders, the BAJS Conference will lift off tomorrow. We’ll learn about Japanese literature in the Translation Studies Stream, stroll along the philosopher’s path (right)- or the Norwich Riverside Walk -, listen to Yoshimi-sensei’s talk on atomic power and American influence in Japan (available online during the conference at http://www.uea.ac.uk/cjs/events/Yoshimi+Article), the soft industry, manga and anime.

We expect 130 speakers and about 200 delegates, a great opportunity for discussion and exchange. UEA will welcome an entire new cohort of students of Japanese at its School of Language and Culture, and the Centre for Japanese Studies will play a vital part. Please send your comments and opinions, and do not hesitate to criticise. We know it is going to be a vivid event and welcome any feedback. In case you need a less old-fashioned philosophical rest: Go to a manga store like this one in Kyoto (left). In Norwich, a nice little manga collection is available at the Millennium Library in The Forum. Expect you back for the keynote speech on Friday, 7 September, 10am, in Thomas Paine.

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Ubiquitous Manga: A summer tour from Kyoto to Tokyo

Approaching Kansai Airport, you will pass the Akashi Kakyo bridge, the longest central span suspension bridge in the world (1991 metres). Its southern part crosses the strait
between Awaji Island and Shikoku, known as Naruto (roaring swirls) strait. They are dangerous, they have cost many lives, and they gave their name to shōjo manga hero Naruto, a low-ranked ninja, who struggles his way up the hierarchy.

17 July in Kyoto, the day of the Gion Festival with the great float parade in the city. However, incredibly hot and humid. Why not sneak out to the Kyoto International Manga Museum, where you find a splendid collection of old manga editions since the late 1940s and many explanations on manga art, kamishibai, publishers, production methods, and the relationship between manga and animation. (http://www.kyotomm.jp/english/)

Or take the train to Takarazuka, 2 hours,  and visit the Tezuka Osamu Museum. The small city is about 2h from Kyoto, and home to the famous all-women musical theatre, founded 100 years ago by a (male) railway tycoon. As a kid, Master Tezuka used to watch the beautiful dancers rehearse … and later promoted transgender dressing in his manga “Princess Knight”.  The “Phoenix”, Tezuka’s favorite, welcomes you here.  (http://digilander.libero.it/joe.chip/tezuka_e.htm).

If that’s not enough, leave Kansai for the capital Tokyo. In the Science Future Building on the artificial island of Odaiba in the Tokyo Bay, a great exhibition is examining the relationship between science and manga (kagaku manga ten until 15 October). I’ll be there only next week and have no pictures yet. In the meantime, look into manga surgeon Black Jack’s scarface: Tezuka made him perform organ transplants  already in the 1970s. Science fiction? No, manga is just ahead of its time (http://www.kagaku-manga-ten.jp/).

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Fukushima and the Media


O-tsukaresama deshita !! These dynamic researchers from Japan, the UK, Italy, France, Poland, Germany and Malaysia contributed with their papers to the second “Japanese Media Studies” research workshop at the Sainsbury Institute. Needless to catch up with their brilliant minds, but I’ll try to resume some basic points.

Since Dr. Tenma created nuclear power-propelled Astro-Boy in 1953 in Manga-Master-Mind Tezuka Osamu’s early oeuvre, nuclear technology is in the focus. While Tezuka  himself pleaded openly against it, the majority and the politicians in Japan thought otherwise.  Later the big energy companies, too, have created many cute characters (often symbols of chemical elements) in order to promote their industry.

When the Tsunami struck Tohoku a year ago, the helicopters with the TV cameras went up in the air. With hundreds of installed cameras and webcams, the disaster was ‚live’ on the screens. The media do not hesitate to intrude into the disaster zone, the no-entry area, and ultimately the private life. The (visual) media try and cover (only/mainly) the VERY MOMENT of the crime/event/disaster. But in fact, it is by far more revealing – and professional – to look at the lives of the victims in the aftermath of the disaster, as zainichi-writer Yū Miri did.

Thorough research, documentation, and criticism is not the strength of the mainstream media. Which is why, despite Fukushima, the perspectives on 1945 and the atomic blast in Japan have also changed. TV dramas taking place in Hiroshima, just as  films on kamikaze pilots, rather tend to „soften“ the issue and bend it into a nostalgic (romantic?) look back (http://www.dijtokyo.org/publications/contemporary_japan24_1)

What I especially enjoyed in the workshop was: Great visual material on the history of Astro Boy and other „nuclear“ characters (S and T), the analysis of the TV coverage of the disaster (G, C and E+V), the religious iconography in manga (J), the „nostalgification“ of Hiroshima on the TV screen (G), and the way print media and literature deal with it (M and K). Thank you all for your excellent contributions!

With the coming summer heat, nuclear reactors in Japan will go online again. Can the new media preserve a more “authentic” memory of the Fukushima disaster? Does the Internet, do youtube and twitter trigger the inevitable discussion on nuclear power – or are they just radical copyright infringements and intrusions into the private life of people? To me, Japan seems more “ambivalent” than ever… Can someone warp me back to 1953 or call Mighty Atom, please?

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BAJS Conference 6-7 Sep at UEA !!

BIIIG Conference on Japan at UEA, in our Premier League City 2012 !!!

The German YYELLOWS, BVB Dortmund, have just beaten Bayern Munich and secured their consecutive championship. The Norwich Yellows, too, have beaten the Spurs and will remain in Premier League. Congrats, Paul Lambert! After all, the Scotsman played in Dortmund himself, when they won the Champions League in 1997.

This is our City right wing defender, Russel Martin, Nr. 2. If we want to win our 44th point this coming Saturday, he must be on duty against the ManCity strikers. Our manga writer Christina Plaka has drawn him and other Canaries, she likes Japanese sports manga, “Captain Tsubasa” and “Aim for the Ace”. We should add one about our boys, who performed so brilliantly this season.

By the way, on 6 and 7 September 2012, we host the annual British Association for Japanese Studies Conference in Norwich. Run and register, we have already 130 paper proposals… If the Canaries have a home game on that weekend … Carrow Road might teach the academics a real lesson.

Don’t forget: The German Yellows have a Japanese hero now. Kobe-born midfielder Shinji Kagawa, goalgetter, fighter, coming superstar on German soil. A model for Paul Lambert? Definitely! Paul, let’s talk it over at Delia’s !

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Manga Artist Drew The Crowds


That’s what manga is, according to  Greek-German manga artist Christina Plaka.  Shots from her workshops at the Sainsbury Centre on 8 and 10 March.  

That was really fun, thank you! Here Christina is explaining to some younger talents, how the different genres (shōjo for girls, shōnen for boys)  are visually designed . The kids were cool, yet  enthusiastic. Just look into these faces, both real and virtual !!!

Since the exhibition “Kingdom of Characters” is on in the Sainsbury Centre, it draws the crowds. But not only kids. The grannies also want to learn about Astroboy, Doraemon, Suzumiya Haruhi and Hello Kitty. Me=Ulrich will give an introductory “Lunchtime Talk” on 29 March, 1.15pm, at the SCVA Education Studio. Be there or be square!

Truth is: I only know manga history and theory, but could never draw like this young lady: chapeau! Luckily, I can ask Christina to produce some more panels with Norfolk motives – and faces, like Lord Nelson, the Canaries, the Degas’ dancing girl from the Sainsbury Collection, and others. By the way, one kid asked, how to study manga at Kyoto Seika University, where Christina has just graduated. The answer: learn Japanese first. Which is no problem at UEA, our language course at the School of Language and Communication starts this coming autumn…

Big eyes, relaxed smile, you’re welcome any time !!!


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Come on Yellows !!

Come on YYYYYYEellllllllooowwws !! BIG MANGA EXHIBITION

at the Sainsbury Centre In Norwich from 4 February 2012!!

We made it! The Kingdom of Characters Exhibition starts on 4 February at the Sainsbury Centre on UEA campus. Here’s the invitation. It is the only place in the UK, where it is shown. The objects cover the entire postwar time, but my favorite is Suzumiya Haruhi (bottom left), a 2003 “light novel” (novelette) heroine. The 15-year-old schoolgirl tackles different problems with her SOS gang and even travels through time in the “Endless Eight” episodes. Enjoy the manga and anime versions, as well!!

Not only Nr. 1 Pokemon Pikachu is yellow. Think of the Canaries, our Norwich City football team. My niece has drawn their crest… A small English lion, Norwich castle, and a BIG CANARY. While I write this, I hear the supporters shout “Come on YYYYYellows” at the pitch. We are top ten Premier League and just drew against Chelsea… “Yellows” is also my favourite pub at Carrow Road.

These birds are tough and cute. Just like the manga and anime characters. What this cuteness, “kawaisa” in Japanese, means historically, economically, and culturally, we’ll explore on 9 March at the symposium “Too Kawaii – The Power of the Super Cute”. Admission free for students! Only my 11-year-old niece does not yet need scientific explanations. She just loves to hug  cats, dogs – and birds… “They’re sooooo cute…!!” (Die sind ja soooo niiiiiieeedlich…!!)


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Mangamania Module

Manga for me and my niece Fides (11) 

This is our local hero, Lord Nelson, victorious admiral at the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. You see him here reading Aoike Yasuko’s girls’ manga TRAFALGAR. It is actually not about himself, but about two guys in his entourage, handsome officers, who then have to try and kill each other (sob). One of them shoots Nelson, the other takes revenge. Thrilling story! This visual composition is from my former Japanese teacher (kateikyōshi) Koiwa Rie. Thank you for that!!

Talking about battles: Spring term starts on 16 January. I’ve got 14  MA students and we’ll share a room for 12… But never mind. Before that, I’ll have a few discussions with my niece Fides (11). She likes manga and I was able to convince her to take a few minutes and draw a picture of mine. I don’t look like a manga hero here, do I?

My niece is something like a TV addict. I always have to drag her away from the box, so she works with her eyes and hands. I will present to her another volume of Urasawa Naoki’s PLUTO for Xmas. She loves it. Although it is rather violent, but the drawing style is superb. Here’s an example of her trying to imitate the visual style of girls’ manga:

As always, it’s the big eyes fascinating the girls… They are the main feature of girls’ manga since the late 1960s – along with the long hair, the European courts and castles, and the beautiful boys in uniforms… I must get her an edition of Ikeda Riyoko’s ROSES OF VERSAILLES, but for the moment the robot battles in PLUTO are fine for her. Phantasy has no limits!

By the way: from March 5-10 2012, manga writer Christina Plaka (www.christinaplaka.com) will be with us, special event for UEA students on 6 March. If she can’t make it, I’ll ask my niece…

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Centre for Japanese Studies/Start-Up

MANGA PLEASE/漫画を頂戴!!  

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 cjs@uea.ac.uk!!! 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)

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