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Japanese manga artist begs readers to buy his first volume, spurred by fears of cancellation

Posted: 23 Apr 2018 08:00 PM PDT

The manga’s low sales may be yet another symptom of the failing manga industry, though some netizens think otherwise.

Despite the still monstrous popularity of some manga like One Piece and Dragonball, the manga industry has been in decline for some time, thanks to a strong secondhand market, a persistent pirating community, a drop in overseas manga sales, and the manga industry’s failure to digitize. Unfortunately that means that for many manga artists, their works and their livelihoods are at stake.

Japanese manga artist Talow Okanishi is feeling the pressure. He is the author of a relatively new European-set fantasy manga, Desordre, which has been serialized in manga anthology Gekkan Morning two since last year, though it may not be for much longer.

In a tweet he posted last week, he announced that the sales for the first volume of Desordre were so low that it may face cancellation after the next chapter if they don’t improve. In a four-piece image of a surprisingly candid handwritten note, he pleaded with fans to go out and buy the first volume if they want to see the story continue (translation below).

I regret to announce that, due to the extremely low sales of the first volume of Desordre that was released last week, the manga, which is currently being serialized in Gekkan Morning two, will be cancelled after the next two chapters. [Okanishi amended in a follow-up tweet that it will be after the next chapter.]

However, if this first volume sells enough to require a second edition printing, it might possibly get a second chance at continuing. If there is anyone who wishes to see Desordre continue to be serialized, can I please ask you to share this tweet and advertise the manga for me?

I know that it is extremely shameful of me to do this, but I felt that if I didn’t try anything and Desordre is cancelled at this point, I would regret it for my whole life, so I wrote this letter.

If Volume 1 still doesn’t sell after this, I will know that it is because of the demerits of the manga and of myself, and I will accept its cancellation.

Thank you very much for your help,
Talow Okanishi

With only eleven chapters published, a single volume released, and only a week allotted to bring in sales for that single volume, Desordre hasn’t had much chance to prove itself in the world of manga, highlighting a way in which the manga publishing industry can be extremely cut-throat. Unfortunately, Desordre‘s serialization in a less-popular anthology magazine seems to have put it at somewhat of a disadvantage from the start, but that is the way of the manga world.

▼ Desordre Volume 1

Predictably, the wolves of Twitter pounced on Okanishi’s vulnerability, and many netizens criticized the author for ignoring the way the manga industry works and trying to appeal to the kind hearts of netizens, when the problem could really be the quality of his work:

“So manga artists these days have resorted to begging…”

“I don’t think tweeting was a very good idea. I understand that you’re having a lot of trouble and that’s why you’re doing it, but manga artists in the past didn’t have social media to help them, and when their stories were cancelled they had to start from scratch again.”

“It can’t be helped that [Gekkan Morning two] is a minor magazine.”

“How disgraceful. If your manga is interesting people will buy it. You don’t have any real ability and that’s why this is happening. You should be ashamed for relying on others for your own gain. If you had the time to write this you should have worked harder on your manga.”

“It might be hard for you to hear that your story is getting cancelled, but when something is cut off after just 12 chapters, it’s probably because you need to do more to make your story appealing. A really interesting manga will sell itself, without you having to say anything about it.”

Others were a bit kinder. They didn’t find fault with the idea of asking for help, but thought the execution was wrong. Many said that, if he wanted to advertise his manga, he should have included more information about the manga, such as images, sketches, a summary, or even links. One netizen even stated that it seemed like he didn’t care if fans liked the story at all; their impression was that all he wanted was for people to buy it.

▼ The back cover

But many other netizens were supportive, and even purchased or said they would purchase the volume, both with and without reading the first two chapters, which are free to read here on the publisher’s website.

“I think your approach of doing everything you can up until the very end is great! I read the first chapter. It was interesting!”

“I ordered it on Amazon. I’ll be rooting for you!”

“I read the first chapter, it was very interesting, though I’m not very familiar with manga and I haven’t even read One Piece. Please take care of yourself, and keep doing good work! I’ll buy the manga.”

“I found out about it through the trial chapters! It was interesting, so I bought it.”

"I read the two free chapters. It thought it was good so I picked up a copy!”

“I bought it today! I hope it’s able to continue!”

Despite the harsh criticism Okanishi received from some netizens, his tweet has been retweeted and liked over 21,000 times in the course of a week, so at least it appears to have done what he intended it to do. Sure, it might have been better if his tweet had included actual content from the story or a link to the trial chapters, and his plea does feel more than a little desperate, but hopefully he will now sell enough copies of Desordre Volume 1 that the manga will continue to be serialized.

Sadly, though, the manga industry as a whole is in dire straits, and Okanishi is not the only author who has pleaded with fans to drop more cash on their works. Even Hiroya Oku, author of world-famous manga Gantz, has also asked manga readers to go out and buy new copies of his manga.

It’s easy to understand why when the sales of manga volumes not only determine a manga author’s pay, but also the existence of their art, the actualization of their dreams, and the fruition of their hard work. No matter who you are, when you’ve worked really hard to create something you’ve dreamed of, you’ll probably want to do everything in your power to keep it from being used as toilet paper.

Source: Twitter/@onanistar_low via Otakomu
Featured imaged: Twitter/@atss78
Reference: i09

Japanese Twitter user posts beautiful photos of what may be Japan’s most picturesque shrine

Posted: 23 Apr 2018 06:00 PM PDT

Gorgeous photos show an otherworldly shrine hidden away in the heart of Kyushu.

Open any guide book to Japan and you’ll find pages upon pages devoted to the many shrines and temples dotted across the country, from the tiny shrine that looks as though it hasn’t changed in hundred of years nestled amongst the skyscrapers that have sprung up around it, to the more unusual shrines that celebrate moneythe beauty (or dangly parts) of the human form, or some that are just plain creepy.

Surveys of visitors to Japan often find that shrines are one of the top places to visit during their stay, but spend an extended time in Japan and and one shrine may begin to blend in with another in your memories. Soon you start spending all your time looking for new extremes of shrine to get your shrine fix, each time the euphoria slightly shorter and less satisfying. Fortunately a Japanese Twitter user recently posted some amazing photos of a shrine in Kyushu so beautiful and magical that even the most hardened shrine-bagger can get their hit.

The stunningly ethereal Kamishikimikumanoza Shrine, which Twitter user @stick_fgo strongly recommends to any lover of shrines, can be found in the southern part of Aso District in Kumamoto Prefecture on the island of Kyushu. Kamishikimikumanoza Shrine is, as well as being a mouthful, more than five kilometres (three miles) from the nearest station, Takamori Station, the last stop on a minor line. While that makes it rather harder to get to than some famous shrines in Kyoto or other large cities, if these photos are anything to go by it would be well worth the trip. Especially when you consider that the area is home to some fantastic scenery (including the now closed ‘Road to Laputa’) and that Kumamon lives just down the (40-something kilometre-long) street.

The photo of the shrine gate and trees wrapped in mist gives the scene an otherworldly appearance. You can imagine what it must look like at night, and why so many ghost stories are associated with shrines. Another Twitter user, @tsudukihakotira, claiming to be the photographer behind one of the photos in @stick_fgo’s tweet, even provided a higher quality version of one of the snaps to the thread. The lush, primaeval forests give the shrine a real sense of timeless tranquility.

Despite the remote location, it turned out some other Japanese social media users had visited the shrine and taken some beautiful photos of the shrine time seemed to have forgot.

▼ The shrine is also beautiful in winter, capped in snow.

If we can drag him away from Starbucks, maybe we can get Mr. Sato to give us a lift down to Kyushu in his car. Failing that, at least we have the photos and yet another entry for our collective bucket lists. While those photos should satiate us for now, we’ll soon be in need of a new shrine high. Where to next?

Source: Twitter/@stick_fgo
Featured image: Twitter/tsudukihakotira

Eerie dystopian view emerges as Japan dismantles one of its departed Bubble Era amusement parks

Posted: 23 Apr 2018 10:30 AM PDT

As Space World becomes a part of the past, the park's remains are starting to look like part of an apocalyptic future.

Between Tokyo Disney Resort's massive upcoming expansion and Universal Studios Japan's continuing collaborations with Japanese anime and video game franchises such as Final Fantasy, you might think we're in an across-the-board boom period for amusement parks in Japan. That's not the case, though, as smaller parks struggle to stay afloat without high-profile mascots to help draw in visitors.

Many of these troubled parks trace their roots to the aggressive over-investment of Japan's Bubble Economy, including Space World, which opened in Fukuoka Prefecture in 1990. On January 1 of this year, the park closed down for good, but a 240,000-square meter (2.58 million-square foot) facility doesn't just disappear overnight, and the gradual dismantling of the park has shifted Space World's atmosphere from near-future wonderland to far-future dystopia.

Demolition has recently begun in earnest for the park's Ferris wheel, the 100-meter (33-foot) tall Space Eye. Technicians are starting at the top and working their way down, and the half-removed attraction now looks like something out of Square Enix's NieR: Automata video game's amusement park area, or maybe Pixar's WALL-E.

▼ The Space Eye, back when it was still whole.

In addition to its fractured Ferris wheel, the darkness of Space World's remains make for a startlingly dark patch in the nighttime view of surrounding Kitakyushu City.

The eerie visuals make for an odd contrast with the site of so many happy memories for visitors over the past 28 years, but are also kind of fitting for the amusement park that once invited guests to ice skate above the frozen carcasses of over 5,000 fish and other aquatic creatures.

Source: Jin
Featured image: Twitter/@darkshinkurou

The brilliant blue flowers of Hitachi Seaside Park: Your next flower viewing stop in Japan【Pics】

Posted: 23 Apr 2018 08:00 AM PDT

With sakura season done in the Tokyo area, it's time to switch from pink to blue and the 4.5 million Nemophila flowers of this amazing park.

This year, some unusually warm spring weather shifted the start of cherry blossom season up about two weeks earlier than usual. Because of that, the sakura re now gone from Japan's eastern Kanto region (which includes Tokyo), but if you're feeling blue about that, there's an amazing azure pick-me-up waiting for nature lovers in Hitachi Seaside Park.

As you'd guess from the name, Hitachi Seaside Park is located on the coast of the city of Hitachi, in Ibaraki Prefecture. Ibaraki s one of those parts of Japan that foreign travelers often pass straight through as they make their way from Tokyo up to the northeastern Tohoku region, but Hitachi Seaside Park is definitely worth making a detour for, especially if the Nemophila, or baby blue eye, flowers are in bloom, like they are right now.

The sprawling park's Miharashi no Oka ("Lookout Hill") covers an area of 3.5 hectares (8.6 acres), and in turn is covered with roughly 4.5 million flowers. When their petals open, the landscape transforms into rolling waves of blue that seem to merge earth and sky.

Instagram Photo

Instagram Photo

▼ We visited the park last year, and only managed to convince ourselves to come back down to the Tokyo area once the facility closed at sundown.

Ordinarily, Hitachi SeasidePark's Nemophila reach full bloom right around Golden Week, the early-May string of holidays when just about every student and working adult in Japan has time off. That means that as you're admiring the view, you have to share the hill with some pretty large crowds. This year, though, the warm weather caused the flowers to blossom early, and they're currently at about 70-percent bloom, with the best viewing conditions expected before the Golden Week travel rush.

▼ The park also features some lovely tulip beds.

While Ibaraki is two prefecture over from Tokyo (with Saitama separating them), Hitachi Seaside Park is actually a doable day trip from the capital. Express trains will get you from Tokyo Station to Katsuta (the nearest rail stop to the park) in just a little more than an hour, and from Katsuta Station it's only another 20 minutes by bus to the park's entrance.

So if you're looking to experience some unforgettable scenery, and with the added bonus of smaller crowds than you'd usually have to put up with, you know where to head. And should your schedule be all booked up for the next coming weeks, don't forget that Hitachi Seaside Park also looks incredible in the fall, when those same hills turn an amazing shade of crimson.

Related: Hitachi Seaside Park, directions
Top image: Hitachi Seaside Park
Insert images: Hitachi Seaside Park, SoraNews24

Rurouni Kenshin manga restarts serialization just seven months after author’s child porn arrest

Posted: 23 Apr 2018 06:00 AM PDT

Creator of hit anime/manga franchise keeps himself out of jail and his comic in monthly magazine.

The last few months have had some intense ups and downs for the Rurouni Kenshin franchise. Riding high on the success of its live-action film adaptation trilogy, fans got really excited when series creator Nobuhiro Watsuki returned to writing and drawing regularly serialized installments of the manga last September, with the start of the comic's Hokkaido Arc.

However, just two months later Watsuki was arrested on charges of possession of child pornography, with investigators seizing roughly 100 DVDs and CDs from his personal collection and the author admitting that he "liked girls between the ages of upper elementary school students to about the second year of junior high" (in Japan, elementary school students are between 6 and 11 years old, with the second year of junior high corresponding to an age of 13 or 14).

Immediately following Watsuki's arrest, Jump Square, the monthly manga anthology which carried the Rurouni Kenshin Hokkaido Arc, announced that it would be suspending the series indefinitely, which some took to mean permanently. Though Watsuki was subsequently fined 200,000 yen (US$1,890) for his infraction of the Anti-Child Prostitution and Pornography Ordinance, he managed to avoid serving any jail time, and now he's avoided having his manga series permanently axed, as Jump Square publisher Shueisha is welcoming Watsuki back with resumption of the Rurouni Kenshin Hokkaido Arc's serialization.

On April 23, a statement appeared on the Jump Square website reading:

The series [Rurouni Kenshin Hokkaido Arc] has been on extended hiatus, and we deeply apologize for the trouble and worry this has caused readers and other interested parties.

Even now, the author is reflecting on and regretting his actions every day. However, taking into consideration the various opinions that have been expressed [by readers and interested parties], and believing that responding to them through creating the manga is the obligation of both the author and publisher, we will be resuming the series' serialization in the July issue of this magazine (which goes on sale June 4). We hope for your understanding in this matter.

Given the slap on the wrist Watsuki was given by the Japanese criminal justice system, there's a chance that his domestic fans might consider his arrest to now be water under the bridge. However, the Rurouni Kenshin manga and anime also have large followings overseas, including in societies that are far less lenient than Japan regarding the sexualization of minors, and it remains to be seen whether consumers and publishers in those countries will be so forgiving.

Source: Jump Square via Jin
Top image: SoraNews24

Pikachu Outbreak 2018 announced for Yokohama, and this time the party continues into the night!

Posted: 22 Apr 2018 10:00 PM PDT

Special after-dark Pokémon parade means fans will want to stick around all day to see the 1,500-plus Pikachus.

In what's become an annual celebration, every summer packs of Pikachus proliferate on the streets of Yokohama, just 20 minutes south of Tokyo. If you're a fan of the Pokémon series, or just cuteness in general, visiting Yokohama during the Pikachu Outbreak makes for an unforgettable day, and this year it's going to make for an unforgettable night too!

Organizers have given us the first official sneak peek at Pikachu Outbreak 2018, which carries the subtitle "Science is Amazing." In previous years, the Pikachus have all headed off to sleep at sundown, but this time they'll be staying out past dark, wearing special light-up costumes for their nighttime parade.

▼ The nighttime parade will differ from the one held during the day, so you'll want to check out both.

A total of over 1,500 Pikachus (in both frolicking and decorative forms) will be greeting visitors to Yokohama's Minato Mirai harbor district. Also new for this year are a Digital Splash show featuring various species of Pokémon, and a "Pikachu Parade on the Sea" incorporating digital technology.

While certain seasonal events, such as the blooming of the cherry blossoms, can be hard to pinpoint a exact start for, Pikachus have proven to be perfectly punctual. This year's Pikachu Outbreak kicks off on August 10, and runs until August 16.

Source: PR Times via Anime News Network/Lynzee Loveridge
Top image: PR Times