Exploring the roots of an anime column
Ever since the newspaper you're now reading tweaked its front page design and put the smiling mugs of all columnists -- including yours truly -- front and center for everyone to see, I've been hearing quite a bit about it from people who know me.
"Hey, Jason!" they usually say. " I saw you in the paper! Great column! I have no idea what you're talking about, but, umm ... great column!"
So to mark the column's second anniversary this week, and to allow me to get back into the groove of writing after being knocked loopy with illness over parts of two weeks, I offer this "frequently asked questions" roundup for Cel Shaded newcomers ... and perhaps some trivia for regular readers, to boot:
Question: What is Cel Shaded?
Answer: It's a column devoted to exploring various aspects of the anime and manga pop culture phenomenon -- from what's going on with the anime and manga itself, to the fans who enjoy it, to the way it's influencing other parts of pop culture. I'm usually the ringmaster of this circus, although my tag-team partner in fandom, Wilma Jandoc, chimes in every now and then.
Q: OK ... so what's this "anime" and "manga"?
A: Anime (pronounced "AHH-nee-meh"), for the most part, are animated TV series and movies with origins in Japan; manga (pronounced "MAHN-gah") are Japanese comic books. That's the easiest, most technically correct answer.
What's muddied the waters in recent years, however, is the growing number of anime and manga with American origins that have heavy Japanese influences -- the "Matrix" animated spin-off "Animatrix" and Spike TV's "Afro Samurai," for instance, and the booming market for OEL (original English language) or global manga like the online Web comic "Megatokyo" and Tokyopop's "Dramacon."
Q: Why call your column "Cel Shaded"?
A: The term technically refers to an art style in video games where characters look more like cartoon characters than computer-generated characters. Since this column is all about drawings and animated characters, I just thought it would be a perfect fit.
Q: What is that you're holding/wearing in your mug shot, anyway?
A: The hat -- cat ears, with two eyes on the front -- is the same hat Dejiko wears in the various "Di Gi Charat" anime and manga, while the stuffed doll is of a Moogle from the Nintendo Gamecube game "Final Fantasy: Crystal Chronicles." Consider it my form of casual cosplay (costume play) ... plus it adds a sense of fun to the column. And having fun is what life is all about, right?
Meeting roll call
» MangaBento: Remaining meetings this month for this group of anime- and manga-inspired artists are 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and June 24 at the Academy Art Center, 1111 Victoria St. Check with the guard at the front desk for the exact room. For information, visit mangabento. googlepages.com ...
Cel Shaded, a look at the world of Japanese anime and manga, appears every Monday. Reach Jason S. Yadao