• スポ根まんがの先駆け

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants)
    “Kyojin no Hoshi” was published in Weekly Shonen Magazine between 1966 and 1971. During the period it was serialized, an animated TV version, movie adaptation and theatrical version were released. It all begins when HOSHI Hyuma, the main character, sets his sights on joining the Yomiuri Giants – a professional baseball team known as Kyojin-gun.
    Hyuma, who lost his mother as a small child, lives with his father and older sister. His father, Ittetsu, once played for Kyojin-gun, but gave up his career as a player because of a war injury. Ittetsu tells Hyuma to “become a star with Kyojin-gun” and gives him specialized baseball training. To develop his muscles so that he can throw fast balls, Hyuma is constantly forced to wear a device called a “major league ball training brace.”
    Raised with the aim that he becomes a major league pitcher, Hyuma grows to hate Ittetsu and baseball. Before long he has an encounter with his future rival, HANAGATA Mitsuru. Through this, he discovers what a great sport baseball is and decides to join Kyojin-gun.
    Upon entering Seiun Senior High School, Hyuma meets BAN Chuta, who becomes a good friend. Later on they form a battery (a collective term for pitcher and catcher). They enter the National High School Baseball Tournament during which Hyuma breaks a nail while pitching against SAMON Hosaku, another rival. Although Hyuma directs powerful pitches at Hanagata – despite his bleeding finger – he loses the final.
    Hearing about this injury, Hanagata praises Hyuma for being a formidable rival. He vows to beat Hyuma fair and square the next time. Hanagata and Samon join different professional teams in order to play against Hyuma who has joined Kyojin-gun, his dream team. However, it turns out that, as a pitcher, Hyuma has a fatal flaw. The ball lacks impact because of his small stature, so if the batter makes contact he can make a big hit.
    Hyuma is devastated that he is too small to become a professional baseball player; this is a problem that can’t be overcome with effort. After an agonizing period, he comes up with the “Major League Ball No. 1;” a curve ball which deliberately strikes the bat to get an out. This technique is only possible for Hyuma, whose ball control is second to none thanks to the training he’s received from childhood. Meanwhile, Ittetsu becomes a coach for another team and stubbornly gets in Hyuma’s way.
    Ittetsu sends Ozma, a former Major League player, to strike and beat the Major League Ball No. 1. Ball No.2, developed subsequently, beats Hanagata and No.3 beats Ban who has now become an adversary. Exhausted from his efforts, Ban falls to the ground and Ittetsu accepts Hyuma’s victory. By then, Hyuma’s left arm is damaged for good. With his career as a player cut short, Hyuma disappears off somewhere. Though he has burned himself out as a true “Giants’ star,” his achievement still sparkles to this day.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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  • 農業高校のゆかいなエピソードがいっぱい

    [From March Issue 2014]

    Gin no Saji (Silver Spoon)
    Set at an agricultural high school and portraying the development of high school boys, “Gin no Saji” (Silver Spoon) has been serialized in Shukan Shonen Sunday since 2011. Only ten volumes of this comic have been released, but it has already become a hot topic with sales totaling more than 13 million copies. The animated TV adaptation was broadcast from July to September 2013. The second season has been broadcast since January, 2014.
    The story begins when the main character of the story HACHIKEN Yugo enters Ooezo Agricultural High School in Hokkaido. Hachiken attended a top-class junior high school in Sapporo City. However, after graduating, rather than going on to the associated high school, he chose to enroll at an agricultural high school in the middle of nowhere.
    During junior high school, Hachiken did not participate in any club activities, but only thought of getting better grades on his tests. Having an older brother who achieved top grades, Hachiken was under a lot of pressure due to the expectations of his parents. However, his grades failed to improve and Hachiken was completely exhausted in both mind and body. Recognizing that Hachiken was in such a state, his junior high school teacher recommended that he enroll at a more easy going agricultural high school. Without any other motive in mind other than the desire to get away from his parents, Hachiken enrolled at an agricultural high school which had dormitories.
    However, Hachiken is shocked to find out that most of his classmates have clear dreams for the future. He tries to preserve his identity by getting top scores on tests, but fails to achieve even that. Each student has an area of expertise; a classmate who cannot keep up in mathematics scores 100 in animal husbandry. Moreover, unlike Hachiken, whose goal was to get good grades, they excel at something in order to make their dreams for the future come true. Overall, Hachiken achieves top marks, but he is not satisfied with that at all.
    He not only gets a shock from the tests. Having been raised by office workers, it is the first time he has come into contact with livestock. The adorable piglets kept in the school are destined to become pork several months later. Once they stop laying eggs, or cease to produce milk, the chickens and cows are slaughtered for their meat. Hachiken learns through experience the difference between pets and livestock.
    The author ARAKAWA Hiromu is a comic writer known for other works, including “Hagane no Renkinjyutsushi” (Fullmetal Alchemist). Her family are dairy farmers and she graduated from an agricultural high school. This is why the descriptions of the classes and dormitory life are so lively and detailed. The work also mentions subjects, including biotechnology, that are taught at agricultural high schools at the same level as at a university.
    The work is filled with comic elements unique to agricultural high schools, including a club to appreciate the beauty of Holstein cows, and a female student, Tamako who is particularly fussy about not letting anything go to waste. In addition, the work also brings up the realities of farming and the problems of agriculture. Readers can laugh while finding out about the various aspects of agriculture with Hachiken.
    Text:ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年3月号掲載記事]

    農業高校を舞台に、男子高校生の成長を描いた「銀の匙-Silver Spoon-」は2011年から週刊少年サンデーで連載中です。コミックスは10巻まで発売されていますが、販売累計は1,300万冊を超える話題作です。2013年7~9月はテレビアニメも放送。第2期が2014年1月から放送されています。

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  • 女性の徳川将軍をめぐる人間模様を描く

    [From February Issue 2014]

    Ooku refers to the area within Edo Castle in which the shogun’s wives and concubines, and the women who attended to those women, lived during the Edo period (between the 17th and 19th centuries). Many people imagine that this place was a kind of harem, and it has been the setting for a number of TV dramas and movies that feature plots against the shogun and the jealousies surrounding him.
    But “Ooku,” which was first serialized in the female-oriented manga magazine Melody in 2005, has an innovative story that turned these representations on their head. It is set in a world where the shogun is actually a woman and in which many men reside in the Ooku.
    During the time of the third Tokugawa Shogun, TOKUGAWA Iemitsu, an epidemic of “blushing smallpox” swept the country. This brought about a switch in gender roles. This made-up sickness only affected men, and the mortality rate was especially high among young males. As a result, the male population decreased dramatically, and the female-to-male ratio soon reached four to one. The story begins when the disproportionately small male population has become a fact of life, about 80 years after the outbreak, during the reign of the eighth Tokugawa Shogun Yoshimune.
    During this period, only a very small number of elderly remember a time when there was about one male for every female. In order that they leave behind offspring, the small number of surviving males are treated with extreme care, and women take on the majority of work, including manual labor. Women still need to adopt a male name, however, in order to pass on their warrior or merchant class lineage. Even Yoshimune, who was originally named “Onobu,” adopts the male name Yoshimune as shogun.
    One day, Yoshimune meets with the leader of the Dutch Trading Post and is surprised to discover that not a single member of the trading post’s delegation to Japan is female. At this time, Japan continued to be isolated from other countries, and neither nation knew much about the other. In the story, excerpts from the actual Dutch leader’s diary are quoted, including: “The women of this country seem very hard-working” and “The shogun sounds like a young boy.” These historical facts lend a sense of reality to the fiction, making the reader wonder if the shogun could have actually been a woman.
    The story revisits the era of the third Tokugawa Shogun Iemitsu, and it gradually becomes clear how women began to take over the traditionally male role of the shogun by adopting male names. While it’s enjoyable watching this mystery unfurl, one of the many attractions of the story is the depiction of love affairs between the shogun and the men at the Ooku.
    This manga has also been translated into English. In 2009 it received the Tiptree Award, which is awarded to literary works, including science fiction, that provides us with a greater insight into gender roles. The series is still ongoing, and ten volumes of the comic version are currently available.
    Text:ICHIMURA Masayo[2014年2月号掲載記事]


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  • 医療の限界に苦悩する孤独な医師

    [From January Issue 2014]

    Black Jack
    Dubbed the God of manga, TEZUKA Osamu continued working as a cutting edge author for over 40 years. More than 50 million copies of “Black Jack” were published and it is considered to be the masterpiece of his later years. The work was serialized in the weekly boy’s magazine Shukan Shonen Champion from 1973 through to 1983. Pioneering the new medical manga genre, it was adapted into an animated cartoon and live action movie.
    Each episode contains a complete story. In general, patients who cannot be treated by standard medical care are operated on by Black Jack. Different variations on this theme are depicted in the entirety of its 242 episodes. Black Jack is the alias used by the protagonist whose real name is HAZAMA Kuroo. When he was young, he sustained serious injuries all over his body when an unexploded shell accidentally went off.
    His life was saved by an operation, but he had scars all over his body and half of his hair went grey from the shock. His mother who had taken care of him, lost her life, and his father, who was away on a business trip to Macao at the time of the accident, choose to live with his lover, abandoning him. In order to overcome the after effects of the accident, young Kuroo tackled his tough rehabilitation all by himself. His chief physician, HONMA Joutaro supported him.
    Loving Dr. Honma just as he would his own father, when he grows up, Kuroo set his sights on becoming a doctor. Though he was an excellent medical student, he becomes an unlicensed doctor who demands vast fees. Then, he applies his exceptional surgical skills to treating patients whom other doctors have given up on and to taking on illegal work that has ties to the criminal world.
    As the story progresses, it is revealed that the reason he requests large fees is that he is gauging the determination of his patients. Black Jack’s first priority is to help the patient. Depending on the circumstances, he occasionally waives his fee. However, patients still lose their lives even if he does treat them. Faced by his inability to save lives, Black Jack is overwhelmed again and again by the limits of medicine and by his own powerlessness.
    Pinoko offers him support when he is suffering. She was supposed to be born as a twin, but only possessing a brain, internal organs and other parts, was given human form by Black Jack. She says she is 18 years old as raised for 18 years in her twin sister’s body, but she still has the body of a child. Sympathetically watching over Black Jack, Pinoko says, “The doctor seems lonely.” When there’s an operation to be done, she helps out as an assistant.
    Another side to the story comes out when Dr. Honma speaks his dying words, “Don’t you think it’s presumptuous of humans who are living creatures themselves to play with life and death?” When confronted by certain death, what can a doctor do? The work comes to no definite conclusions. He does his best for the patient in front of him, and never stops questioning even when in despair. By depicting a man who continues to waver, Tezuka points to an honest answer.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年1月号掲載記事]


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  • 音大生の姿を描いたコメディー

    [From December Issue 2013]

    Nodame Cantabile
    Set in a music college, “Nodame Cantabile” was serialized between 2001 and 2010 in the women’s manga magazine “Kiss.” “Nodame” is the nickname of protagonist NODA Megumi who is studying at the piano studies department. “Cantabile” is a musical term that means “songlike.”
    Living in a room filled with junk, Nodame is an eccentric character who sometimes emits strange cries, such as “hagya” or “mukya.” She dreams of becoming a kindergarten or elementary school teacher in the future, but she is not a diligent student at college and her grades are not so good. In fact, CHIAKI Shinichi, who attends the same college, sees that she is exceptionally talented.
    Shinichi is one year senior to Nodame and is also taking piano studies. His father is a famous pianist, so he spent his youth in European countries. He gets the best grades in piano studies, and although he is better at playing the violin, he wants to become a conductor in the future. He hopes to study abroad, but has become traumatized because of an accident in the past and is unable to travel by either airplane or ship. He is secretly anguished by the fact that he may never leave the island of Japan.
    Shinichi is handsome, is talented musically, and is good at cooking. Living in the room next door to Shinichi, Nodame forces herself on him. Other eccentric characters include a drop out from violin studies, a male timpani student who has a crush on Shinichi, and Shinichi’s proud ex-girlfriend who enrolls for choral studies and is still in love with him.
    Musical performances and classical pieces are featured in many scenes. Just as in a real college of music, the dialogue is peppered with musical terms. However, it’s been said that the author, NINOMIYA Tomoko, having no knowledge at all of classical music, thoroughly researched the subject before beginning the series. As a result, although the work was intended to be a comedy, it is also realistic. Some believe that the author is a graduate of a music college herself. The manga is popular with music students.
    However, the story centers not on music, but on the development of the characters of Nodame and Shinichi; on how Nodame changes from being a person who does not take the piano seriously, despite having had her talent recognized from an early age. It also deals with what Shinichi, who is unable to go abroad, should do in Japan. It’s an inspired work that seriously gets to grips with the world of music, while delivering laughs at the same time and is widely appreciated, even by people who have no knowledge of music. There are 25 volumes of this manga. With more than 36 million copies printed, it was a huge hit.
    When the story appeared on TV as a live action drama and animation, the number of people interested in classical music increased. On the day following a broadcast, CD shops would receive many inquiries about musical pieces used in the program. Seven sets of Nodame-related CDs were released. Increasing numbers of people attended classical concerts and purchased classical CDs, on top of the classical music fans that already existed, and a boom got underway.
    Text: ICHIMURA Masayo[2013年12月号掲載記事]


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  • ボクシングに人生をかけた男

    [From November Issue 2013]


    Ashita no Joe (Tomorrow’s Joe)

    “Ashita no Joe” (Tomorrow’s Joe) is a work that focuses on its main character, YABUKI Jou (Joe) who is a boxer. It was serialized in the weekly Shukan Shonen Magazine between 1967 and 1973. The anime version was serialized twice on TV and so far it has also been adapted into both animated and live action movies. The show had such a big impact on the public that halfway through the season when Joe’s rival RIKIISHI Tooru dies, an actual funeral service held for him was attended by approximately 700 fans.

    At the beginning of the story, Joe appears drifting aimlessly through a downtown district. He does not have any family, and we do not know where he came from, or how he lived up until then. Many day laborers live in the area. Joe meets TANGE Danpei there. A former boxer, Danpei recognizes Joe’s talent and tries to turn Joe into a first-class boxer. However, far from responding to Tange’s enthusiasm, Joe gets mixed up in crime, is arrested then sent to a reform school.

    There he encounters Rikiishi who is destined to be his rival. Joe has never lost a fight before, but is defeated by Rikiishi. When he discovers that Rikiishi was a professional boxer, he seriously takes up boxing. NISHI Kanichi, one of his friends at reform school who also later becomes a boxer, senses that Joe becomes unhappier as his strength increases. His unease, like a bad omen, brings an air of tension to the story.

    Rikiishi and Joe intend to fight each other as professional boxers after they are released from reform school, but there is a big problem. They are ranked in a different class as there is a weight difference between the two. In order to fight, Rikiishi goes on a strict diet to bring his weight under the limit. Although Rikiishi wins after a desperate struggle through eight rounds, he dies right after the match from a brain hemorrhage caused by weight loss and damage sustained during the fight.

    The final blow to Rikiishi was a punch to the temple and, suffering from guilt over killing Rikiishi, Joe can no longer bring himself to deliver this punch. Even though he is repeatedly defeated, Joe cannot give up boxing. Carlos RIVIERA, the uncrowned emperor, arrives on the scene. Rising to the challenge of Carlos’ seemingly unlimited ability, Joe overcomes his trauma. During his match with Carlos, Joe fights intensely, delivering punches to his opponent’s face.

    After the match against Joe, Carlos is knocked out in a World title match against Jose MENDOZA. Suffering from punch drunk syndrome there is no hope that Carlos will recover. Moreover, the rumor spreads that it was not Jose who inflicted the damage on Carlos, but Joe, who he had fought right before the title match. At the same time Joe had been trying to suppress the weight he’d gained through his natural physical development, by undergoing an impossible weight loss program.

    Furthermore, Joe has also been affected by punch drunk syndrome, too. Those close to him recommend retirement, but, just like the late Rikiishi, he pushes his body to the limit and challenges Jose to a potentially fatal confrontation. The depictions of Joe’s victories and struggles are not romanticized or glorified, which is all the more reason why Joe’s vigorous dedication to boxing is so touching.

    Text: HATTA Emiko












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  • 獣医を目指す学生たちのゆかいな日常を描く

    [From October Issue 2013]


    Doubutsu no Oishasan (The Animal Doctor)

    “Doubutsu no Oishasan” (The Animal Doctor) is a manga for girls serialized from 1987 to 1993 in the magazine “Hana to Yume.” A comical portrait of the lives of students studying in veterinary school, it was a big hit. The action takes place in the veterinary department of H University, Sapporo City, Hokkaido. The main character is NISHINE Masaki – nicknamed Hamuteru. He is a quiet young man who lives with his grandmother, Mike the cat, Hiyo-chan the rooster, a Mongolian gerbil, and Chobi the Siberian husky dog.

    The story begins when Hamuteru and his pet dog Chobi meet for the first time. One night, lost on the grounds of H University, high school student Hamuteru stumbles upon Chobi the puppy. When Chobi’s owner, Professor URUSHIHARA, decides to hand the puppy over to Hamuteru, he makes a strange prediction: “In the future, you will become a vet.”

    Hamuteru, of course, does not believe in the prediction. However he begins to believe that if his pet got sick, “Curing him myself would definitely be quicker and in terms of costs, it would be economical.” He then makes a decision to become a veterinarian. After entering the veterinary department and embarking on his student life, he surrounds himself with unique individuals such as his best friend NIKAIDO who hates mice, and the graduate student HISHINUMA Seiko who does things at her own pace.

    One of the unique aspects of these comics is that it depicts the rarely seen world of the veterinary department. Despite the comedy, the story is moving, being a realistic portrayal of veterinary students; their worries about the future and difficulties with exams.

    Part of the work’s charm is the lively descriptions of the animals that appear one after another. In addition to Hamuteru’s pets, his encounters with horses, cows, pigs, flying squirrels, and various birds are depicted. Siberian husky dogs became popular after this manga became a hit.

    In manga, lines spoken by characters are usually written in so called speech bubbles, but in this series, while dialogue spoken by humans is written inside speech bubbles, animal dialogue is written outside the speech bubbles. This technique gives the reader the sense that animals and humans are actually talking to each other.

    Besides writing this story about a veterinary department, the author SASAKI Noriko has also published detailed and humorous works about restaurants, nurses and newscasters. Adapted into a live action TV drama in 2003, the work was also published in electronic form for the Kindle this year.

    Text: SHIBATA Rie












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  • 苦難に立ち向かい成長する少年たちの物語

    [From September Issue 2013]


    Fullmetal Alchemist

    Serialized in the monthly boy’s magazine “Gan Gan” from 2001 to 2010, this story mainly takes place in the imaginary country of Amestris. It is a popular work with over 61 million copies printed in book form. The issue of the magazine that ran the final episode sold out, despite the fact that 20% more copies were printed than usual. The same episode was reprinted two months later for those who missed the chance to buy this issue.

    The protagonists, siblings Edward ELRIC (Ed) and Alphonse ELRIC (Al), are both alchemists. In the story, alchemy is a form of technological research founded on advanced theory. This theory is based on the law of equivalent exchange. As it’s impossible to get something for nothing, in order to get hold of something, you must exchange it for something of equivalent value; this is the main theme of the story.

    Through their training in the art of alchemy, Ed and Al learn this principle. But their real goal is to bring their mother back to life. Resurrection of a human body is forbidden and their attempts end in failure. Having exceeded the alchemist’s law of equivalent exchange, Ed loses his left leg, and Al loses his entire physical body in compensation. In addition, Ed loses his right arm in order to bring Al’s soul back and house it in a suit of armor.

    Devastated, Ed is advised by MUSTANG, a member of the Amestrian State Army to try to become an alchemist for the state. Mustang says that the privileges granted to a state alchemist will come in handy as in order to recover his own body, Ed must obtain the Philosopher’s Stone and gain a deeper knowledge of alchemy. But this also means that Ed is enlisted in the army. If war breaks out, he will be obliged to fight as a human weapon.

    Strengthening his resolve, Ed becomes a state alchemist. After this, he replaces his lost arm and leg with prostheses called Automail (automotive armor) and is granted the title of “Fullmetal Alchemist.” Ed and Al will face up to the homunculi (cyborgs), a man who targets State Alchemists, as well as to foreign citizens who want to get hold of stones. Soon they find out that the Philosopher’s Stone is made from human souls, and the two become caught up in a great

    It all began a long time ago with the accidental creation of a homunculus in the kingdom of Xerxes. “It,” was simply a black substance in a flask, but through alchemy it acquired the Philosopher’s Stone and a body in exchange for Xerxesian citizens. After this, over a long period, the homunculi attempted to gain divine power by using alchemy in exchange for all the souls of the Amestrian people.

    In order to thwart their plan, old enemies and people from various walks of life join forces with Ed. Many people are sacrificed in the midst of the battle until at last Ed faces the homunculi on his own. Throughout the story the law of equivalent exchange is put into practice and against the odds, Ed has to rise to the occasion numerous times. He is devastated when he makes a mistake and loses a close friend, but bounces back stronger than ever. This is an ambitious work that paints a portrait of the suffering boys face during the process of growing up.

    Text: HATTA Emiko











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  • 人と自然の共存を願う少女の物語

    [From August Issue 2013]


    Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind

    This is a work by MIYAZAKI Hayao, the world renowned director of animated films. It was serialized in the anime magazine “Animage” from 1982 to 1994. In 1984, an animated movie of the same title, directed by the author himself, was released, receiving rave reviews. The story is set on the Eurasian Continent in the distant future; since the “Seven Days of Fire” war, industrially developed civilization has collapsed.

    The main character, Nausicaä, is named after a princess from the island of Scheria who appears in Greek myths. Nausicaä is also modeled on the Japanese folk heroine, Mushi Mezuru Himegimi (the Princess Who Loved Insects), who appears in a short story collection written during the Heian period (8th to 12th centuries) called “Tsutsumi Chunagon Monogatari.” Both the Greek princess and Mushi Mezuru Himegimi are described as being young women who delight in living in harmony with flowers, birds and insects. Just like the princesses, Nausicaä also has a deep love of nature.

    Nausicaä particularly loves insects (gigantic creatures that live in the Sea of Decay) called Ohmu and she can read their inner thoughts. She occasionally visits the Toxic Jungle; a dead forest also named the Sea of Decay, home not only to the Ohmu but to a wide variety of giant mutated insects. The inhabitants of the Valley of the Wind do not approve of Nausicaä’s visits to the Toxic Jungle. This is because it’s a wasteland, contaminated with pollution from previous civilizations and covered with fungi that release poisonous spores.

    In the forest, without the use of protective masks, human lungs are destroyed within five minutes. However, the forest is gradually spreading and is about to engulf the world inhabited by humans. Living close to the Sea of Decay, the population of the Valley of the Wind is dwindling year by year because of the toxins released by the forest. The human race is fated to gradually die out, but the discovery of the God Warrior, a biological weapon that scorched the world during the “Seven Days of Fire,” changes things.

    The kingdom of Tolmekia has acquired the God Warrior and starts a war by invading the Doruku kingdom. As the tribal leader of the Valley of the Wind, Nausicaä joins the Tolmekian forces. To lead her kingdom to victory, the Tolmekian Princess Kushana plans to reactivate the God Warrior. At first, not wanting to annihilate life, whether it be that of friend of foe, Nausicaä stands up to Kushana.

    Although a bond grows between the two during intense fighting, eventually they cannot help but go their separate ways. To reactivate the God Warrior, Kushana teams up with the king of the Dorok Empire. But the awakened God Warrior dearly loves Nausicaä and calls her mother. In order to put the God Warrior back to sleep and discover the destiny of the polluted world, Nausicaä heads for the Crypt of Shuwa which holds the secret key to the world.

    Nausicaä discovers the cruel truth that “the Sea of Decay is not the cause of the pollution, but exists is to cleanse the world of toxic substances scattered during the Seven Days of Fire. Because humans have adapted to the toxins in the Sea of Decay, they mustn’t continue to live after the world is purified.” When the story concludes, this film leaves us wondering whether the decision Nausicaä makes after this was correct, or whether she has made a mistake. This work makes you ponder what you would have done in her shoes.

    Text: HATTA Emiko











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  • 数々の事件を解決していく国民的推理コミック

    [From July Issue 2013]


    Detective Conan (Case Closed)

    First published in 1994 in the “Weekly Shonen Sunday,” “Detective Conan (Case Closed)” is an ongoing manga mystery series. It depicts the life of KUDO Shinichi, a high school student and detective, whose body has been shrunk by a mysterious organization. Going by the name of EDOGAWA Conan, Kudo solves difficult cases one after the other. So far, 79 volumes of the comic have been released. The TV animation that began in 1996 is still being broadcast and there have also been animated film versions and TV dramas. It’s a series popular with both children and adults.

    One day, Shinichi goes to an amusement park with his childhood friend, MORI Ran. There, he observes the mysterious organization (the Black Organization) making a deal. The members detect his presence and force him to swallow some poison. When he comes to, the poison has taken effect and he has the body of a child. Believing that if this becomes public knowledge, it will put the people around him in danger, he begins to hide his true identity and goes by the name of Edogawa Conan.

    In order to gather information about the organization, Conan goes to stay with Ran and her detective father, MORI Kogoro. Helped by inventor AGASA Hiroshi – who knows Conan’s true identity – he uses the tools that Agasa has developed, such as a bowtie-shaped voice changer and a wristwatch-shaped tranquilizing gun, to solve case after case, in Kogoro’s place, in order to get to the heart of the mystery surrounding the Black Organization.

    Besides Agasa, Conan’s true identity is also known to: Shinichi’s parents, HATTORI Heiji, a high school student detective from Osaka, and HAIBARA Ai, a former member of the Black Organization, who, just like Shinichi, was transformed into a child after being poisoned. Just like Conan, Haibara was enrolled in the same first-grade class at Teitan Elementary School. She carries out research into antidotes at Agasa’s. She’s the only person with whom Conan shares the same fate.

    Sometimes Conan teams up with his classmates to form a five-strong detective team: with the bubbly YOSHIDA Ayumi; TSUBURAYA Mitsuhiko, whose powers of reasoning put adults to shame; KOJIMA Genta, a headstrong muscular guy; and Haibara. When the FBI and the CIA turn up in pursuit of the Black Organization, or interesting characters, such as Conan’s arch enemy, Phantom Thief Kid, appear, things get even more exciting.

    Many episodes deal with the love affairs of people close to Conan, including detectives in the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. The affair between detectives TAKAGI Wataru and SATO Miwako is a recurring theme. Though Tagaki and Sato are in a relationship, Sato is so popular with male colleagues that they are always trying to get between them. The writer himself describes the series as a “murder mystery romantic comedy manga.”

    Detective Conan is so popular that a movie adaptation has been released in theatres every year since 1997. These movies are always big box-office hits. The 17th movie version, “Private Eye in the Distant Sea,” was released in April. Can Conan reveal the true identity of the Black Organization? Will Shinichi return to his normal size? And where is his relationship with Ran going?

    Text: YAMASHINA Saori












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