80s memories

This is Shigeru Mizuki

He was born March 8 1922 and passed away November 30 2015 at age 93.

Mizuki-san was a manga-ka and historian, most famous for his Kitaro manga, Which he started publishing in 1960.

I could give a textbook account of him and everything he’s done and his influence on Japanese culture and revival of the interest in Yokai in Japan as a whole, but I just want to point out some very small things about him;

The first is, unlike a lot of Manga-ka of the 60s, Mizuki did not learn to draw Manga from Tezuka’s school…. or any school at all. He was one of those weird ‘natural talents’ you always hear about but actual examples of are hard to find. Mizuki was one such person. He just inately knew how to draw. And as a result, despite influences from other manga at the time, his characters generally don’t resemble what we think of when we think of ‘60s manga’

Not to mention that, despite his preferred art style, he was diverse in what he could do with how he drew, easily going from his more cartoony drawings to a more realistic style, sometimes doing both at once.

Mizuki-san was drafted into the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII, and during the war contracted malaria and lost his left arm during an explosion.

He was left-handed.

However, despite disease, losing his drawing-hand, being the only surviving member of his unit and literally being ‘ordered to die’ by his superiors, Mizuki survived the war and taught himself to draw with his right hand and just kept going.

His manga that he’s famous for were all done after he lost his dominant arm.

All his manga have a personal autobiographical touch to them. Whether it’s “Showa” which is literally a historical account of what Japan was like from the 20s to the 80s, to Kitaro, which is about the stories of Yokai told to him by his elderly neighbour, all his manga have something personal about them.

He is a cultural icon in Japan for keeping traditional ghost stories and creatures alive in the modern consciousness, as well as his contributions to Japanese history regarding WWII. He traveled the world, gathering ghost stories and traditional folklore from other countries as well.

He’s been awarded a string of awards I’m not even gonna attempt to list, although personally I feel most noteworthy is the ‘Personal of Cultural Merit’ award in 2010 and the ‘Order of the Rising Sun’ Award.

But again, that is his importance historically and culturally, whereas I find his personal struggles regarding the loss of his arm and just relearning how to draw something more personal to know as an artist.

With this in mind, He is also noteworthy for never really following the idea that most manga-ka of the time had that ‘you only need 3 hours sleep a night’ or to keep working without rest. Mizuki never really followed that belief. He got a full night’s sleep every night, and fully believed in actually LIVING life, and not just spending your entire life behind a desk, drawing.

He later joked offhandedly that at age 90 he was still around whereas everyone else of the same time period making manga had long since died.

I feel this is incredibly important to remember. Tezuka believed in working non-stop and barely sleeping. And he is undoubtedly the most important contributor to what we think of as manga today. But Mizuki-san, who is just as important to Japanese culture, believed in sleeping well, living life, and being happy. And he was ALSO important, created amazing work, and is recognized as a master.

You don’t need to work yourself to death to be an artist.

Mizuki-san had a list of ‘7 rules to happiness’, which I honestly feel is worth remembering. It may be things we’ve heard before, but this coming from a man, who went through active war, lost limbs, nearly died,retaught himself how to draw because he wasn’t able to give up, made an impact on Japanese culture, believed in living life, refused to overwork himself and lived to the age of 93, it feels like you can trust his advice. because he’s someone who’s seen some serious shit, but he was happy, and he’d learned how to be happy. And from what I’ve heard remained happy and content until he died of natural causes.

Number 1

‘Don’t try to win – Success is not the measure of life. Just do what you enjoy. Be happy.’

Number 2

‘Follow your curiosity – Do what you feel drawn towards, almost like a compulsion. What you would do without money or reward.’

Number 3

‘Pursue what you enjoy – Don’t worry if other people find you foolish. Look at all the people in the world who are eccentric—they are so happy! Follow your own path.’

Number 4

‘Believe in the power of love – Doing what you love, being with people you love. Nothing is more important.’

Number 5

‘Talent and income are unrelated – Money is not the reward of talent and hard work. Self-satisfaction is the goal. Your efforts are worthy if you do what you love.’

Number 6

‘Take it easy – Of course you need to work, but don’t overdo it! Without rest, you’ll burn yourself out.’

Number 7

‘Believe in what you cannot see – The things that mean the most are things you cannot hold in your hand.’

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Answerman - What Were VHS Fansubs Like?
Back in the 80s and 90s anime fansubs were distributed entirely on VHS tape - a whole ecosystem of tape sharing and trading that no longer exists. Justin breaks it down.

ANN’s latest Answerman column is a look at the era of The Fansubbed VHS Days, for those of you who’re too young to have experienced it first hand. Read on and educate yourself!

Random questions
  • 1. Do you bite or lick ice cream?
  • 2. What is home to you?
  • 3. What was the last lie you told?
  • 4. Does everyone deserve the truth?
  • 5. What is the creepiest toy ever made?
  • 6. Describe a moment in which you did something unacceptable in a bad situation.
  • 7. List two things that are more easily done than said. (No, I didn't mix them up.)
  • 8. When was the last time you worked really hard to achieve something?
  • 9. How many all nighters have you pulled?
  • 10. If humans didn't evolve to laugh or smile, how would we express our happiness instead?
  • 11. How many romantic "things" or "flings" have you had?
  • 12. What is your paradise?
  • 13. What is your favorite background noise? (Ex. Water dripping, people talking.)
  • 14. How many hearts do you think you have broken?
  • 15. What is the most important thing about electronics? What does this say about you?
  • 16. Why do people care about celebrities? Do you care about celebrities?
  • 17. What is the most annoying thing someone can do to you?
  • 18. Do you overexaggerate? What are the pros and cons of this?
  • 19. Have you played any instruments before? Which instruments?
  • 20. Do you like taking selfies? Why or why not?
  • 21. List 3 things you like about yourself?
  • 22. What is the best advice someone has ever given you?
  • 23. Do you have what it takes to raise a child? Why or why not?
  • 24. How do you cheer yourself up after a bad day?
  • 25. When was the last time you felt awkward?
  • 26. Are you introverted or extroverted? Or a mixture of both?
  • 27. What constitutes a good friend?
  • 28. Would you rather have a lot of friends to hang out with or just one best friend?
  • 29. In a regular day, what do you not want to hear?
  • 30. What is your dream job?
  • 31. Is it better to be lazy but smart or hardworking but unintelligent?
  • 32. What is a truth about yourself that others find hard to believe?
  • 33. What have you always wondered about the other gender?
  • 34. Which fantasy world would you like to visit the most?
  • 35. Describe the worst friend you have ever befriended.
  • 36. Imagine that you have switched bodies with someone you don't know. You can't switch back. What do you do?
  • 37. If you found the recipe for immortality, would you sell it or would you burn it?
  • 38. What is the most important, applicable class you have ever taken?
  • 39. Name the last book you read.
  • 40. Imagine that you are unable to express emotion. How would this affect your world?
  • 41. When was the last time you made the first move?
  • 42. What is your opinion on electronic music such as dubstep or trap?
  • 43. What was the last movie you watched?
  • 44. Do you like and appreciate your life?
  • 45. Do you like and appreciate yourself?
  • 46. When was the last time you cried?
  • 47. What are you scared of?
  • 48. What is the most embarrassing, cringe-worthy thing you have ever done?
  • 49. What are some of your hobbies?
  • 50. What is a superficial yet annoying mistake you constantly make?
  • 51. Are you a good friend? What makes you a good friend? If not, what makes you a bad friend?
  • 52. Do you honestly learn from your mistakes?
  • 53. What have you learned the hard way?
  • 54. What is the most important thing to have in order to attain happiness?
  • 55. Which medium do you use for expressing your artistic emotions? (Singing, writing, etc.)
  • 56. Are you a creative or a logical thinker?
  • 57. What is the smartest thing you have ever done?
  • 58. What is your ideal meal?
  • 59. What is the worst thing someone could do on a date?
  • 60. Do you like animals? Which kind is your favorite?
  • 61. If you could turn one legal thing illegal, what would it be?
  • 62. Do you have any guilty pleasures?
  • 63. What is the best thing that the internet has ever created?
  • 64. Do you like playing video games? Which video games?
  • 65. What is your opinion on beauty in today's society?
  • 66. Are you a morning person? When do you usually wake up?
  • 67. Do you have a favorite Disney movie? Character?
  • 68. Would you rather live in the city or in the countryside?
  • 69. Would you rather live near the ocean or in the mountains?
  • 70. What are the best things about winter?
  • 71. What scares you most about the future?
  • 72. What makes you feel old?
  • 73. How many hours do you spend on the computer or phone on average?
  • 74. What are some of your New Year's resolutions?
  • 75. What is your life story in 6 words?
  • 76. Describe yourself in one word.
  • 77. What bad habits do you do?
  • 78. What genre of music do you listen to?
  • 79. Most prominent childhood memory?
  • 80. Imagine if you had an older brother. If you already have one, what is it like? If you don't, how would this change your life?
  • 81. Spirit animal?
  • 82. Do you believe in horoscopes?
  • 83. What is the worst advice you've ever been given?
  • 84. List the 3 most important people in your life right now.
  • 85. Favorite memory of your family.
  • 86. What do you look for in a relationship?
  • 87. Do you have a role model? Why or why not?
  • 88. What is your opinion on social media?
  • 89. Are you a pessimist or an optimist?
  • 90. List some things that you think are overpriced?
  • 91. What is your worst memory or creepiest experience?
  • 92. What superpower would ruin the world?
  • 93. What is something you swore you would never do when you grew up, but you did anyway?
  • 94. What lessons have you learned from movies and which movies were they?
  • 95. If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
  • 96. How do you approach people?
  • 97. What is your opinion on first impressions?
  • 98. What are some things you did as a child that you no longer do?
  • 99. What languages can you speak?
  • 100. What do you think society will be like in 30 years?
  • 101. What do you do on your lazy days?
  • 102. What ended your last relationship?
  • 103. Favorite food?
  • 104. What is the most terrifying dream you've ever had?
  • 105. When was the last time you got seriously angry?
  • 106. What was the last friendship you broke?
  • 107. Do you have any pet peeves?
  • 108. Who was the last person you gave a hug to?
  • 109. When was the last time you got seriously stressed?
  • 110. What part of your personality do you want to change?
  • 111. Who is the most positively influential person in your life right now?
  • 112. What is your biggest motivation?
  • 113. What did you want to be when you were little?
  • 114. What are some things that you are good at?
  • 115. What is one thing you want to be good at?
  • 116. What distracts you the most, especially when you're trying to work?
  • 117. How important is privacy to you?
  • 118. If you could create one social norm, what would it be?
  • 119. What's the craziest lie you've ever told?
  • 120. What story do you like to tell about yourself at parties?
  • 121. What is the lamest thing that you have seen someone do?
  • 122. What is the stupidest thing you've done to impress someone?
  • 123. What is your morning routine?
  • 124. What's the last thing you did that is worth remembering?
  • 125. If karma was coming back to you, would it help or hurt you?
  • 126. What is your opinion on playing "hard to get?"
  • 127. What are the pros and cons of straightforward?
  • 128. What do you consider "leading" someone on?
  • 129. Are you the friendzoner or the friendzoned?
  • 130. What do you admire most about your friends?
  • 131. What do you admire most about your family?
  • 132. What is your opinion on "going with the flow?"
  • 133. Do you enjoy talking or listening?
  • 134. When is it time to end a friendship?
  • 135. What is the worst excuse you've ever come up with?
  • 136. If GPA didn't matter, what courses would you have taken?
  • 137. What are your favorite baby names?
  • 138. When was the last time you had a deep conversation with someone?
  • 139. What instantly ruins a conversation?
  • 140. Biggest turn ons and turn on offs.
  • 141. Biggest disappointment.
  • 142. Do you have any self-restraint?
  • 143. When did you last do something outside of your comfort zone?
  • 144. Prized possession(s)?
  • 145. What is your opinion on second chances?
  • 146. Text or call?
  • 147. What do you like about the 21st century?
  • 148. What advice would you give to yourself 5 years ago?
  • 149. How organized are you?
  • 150. Favorite mode of transportation.
Alternate Futurescape: The Bubblegum Crisis We Never Got

Bubblegum Crisis, the cult classic anime OAV first released in Japan on February 25, 1987, was a huge hit with anime fans in the west. Released by AnimEigo in America the early 90s, it was one of the first titles available subtitled in Japanese unedited–a rarity in the US at the time. But if things had gone differently, the release of Bubblegum Crisis we could have gotten would have been VERY different.

Enter GAGA Communications, a Japanese TV & Theatrical marketing company hoping to break into distributing anime in America. With OAVs being a booming market in 1987 Japan, they wanted to see if they could tap into the American home video audience (which was also seeing a boom). With the right marketing, GAGA was hoping to sublicense anime titles to the fledgling anime audience growing there at the time. So in 1988, GAGA Communications put together a promo reel to pitch to potential companies. This reel included a lot of titles considered cult classics of anime today, such as Project A-ko and They Were 11, but there was one big difference: Their names and concepts had been drastically edited by GAGA. Project A-ko became “SuperNova”, They Were 11 became “Star Odyssey”…and Bubblegum Crisis became “FutureScape”.

The trailer for their Bubblegum Crisis retooling is an amusing & genuinely interesting time capsule of what some executives thought would be appealing to anime fans in the English-speaking world. If you watch the trailer, there’s a few things that go unchanged: Genom is still mentioned by name. The music from the series plays unaltered throughout. Priss (though not mentioned by name) is still a rock singer. But the tone of the story described in the English narration feels like a much different one. Where Bubblegum Crisis’ Knight Sabers were a mercenary team that’d take any job for the right price, FutureScape’s “Night Saviors” were advertised as “Four girls who will accept no money in their never ending battle against the Boomers!“ Fans familiar with Bubblegum Crisis and the Knight Saber mercenary group that were mostly motivated by revenge would probably have been a little more than shocked to see them instead portrayed as a super-heroine team fighting for “freedom and justice” under the new name of “The Night Saviors”. And while GAGA was trying to sell these titles as subtitled Japanese shows, they also tried to strip out as many Japanese elements as possible, hoping to make an easier sell to American companies. MegaTokyo is now just a nameless futuristic city backdrop, and none of the characters are given names–possibly leaving that open to whoever wanted to buy this new version to decide.

Touted as using the “latest in animated techniques created especially for the rock video generation”, it’s not hard to see what kind of crowd they thought Bubblegum Crisis would be best to sell to at the time. And while they weren’t THAT far from the mark (the series’ music WAS a huge draw & selling point for the series, both in Japan and America), altering the tone of the original story probably didn’t do them any favors in marketing it to the slightly older, “edgier” crowd.

But we all know how this story ends, of course. GAGA Communications’ versions of anime never got past some rough ideas and this 30+ minute promo reel, and Bubblegum Crisis was released here complete & unedited. (Ironically, when they initially made this reel, only the first 3 OAVs had even been made, which is why they describe it as a 3-part feature.) Now, much like Toon Maker’s infamous American Sailor Moon pitch, GAGA Communications & their ridiculous ideas like “FutureScape” are a reminder of just how far we’ve come when it comes to anime releases in North America nearly 30 years later.

  • An old friend: Remember when x thing happened?? Good times!
  • Me, internally: No I do not remember, I have no memory of 80% of my life and the things I do remember are incredibly fuzzy. The combination of semi-constant dissociation and poor cognitive abilities has left me with practically no long term memory at all.
  • Me, externally: Ahaha yeah good times!