Tag Archive: Japanese culture


 

Review by C.J. Bunce

Six have been chosen by their clans.  New dangers have arisen, and they must work together and learn to fight for each other to achieve their mission, ridding the land of new threats.  Unfortunately none of these chosen warriors trust each other.  We meet the cast of characters in the first chapter of Rising Sun, a new comic book series from IDW Publishing set in 12th century Japan, based on the 2017 CMON Limited tabletop board game Rising Sun, where clans must use politics, strength, and honor to rule the land.  The story was created by Skylanders writers Ron Marz and David Rodriguez.

Readers follow Chiyoku of the Koi Clan as she confronts a dragon who fells a fellow warrior.  The introductory issue paints Chiyoku like a cross between the DC Comics character Katana, Disney’s Mulan, or China’s Lotus Rong on a journey Red Sonja might take–It’s drawn in the style we’ve seen of Red Sonja on her bloody adventures with similar sweeping action.  Artist Martin Coccolo (Star Trek: Year Five) renders characters that are lifelike and recognizable from panel to panel.  The costumes and vibrant color work by Katrina Mae Hao bring along a realistic, historical vibe to the world of the game (check out the core Rising Sun game and expansion packs here at Amazon).

 

Readers encounter a similar pantheon of color-styled clans as we met in the movie The Great Wall, this time the red Koi clan, the orange Fox clan, the purple Lotus clan, the gold Bonsai clan, the blue Dragonfly clan, and the green Turtle clan.  As a bonus for gamers, the first issue includes an appendix with suggested game modifications.

It has vivid action and beautiful characters, presenting a good beginning for the series.  Here is a preview of the first issue of Rising Sun, plus some cover art (above) for the first three issues, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

Few comic book stories this year presented both a unique idea and a perfect pairing of writer and artist.  Previewed here earlier this year, IDW’s limited mini-series Ghost Tree is coming to comic book and book stores this week for the first time in a single, collected, graphic novel edition.  Prepare yourself for a refreshingly slow-paced supernatural journey into the past for a young Japanese expatriate.  His name is Brandt, and he is returning to the home of his youth because of a promise made to his grandfather a decade ago.  He is drawn from the U.S. to his grandmother’s home in Japan, and a fated meeting in the woods nearby.

Evoking folk tales like Momotarō and Bao, writer Bobby Curnow (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and artist Simon Gane (Godzilla) painted a touching, engaging, and haunting snippet from Japanese culture, bridging two generations, with a tale steeped in the otherworldly realm of so many Asian legends.  Like Kim Eun-hee’s Kingdom, it bridges genresThis is not horror, despite some mildly shocking imagery, but a story of possibility, connections, and learning from the past.  It’s a journey of self-discovery for grown-up Brandt, but what more can he learn from his grandfather now that his grandfather is gone?  Who is waiting for him in the woods and what does his grandmother know of it?  Learning from mistakes and regret, a haunted tree, and an assembly of souls that are drawn to it, plus monsters, an old girlfriend, and disembodied samurai?  It sounds strange, but it works.

  

The great color work is provided by colorist Ian Herring.  If shades of green are your thing, this series is for you.  Herring’s choices make for a great combination with Gane, whose artwork frequently pulls readers into a myriad of fascinating cultural settings.  Herring’s limited palette of colors is the perfect soothing addition to Bobby Curnow’s story–all three combining to make a perfect book.  Gane’s beautiful style is his own, but it evokes works we’ve seen from great comic artists like Moebius, Milo Manara, and 1980s Frank Miller.

Here is a preview of the new trade edition of Ghost Tree, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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Review by C.J. Bunce

As you drift along through IDW’s new mini-series, Ghost Tree, don’t be surprised if the story evokes Japanese folk tales, like Momotarō or last year’s Oscar-winning animated short film Bao.  Unlike so many comic book stories today, Ghost Tree is not an action-driven spectacle, but a refreshingly slow supernatural journey into the past for a young Japanese expatriate.  His name is Brandt, and he is returning to the home of his youth because of a promise made to his grandfather a decade ago.  And that takes him to a meeting in the woods near his grandmother’s home.

Writer Bobby Curnow (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) and artist Simon Gane (Godzilla) paint a delightful, engaging, and haunting snippet from Japanese culture, bridging two generations, with a tale steeped in the otherworldly realm of so many Asian legends.  Take Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo and merge it with something spooky that awaits in the forest–like something just this side of the dark of Kim Eun-hee’s Kingdom–and you’ll find the setting for Ghost Tree.  

  

It’s a journey of self-discovery for grown-up Brandt, but what more can he learn from his grandfather now that he’s gone?  Can he help the lost souls in the woods and take home lessons from his grandmother to solve his own problems?  Learning from mistakes and regret, a haunted tree, and an assembly of souls that are drawn to it, plus monsters, and disembodied samurai?  It’s no wonder the first printing of Issue #1 has already sold out in pre-orders.  What prompted the advance sell-out?  The description or that creepy character standing atop the cliff?  Whatever the reason, the first chapter matches the hype.  It’s coming to your local comic shop this week, and if you happen to miss it, don’t worry because the second printing is close behind.

Take a look at this preview of Issue #1 of Ghost Tree, courtesy of IDW Publishing:

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The Wolverine Japan theme poster

By Jason McClain (@JTorreyMcClain)

It’s strange to be reading December 1941: 31 Days that Changed America and Saved the Worldby Craig Shirley and read all of the vitriol directed against Japanese people in the days after Pearl Harbor in the summations of newspaper accounts.  I know that not using derogative terms to talk about groups of people is a relatively new concept, but looking at the headlines and words used in newspapers still gave me pause.  (The more things change, the more they stay the same, as the chapter I just read mentioned Clark Griffith, owner of the Washington Redskins.)

I recently saw The Wolverine and it begins at the other side of the story of WWII, nearly four years after Pearl Harbor when the sovereign land of the Japanese was hit with atomic bombs in Hiroshima and Nagasaki from the planes of the United States.  Logan is a prisoner of war in a special constructed cell that buries him in a hole well beneath the surface of the earth.  A bomber passes overhead. A Japanese officer rushes to release POWs from their jails.  He finally cuts the lock from Logan’s cage as well after a bit of deliberation and joins his fellow officers as they face the horizon in the position to commit seppuku before the bomb hits Nagasaki.

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