ninja shinobu-san

2018-02-18 LINCOLN CITY, OREGON, USA -- For the last week or so, I read Yuzuchiri's manga "Ninja Shinobu-san no junjou" (Ninja Shinobu's pure heart) so many times that I memorized most of the dialog.

Yuzuchiri and I share our alma mater. Here is a self-portrait from his semi-fictional autobiography.

I bought the Amazon kindle ebook. Easier to buy, carry, store, and read in bed. No dust to trigger allergic reactions. But impossible to get autographs.

The heroine Shinobu is shy and cute just like Noriko.

Shinobu's girlfriend Kazumi plays trumpet.

A frog makes a crucial guest appearance. He must be Kerochan's friend!

The story ended on Noriko's birthday, and the last comic book was published on my birthday. The coincidences are endless!


girls und panzer

2017-05-20 OOARAI, JAPAN -- We made the pilgrimage to Ooarai, home of the anime and manga series "Girls und Panzer". No, I will not explain what that is. Look it up yourself, like a good otaku.

First stop: Marine Tower.

On the 2nd floor from the top there is a maid cafe called "Panzer Vor".

Early lunch amidst blueprints of tanks and tables covered with camouflage fabric.

We must definitely return, if only to fill out the frequent-diner's membership card.

The entire town is full of "Girls und Panzer" memorabilia and themed-items.

The Ooarai Isomae Jinja (a local shrine) attracts people wishing to become manga artists. The hopefuls draw their pleas on wooden plates for the gods.

We discovered wonderful frog statues.

Pink frog good luck charms. Irresistible!

manga prize shikishi

2017-04-04 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The monthly manga magazine "Sunday Super" sent me a shikishi picture board featuring 4 female characters appearing in current stories.

A description of the prize on Sunday Super's website.

Big envelope = big smile!

Displayed it on my bookcase.

manga postcards

2017-01-09 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- A pleasant surprise was waiting for us when we returned to Sapporo after visiting our family in Tokyo and Kanagawa.

The Shonen Sunday manga magazine sent me 2 new year's postcards with manga art. The 1st is
"指定暴力少女しおみちゃん" (Shiomi, the organized crime girl) by Kazuro Inouye, my favorite manga artist.

The 2nd is
"Ryoko" by Kaito Mitsuhashi. This series began a few months ago. I am already taken by the artwork. Ryoko is the main character (pictured below) who hunts gigantic vegetables that have become sentient animals through botched genetic engineering. Ryoko's storyline is similar to "eat or be eaten" motif that is becoming popular, for instance by Ryoko Kui's "ダンジョン飯" (Delicious in dungeon).

Each month I send Shonen Sunday postcards hoping that I would win a prize. I did win several months ago. In December I sent 4 postcards and won 2 prizes. Thanks Shonen Sunday!

library talk

2016-11-30 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai North Library invited us to give a workshop on learning phrases in context by using manga and books in L1 (a language you are familiar with) and their translations in L2 (a language you wish to learn).

We expected a tiny audience of somewhere around 3, which was the number of people who told us they might come. 34 people showed up -- a mix of faculty, administrative staff, and grad and undergrad students. Noriko and I were ecstatic.
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The workshop took 97 minutes, consisting of (1) 5 minutes of introduction by the library staff, (2) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining the merits of reading identical material in L1 and L2, (3) 10 minutes of lecture by me explaining how manga and anime are appreciated in America and Europe, (4) 27 minutes of hands-on activity by students under my guidance, (5) 30 minutes of hands-on activity by students divided into groups (each table received different language material), and (6) 15 minutes of sharing results from each group of students.
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Students first found corresponding phrases in L1 and L2, then used the L2 phrases to construct new messages, and lastly shared their results with the other participants.
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Many thanks to Kyoko Jo and Yuji Nonaka for organizing the event! In the picture below, they are standing 3rd and 2nd from the far right.
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library talk

2016-11-11 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- The Hokudai north library invited me to give a workshop on reading in 2 languages. The talk is on 2016-11-30 from 18:15 to 19:45 in the north library, 3rd floor group study zone.

The idea is that by reading your favorite manga or books in L1 (the language you already know) and L2 (the language you want to learn), you can read the books you love in L2, and learn phrases without looking up words in the dictionary. Manga gives graphical context, which provides the nuances of social relationships that are so important to the Japanese psyche. Manga (and to a limited extent novels) provide spoken language expressions in written form.

I intend to ask students to find corresponding phrases, and create short sentences using those phrases.

A pair of slides from my talk. These slides are shown to students at the beginning of my workshop as a warm-up task. The tasks increase in complexity during the 70-minute workshop. The artwork below is from Osamu Tezuka's "Black Jack", a classic medical drama which was serialized when I was in middle school.
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They made a flyer with a rather embarrassing picture of me. Here's a 2nd galley proof after I asked them to change a few minor portions of text.

Boku Girl

2016-11-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- A student recommended to me Akira Sugito's manga "Boku Girl". I fell in love with it! I've re-read the story 7 times in 12 days.

The publisher lets you
read episodes 1, 2, and 3 for free. The entire series contains 107 plus a few bonus episodes.

I wish they would let me translate the 11-volume story! Not entirely sure I have the skills though. I spent middle school and high school in Tokyo. I don't know how adolescents talk in English language. Even if I did, the lingo would be different 35 years later.

I sent a fan message to
Akira Sugito on twitter. He was kind enough to reply!
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I wrote reviews on a few online stores, including (Amazon Japan).
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kazurou inoue

2016-10-11 (UPDATED FROM 2016-09-30) SAPPORO, JAPAN -- UPDATE: Prize arrived! See photos at end of this article.

Kazurou Inoue is one of my top favorite manga artists. He was the first person I sent a fan letter to.

A few months ago, Kazurou Inoue began a new story that appears in a monthly manga magazine. I buy the magazine each month.

I could wait a month to
read the story online for free. I buy the magazine to obtain survey postcards that help the board of editors determine which stories survive and which get axed.

The magazine offers prizes as an incentive for readers to pay their own postage. This month, I found my name among the winners! They say the prize takes 4 weeks to arrive.

UPDATE: Prize arrived 16 days after winners were announced!

A cover letter, if you could call it that, was enclosed along with the prize.

The prize was a 500-yen prepaid card for shopping at various stores. The front side of the card sports an illustration by manga artist
Kazuhiro Fujita. Fujita was born in Asahikawa, Hokkaido. He authors "Souboutei kowasubeshi", currently serialized on Shonen Sunday magazine.

A slip of paper shows which stores accept the prepaid card.

death of an admired artist

2014-08-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Obi Hiroshi (帯ひろ志), a manga artist and teacher whom I respect and admire, died this morning due to a sudden illness.

A year ago yesterday we met for the first and last time at the Sapporo Clock Tower. Obi Hiroshi chose his pseudonym from his birthplace Obihiro city on Hokkaido island. He left Hokkaido when he was a toddler, grew up and lived on Honshu island, and opened his manga studio in Sagamihara (a city in Kanagawa, close to where I spent my adolescence). The day we met, he had returned to Hokkaido island for the first time in 50 years.

Obi Hiroshi earned fame in soft-porn manga for teenage boys. I approve of his manga because his work is full of loyalty, friendship, and happy endings. There is no violence or broken promises. His heroines are healthy, optimistic, extroverted, and courageous.

Above: My favorite character Chisato from “Miracle lingerie”. Chisato gains super powers by wearing lingerie sent to earth by aliens. Her bra and panties are activated only when exposed to sunlight and to the full view of men transfixed at the 14-year-old saving the world. Obi Hiroshi softened the sexual aspect of his story by drawing Chisato as if she was wearing a bikini swimsuit, and by assigning Chisato humanitarian missions to overcome her embarrassment. Contrary to what amazon says, the books are available for purchase. (This cover artwork is identical to the books I own.)

Another reason why I respect Obi Hiroshi is his generous, sincere love of his students. He was an assistant professor at an
art school. We talked about teaching techniques and student psychology. He taught at various off-campus venues including Sapporo. I believe he was teaching a manga clinic at Tokuyama University (in Yamaguchi) when he suffered a brain stem hemorrhage that killed him within hours.

Overwork must have caught up with him. He mentioned his hectic schedule and health problems. Manga artists are rarely paid well for their artwork. Obi Hiroshi supplemented his income by illustrating corporate instructional material. He was proud of his fast turn-around times. I wish I had paid him to draw for my online courseware. If only I could have afforded to pay him enough so that he could have worked less.

It is so unfair for such a super-friendly artist and ultra-caring teacher to leave us behind.

Obi Hiroshi was 54 years old.

Above: Obi Hiroshi signed his book for me. It occupies a treasured display position in my office.

Above: Obi Hiroshi and I exchanged messages over the past few years on twitter.

Above: Obi Hiroshi’s wife announced her husband’s death on
his twitter account.

Goh meets Hiroshi Obi

2013-08-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hiroshi Obi (帯ひろ志), a manga artist and teacher, visited Hokkaido for his first time since he left the island as an infant many years ago. I met Hiroshi Obi at the Sapporo Clock Tower. When I asked for Obi’s autograph, Obi thrilled me by drawing my favorite character Chisato! Wow! Obi held Sirokuro Puppy and took a picture together. We then visited the old prefectural building.

See Obi’s pictures (taken by yours truly) on
his blog. Here’s the autographed drawing. Watch Obi draw it in the video below.


how to become a manga artist

2013-01-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I read advice on how to become a manga artist. The advice offered by manga editors is similar to what I offer my graduate students. Perhaps the similarity stems from the fact that both manga and research rely on creativity (the author’s unique contribution) and convention (a set of rules or formats that authors and audiences agree upon). If I am correct, then it should follow that this advice would apply to other fields that blend innovation with protocol.

Although I absolutely lack artistic talent (I can’t draw or sing), I do enjoy manga. I was pleasantly delighted to receive last week a full-color image of Ubel Blatt signed by Shiono Etoroji. I respect Obi Hiroshi because (based on what he has written) he is probably a talented and dedicated teacher. And I’ve read Inoue Kazurou’sMidori no hibi” many times because the characters and storyline remind me so much of Noriko and me.

my favorite manga

I’m a big fan of “美鳥の日々” by Kazurou Inouye, and ”3x3 eyes” (サザンアイズ, no official website) by Yuzo Takada. I bought the whole sets at a used manga store plus a new volume including episodes after “3x3 eyes” ended (講談社漫画文庫 15-24). These two artists are my top favorites at the moment. “Captain Alice” is an ongoing story that’s on my must-read list.

a moving story

I recommend you read this young man’s story. I cried. (It’s written in Japanese.)