November 24, 2005

Ishinomori Style.

As is well known, I’m a big proponent for anime history. I think it’s important for anime fans to know and respect the classic series and creators who were instrumental in the development of this form of art. So as part of my teachings in my anime drawing classes for Comic Book Masters, I bring up a lot of that history where it’s appropriate. I taught two particular lessons this past weekend that deal with the classics. Of course, Osamu Tezuka, creator of Astro Boy, is on top of the list of important figures that I talk about. But one of my most favorite of all the masters who helped to shape anime and manga into what they are today is Shotaro Ishinomori, creator of Cyborg 009. I just loved the little bit of Cyborg 009 media that I’ve seen over the past few years, and I really want to see more. I think it’s a great concept and a great story, and it’s pretty amazing to think that it was created so long ago. I know some anime fans won’t really give 009 a chance because it’s too “old school” and the art style is too different, but I honestly believe that anyone exposed to it who went in with some sort of understanding of where and when this series was coming from would definitely enjoy it. Especially the most recent Cyborg 009 animated series, which I saw 6 episodes of awhile back and thought to be some of the best stuff I had ever seen.

Even though Ishinomori was so important to the history and cultural landscape of anime and manga (as well as live action TV series, but that’s another story), it’s really disheartening to see that there is precious little information available in English about him and his works. And that’s not to say that anything you find about him will be in Japanese, because his series seem to be very well loved in places like France, Italy, and Brazil. So it came as a pretty big surprise, as well as being fittingly appropriate since I was planning to talk about him with my students, when a Hollywood group called Comic Book Movies announced last week that it had struck a deal with Ishinomori Productions to make film franchises out of Ishinomori’s huge catalogue of characters. Their first venture has not been announced yet, but all rumors and common sense indicate that it will be Cyborg 009 getting the big screen treatment.

I know that the “angry nerd” segment of the Internet likes to whine and complain whenever they catch wind of something like this, but I think a Cyborg 009 live action movie is a fantastic idea. It could lend itself quite well to being an interesting film, since it deals with aspects of friendship and family as well as super hero theatrics. I’m curious to see how it would turn out, and I hope that it gets off the ground. At the very least, it would create more interest in 009 and perhaps make Ishinomori and his contributions to anime and manga more well known in English speaking countries. And hopefully we’d finally get a big DVD box set of the recent Cyborg 009 anime that we really should have already gotten by now.

So, by all means, bring on Cyborg 009. And while you’re at it, bring on Kikaider, Inazuman, Henshin Ninja Arashi, The Skull Man, Himitsu Sentai GoRanger, Kamen Rider, and even Ganbare!! RoboCon. I know I’ll be watching.



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