So… let’s talk Japan!

I have to admit that I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for anything Japanese. I don’t know if I was once born in Japan and reincarnated into a Canuck lifestyle, but I’d love to climb Mount Fuji and get my walking stick notched at each waystation.

Having said that, I’m “stuck” in North America and have to live vicariously through various mediums. Such as Manga and Anime!

Now, I’m not just talking Pokemon – although I did pay to go see the first few movies in the theater and do have some Japanese Pokemon cards. Seriously. No, I’m talking about movies like “Pom Poko” and “Porco Rosso”, along with the usual revered “Robotech”, which instilled in me a love for giant robots to this day.

Right now I’m obsessed with the game Go (have been for decades) and tripped across a cool manga series reprinted in English titled “Hikaru No Go”. Put out by Shonen Jump, it’s the story of a schoolboy who finds an old Go board inhabited by an ancient ghost. Sai killed himself after losing an important Go game and is doomed to wander until he plays the “Divine Move” and is released to go to his eternal rest.

So he hooks up with Hikaru who can see and hear him. Problem is, Hikaru HATES Go. No interest at all.

You can see the problem. And the story goes on from there, both in manga form as well as animated. I’m loving it and hope to actually be good enough to play Go next year at the Origins Game Fair where I can meet and greet fellow gamers.

Having said that, let me point you to other great manga series. “Firefighter” is the story of a firefighter – nothing more, nothing less. From rookie to experienced fireman it’s the tale of a young boy becoming what he wants to be and the life lessons he learns along the way. Not sci-fi or fantasy, but a darned good read!

“Tuxedo Gin” – yes, folks… it’s the story of a young boxer reincarned into the body of a penguin. Penguin. Penguin. No, it’s not a mistype. He’s stuck trying to woo his former girlfriend while she deals with his sudden disappearance and he just wants to be put BACK into human form. Hysterical, as you can imagine.

And, for you animated types, ANY “Ghost in the Shell” series. Can’t get better than that. “Gasaraki” and “The Big O” are excellent series, while the aforementioned “Pom Poko” and “Porco Rosso” sit on my shelf along with “Princess Mononoke” (which got US distribution and big names for the dubbing!) and others.

So I guess the point of this is to encourage you to look further than just Pokemon and Yugioh when thinking of good stories and tales from Japan.

And if anyone wants to pay for that hike up Mount Fuji… call me, beep me!

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