Virtuous Queen Episode Five: The Gekgia Style (Final?)

Topic started by NovidAnon on Feb. 21, 2009. Last post by NovidAnon 6 years, 1 month ago.
Post by NovidAnon (82 posts) See mini bio Level 6

We reached the end of the series, for now anyway. I want to do this person because boy he’s famous and you do not know him. Really, anybody that would do the ring gown for Muhammad Ali has to be BIG, BIG and BIG.

Most of the black community has used many Asiatic motifs. ShoNuff is one.  Afro-Samurai is recent one. Of course despite the deep (and other wise, nonsensical) race issues between blacks and Asians, both share common (and very unusual, bittersweet, and sometimes very funny) history. You should read up about it because this is not really the place to talk about it.

Bonten Taro, is a name you should know and respect. He is a Tattoo Artist (and if you ever seen Lost, the Filipinos take their Tattoos VERY SERIOUSLY, I mean G-U-L-P. Go for the women treat the people with respect but PLEASE NEVER GET A TATTOO from there.) Nevertheless, his biggest claim to history – and the day every aspect of the Black community when it came to artistry, changed when Ali – himself actually talked to Bonten to create his in ring gown. You should KNOW what it LOOKS LIKE! On that day – he became worldwide, certified. Japan fashion was the rage in Paris and London (and later came to the states – in fact this is nothing new – we always go back to Asiatic culture – the first being in the early 1920s, the second being the late 1970’s (which lead into their car boom) and the next being the late 1990’s. So, it astounds me when Huluwood denies that it wouldn’t even be there without Japanese influences. We have no modern culture without the Black Community (Jazz, to blues, to Rock, which made your HEAVY METAL that I have grown to respect… then from blues to do wop to Rap which many of you hate some for no reason) and Japanese plays/works along with the classics of the western world. And the fact Huluwood still playing games… UGH, UGH…UGH.

Nevertheless, he is also known as the creator of a movie franchise. (What, I thought this was about manga?) Well, the movie franchise is based on a Manga, dealing with race. For you see – Half-Breed Rika is the forerunner of the Japanese sexy heroine (you know, the ho that fights like a dude – but don’t show her ho’in to the dude?) In fact – the movie star who played Rika – one Aoki Rika, was the quintentual Japanese beauty in the 1970’s. Aspects of this trickled down went around the world…and do not say I said this but um… Madonna has many of her…tricks.

But don’t take my word for it:

She sported an eccentric hairstyle much like the lowbrow artist Rock'in Jellybean. Her leather micro-mini was topped off with a psychedelic tattoo-design t-shirt. The blurb proclaimed her to be "The Glamorous Half-breed with the Broad Leather Belt!" Her name was Rika. She was the heroine of a Bonten Tarō's premier 60s gekiga 'Half-breed Rika' (Konketsuji Rika, published in Shukan Myojo.) (Despite the fact that many children had been born to parents of mixed race in the immediate postwar period, the disgraceful term 'half-breed' or konkestuji was in general use in Japan right up to the eighties. Even today, the common name for a child of an interracial couple is a 'half'.)

Through the late 60s and early 70s, Rika and her gang took on their enemies in one fight scene after another - the yakuza were one, the mysterious millionaire another. The series overflowed with a kitschy B-Movie style, influenced by stuff like Russ Meyer's Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Tōei action flicks. I'm crazy about catfight gekiga - I can't get enough of this series.

He talks about his other works as well:

There's a huge archive of Bonten Tarō materials at his home in Saitama Prefecture, just outside Tokyo. His wife is the curator. There are stacks of rare magazines that couldn't be found even in the Diet Library (the Japanese equivalent of the Library of Congress). I was astonished when saw the sheer range of his collection. But there's nothing at all from before 1964. That's when he met his wife.

For a look at Bonten's work before that, you have to go kashihon magazines like Low Teen. Low Teen was published during the 60s by Akebono Shuppan, and aimed at adolescent males. Each issue featured a roster of artists centered on the then-popular Kawada Mannichi. The content was heavily influenced by Nikkatsu action movies, and the stories featured clean-cut, gutsy teenagers facing life and love with pure hearts and a straight edge. Bonten Tarō was really taken aback when I showed him a copy of Low Teen featuring his 'Provoking Evil' (Aku e no Chōsen). "Did I really put out work like that?" was his comment. "I've never seen the draft of this in my life" chimed in his wife...

Anyway, to get back to Bonten's 'Provoking Evil'. What really sets it apart from other kashihon pulp stories is the way the plot piles one twist on top of another right through to the final page - without leaving a single loose thread. If you've read this far, you'll have realized that resonant, well-crafted plots were very scarce on the ground in kashihon circles (or what I call 'garage gekiga'). Usually, some kind of slapdash ending is tacked on in the last five pages - and in fact I love that approach too, as such. But 'Provoking Evil' is that rare thing in the kashihon market - a piece of work with a fully realized structure. It really deserves kudos for that.

Boy, you cant be telling me this guy was that good… Maybe he and some certain book soon turn into an anime help in the formation of one of my favorite manga’s?

This man was near King. Almost as big as Tezuka (which makes Tezuka’s work in the 1970’s and early 80’s stand out for me, the man was fighting bigger fighters with very talented artists) and Worldwide, Certified!

However, he left…to become a painter?

Tattooists use human skin for their canvas, and they compose skin into a unified work of art. Mistakes can happen at any time, and they can't be taken back. Bonten Tarō's gekiga have a special life and strength that stems from his experience as a tattoo artist. You can see it most clearly in his cover illustrations. The covers for 'Half-breed Rika', for example, outdid anything else in the magazine for finish and technique.

He was a multi-talented star in the seventies, but one day Bonten Tarō just walked away from it all and became a painter. Staring death in the face as a kamikaze affected him in lots of ways no doubt. But I think the main thing it did to him was make him fearless. And free.

Wow. You get a sense of an era. Maybe something needs to be said… maybe something does need to change… maybe were looking too far ahead…and must go back to the source to find the next era of Manga and of “Anime”

Why “Anime” in quotes?  Why all the problems with Manga today? What is the next step?

Find out Monday.

Until Then:


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