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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
Overlooked Manga Festival Patriotic Special Event! 
4th-Jul-2008 06:34 pm
First, my deepest apologies for keeping the Overlooked Manga Festival on hiatus for so long. I'm currently reading so many manga for a book I'm writing that I have no time to read manga for blog-related purposes. It's wrong, I know.

But I had to bring back the OMF for one special Fourth of July event. After all, what's more American than manga? Okay, yes, everything, but manga can teach us a lot about the U.S. of A. From manga, we learn that America is a magical land of hot gay gang-bangers, Broadway dancers shacked up with underage alien fish, and unashamed racism. Also, everyone has awesome names like "Aslan" and "Wedy."

What else can we learn about America through manga? How about the history of the courageous leaders who have served in the highest office in the land? That's why I'm pleased to present:

The Overlooked Manga Festival Parade of Manga Presidents

Portrayals of early American presidents like Washington, Jefferson and Lincoln are rare in manga because, frankly, Japanese people don't care. They've got 2,000 years of their own history to our pathetic 200 and change, so they don't pay much attention to our historic leaders until you get to the one who bombed the crap out of them. There are several memorable images of Franklin Roosevelt in manga, such as the awesome vampiric FDR on the cover of a 1943 issue of Manga, the official wartime manga magazine, as reproduced in Frederik Schodt's seminal Manga! Manga! For this parade, however, I've selected the affable, cigar-puffing FDR in Osamu Tezuka's Adolf.

Manga FDR has powers beyond those of regular FDR. For instance, as we learn on the next page, he can walk.

Fast-forward to the 1970s, the greatest decade for manga and one of not-so-greatest decades for the American presidency. I'm very sorry indeed that I was unable to find a Manga Nixon for the parade, but I did manage to score a very badly-drawn Manga Gerald Ford, appearing, as so many badly-drawn Manga Presidents do, in OMF pick Golgo 13.

As anyone who grew up in the 1970s remembers, Manga Ford knew he wasn't up to the task of stopping the rogue Damocles offensive spacecraft from starting World War III. He could only take comfort in the knowledge that Manga Kennedy once screwed things up just as badly with the Manga Cuban Missile Crisis. Manga JFK was probably a lot more charming about it, though.

Fortunately, mysterious ellipses-spouting assassin Golgo13 made everything better, and in time we as a nation moved on to more important business: being awed and intimidated by Japan. It's morning in Manga America!

A million thanks to Carl Horn for sending me this appearance of Manga Reagan in the amazing (and unfortunately hard to find in English) Japan Inc., by Shotaro Ishinomori. Ishinomori, a famously nutty manga-ka who built an "energy pyramid" on top of his house and changed his name from Ishimori to Ishinomori because he thought it sounded cooler, is best known for classic kiddie action manga like OMF pick Cyborg 009, but in the 1980s he also drew this batshit insane adaptation of a book about the Japanese auto industry. The United States and its inferior cars were mercilessly savaged, but Manga Reagan remained cheerful.

I couldn't find any manga representations of George H.W. Bush, not even throwing up on the prime minister, but his successor may well be the most mangafied president in American history. Manga from the 1990s are rife with portraits of Bill Clinton. I'm not entirely sure why. Maybe the globetrotting Clinton was more visible to the Japanese than previous presidents, or maybe they just found his big chubby face kind of kawaii. Anyway, from the wide selection of manga Clintons available, I chose this thinly-veiled stand-in from Sanctuary, by Sho Fumimura and Ryoichi Ikegami.

That's not Hillary, by the way, but President Cliff's nudge-nudge personal assistant, who later makes it with one of the Sanctuary dudes. From this sequence we learn that the 1990s in America were a time of political corruption and sexual peccadilloes, but also lovely scarves.

That brings us up to our current presidency, and...What? What's that? You demand that the Parade of Manga Presidents make room for manga presidential candidates who won the manga popular vote? I don't know if I care for your partisan attitude, buster, but I admit it'd be a shame to leave out Albert Noah, the strangely bishonen Al Gore stand-in from Kaiji Kawaguchi's Eagle.

Vice-President Noah was bested in this debate by charismatic Japanese-American senator Ken Yamaoka, but went on to win a Manga Nobel Prize and make a lot of really cool graphs.

And now we come to the end of the Parade of Manga Presidents and its grand marshal, the current Manga POTUS. Before I paste the relevant HTML into the space below, I just want to note that this is not only my favorite portrayal of a Manga President, but one of my all-time favorite moments in manga, ever. It sums up this great land of ours and its leadership with the clarity that only an outsider, an artist observing us from afar, could bring. This, my friends, is from OMF pick Yakitate! Japan, by Takashi Hashiguchi, and this is America.

Isn't it beautiful?

God bless America! God bless you, Manga Presidents! Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to eat Budweiser-steamed hot dogs and read some manga with fireworks in them.

Overlooked Manga Festival Archive

5th-Jul-2008 03:07 am (UTC)

That is an amazing pretzel.

5th-Jul-2008 04:04 am (UTC)
Considering that it tried to be the John Wilkes Booth of pretzels, it'd have to be (even if it only wound up being the Squeaky Fromme of pretzels instead.)
5th-Jul-2008 05:52 am (UTC)
Oh god, Japan Inc. is brilliant. I miss my copy so much. (I'm not even sure what country it's in.)
5th-Jul-2008 06:05 am (UTC)
Manga Ford looks very much like teh type of guy who was a dock foreman in some late 1940's movie that starred Bogie or George Raft or Jimmy Cagney.

I admit, "Kawaii" is not a word I would've used to describe Bill Clinton. However, Manga Hillary is kinda hot in a Morgan Fairchild/Heather Thomas kind of way.
5th-Jul-2008 08:56 am (UTC)
She pointed out thats not Manga Hillary but is Manga Cliff/Bill's "personal assistant". Which would make her Manga Monica...
7th-Jul-2008 07:44 pm (UTC)
17th-Oct-2008 12:33 am (UTC)
Their visual style is influenced by the best of the comics' artists, the protagonists are properly fleshed out, and--proving that cartoons don't have to be dumb--the plots and story arcs often have the kind of sophistication you'd expect from the best kind of adventure novel.
5th-Jul-2008 06:24 am (UTC)
This. Is. Genius.

I have both volumes (I think it's only two volumes) of Japan Inc laying around my room someplace. I guess I ought to read them, eh? I do want to see this version of Nixon! (Also, Ishinomori is SO COOL)
5th-Jul-2008 08:25 am (UTC)
10th-Jul-2008 04:59 pm (UTC)

Excellent! This is the best manga president parade ever!
17th-Oct-2008 01:14 am (UTC)
NYC Weather 62° CLOUDY Thursday, October Last Update: PM EDT Recent Archives The Web home news sports gossip business entertainment opinion tv video photos blogs Sports Blogs PopWrap Fashion Movies Travel Real Estate TV Video Games Tempo Weight Loss classifieds Post An Ad Marketplace Autos Dating Jobs Real Estate Pulse Home Movies Music Food Fashion Fashion Week Fashion Week Photos The DAILY Theater Health Travel Travel Tuesday International Travel Guide Games Popwrap Horoscope Dating Weddings A HIPPER 'HAMLET' MANGA COMICS UPDATE THE BARD'S BEST WORK By SARA STEWART Loading new images.
5th-Jul-2008 02:53 pm (UTC)
Is that Manga Gordon Liddy advising Manga Reagan?
5th-Jul-2008 05:25 pm (UTC)
There are lots and lots of '30s and '40s era Japanese propaganda depictions of US (and British) figures in John Dower's War Without Mercy: Race & Power in the Pacific War. Just a few:

5th-Jul-2008 07:24 pm (UTC)
So did Yakitate! Japan deliberately ape the American tradition of putting something on top of Cuba when it appears on a map? That's mighty respectful of them.
7th-Jul-2008 12:48 am (UTC)
Is that so us Americans don't have to think how close the evils of Communism are to our pristine capitalist Florida orange groves?
7th-Jul-2008 06:15 pm (UTC) - One more!
Taken from Leviathan (great manga btw.; the scene with Saddam is just godlike :D):
Free Image Hosting at www.ImageShack.us (http://img142.imageshack.us/my.php?image=leviathanv10c58p174pe4.jpg)

QuickPost (http://img604.imageshack.us/content.php?page=blogpost&files=img142/8426/leviathanv10c58p174pe4.jpg) Quickpost this image to Myspace, Digg, Facebook, and others!
10th-Jul-2008 12:31 pm (UTC)
Great entry!
I had no idea US political figures were so well and extensively represented in Japanese comics!
Here's another one you might like.. Madeleine Rosca spotted potential president Barack Obama in Air Gear.

10th-Jul-2008 04:58 pm (UTC)

Oh, awesome! I was looking for a Manga Obama! Manga Hillarys are plentiful, but if Obama is elected I bet we'll see more manga representations of him. He has great potential as a cartoon character.
6th-Aug-2008 02:32 pm (UTC) - manga Clinton
Not that Clinton's sex life wasn't an obvious target (my wife was in Japan on a college semester abroad in 1998, and she said she almost bought a porn manga about Clinton and Lewinsky), but I dig this Clinton from Golgo 13: http://bp0.blogger.com/_n5xC4ByBQAU/SA6tu7p5KeI/AAAAAAAAFvo/L2B-kfDrjE4/s1600/IMG_0006.jpg
25th-Mar-2011 05:08 pm (UTC)
Hey! This overlooked manga shit is pretty interesting!

But lemme be honest with you. I'll never read your blog again cause I don't have the time, and I already got a shitload of shit to read (I have showed your blog to some friends though).

I don't know how you feel about scanlation, or manga that actually isn't manga. I didn't even mind to send an actual email.

I just want you to take a look at my blog:
We've been working on a pretty good mangaish series called Holy Avenger.

Well, please, take a look. Or don't, but you'll be missing some good shit. And forgive my being a darn spammer!

Since we're at it, Opentrain has been working with some crazy Megaman comics:
16th-Jun-2011 02:47 pm (UTC) - Manga Bush
At the time you wrote this, you said that you couldn't find any Manga versions of George Bush. You might want to amend or update that claim with The Legend of Koizumi, a ridiculously over-the-top Mahjong Manga where diplomatic relations and debts between world leaders are settled with playing games with tiles, usually resulting in explosive combinations that sound like special finishing moves. G. Bush shows up in the second chapter, and he more closely resembles the domineering father figure rather than the wimp image he was better known for.

Even as the former president is playing against the titular Prime Minister, and claims to have been humilated by the "Japs" twice before, there's still no mention of his infamous throwing up incident. The Japanese were probably too embarassed by that scenario to ever consider using it, even if it actually happened. Kinda ironic given how much disturbing imagery they're more accustomed to using, such as bondage scenes, licking shoes and male shower scenes. These aren't spoilers BTW - two out of three of those happen fairly early on. I'll leave it up to you to find out which.

It's especially amusing seeing all these famous politicians being experts at what is generally known to be an Asian game, when they'd be more associated to frivolous pastimes such as golf.
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