Tuesday, March 09, 2004


Back in January (Jan. 28, if permalinks still aren't working), I briefly discussed a few manga I'd purchased by Shungicu Uchida, or Shungiku Uchida (the former romanization is irregular, but is apparently the one she prefers), one of which was Minami kun no koibito, about a boy whose girlfriend is only a few inches tall. Since then I've discovered that she's a considerably more important figure than I'd thought.

It started at the SF Kinokuniya, where I bought a few more manga by her. One of these, Watashitachi wa hanshoku shite iru ("We Are Reproducing"), I thought I'd remembered reading about in Frederik L. Schodt's Dreamland Japan. When I got a chance to look it up, it turned out I was right: Uchida is one of about two dozen artists whom Schodt profiles in his book, and that particular manga, which depicts the birth of her own child, won what Schodt calls "a prestigious literary award."

Uchida is also a prose writer, of both fiction and essays. One of her novels, a bestseller, is an autobiographical novel about her sexual abuse at her stepfather's hands entitled Fazaafakkaa ("Father Fucker"). A few days ago I went up to Chicago for a day, and spent much of it in Japanese bookstores. While looking for more novels by Uchida, I discovered that editions of some of her manga (including Minami kun no koibito) were shelved with fiction instead of manga in all three stores I visited, something I didn't observe for any other manga.

Minami kun no koibito was made into a live-action TV series (not an anime, as Schodt erroneously states), which might explain why I've gotten several hits from people searching specifically for that title. Uchida is herself an actor: she was in a TV series based upon another of her works, and in several films, including Visitor Q (directed by Takashi Miike), in which she played the mother, and the zombie film Stacy both of which have been released on DVD in the U.S.

Anyway, Uchida appears to be somewhat of a celebrity in Japan. I now own quite a number of her works, both manga and prose, and I'll report on them as I read them. In the meantime, Schodt's profile of her in Dreamland Japan is four pages long and includes samples of her art.

(Updated to add the info about Visitor Q and to correct an error.)

[Update: I've reviewed Minami kun no koibito above, on Mar. 23).]


To the regular readers of this blog, if there are any, I apologize for the lack of updates. It's been a combination of lack of energy, a busy past few days, and the conflict (or "contradiction," as a Marxist would say) between actually writing in my blog and doing things, such as reading Japanese, which will give me something to write about. I'll try to do better in the future, though I can't promise anything.

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