books

U.K. gamebook’s redone cover tells you everything you need to know about Japanese fantasy RPG art

A fundamental difference in the way Japan and the west approach fantasy role-playing games is how much more optimism Japanese creators tend to apply to the genre. Consider the most common opening scenarios for the two regions. How many western RPGs start with a group of grizzled and profiteering adventurers, brought together in a shady tavern by tales of riches waiting to be claimed? About as many as there are Japanese ones that begin with some plucky, clean-cut childhood friends leaving their bucolic village on a quest to see the wonders of the world and help strangers along the way.

The gap even extends to visual designs, with much western fantasy art looking like it’s covered with a thin film of dust, blood, or mead. Japan, on the other hand, likes to believe that everything can look sleek, freshly scrubbed, and even sexy in a medieval setting.

One of the founding fathers of fantasy gaming, though, isn’t right pleased about that aesthetic.

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Amazon best seller ranking comparison between US and Japan turns up interesting results

They say you can tell a lot about different countries and their people by comparing consumer trends between them. However, a recent comparison between the best selling books on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.jp has both Japanese netizens amused and horrified at the results. Which country is more well-read? We’ll let you be the judge!

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Mysterious Japanese publishing group releases book with pi to one million places

The world is full of mysteries, from why anyone thought recreating emoji in real life was a good idea to what the heck is going on at Fushimi Inari Shrine. Another mystery is what all the digits of pi are. Since the number just goes on and on forever, it’s a mystery that will never — can never — be solved.

However, we have figured out a huge amount of pi — to trillions of digits, in fact! And you can even buy a book with the first one million digits in Japan thanks to the Dark Communications Group, which is not a group of mad mathematicians plotting to take over the world.

We hope.

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Where’s Wally? Out of the picture now because Japanese Twitter users want to find Pikachu instead

One of the best things to come barrelling out of the 80s alongside Donkey King and the Garbage Pail Kids was a man with glasses and a fondness for red and white shirts. Known as Wally (or Waldo in the US and Canada), the star of a successful book series mesmerised people around the world by simply hiding out in massive scenes involving hundreds of tiny characters.

This challenge of finding a needle in a haystack is the gift that just keeps on giving because now clever artists in Japan have been creating artworks concealing the whereabouts of our beloved Pikachu. The best thing about these is that once you’ve found the star of the show, you can then keep going until you’ve found all your favourites from the Pokémon series! It’s time to test out your hunting skills after the jump.

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Japanese version of Game of Thrones comes with badass manga-style covers, because, Japan

The fantasy novel series A Song of Ice and Fire has been a tremendous hit across the globe, and the television adaptation of the series, titled Game of Thrones, simply pushed its popularity to newer heights.

On this site, we’ve previously seen the Game of Thrones characters get the Disney treatment, now check out the characters done up in manga-style glory!

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Book shows the art of the Hayao Miyazaki Pippi Longstocking anime we never got

Sometimes they might be princesses, and other times they might be fish, but a recurring theme in the works of anime legend Hayao Miyazaki is “resilient, strong-willed girl gets tangled up in an adventure.”

But no matter how many times he goes to that well, Miyazaki always seems to come up with something unique. The character arc of Castle in the Sky Laputa’s Sheeta is different from that of Spirited Away’s Chihiro, which is again unlike the one which little witch Kiki goes through in starting her fledgling delivery service.

So it’s hard not to feel a little disappointed that there’s one plucky heroine Miyazaki never got to bring to life in anime form: Pippi Longstocking. Thankfully, there is a book that details the plan to do so and shows some of the imaginative concept art Miyazaki created for his anime that never was.

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Japanese craftsmen strike again: Make an old, beaten-up book look as good as new

Maybe it’s just me, but there’s something special about the smell of an old book, and the older and mustier it is, the better. The thing about books though, they’re made of paper, so over the years, the more you use them, the more they tear and get worn down. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could reverse this deterioration?

Actually, you can! Just take your books to this Tokyo-based book repairman who can make even the most decrepit book look like you just pulled it off the shelf at the bookstore. 

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Ultimate Transformers pop-up book perfectly captures the magic of TV show 【Video & GIFs】

In 1984, a group of transforming metal robots from Japan took the world by storm and spawned a global franchise of comic books, TV shows and blockbuster Hollywood movies. Recently, they added another notch to their post by celebrating 30 years of cool, shape-shifting abilities in the form of a mesmerising 3-D pop-up book, created by Matthew Reinhart.

Japanese netizens are currently swooning over the book for a number of reasons, and the big drawcard is Optimus Prime, whose massive form appears at the pull of a tab, towering over the book in all his glory. See the big guy with his pals and foes in action after the jump.

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Teen whose Frozen chalkboard art went viral gets an art commission before a high school diploma

A while back, we took a look at an amazing piece of artwork by student and Twitter user Rena Rena. Almost finished with her last year of high school, Rena realized her opportunities to indulge in youthful abandon were about to become that much scarcer, so she grabbed a piece of chalk and drew an amazing scene of Frozen’s Elsa standing on a snowy mountaintop.

Two months later, it looks like Rena’s life has indeed become so busy that she has no time for such ambitious amateur chalkboard art projects. On the bright side, that’s because she’s now doing professional chalkboard art, having been commissioned to create the cover to the newest book from one of Japan’s most celebrated fantasy authors.

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Author Naoki Hyakuta’s tweets of politics, perverts, and pleasuring himself spark controversy

Naoki Hyakuta is the writer of hit books such as Monsuta (Monster) and Eien No Zero (Forever Zero) both of which were adapted into films, the latter of which grossed 8.76 billion yen (US$72.5M) at the box office. In 2013 he was appointed to Japan’s public broadcaster NHK’s management committee.

However, after a slightly tumultuous engagement with the high-profile company, Hyakuta stepped down in February this year. Since then he appears to be enjoying his freedom to speak more freely again on Twitter, and as a result he has already irked an impressive number of people in only a few weeks.

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Who is this mysterious sumo wrestler and why has he “sunk” Japan?!

It’s no secret that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover–but anyone who says they never do is probably a liar (or at least prone to exaggeration). After all, if you’re not a fan of fantasy, a Dragonlance cover illustration should be all you need to know to stay away. By the same turn, if you’re looking for some Japanese fiction, grabbing a book with a sumo wrestler on the cover seems like a safe option.

Though that doesn’t make the cover any less absurd if it’s actually a science fiction novel, though, as these Japanese Twitter users discovered!

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Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure creator shares manga-making secrets, Hemingway influences in new book

You won’t find many manga authors who’ve achieved more success than Hirohiko Araki. In 1986, Araki put the finishing touches on the first chapter of supernatural brawling saga Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, and the series has just kept going from there.

With over 100 collected volumes of Jojo already published, and who knows how many more until its seemingly tireless creator runs out of steam, Araki is undoubtedly a font of knowledge about crafting a successful comic series. As a matter of fact, you could say he wrote the book on how to make a successful manga, and you’d be right both figuratively and literally, thanks to the soon to be published Hirohiko Araki’s Manga Techniques.

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Elderly Chinese man tells the touching tale of his married life through 200 hand-drawn pictures

We may be a couple of years late to the party, but even if you’re seeing this for a second time, you’ll still be on the verge of tears by the end, so stay tuned. Back in the spring of 2013, Rao Pingru, a 91-year-old Chinese man, published a book of over 200 hand-drawn illustrations and letters telling the touching story of his 80 year relationship with his beloved wife, Mao Meitang.

The book, entitled Our Story, is over 360 pages long, so we can’t bring you all of the drawings, but we know you’ll enjoy the snippets we have for you. Get out the tissues and don’t be afraid to let those tears flow.

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Small Hokkaido bookshop’s unique service is getting business from all over Japan

Iwata Bookstore is a modest little shop in Sunagawa City way up in the Northeastern part of Hokkaido. It also the site of an unlikely success story as it has recently been receiving orders from all over Japan by people wanting its one-of-a-kind offer of 10,000 yen (US$84) worth of books.

They’re not just any books though; these books are recommended by the shop’s owner Toru Iwata and hand-picked for every customer who orders.

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Library in Zhejiang Province welcomes readers from all walks of life, including the homeless

There’s something wonderfully relaxing and welcoming about libraries. Not only are they full of good things to read, their quiet, contemplative atmosphere makes them the perfect place for introspective people to hang out in, too. The sanctity of a library can’t be broken by the rabble of everyday life, and perhaps that’s why homeless people in Zhejiang Province, China have taken to holing up in Hangzhou Municipal Library.

The library staff have garnered praise online for “allowing” homeless people to read there, but aren’t libraries for everyone, after all? Join us after the jump for some snapshots of homeless patrons enjoying some quiet time with a book.

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Author insinuates Hayao Miyazaki isn’t right in the head, says The Wind Rises is full of lies

In listening to people talk about anime director Hayao Miyazaki, there’s a collection of words you’ll hear over and over. Genius. Visionary. Legend.

So it was a little surprising to hear the man behind one of Japan’s most popular films from the last year instead voice his suspicions that Miyazaki isn’t quite right in the head.

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【TBT】The avant-garde art of book stacking in stores of Japan

With bookstores in Japan overflowing with manga, novels and non-fiction, it takes a lot to stand out and get noticed. However, with the advent of the three styles of book stacking we’re going to show, it’s impossible for passersby not to stop and take a gander at these literary works.

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Wow, literature is cute! Hiroshima library designs anime mascots for decimal classifications

Nowadays, whenever we want to access to the vast wealth of knowledge humanity has amassed, all we have to do check Google, Wikipedia, or the RocketNews24 search box. But long ago, you had to go to a place called a library.

With an Internet search engine you can just type in what you’re looking for, but simply scrawling, say, “history of feudal Japan” on the wall of the library will not only fail to provide you with the information you seek, it’ll probably get you thrown out of the building. Instead, you’ve got to utilize a system of numbers used to organize written works. While the U.S. has the Dewey Decimal and Library of Congress Classifications, Japan has its own framework, called the Nippon Decimal Classification.

For modern youths, though, having to look up books by a numeric code feels extremely cumbersome and inefficient. So how do you get young readers excited about using the Nippon Decimal Classification? By anthropomorphizing it as a team of cute anime characters. , of course!

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The science of Attack on Titan explained: Finally, a Titan tie-in that looks kinda cool

Who would win in a fight between a Titan and Ultraman? How were the Walls built? Seeing as Titans never eat or drink, are they surviving through photosynthesis? If these are the questions that keep you awake at night, then we’ve got some bedtime reading for you.

Kūsō Kagaku Dokuhon (空想科学読本, literally “fantasy science reader”) is a series that addresses, queries and explains the science behind popular Japanese anime and manga. This time around, writer Rikao Yanagita has turned his hand to the inescapable Attack on Titan series, in this 208-page illustrated work that promises to answer all your titanic scientific ponderings.

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Are Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid all dating the same prince?

If we’re going strictly by the Disney versions, most people could tell you that the respective heroines of The Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White are respectively Ariel, Aurora, and Snow White. A tougher trivia question, though, is to name their three princes.

As the most recent of the bunch to appear on the screen, Ariel’s Eric might not be too hard to recall, but how many remember that Aurora’s betrothed is named Phillip? And as for Snow White, we never learn the name of the man who wakes her with a kiss, as not once in the movie is he referred to as “Prince Charming.”

Actually, if we go back further, to the original fairy tales these Disney classics were based on, many times the male lead is simply called “the prince.” While it’s possible this is because of their relatively small and interchangeable roles in those stories, one mother in Japan has another theory: the same prince stole the heart of the Little Mermaid, Sleeping Beauty, and Snow White.

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