Posts in: April, 2004

Anime News Service Feature – Does The Yakuza Influence The Anime And Manga Industries?

  • 27th Apr 2004
  • Blog

By Jonah Morgan

3 years ago at a rather large American anime convention, I sat with some industry colleagues after a busy day of networking with company representatives, attending panels, interviewing fans and the usual con fare. We were sharing some drinks and shooting the breeze on the growth of the industry, behind the scenes developments etc… The conversation was all over the place. Then, with a laugh, someone at our table said: “You know…. the Yakuza funds the anime and manga industries in Japan.” At the time, I sort of laughed, and brushed it off…. “Yeah right!” I thought.

The topic did not expand beyond that point but the profound, albeit, off handed and unsupported statement continued to stick in my head. A few days after returning from the convention, I tried to research this specific information via search engines on the internet to zero success. It seemed Yakuza influence could be traced to backing enough high profit industries in Japan and abroad through the media reports and links I was able generate but nothing official on anime and manga industry connections. For the uninitiated, the Yakuza is of course, Japanese mafia or organized crime. The topic is quite popular and glamorized In fictional Japanese comic books and animation such as Ryoichi Ikegami’s Sanctuary and the films of director Takashi Miike and Takeshi “Beat” Kitano. Japanese gangsters have been a plot fixture which has been visited on occasion in Hollywood in larger release films such as 1989’s Black Rain starring Michael Douglas and directed by Ridley Scott and the humerus Showdown In Little Tokyo starring Brandon Lee and Dolph Lundgren.

In the real world, however, information on the Yakuza is scarce and rather Taboo in the American media. To see the mention on commercial television news in the USA is almost unheard of. Indeed, most of the mass consciousness surrounding the subject in this country seems to be shaped more by fiction than factual data. Along these lines, I drew an interesting parallel after just viewing the film “Black Rain” about a year ago when I sat down to examine the news of the day. A new report had just been released in Japan stating the country had made 4.36 billion dollars worth of animation product exports to the United States in 2002. This represented 3.2 times more than Japanese steel exports to that country. In the film Black Rain, one of the key scenes has the Michael Douglas detective character, Nick, following the Yakuza counterfeiters in Japan back to a steel foundry which was being used as a back-office operation and totally conspicuous meeting place for the gangsters. Now there is a real world precedent for Japanese organized crime being associated with steel holdings…….. and, if Japanese steel exports to the USA has been exceeded by animation related exports……. could the possibility of Yakuza investment in these industries truly be ruled out?

Further research that anyone with access to the internet can do will uncover mentions to Yakuza links in the Entertainment Industry in Japan dating back 60 years. The Patrick Macias book TokyoScope mentions Yakuza influences had ingrained themselves behind the scenes at various film companies after the second world war. Daiei’s top producer and president, Masaichi Nagata, boasted of a past as a former street punk. Toei’s many artisans and contract workers with traditional master-apprentice style relationships were said to be inseparable from the Yakuza of the period.

To what degree organized crime elements may influence the current animation and manga industries in Japan is information that will most likely not be forthcoming in any total or definitive capacity in the mainstream press. The actual involvement of those elements in such a profitable industry though is almost certainly assured it would seem.


Anime News Service – January 1 – April 25 Anime News

4-12-04—- eigoMANGA Teams With MTV

eigoMANGA has entered a partnership with MTV through various platforms in a mutual effort to expand their exposure towards university students through anime.

eigoMANGA is promoting a live anime concert and anime career fair on the campus of San Francisco State University on May of 2004 called eigoMANGA CAMPUS INVASION. CAMPUS INVASION is stage where eigoMANGA is producing a television pilot for broadcast on MTV’s new cable channel targeting university students, mtvU.

eigoMANGA CAMPUS INVASION will also be the platform where eigoMANGA will host a ROCK THE VOTE rally to encourage university students and young anime fans to register and vote. eigoMANGA CAMPUS INVASION is participating in the “20 Million Loud” project which is supported by MTV.

mtvU has also approached eigoMANGA to be the official sponsor of mtvU’s student animation talent search. University students will submit animation shorts to mtvU in the effort of winning an animation contract with the upstart cable television network.

For more information about eigoMANGA and eigoMANGA CAMPUS INVASION, visit http://www.eigoMANGA.com

4-9-04—- Americon To Include Anime Content

The first-ever AMERICON convention is shaping up to be a great success with current guests including: Christi Shake – sizzling hot model & Playboy playmate May 2002, Scott Chong – WWE / MTV Tough Enough 3 Wrestler & reality TV star, Christina Chen – Phenomenal artist on Battle of the Planets and Star Wars, Pop Mhan – dynamic artist behind Dark Horse Comics’ Spyboy and DC Comics’ Demon, Steve Conley – astounding writer/artist behind Astounding Space Thrills & head of Comicon.com, John Gallagher – pop personified writer/artist behind Buzzboy and head of More Fund Comics and Patrick “The Golden Child” Strange – thought provoking writer/poet behind Time Dollars, Blood of Onyx, The WhoWhats?!, Romeo Jones (The Adventures of Thong Raider) and head of Temple Studios / Temple Far East Entertainment.

Other anime & comic creators currently scheduled to appear include (A-Z): David Belmore, Austell Callwood, Philip Clark, David Dandorf, Philip Jean-Pierre, Dwayne Johnson, Nikole Jones, Russ McIntosh, David Napoliello, David Newbold, Dan Nokes, Chris Pitzer and others.

Anime & comic art studios and companies currently scheduled to appear include (A-Z): AdHouse Books, Comicon.com, Dreamchilde Press, Full Armour Studios, Ironhorse Comics, Labyrinth Entertainment, Newbold Creations, New Millennium Comics, SanKnights, Silent Devil Productions, Sky Dog Press / More Fund Comics, Temple Far East Entertainment / Temple Studios and 21st Century Sandshark Studios.

Music Guests currently scheduled to appear include: Caucasian Brown, Philip Clark and Flexible Head / Oddlot Music.

AMERICON 2004 Alpha will debut a special illustration by artist, Jo Chen, designed by Patrick Strange of Temple Far East Entertainment. A limited amount of signed & numbered AMERICON exclusive prints will be available along with a regular unsigned addition. Other merchandise available for purchase at AMERICON include: gold and silver age comic books, independent comic books, anime, DVDs and videos, original artwork, animation cels, autographs, Yu-Gi-Oh & other gaming cards, video games, non-sport cards, baseball / sports cards, CDs, vinyl, music memorabilia, sci-fi / horror merchandise, Star Wars & Star Trek related items, figures & statues, toys (vintage and new), posters & t-shirts, movie / TV / Hollywood memorabilia, NASCAR, WWE / wrestling, clothing, and much more. While supplies last, all vendors and customers attending AMERICON 2004 Alpha on April 25th 2004 will receive a Fulp Fiction (www.fulpfiction.com) promo poster for the upcoming, HARRY JOHNSON, three issue mini-series. HARRY JOHNSON is a three issue mini-series centering on the adventures of a goofy, womanizing detective of the same name. The book takes place in the late 1930s and follows detective Harry Johnson as he travels around the world on his biggest case ever! Featuring character designs by animator and Playboy cartoonist Dean Yeagle, pencils by Craig Rousseau (Batman: Gotham Adventures, Batman Beyond, Impulse), inks by Norman Lee (Spyboy, Star Wars), colors by Liquid and letters by Comicraft. HARRY JOHNSON is the creation of writer Charles Fulp, and is produced by the studio of FULP FICTION, Inc. Publisher to be announced with a FALL 2004 release date.

The guest list for AMERICON 2004 Alpha premiere convention promises to be even bigger with some of the hottest creators in anime & comics, hot models, professional athletes, music artists, voice actors and movie & TV guests lining up to attend! The premiere AMERICON Convention opens to the public April 25, 2004 at the Montgomery County Fairgrounds in Gaithersburg, Maryland. In addition to the festivities, AMERICON will be hosting and accepting submissions for a charity auction to benefit the group ACTOR (A Commitment To Our Roots) and the CBLDF (Comic Book Legal Defense Fund). For further info on the AMERICON convention and Temple Far East Entertainment, e-mail at theamericon@msn.com and check out www.capicons.com and www.templefareast.com. The AMERICON convention fan-site is http://groups.msn.com/americon.

3-26-04—- Anime Toonz Vol. 2 Release

A new CD project has released in recent weeks by American dance label JellyBean-Recordings, New York – Tokyo out of the NYC and distributor Sony Discos. Titled Anime Toonz Vol. 2: Maria Kawamura, this marks the followup installment to the 2001 Anime Toonz release featuring Kikuko Inoue. The premise takes a compilation of fan favorite Anime theme songs, have a popular Japanese vocalist perform them in his or her unique voice and then have club DJ’s remix the tracks from the originals to hard house, cyber trance etc.. The vocalist for this volume is seiyuu Maria Kawamura, remixers are Nigel Richards (611 records), Bitshifter (8-bit music, Gameboy music), dablade (Ayumi Hamasaki remixer From Tokyo) and others. CD cover art is by Niki, UK resident character designer of “Sudeki” (X-Box game. Already released in Japan and will be soon in the US). 11 tracks include “sakura saku” from Love Hina, ”Forever love” from “X”. “Ai Oboeteimasuka” from Macross, El Hazard and others.

Of special interest to ANS readers, editor Jonah Morgan has added a written submission to the CD in the form of “forward” piece on page 7 of the liner notes book dealing with “Anime Song”. Look for our review to be posted soon.

3-19-04—- Japan Now: Golgo 13 Manga –