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Jason Thompson's House of 1000 Manga - Raijin Comics

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Joined: 08 Dec 2004
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Location: Penguinopolis
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 2:54 pm Reply with quote
I still have a sample issue of Raijin from AXNY from 2002.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 3:15 pm Reply with quote
I was a little kid when I saw this in a Publix in the redneck town I was living in at the time; it introduced me to the delightful "Momotte Shugogetten", as well as classics like "City Hunter" and "Fist of the North Star." "Bow Wow Wata" was also entertaining. Seeing manga anthologies with such ambition die over time throughout my short life has been kind of depressing, and, on the verge of finishing high school, I can only hope that the manga industry will grow into finding the ambition and scope it had back when I first got into it. Gotta have something cool to read in college, right? xD

Not that it's doing TOO badly right now, of course, but it would be nice to see more collections of manga like Raijin. ^^
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 4:22 pm Reply with quote
When Viz lost the Fist license, a few months before Raijin started, we had a "Goodbye Fist of the North Star" party where we filled a Kenshiro pinata with blood-colored candy and beat it to a pulp while watching the Streamline Pictures dub of the 1985 Fist movie.

That sounded funnier than it should have. I burst out laughing. Anime hyper

Do you think the reason the appeal was so minimal was because the U.S. and Japanese societies had different likes and dislikes going on in the 80s? Nostalgia is a powerful factor, but it doesn't necessarily grab everyone.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:24 pm Reply with quote
I still have all those magazines... good collection
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White Lightning Alchemist

Joined: 11 Nov 2008
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 6:33 pm Reply with quote
I saw one of these at a grocery store when I was a kid. I decided not to get it though since it was a dollar more than Shonen Jump, but had half the bulk. That, and like Jason said, the manga just weren't as appealing to kids.
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Gilles Poitras

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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:15 pm Reply with quote
I do hope someday that City Hunter and Fist of the Blue Sky get complete English releases.

Damn I may just pull the volumes that did come out and re-read them again.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2012 8:24 pm Reply with quote
I own every single issue of Shonen Jump but I'm not sure if I'm going to continue to the digital format.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:42 am Reply with quote
Hah, Raijin, I had those. Was a pre-subscriber to both that and SJ-USA. Weeklies don't work here. Laughing
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 3:32 am Reply with quote
I suspect that if it wasn't for the desire to crotch-punch their ex-coworkers and prove to them that Jump is awesomer and you can't escape us even if you go to America, Shueisha might never have purchased a 50% stake in Viz and launched the American version of Shonen Jump that same year.

I think it would've happened anyway, though possibly with less money on the table. DBZ and YuGiOh were way too big.

The fierce rivalry between Raijin and Jump can be seen by this email that I received

There were a lot of similar Jump haters on the Raijin boards. Me, I liked both, but preferred Raijin. And if Viz doesn't bring over the Beelzebub and/or Sket Dance manga, I'm pretty much done w/ 'em after Slam Dunk.

Still, if you were a subscriber, or you were able to make it to a comic store every week to pick it up, Raijin was your fix for a VERY Japanese-manga-esque experience.

Therein lies the problem. If they had just charged a normal yearly subscription rate, then they could've stayed around a bit longer. But $200 was friggin' insane.

(You probably had to find it at a comic store; unlike Shonen Jump, Gutsoon! didn't have the connections to get it widely distributed in bookstores and grocery stores and so on.)

I did see it at book stores, but not grocery stores.

Unlike Hara and Hojo, he managed to get back on good terms with Viz and Shueisha after his fling with Coamix, and as a result Viz has continued to publish his manga and did a license rescue of Slam Dunk.

I think Inoue did it as a favor to Hojo, since he was an assistant on City Hunter. At least if Wikipedia is correct. But when you still publish hit manga like Real and Vagabond, it's unimaginable that you'd get snubbed easily.

The Coamix/Gutsoon! folks chose to release the original Fist as oversize, colored graphic novels—looking a LOT like Chinese martial arts comics—

Supposedly, those editions were outsourced to an HK company.

The pulp setting, plus the fact that the main character pretends to be a mild-mannered professor when he's not beating up bad dudes, makes me think it was influenced by Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I was thinking Shen Mue, 'cus of the similar stories. But someone compared Kasumi to Clark Kent.

The adventure-comedy story of Ryo Saeba, a hired gun who's got insanely good aim and a love for the ladies, it was incredibly popular in East Asia—check out the insane Jackie Chan film adaptation—but never quite made it big in the States.

Ironically, the Jackie movie came out here through FOX around the same time, and I'm still pissed that Gutsoon didn't try to go for a cross-promotion. Same with the anime.

Incidentally, American manga companies had tried to get the rights to translate City Hunter before Raijin, in the '80s, but Hojo had put his foot down with the demand that his manga had to be published in he original right-to-left format.

Not sure how it would've done then, either, TBH.

One of them, Makoto Niwano's "amoral girl with big boobs killing and torturing people" violence-comedy Bomber Girl, is so awful that I assume it got published because Niwano jumped into an icy river to save Hara and Hojo from drowning.

Someone speculated that it was really just meant to gauge viewer tastes. We were also supposed to get the NSFW sequel, but it didn't happen.

the US government, and terrorists. Revenge of Mouflon is clearly a Japanese response to the 9/11 plane hijackings (with the wishful ending of the plane not crashing), mixing anti-big-government views, political commentary and conspiracy theories with high-volume melodrama and heroic idealism. It's a fascinating mix with good artwork.

What's weird is when they focused on bio warfare, and then SARS was coincidentally becoming a hot topic.

(Of course, it has a very negative view of the American government, but hey: this is Japanese manga you're reading. JAPANESE manga. Not American manga. So get used to it.)

I dunno. I thought it was a lot more tasteful than it could have been, considering it was treading on a touchy subject.

Also, it ends very abruptly; I had to check to make sure I really had the last volume.

Well, it's not technically over, as there was a sequel in Japan. And I made a joke about him losing the next election.

Basically, Raijin was a seinen manga magazine competing in a shonen and shojo world, and their attempt to appeal to older American comic book readers (as opposed to Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon kids) was unsuccessful.

Of course the irony is that Berserk was just beginning to be published here around the same time, which must have frustated the hell outta Hara. "Why is a series from my former assistant doing better in America than one of my own?!" BTW, my guess is that the anime ending on a cliffhanger's what did it. Everyone wanted to know where the hell Berserk went after that. I don't think any manga spawned a boom in importing and scantalations like that one.

Raijin did attempt to make themselves cuter and balance out the overwhelming machismo by publishing some love-comedy manga like Minene Sakurano's Guardian Angel Getten (the fifth core title) and, later, the dog manga Bow Wow Wata, but even these manga looked dated. With these cute manga next to Fist of the Blue Sky, the result was a schizo "What magazine am I reading?" effect, kind of like when Parasyte and Sailor Moon were published side-by-side in Mixx Zine.

I liked Bow Wow Wata and Getten, but they didn't stand out very well on the shelves. Though Getten might've had a shot at making it, if someone brought over the anime. Of all the harem shows released during the early 2000s, I never got why that one was never licensed. I also wish the Tokyopop run of Getten did better, so we'd have gotten the sequel, but at least it got finished, which is more than I can say most of that line-up.

Secondly, Shonen Jump simply had much more money and exposure.

Well, they're huge in Japan, but Coamix does alright. And Angel Heart alone is amost as big over there as One Piece, so Hojo's obviously still rolling in royalties. So to me, it seems more like the manga equivalent to Bandai Visual U.S.A., where the whole venture was more of a hobby than a serious business venture. So they took few helpful risks, and expected consumers to have prior knowledge of these properties and/or support the mag and novels. My feeling is if they started with three or four titles, max, and axed the supplement Fujin, they would have less financial risk, and more money to promote their library. Another thing I told 'em is they should, say, hand out samples of Raijin at sporting events like basketball and MMA tournaments. Plenty of missed opportunities with that mag, lemme tell ya.

Oddly, it was never released in graphic novel form, unlike the other Raijin manga; who knows why Itagaki didn't give them the graphic novel rights.

Champion was probably trying to gauge the market for Raijin and then stake a claim on Baki if the other TPBs did well. I am kind of surprised, though, that no one at least considered bringing over the arc which inspired the anime from FUNimation. I thought at least that part of the franchise did well.

How could this lineup possibly fail? Well…Raijin lasted 46 issues, switched from a weekly to a monthly format midway through, and collapsed completely in 2004.

Well, for two years and 46 issues, that's not too bad. I don't even remember what happened to Comics One after three years. And they had more exposure and a more marketable line-up. [BTW, I hope you cover them in a future column.]

By any factor, it was impossible to imagine Shonen Jump not being more successful. Of course, this can't be directly blamed for Raijin's failure, as the audiences and contents of the magazine were so different;

What's really ironic and probably all the more frustrating is that seinen stuff is more like what American comic fans who don't like manga actually read. For example, Blade of the Immortal. But my only theory for why Hara's stuff ironically doesn't do well in America is 'cus his heroes don't carry weapons, like, say, the ones in a Frank Miller comic. And that's what older comic fanboys are really into.

classic oldschool titles like Fist of the North Star and City Hunter could never be big hits the way they were in Japan in the '80s.

Well, they could've at least been lucrative, if handled better. City Hunter should never have been released in overpriced box-sets. And FOTNS should never have had that awful techno background music. I did appreciate AX and BAAF bringing over Hojo and Buronson in person, though. Though someone sabotaged Hojo's panel at BAAF by making an attack on City Hunter's treatment of women, even though Ryo's the butt of the jokes.


Do you think the reason the appeal was so minimal was because the U.S. and Japanese societies had different likes and dislikes going on in the 80s?

No, my feeling is that if they really wanted to cash in on Mad Max, they should have published Fist in English before the third film. It really killed off the post-apocalyptic genre of that era.

I do hope someday that City Hunter and Fist of the Blue Sky get complete English releases.

I was really shocked that people hated Blue Sky more than North Star. And from what I heard, it didn't do much better in Japan, either. In fact, I remember one of the female Raijin members saying she thought the original[Or should I say later?] Ken was hotter than the 30s one. Especially since it's been so damned appropriated later on in other hit titles released here. Old buddies reuniting to take down a corrupt organizaion? Seen it in 20th Century Boys. MA action in a film noir setting in Baccano? Check. Action-adventure story set in central Asia in Bride's Story? Check. Plus, everything people complained Hokuto No Ken's "too 80s" art is thrown to the wayside in favor of refined drawings. Plus, the whole look makes me wonder if Stephen Chow wasn't a fan himself, as there are very similar costumes in Kung Fu Hustle. And that one actually did well, relative to what you'd expect of it. So my only explanation is that it hurt Raijin to release both Fists at the same time, because it confused consumers.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 12:36 pm Reply with quote
...I hope that someday I'll see the big faces of Kenshiro and Saeba (and Baki) once again floating in the sky, or at least floating online, all '70s shonen manga style.

Someone needs to draw this.

Anyway, the failure of Raijin comics always made me feel sore. It wasn't until the past five years I became a fan of Fist of the North Star and Baki the Grappler, and it always made me mad that I couldn't buy an official release of these manga. That goes double for Baki, the lengths of which I had to go through in order to read the manga might as well have involved human sacrifices and a contract with the devil.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:24 pm Reply with quote
To be honest,I've never really read "Raijin Comics." As for "Fist of the North Star,"a manga that was mentioned in this column,it just so happens I wrote a post about it. It's one of a group of posts I plan to do in which I compare an anime with an American cartoon. I compared "Fist" to an American cartoon called "Thundarr the Barbarian." They both had their similarities and differences. If anyone wants to read more about it,go to the Anime section of this forum or perform a search find it. Just write in "Thundarr the Barbarian" and "Fist of the North Star" and read it. I'd appreciate it immensely if you would comment on it. I'd love to get more replies on this post.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:37 pm Reply with quote
I have a sample comic of this from Sakura Con somewhere 'round here... it was too manly for me. Now that I have issues with manly manga, mind you, but I can only take so much at once.

It'd be nice to see something like this make another attempt... part of me wants to believe that those teens who scoffed at Raijin originally are now mature enough to apperciate it. The smart part of me knows most of those teens have moved away from the market and such a venture would likely fare worse in the currently market. Such is life...
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 2:53 pm Reply with quote
Hey Jason...
Comics Bunch still exists, however it is no longer a weekly.

No Longer Human was recently published in this magazine.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 4:08 pm Reply with quote
I was a religious reader of Raijin Comics throughout its short life, mainly due to City Hunter and Fist of the Blue Sky, but being in he exact demographic that the magazine was seemingly aimed at afforded me quite a few other pleasant reads in the magazine too.

Unfortunately, the same kind of reasoning that torpedoed the Gundam franchise in the U.S. (with Gundam 0079) applied here too, in that the obvious thinking behind this endeavor was "these are classics in Japan, so they'll have to succeed in the U.S!" Unfortunately, the time for the likes of City Hunter and Fist of the Blue Sky/North Star to have succeded in the U.S. was at least a good decade earlier. No one wanted to read old and old-style stories with a mostly adult cast.

Having said that, there might have been an outside chance with City Hunter to be a bit more popular had the original intended co-production deal with ADV actually happened, so that the manga and anime could have had near-contemporous releases complete with cross-marketing between the two. Sadly that didn't happen, and instead City Hunter fans had a magazine that swiftly folded and the two last DVD sets underprinted, undoubtedly due to lousy sales on the earlier volumes.

I was always simultaneously amused and annoyed with all the censorship in Raijin though, even though only older readers were buying the comic. Quite amusing considering Hojo held out so long, ostensibly so that his works could be presented "authentically".

belvadeer wrote:
Do you think the reason the appeal was so minimal was because the U.S. and Japanese societies had different likes and dislikes going on in the 80s? Nostalgia is a powerful factor, but it doesn't necessarily grab everyone.

Good point, but even then the fundamental problem is that for nostalgia to even work, the titles must be familiar to a large section of the audience in the first place, which in this case they probably weren't, due to the majority of the associated anime series not actually being available at the time Raijin was published.

That's why some releases of older anime series tanked as badly as they did, like Aura Battler Dunbine, since unlike Macross, very very few people in the U.S. would have ever seen anything from the series when it wasn't quite so old. There simply wasn't any functional nostalgia for this stuff.
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Sunday Silence

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 06, 2012 6:53 pm Reply with quote
Heh, I think I still have Fist of the North Star Master Edition vol. 1 somewhere. I bought that at Borders when it was a bargain book for $1.
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