I apologize for a technical glitch on my end that cut the stream short. I am sharing the script I had below for the stream, but that means the transcript for the actual live-reaction ot PPPPPP is now lost. However, I will try to share a post later summarizing what I had talked about PPPPPP Chapter 47.
Topics planned for in this livestream included:
- Unaired ToonHeads episodes surface.
- Why labor unions in both animation and education need your support.
- And a live-reading of the newest chapter of the musically-focused series PPPPPP!
Let’s get started. Today is September 4, 2022. This is Sunday Morning Manga. I am Derek S. McGrath, my pronouns are he/him/his. I’m here every Sunday, 11 AM EDT on Twitch and YouTube. You can read my writing on Tumblr and WordPress, @dereksmcgrath, and email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you like what you’re hearing, consider a monetary contribution. Putting together this stream takes a bit of work, and your tips help pay down costs for setup and subscriptions. You can donate on my Ko-Fi, ko-fi.com/dereksmcgrath. Thank you for your consideration.
On today’s stream:
- Unaired ToonHeads episodes surface.
- Why labor unions in both animation and education need your support.
- And a live-reading of the newest chapter of the musically-focused series PPPPPP! If you would like to read along, open up the chapter on the Viz web site. I’ll put this and other links from today’s stream into the chat window.
Let’s start with some postscripts from last week, continuing conversations started in last weekend’s livestream.
Shameless Plug: My Hero Academia
And, shameless plug, last Monday I had not one but two posts about the newest developments in My Hero Academia. First off, I told you why what Edgeshot did makes sense in terms of his powerset, and thematically, but in structuring the plot doesn’t really work. And second, I took bets on which members of Class 1A I think will die by the end of this, the final arc of My Hero Academia, and one character I am 100 percent certain will not die. Check these posts out–they are on WordPress and Tumblr, @dereksmcgrath.
I would like to say more about My Hero Academia, including why Bakugo as the sacrificial lamb is not working–but I’ve said enough about this plot point for at least a month, so I’m really going to try to suspend most remarks in this livestream until something more significant happens.
Now let’s talk about personal stuff going on. Each week, a rapid-fire list of stuff I’ve been working on since the last stream.
Web Site Updates
Job Applications: I am likely having to give up on one job application, as I’m not sure I am best suited for that position. I’m still on the look-out for additional work, so any job leads sent to my email, email@example.com, are appreciated.
What I’m Watching
What I’m Watching: I am behind on some viewing, so I hope to get back to certain weekly anime. I was watching a lot of content coming out of the White House, including Biden’s Philadelphia’s speech against fascism–go watch that speech, vote for Democrats this November.
What I’m Reading
What I’m Reading: This is more like “What I Want to Be Reading”–Scott McCloud this week promoted a book, Sailor Twain, a collection of the 2010 to 2012 webcomic by Mark Siegel. My research is in the nineteenth-century United States, so aside from the book being “a character named Twain who finds a mermaid while on a steamboat,” this book got my attention because real-life authors like Walt Whitman, Emily Dickinson, and Edgar Freaking Poe show up. I want to check this one out. Why didn’t someone tell me about this back in the 2010s when I was working on my dissertation?!
What I’m Listening To
What I’m Listening To:
Just in time for this week’s Labor Day weekend discussion, RadioLab had a good topic, about how difficult it is to earn any money through Uber, Instacart, and similar gig jobs…but, editing-wise, I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t stand trying to listen. The audio keeps switching between hosts within the same edited segment for no reason, and the quirky background noises and irritating music were driving me up the wall.
In more melodically pleasing news, and maybe to get into today’s live-reaction to PPPPPP, I have been trying to hunt down, not piano music, but decent mashups of the Sonic the Hedgehog 3 theme to “Ice Cap Zone” and the original version of that song by the Jetzons, titled “Hard Times.” I finally found one that actually took a more hard rock approach like the Sonic Adventure games, without losing that chilly cool factor the original “Ice Cap Zone” theme had. It’s a remix by Cisconic and Teslarossa–link is in the chat.
Lectures I Attended
I forgot to include this in the slides, but Thursday I watched a YouTube lecture about ainu in documentaries, ahead of an ongoing free online film festival of ainu documentaries, hosted by the Japan Foundation of Toronto. The documentaries end tonight; registration link is in the chat.
And on Wednesday I sat in on a remote online seminar hosted by the American Antiquarian Society, where I was fortunate to have spent part of a summer with their pre-1900 Americas collection. The seminar was titled, “The New England Primer: Perspectives from the Collection.” One presenter was Kyle B. Roberts, and some of his remarks emerged from his essay, “Rethinking The New-England Primer,” available free online until October–link is in the chat. The primer was important for what it says about not just education in letters and reading but also domstic guidance, cooking, religion,politics–which, yeah, if you think you can talk about anything without bringing up how religion factored into it, including how it’s factoring into this current wave of rightwing terrorim, you’re fooling yourself. Roberts also went into detail how, even when it was published and taught after the American Revolution, and as it was being rerevised over and over again from its prior iteration in England, it remained a book connecting the Amricas back to English colonialism, with explicit servitude towards the King metamorphosing into skepticism as to the King’s inherent rule. This seminar will be shared in the next weeks on the Society’s YouTube page. The Society will soon have another livestream seminar with Kirsten Silva Gruescz about their book on Cotton Mathers and Spanish in the Americas.
What I’m Teaching
And speaking of Cotton Mathers and colonial America–
I had teased this last week, and now I will announce it:
The fall semester has started, and while I’m between teaching positions, I need to keep my skill set in practice.
Therefore, I have decided to do what any person with a PhD in my position would do:
Host a twice-a-week Twitch/YouTube stream where I lead an online class–with no zero credit hours available, and not affiliated with any accredited institution of higher education, so pretty much a glorified reading group, in which I offer nothing that will help any of you get credit hours towards completing any degree you are seeking, aside from gaining knowledge for free!
Starting the day after Labor Day, I will host a stream of the American Literature I survey–that’s “Early America to the Civil War”–Tuesdays and Thursdays, starting at 11 AM EDT and ending around 12 noon EDT. The course will run for 15 weeks, skipping Thanksgiving Thursday, and it’ll wrap up on Thursday, December 15. Authors we will read in the course will have all of their assigned texts available free and legally online, including works by Edgar Allan Poe, Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley, and William Apess.
As I said, this is not for credit hours, there are no grades, I will not be doing any grading or accepting submissions…but I am teaching this class for three types of audiences: anyone who is in college and needs a refresher on these authors, teachers looking for models for teaching these authors, and anyone who enjoys literary analysis.
The livestream schedule is on my WordPress–check it out, and feel free to join the discussion starting Tuesday at 11 AM EDT. I look forward to seeing you there!
Let’s move onto this week’s Fandom Report for Sunday, September 4, 2022. This segment looks at recent news, not only in manga and anime but in larger pop culture, too.
Funimation Raises Subscription Prices
Funimation will be increasing subscription prices, starting October 5, with rates increasing two dollars per month for monthly subscriptions and three to seven dollars per year for annual subscriptions.
I don’t know what the point of this price raise is, or what it says about what corporate sibling Crunchyroll will do, but my advice would be to do comparison shopping to see what is the best option for legal viewing of content you enjoy.
Cartoon Network Toonheads Missing Episodes Now Online!
This week, someone leaked online two missing episodes of the incredibly informative Cartoon Network series Toonheads, a documentary-esque series tracing details about the history of animation. One episode is about some of the weirdest, most poorly animated series out there, and the other episode is about Bugs Bunny cartoons not commonly seen on TV due to their intensely racist and outdated stereotypes. The latter requires numerous content warnings with regard to racist caricatures of people who are Black, indigenous American and Native American, and Japanese. The other episode is about what it calls the best of the worst cartoons ever made. More on that in a moment.
I’m not going to share the links–go find them yourself, we can’t afford to have this content taken down.
I remember reading about these specials years ago, and I’m surprised they have finally emerged. And…I got to say, as much as I appreciated the Bugs Bunny missing shorts special, the other one, about the best of the worst, left me cold. Subpar animation is a guilty pleasure: the campiness, the goofiness, the experimental nature in storytelling, acting, music, and even animation shortcuts–if it’s not entertaining you, then you have to admit it is at least innovative, albeit derivative with the number of Scooby Doo clones. But what was particularly galling in that episode, even if you can say, “Well, they didn’t know at the time,” was the last short featured, a Droopy Dog short, that the episode just hates–but says the one shining light is that it features animation by Ren and Stimpy creator John K, which…if you know about John K, no. No. There is no bright spot to having John K involved. That actually is what sours me on that short, not the poor animation, not the weak plot–the animation by John K. Who in 2003 when the episode was written would say, “Yes, John K–that’s the bright spot here!” Ugh.
Speaking of toxic content: all of that racist content in the Bugs Bunny special is also difficult to approach. Yet that is content that is preserved, if not aired publicly, for historical value. And aside from their historical value, there is another reason to preserve such content: as we have seen, Warner Bros, owners of Cartoon Network, now owned by Discovery, does not care about preserving content, and as they are purging non-white talent from corporate leadership, the directors’ chairs, and in front of the camera, as well as shutting down animation projects, we all are going to have to do a lot more work to retain, restore, preserve, and share content that Warner Discovery is not going to release. There is something bizarrely hypocritical, and I can’t quite word it how I want to, that Warner refused to air the ToonHeads episode about racism in Bugs Bunny shorts due to how offensive those shorts were, then later decides to remove so much animation and content that is more inclusive, that is anti-racist, that is in response to the racist history behind Bugs Bunny. So, it comes across less as “we don’t want to air the Bugs Bunny special because it is racist,” so much as, “we don’t want to acknowledge racism exists at all.” It’s a failure to permit race to be discussed at all–and while I agree with removing the racist Bugs Bunny shorts, removing inclusion like the Batgirl movie is just dumb.
But, hey, just because we’re losing a Batgirl film doesn’t mean there won’t be something better to substitute for it–like more cheap-to-produce reality TV schlock from the Discovery Channel!
…Ugh, how on Earth was Ted Turner better at running a part of Warner Bros than AOL, AT&T, and Discovery?
Go Animator and Actors Unions!
And that leads to Part 1 of today’s Labor Day discussion: the importance of unions in animation and voice acting.
A lot of this is old news, but throughout 2022 there has been a lot of talk about the importance of labor protections in animation and voice acting. There have been victories: I saw remarks circulating on social media how actors working on Crunchyroll productions had pay increases for their dub work. Speaking of which, please check out the Coalition of Dubbing Actors for more information on work to be done between industry and the SAG-AFTRA actors union to improve pay and working conditions.
But then there is the value of unions for animation–as we have seen with how Warner Discovery is screwing over animation. As you have probably seen, Warner Discovery not only removed animation from its HBO Max platform but also from YouTube and other online legal sources, out of what was likely an effort to avoid paying royalties to people who worked on those animated productions. But here’s the thing–royalties are typically for actors in animation, and musicians in animation–and not typically for the animators themselves. Whatever money Warner Discovery saved, was not money that was getting back to the animators at all.
I don’t pretend to have an answer for fixing this: animators are likely at the whim of for-hire work, where residuals for your work is limited if not impossible. We already have Titmouse forming a union, we have complaints about Disney not paying their visual effects artists, animators, and staff well because they pretty much aren’t unionized.
But the Warner Discovery business is another incitement that should be motivating you, if you are a fan of illustrated work like comics and animation, to give your support to the creators far more than to the corporations profiting off of this work. It helps to commission artwork from independent artists; it helps to fund them directly. But when a corporation is able to retain the content from an animation product, and refuses to release it, thereby denying eyeballs on the work of those animators, those animators now have what is essentially their public artist portfolio taken down with little opportunity to promote their art.
Support the animators and artists you enjoy; support their unions. Go unions.
And onto the next part about the value of unions this Labor Day Weekend, as I turn to this week’s next segment, the Academic Corner.
One of my specializations in teaching is in comics, so there is some overlap in this stream about what I like to read in manga, and what I like to teach from it. In this segment, I talk about recent developments in education, not all of which always connect to manga, or my teaching interest in comics, but I hope it’s of interest to you.
CFP: Due Today, Journal for Women and Gender Centers in Higher Education
Before we get to the union talk, I want to promote a last-minute project. The Journal for Women and Gender Centers in Higher Education, an open-access peer-review journal, seeks submissions from past, present, and future women and gender practitioners, as well as scholars who study women and gender centers. Manuscripts are due today at MatherCenter@case.edu. Manuscripts should be APA 7th edition, Word documents, and 15 to 20 pages double spaced, not including references.
What School Unions Should Do
And on this Labor Day weekend, I want to talk about the value of school unions, and why, even when they are imperfect or are not doing enough, are more necessary now than ever, and must do more to better protect the rights of workers.
Since I entered graduate school, I have worked with unions, I have been a representative of a union, I support unions.
That doesn’t overlook what all unions can do better. I know that this is Labor Day Weekend, and I want it to be absolutely clear, that unions are needed, and anything I’m going to say is in support of the presence of unions, the importance of being a union member–and the importance of pushing your union to do better for all workers, especially those who are marginalized, those who are abused, and those who are trying to survive this pandemic.
A union is only as strong as its weakest links. One of those weak links was I: I didn’t go to enough union meetings, I didn’t keep an eye on enough union elections coming up, and I didn’t file complaints to my union when I thought I was being exploited.
But I also thought my union was not expressing an interest in what I was going through, or what I see happening in education.
If the union is not concerned with supporting the most marginalized amongst us, it is not living up to its full potential.
For example, I can appreciate how UUP, my previous union in Buffalo, New York, recently came out in support of reproductive rights after the Supreme Court’s idiotic decision on Roe, local Buffalo Starbucks union organizers, and also came out in support of strippers unionizing. All of that is good.
And yet I rarely see messages reminding us that our teaching should be anti-racist, that our work spaces should be unequivocally in support of LGBTQ+ rights, and that COVID is not over. I can look at how university unions are failing educators and staff. I have stories to tell, such as feeling pressured to come into work before I had completed my COVID vaccinations, to do in-person work that could be done from home.
This week the White House hosted a 90-minute online talk with the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association, to discuss COVID responses. The talk began with Joe Biden’s efforts to re-open K-12 schools. I look at COVID spread in this nation, and I know there are schools without what they need: mask mandates, remote learning options, ventilation in buildings. We are not doing enough. We need unions to do more, to dig in heels to demand these guidelines.
Universities and colleges have lost many protections against COVID; in my previous position, as I was exiting it, there was no requirement for employees to be vaccinated, while students were required to be. After I left that position, mask mandates went away. After I left, remote working options are going away–and, as I alluded to, contingent on my contract renewal was a return to in-person work that could have been done remotely for my safety but was not clearly offered as an option. What kind of a union can’t fight to make sure the most vulnerable are protected against COVID? And no, a wishy-washy “we can’t make you be vaccinated, but we encourage you to get vaccinated” is not enough.
I have seen unions in the past make deals that I now think were not as helpful as they could have been to the employees they represented, I have seen unions install people who, personally, I think were not only unqualified for those positions but, based on what I experienced firsthand when working alongside those specific people, they created toxic work environments for me and others and hence had no business defending workers from the same kind of toxic work environments they were creating. Historian Tim Lacy wrote this week on Twitter, “A not insignificant number of academics pursue the brass ring of tenure for use as brass knuckles on fellow academics.” I have seen such academics; I have seen them rise in power within institutions; to then see any of them given leadership positions within any union is a joke.
I know all of that probably sounds miserable. It is. And that’s not even getting into another story too long to tell here, about how, in graduate school, as I directly and explicitly and loudly supported a plan to raise wages for graduate students, somehow that got to my department chair who said he heard I had said the opposite, that I was advocating to pay graduate students _less_–and how that moment made me more reticent to speak up in defense of labor if some liar was going to tell the department chair I was saying the opposite.
Despite setbacks, all of what I said above is why you need a union, because you still need them, and need to reform them to be better, so that everyone feels that they are protected in the workplace and do not feel like they can’t come forward to ask for help. My support for unions is in spite of setbacks, not only out of an ideal that workers deserve safety and compensation that is not only fair, not only life-sustaining, but more than that, but also because pragmatically they work–without unions, our ability to create better working conditions are at the whim of employers that cannot be trusted a priori but whose trust by us is based on our knowledge that we have legal protection for our wages and protections, and that we have a united response to walk out.
(Granted, this requires a long discussion about how, as a New York State employee, walking out was not a legal option, and how being in Florida a lack of a stronger union base compromises any strike, but those are topics for another Labor Day. On this Labor Day weekend, go unions.)
I don’t want to end on a downer about how much more work remains to do in labor’s fight for protecting workers. So let’s see what other resources are out there to help educators, beyond protecting your job and your health.
- Cathy Davidson and Christina Katopodis [KA-toe-poe-dis] will host an online interactive session about their new book, The New College Classroom, with sample teaching strategies and activities that are more inclusive and anti-racist. The free online event goes from 3 to 5 PM EDT on Wednesday, September 7; pre-registration on Zoom is required; registration link is in the chat.
- The web site science-latte.com shared advice for PhD recipients preparing for job interviews in industry.
- The Disabled Academic Collective provides resources and spaces for discussion if you are a disabled individual in higher education or know someone who is a disabled individual in higher education.
- SA Chant and Clarion West are hosting a fiction writers’ workshop online titled “Building Trans-Inclusive Worlds,” November 5 and 12, tuition for both is $120 with discounts available for those of limited means and free seats set aside for BIPOC writers to attend for free. Link is in the chat.
- And Dr. Tolu Noah has a resource for how to use Google Documents’ built-in citation feature.
Live-Reading: PPPPPP Chapter 47
Okay, I’ve been talking about a lot of stuff. If you’re listening on video, you’re hearing me. But many of you may be following along to the transcript for this livestream. And I want to talk about what happens when traditionally visual content is trying to represent auditory content. In particular, how do comics represent music? So let’s wrap up this livestream as we do every Sunday, with a live-reaction to a new chapter that has come up and that I haven’t read. And today’s live-reaction will be trying to enjoy music without getting to hear any music–not just because of copyright strikes on YouTube and Twitch, but because comics are usually a silent medium. This is PPPPPP, Chapter 47!
I am going to get into spoilers for PPPPPP, so if you want to read along, open Chapter 47 on the Viz web site–I’ll include the link in the chat.
In the previous chapter, Chapter 46, Lucky’s sister Mimin cast her vote for Meloli in the piano competition that they were both competing it–and both said they loved each other. Whether to read that as romantic, I’m not sure–but given the cover to Chapter 45, let’s go ahead and say it is. So, Mimin voted against herself in her own competition to give that vote to Meloli. Meanwhile, Sadame, the protagonist from the prequel to PPPPP, is about to start his competition against Sorachika, Mimin’s sleepy and melancholic brother, and the odds Sadame will win is unclear.
But that was what happened last week–let’s talk about what the series is first.
Beginning in September 2021 and written and illustrated by Mapollo Sango, AKA Mapollo 3, PPPPPP is about Lucky Sonoda, a boy who has been considered a failure.
Reading from TV Tropes:
“Lucky Sonoda was born as one of the septuplets in a music family. His father, Gakuon Otogami, is a world-renowned pianist who won a lot of acclaimed and prestigious concurs. Naturally, Lucky has always been fond of playing the piano. However, after the divorce of his parents, separated from his siblings, and being shunned by his maternal relative, he becomes reluctant to play one. He is aware that his mediocre talent and lack of fantasy are the roots of all and source to blame. Lucky also set into a mediocre life, contrasting his siblings, who now get billed as The Otogami Sextuplets, geniuses of the music world. Seeing this, his bedridden mother encourages Lucky to play piano and enroll in a musical school, both for proving Gakuon wrong and granting Lucky’s own wish to play together again with his siblings on the same stage.”
PPPPPP is not the first comic about piano playing and it won’t be the last. Two of my favorite anime and manga have music as a core component; Nodame Cantabile and Soul Eater. But those two series had the benefit of me encountering their anime first before ever looking at the manga, so I got the audio long before I read the manga.
Maybe it’s me, but I have such a pet peeve about visual content trying to represent music without having an audio component present. That’s a silly complaint where I come from and where my accessibility needs are. After all, comics themselves have always translated auditory to visual content; look at word balloons in a comic, the very essence of transferring what you hear to what you can see.
Still, with so much discussion about making comics more accessible to people with visual impairments, I wish it was more mainstream to have audio components to comics. I wish it was almost like those children’s picture books that sometimes had a battery-power audio sampler, where when you saw an icon in the book, you were to press a button to get that audio sound. Granted, video comics–vomix–that Shueisha sometimes includes for their Jump series is one option, and I’ll talk in a moment about that with a PPPPPP vomix that Shueisha released last week. But it doesn’t feel like enough.
Almost a year ago to the date, on August 12, 2021, I attended an online symposium, “Adapting Comics for Blind and Low-Vision Readers,” hosted by the Longmore Institute on Disability at the San Francisco State University, and it was so informative, making me aware of accessibility limitations in comics that I had not considered, and introducing me to technology that was making comics more accessible by use of smart devices, touch, and the haptic vibration setting on your phone to indicate when you change to a new panel, new speaker, new page, and so on. What do you do, then, when you have a comic like PPPPPP that is not auditory but trying to communicate what is auditory, and what happens when you can’t see it to hear it? I don’t have an answer–this is a lot of rambling as I try to figure out what we as comics scholars and appreciators should be doing to make stories and art more accessible, and I’m still trying to find solutions.
Without sound, PPPPPP depends on visual cues to communicate the music, and what it makes you feel. That’s not really new: without doing a “dawn of time” argument, since we had illustrations, we have had to use them to communicate not just what we see but also what we smell, taste, hear, feel, and think.
Sometimes, a comic can quickly represent a sound very quickly without needing much more set up. I think it was Chad Thomas who drew Blues in the Archie Comics adaptation of Mega Man, and all Thomas needed was one panel to communicate, “There, that is how Blues learned the Proto Man whistle.” But communicating what that sound makes you feel is complicated. For something like Mega Man to work, you needed to know the games to realize, “Oh, I remember that Proto Man sound!” It’s a comic that still depends on intertextuality, on your familiarity not just with the Mega Man franchises in video games and animation but also with the sounds of them. Again, the comic by itself is not doing enough.
I did a live reaction weeks ago to Akane-banashi, regarding the challenge of showing how a rakugo performer pulls in the audience with their acting skills, when comics don’t let us hear the changes in voice or the pace of speech to get into the performance. One way illustrator Takamasa Moue works around that limitation in Akane-banashi is by having the rakugo performance on stage fade away until we have an illustration of the story they are telling. But that’s not the same as translating music. Akane-banashi just shows you the plot of the rakugo story in illustrations; how do you show music when it’s what you hear, not what you see? It’s like that old Lewis Black routine where he screams that music videos suck because everyone’s experience with music differs, and making it something concrete like a music video saps us of so many other ways to visualize that content. It’s why AMVs are both a blessing and a curse in anime fandom: sometimes, there is one video that you think is the best ever at using Queen’s “Don’t Stop Me Now” so that you can never do another one with another anime, and other times there are 4,000 versions of Marilyn Manson’s “This Is Halloween” set to various Halloween-y themed anime, and most of them are Soul Eater.
But PPPPP has an even bigger challenge, that being, how to represent music as a communal listening experience. This manga has numerous piano concerts. Each one is making that audience see and imagine one thing. I don’t know how that works–I’m not that musically inclined, but imagining that every member in the audience would imagine the same thing hearing the same music is not persuading me. I still think each person’s experience is going to differ, even when an audience’s reactions re fueling each other. But PPPPP does what we’ve seen in Nodame Cantabile and other music-based comics and animated series, that being, the audience starts picturing locales and actios and set pieces to make up for what the music can’t show.
And a lot of that does work. PPPPPP is trying to do that approach from Monsters University: you may not be the best at something, but you are still good at what you do, even if you are “mediocre.” The series does try to equate being mediocre with being authentic, which, that can be divisive: it’s more like, “authentic could mean you are mediocre or great–it’s not inherently going to lead to only one of those results.” The story is, even if you don’t think you are good at something, if you enjoy it, keep doing it. And, boy, is that a general piece of advice applicable to a lot of us who think we suck at the stuff we enjoy doing: writing, talking, teaching, or even playing video games, getting through our jobs. I can tell stories about jobs I really enjoyed–and then lost them because of toxic environments.
Another detail that works in PPPPPP is the “family separated” plotline, which helps propel the serialized narrative–almost like a collect-athon arc of many shonen series, or a tower crawl arc, where Lucky has to retrieve each sibling, has to beat siblings in piano contests. Nothing comes easy, characters don’t just win their competitions, there are setbacks, the main victory is deferred. Whereas a sports series like Haikyu or Hajime No Ippo has to have the protagonist win enough matches before we give up on the hero, given how subjective art can be, we can accept Lucky and his siblings not winning all of their auditions and competitions, because art is subjective.
As well, the artwork is unique and quick to identify as distinctly Mapollo’s, but it’s also evocative of Madoka Magica. And when you look at a video comic released Thursday on the Jump YouTube channel, once you add some animation and music, all of that increases the Madoka vibe. I think that was the right choice, because the characters’ faces, eyes, expressions, and poses, combined with the trippy imagine spots when the audience surrenders to the music, and the heavily symbolic choices in those character designs and in those imagine spots, all lend an uneasy atmosphere that complements just how violent and traumatic have been the experiences for Lucky and these other musicians. Compare this to, say, Your Lie in April–which, remarks for another time, but I _hated_ that anime–where the trauma is at the forefront, compared to PPPPPP, where the representations of trauma are more subtle, inherent to every symbol and bit of art, permeating throughout, so that such a vibe is ever present and not just kept for moments of shock value.
So that’s all that is well-done in this series. But what isn’t working in this series? Well, for one thing, there are many characters that I lose track. As a collect-athon, where Lucky is trying to reunite with each of his six siblings, that is an unavoidable challenge for Mapollo to address. And I’m not sure the story pulls that off.
Each time I read a new chapter, if that chapter is not about Lucky, I get less invested. This sadly includes the current plot around Mimin and Meloli, which occupies a lot of the previous chapter, including a love confession. That should rope me in–but it’s not, their story is not speaking to me as much as that of Lucky, are protagonist.
But even when my focus is on Lucky, our protagonist, even his motivation is not grabbing my attention: he was motivated to reunite his siblings before their mother died, and I don’t even know whether his mother has died of her terminal illness yet. The doctors in the series anticipate she has two more years to live, but we’ll see.
And while I praise the art a lot, I admit I do get lost in a lot of it, and I end up speeding through a reading, more for the images and paneling than the story–so, yeah, I am a hypocrite, after spending years whining about anyone who is reading comics for the art more than the story, while I tend to skim through PPPPPP each week just to see what bizarre choices Mapollo is making in the art designs.
And a lot of my opinions on this series are out of ignorance. I admit there is a lot more about the series I’m not familiar with. I only just learned it’s technically a prequel to a one-shot by Mapollo, Dadadadaan. In fact, the protagonist of that prequel, Sadame, is the last person we see in the cliffhanger from Chapter 46. So, a lot of that prequel has some relevance to this plot, but so far it has been more like, “Oh, same setting, so you are bound to run into those same characters.”
And I’m guessing that is what will be happening here, running into those same prequel characters as we jump into the live-reaction to Chapter 47 of PPPPPP!
[The recording of my live-reaction to Chapter 47 is missing but would have been included here as a transcript.]
Contact (and Hire) Me!
Thanks for listening to this week’s stream of Sunday Morning Manga! Did you enjoy this new chapter of PPPPPP? Or do you have other remarks? Please add them to the comments section–I will respond to whichever ones I can.
And if you did like what you heard, then all I can say is: hire me! Borrowing a line from The Professional Left Podcast with Driftglass and Blue Gal, this is not only something I want to do, I consider it a job. I work in teaching and conference organizing, a decade or close to a decade of experience in both. I am currently seeking work in teaching, copyediting, research assistance, writing, or conference organizing. Job leads are welcome: please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
And Ko-Fi tips are appreciated: feel free to kick in a few bucks at my Ko-Fi–the web address is ko-fi.com/dereksmcgrath–no spaces or periods or underscores in my name.
And that’s not a photo of me–that’s a photo of two authors in my American Literature I course, Frederick Douglass and Phillis Wheatley. Teaching about the nineteenth century is important to me: so much of our current popular culture emerged from that time period. And a lot of my drive is getting to talk about it. So if you would like to hear my thoughts and join a discussion about the literature of this time period, please join me in the new livestream starting this Tuesday. The American Literature I survey will meet twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday, starting at 11 AM EDT and running for about an hour. This livestream is intended to help any students who need a refresher or are preparing for such a class, teachers who want to see sample lessons and how to connect these authors to each other, and just anyone who enjoys literary analysis. Please check out the stream this Tuesday at 11 AM EDT on Twitch and YouTube, username dereksmcgrath. Thank you for your consideration.
And thanks again for joining this stream, and if all works on my end, I will now direct you to another stream, the Black Comics Chat on Twitch. I’ll be back next Sunday for another Morning Manga edition, where we look at extraterrestrials as an allegory for immigration and family separation–I’ll be looking at the newest chapter of the recent series Aliens Area. I’ve been Derek S. McGrath. You have a good afternoon. Bye.
Links from Today’s Stream
My Shameless Plugs
The Journal for Women and Gender Centers in Higher Education seeks manuscript by today, MatherCenter@case.edu, APA 7th edition, Word documents, and 15 to 20 pages double spaced, not including references