Usui Yoshito and the Crayon Shin-chan Movies

Just a note that the body of Usui Yoshito, the artist of the popular manga Crayon Shin-chan, was found at the bottom of a cliff in Gunma Prefecture. Usui had gone hiking last week but had not returned; after a search, they found the body two days ago and identified it yesterday. Whether it was an accident or suicide is not clear. Some have speculated that it might be suicide given how the tone of the manga has changed over the last year or two (it has at times taken on terrorism, the death of characters, and suicide in serious ways). But it looks like it was really an accident.

I mention this not only because Crayon Shin-chan was often a good manga (a favorite in my family), but also because the movie versions, especially the ones directed by Hara Keiichi, were often masterful. While the TV episodes have shown a bit abroad (with the dialogue being made racier than the original to appeal to the anime fan base), the movies have been largely ignored. (I wonder if this does not have something to do with the image of "anime" that foreigners have created of Japanese animation, one which the Shin-chan films, if not quite a lot of other animation, don't quite fit.) Otona teikoku no gyakushu is one of the more interesting ruminations on 1970s Japan and Sengoku daikkassen was so good they just released a live action version of it (now in theaters under the title Ballad). There's even a book out there on Hara Keiichi's work: Animēshon kantoku Hara Keiichi (Tokyo: Shobunsha, 2005). Hara later went on to make such films as Kappa no Ku to natsu yasumi, which I once put in my best 10 list.

I hope these DVDs come out abroad some day. I'd like to use them in class. 

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