|© Usamaru Furuya|
The first Manga Moveable Feast of the year begins today, January 22, and will end next Sunday, January 29. The Feast gives the manga blogging community an opportunity to explore and examine together a particular manga or creator. This month we will be focusing on mangaka Usamaru Furuya and his works and Experiments in Manga will be hosting.
Who is Usamaru Furuya?
Usamaru Furuya was born on January 25, 1968 in Tokyo. (That's right! His birthday is Wednesday, so let's throw a great Feast in his honor.) He made his manga debut in 1994 with Palepoli which was serialized in the monthly alternative manga magazine Garo.
Furuya was interested in creating manga since his childhood, even enrolling in Osamu Tezuka Manga Correspondence School and submitting to the portrait section of Shōnen Gaho. But in high school, his focus shifted to oil painting. He went on to study art at Tama Art University where he also developed an interest in drama, sculpture (particularly abstract three-dimensional figures), and butoh dance. For a time, Furuya was a member of the butoh performance groups Karas and Sankai Juku. After graduating from Tama Art University, Furuya worked as a high school art teacher before returning to manga, bringing his fine arts background with him.
Furuya has also worked a bit in the film industry. After creating the manga adaptation of Sion Sono's 2002 cult classic Suicide Club, Furuya would play a role ("the man in the cafe") in the film's 2006 sequel Noriko's Dinner Table. He also acted in another of Sono's films, 2008's Love Exposure, playing the part of Miyanishi. Furuya was also involved with the 2005 film adaptation of Otsuichi's horror short story collection Zoo (which I have reviewed here). He was responsible for the screenplay, storyboard, and character design for the story "Hidamari no Shi" (translated as "Song of the Sunny Spot" in the English short story collection), the only animated short in the collection. There very well may be other examples, but these are the instances I am familiar with.
Furuya's Manga in English
Usamaru Furuya's official introduction to English-reading audiences was all thanks to Viz Media. First came excerpts from Palepoli in Japan Edge in 1999 and then in Secret Comics Japan in 2000. (Regrettably, the entirety of Palepoli has never been released in English, although the selections in the previously mentioned volumes are different from each other.) Furuya's series Short Cuts was serialized in Viz's now defunct manga magazine PULP before the two individual volumes were collected in 2000 and 2003, respectively.
CMX Manga announced in 2009 the licensing of Furuya's 51 Ways to Save Her. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) the company folded before any of the series made it into in English. The recent resurgence of Furuya's manga in English began in 2010 with Viz Media's publication of the first volume of Genkaku Picasso. The final two volumes of the series were released in 2011.
2011 also saw Vertical stepping up with some Furuya manga, beginning with the one-volume Lychee Light Club, based on the Tokyo Grand Guignol's theater piece. (Vertical has also expressed interest in licensing the prequel Our Light Club.) Most recently, Vertical began the publication of Furuya's No Longer Human, a manga adaptation of Osamu Dazai's novel by the same name (which I have reviewed here). The third and final volume is currently scheduled to be released next month.
Who knows what the future may hold, but I sincerely hope it includes more of Furuya's works being licensed and released in English.
Feasting at Experiments in Manga
This is the first time that Experiments in Manga has hosted the Feast, so what should you expect? There will be new content related to the Feast posted every day. Mostly, the posts will consist of my own in-depth reviews of Furuya's manga, so nothing too terribly exciting. I've previously reviewed Lychee Light Club, so for the Feast I'll mostly be focusing on the first volumes of Furuya's series. There should also be at least one guest post to look forward to! (Another first for Experiments in Manga.) Also, my monthly manga giveaway will begin on Wednesday and you'll be able to enter for a chance to win Furuya's Genkaku Picasso, Volume 1.
There will be three roundup posts during the Feast--one each on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday--as well as a final send-off on Sunday. These posts will highlight other participants' contributions to the Feast. I will also be updating the archive page throughout the Feast. (I've already populated it with a ton of pre-Feast reviews and articles, so check it out.)
It will be very boring if I'm the only person posting content, so I encourage you all to take part in the Feast. Simply notify me of your contributions by e-mail at phoenixterran(at)gmail(dot)com or through my Twitter account @PhoenixTerran and I'll make sure that you're included in the roundups and archive.
Please enjoy the Feast!