Takehiko Inoue: Living Legend
Undoubtedly my favorite comics artist, Inoue-sensei is able to place an unrelenting amount of passion into each of his works. His comics are more than entertaining, and each one of them is so very real; the amount of emotion and expression is awe-inspiring, and so easy to relate to. I love many books, respect many artists, but I've only had a real connection with the work of a few. Inoue is one of the few!
A year and half ago I stumbled upon Inoue-sensei's amazing feature in the "Perspectives on Work" series on HNK-that prompted me to finally import the DRAW dvd he created (as Id been ogling it for a while.)
I'm happy to say that he's getting more of exposure here in the west! While he's a world-famous living legend, it seems that his influence has been covered less in the states, likely due to the nature of how recent the trend of Japanese comics has been in releasing things other than mainstream shonen and shoujo. While Slam Dunk was a world-changing book, literally interesting a nations worth of kids into the popular (stateside) sport of Basketball...American releasing, licensing, and timing have only recently made Slam Dunk available to the masses. (I do believe Raijin or someone released it years ago, someone check me on that-but now Viz has it out, and it looks great! Good translation. Its also available to watch on Hulu.)
While SLAM DUNK was his big ticket to success on his own title (though he did have a strong debut with Chameleon Jail) he also created a breathtakingly heartfelt book titled "Real." Real is a very visceral story and touches on issues of perseverance, adaptation, and guts! Its central idea is of a wheelchair basketball player, which...is unorthodox in the world of comics-so I'm very happy it gained coverage.
His other most recent work is Vagabond. You must read Vagabond. MUST.
Vagabond, is another great work about...well....its about a ton of things. I hate to paint the work with a broad brush, but I can say its about the education of a wayward young man as he experiences life. This young man, happens to be the historical Japanese swordsman and author of the "Book of Five Rings," Miyamoto Mushashi. While it may sound odd to those who arent legendary historical swordsmen-this book is 100% easy to relate to. It is THE story of the human condition for a young man with a tough life. Seriously-as you read, you become Musashi. You feel his pain, desires, happiness, struggles, and even can understand desire to succeed, even if you may disagree. Its become one of my most treasured books, with its own dedicated shelving. (lol) You can pick it up now via Viz Big Editions, which I totally recommend, or check out used bookstores to find the older Dark Horse releases. Inoue-sensei has resumed work on the book now, so I'm sure Viz will catch back up when enough volumes are produced to create another Viz Big edition (there are currently 10--3 books each), but I've not researched the options. If you read Japanese, I believe the book is in Kodansha's Weekly Morning publication.
Hes done art for games, Kinokuniya stores, and commercials, a glorious and beautful "Smile for Japan" campaign for victims of the Fukushima-ku tsunami, and finally he's being seen more stateside! CNN decided to interview Inoue-Sensei and released it days ago! Please check it out and support his work!
Link to CNN's coverage:
And as always, Inoue-sensei is linked in my favorites on the blog. Check out his newly redesigned website! If youre interested into more media and links for Inoue-Sensei, the blog "The Eastern Edge" in my links, has lots of coverage and translations of Japanese features with Inoue.
Feel free to leave a comment of awesome Inoue-sensei findings. I have lots of information and would love to share and discuss with you!