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A farewell to Birdy the Mighty: Decode

Wednesday 21st September 2011

It’s bye-bye Birdy, but hello to Masami Yuuki

Birdy the Mighty: DecodeWith the hit sci-fi action comedy Birdy the Mighty: Decode drawing to a close this week, we bid farewell to super-powered space cop Birdy Cephon Altera and Tsutomu Senkawa, the everyday high school student who share the same body. As the pair head into their final confrontation with Birdy’s old friend Nataru, a battle sure to set your eyes on fire with hot-blooded action and pluck at your heartstrings with bittersweet emotional moments, the Manga UK blog focuses on Birdy’s original creator.

Born plain old Shuji Sato on 19th December 1957, Masami Yuuki made his first manga sale in 1980 with The Rival, to Out magazine. For the next two years, he continued to draw manga in his spare time, while still holding down a day-job. By the mid-80s, he had hit his stride, with a scattergun of serials including Birdy the Mighty, which first appeared in 1984. By 1985, Birdy was running in Shonen Sunday alongside Yuuki’s Ultimate Superman R, an outlandish high school comedy focusing on a photography club with more weirdos than Haruhi Suzumiya could shake her SOS Brigade at. Back then, it was Superman R that caught readers’ imagination, running for three years and nine collected volumes. Meanwhile, Yuuki’s parody of Japanese pop culture, Assemble Insert, began its short run in the pages of Out magazine. The series pitted super-strong teen idol singer Maron Namikaze against Demon Seed, a bothersome terrorist organisation with an army of mecha. As you do.

Mobile Police PatlaborBut Yuuki is probably most famous for his work on another SF project. The story was born from many long sessions in a Tokyo coffee house, where a bunch of sci-fi fans gathered to lament the state of modern media. They were particularly annoyed with the 1980s penchant for post-apocalyptic wastelands, and instead hatched an idea for a story in which Japan suffered rising sea levels and climate change, but somehow muddled through with the aid of a new invention – towering bipedal construction machines to help with the sea walls and dams. But new technology meant new crimes, leading in turn to the formation of a special unit designed to deal with it: Mobile Police Patlabor.

Patlabor was credited to the five-person collective “Headgear”, comprising director Mamoru Oshii, screenwriter Kazunori Ito, character designer Akemi Takada and mecha designer Yutaka Izubuchi. While Yuuki’s colleagues worked on the video, and subsequently the TV series and movie spin-offs, he spent six years from 1988-1994 drawing the manga series, racking up an impressive 22 collected volumes.

Mobile Police PatlaborBut although he’s known abroad for sci-fi, Yuuki’s incredible versatility back home has given him  a varied career. Following Patlabor’s conclusion, he launched the 26-volume Grooming Up!,  depicting a high school student moving to a horse ranch in Yuuki’s own native Hokkaido, while series such as Kunie, Daughter of Pangaea offered a playful take on young romance – all without a giant robot in sight. Meanwhile, a side project with fellow creator Tori Miki notched up nine years of a gag comic: Murder on the Saturday Variety Show.

Today, Yuuki is back drawing Birdy. The series that originally finished in 1988 sprang back to life in 2003, and continues to run in Japan. This means that, stealthily, the Birdy manga has now outstripped both Patlabor, Grooming Up! and even Murder on the Saturday Wide Show in terms of sheer longevity. With a personal best-of collection published last year, Masami Yuuki is still doing mightily well. Long may he continue.

Birdy the Mighty: Decode 2 is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment


Death Note Complete Series And Ova Collectors Edition

was £59.99
On Blu-ray for the first time! Collected across 6 discs containing all 37 episodes of the hit anime series plus the bonus Death Note: Relight OVAs.

Light Yagami is a genius high school student who is about to learn about life through a book of death. When a bored shinigami, God of Death, named Ryuk drops a black notepad called a Death Note, Light receives power over life and death with the stroke of a pen. Determined to use this dark gift for the best, Light sets out to rid the world of evil... namely the people he believes to be evil.
Should anyone hold such power?
The consequences of Light’s actions will set the world ablaze.

Contains episodes 1-37 plus Death Note Relight OVAs on a bonus Blu-ray disc
Also features exclusive collectors edition rigid box packaging
Languages: English, Japanese and English Subtitles



Code Geass vs Death Note

If you liked that, you might like this
At heart, Death Note and Code Geass tell the same story. A teenage Tokyo schoolboy with a towering intellect, railing against the world, is given fantastic powers by a supernatural agency. He finds he can manipulate people like puppets and kill with ease. His power is bound by rules and restrictions, yet still seems godlike.


Animatsu Entertainment is proud to announce that the highly anticipated live-action feature Attack on Titan: Part 1 will be released in UK cinemas from 1st December.

Last Exile versus Fam, the Silver Wing

A Versus feature with a difference: Last Exile against Last Exile!
With the first part of Last Exile: Fam, The Silver Wing now available in the U.K., we can finally compare it with its predecessor, Gonzo’s 10th and 20th anniversary specials pitted against each other. What do they tell us about the industry then and now?

Usagi Drop

The acclaimed anime born from a controversial manga
Produced for Fuji TV’s late-night, more adult-focused noitaminA slot by the legendary Production I.G, the 2011 anime could have been a disaster, with a first-time screenwriter in charge, a senior staffer debuting as director and a vocal fanbase awaiting it. Instead...

Attack on Titan: the Controversy

Hunting sneaky agendas in Studio WIT’s anime blockbuster
Is a hideous flesh-eating fantasy monster, like the Titans in Attack on Titan, ever just a hideous flesh-eating fantasy monster? An army of media studies teachers and political pundits say no.

Bleach Music: Vivid

Tom Smith on the band behind the 14th opening
Together they formed Vivid, the visual kei band responsible for “Blue”, the 14th opening to Bleach, and a band which stopped all activity last month, disappearing just weeks before their track would appear in the latest UK release of Bleach.

Who's Who in Dragon Ball 1

Ever wonder just how Goku and friends became the greatest heroes on Earth?
Wonder no more, as the original Dragon Ball reveals the origins of Akira Toriyama’s beloved creations! The faces may look familiar, but everything else is different in this classic series!

Valentine's Day in Japan

Daniel Robson pigs out, Japanese-style
I can’t help but think Japan has Valentine’s Day the right way round. And that’s because – miracle of miracles! – in Japan it’s the girls who have to give the boys chocolate.

The magnificent 47 Ronin

Stephen Turnbull asks what (if anything) went wrong with the 47 Ronin?
When T. H. White’s great Arthurian fantasy The Once and Future King was first published the New York Times described it as “a glorious dream of the Middle Ages as they never were but as they should have been.” A very similar comment would not be inappropriate to describe the strange world of old Japan conjured up in the movie 47 Ronin.

Ghost in the Shell: Live-action?

Will it be Robbie the robot...?
Hollywood blog Deadline reports that DreamWorks is in "early talks" with actress Margot Robbie to play the leading role in a live-action version of Ghost in the Shell.

The Anime Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition

Jasper Sharp reviews the biggest anime book in the world
The ever-expanding volume of anime released in Japan, which includes theatrical one-offs, TV serials and videos, is truly mindboggling, and the authors have really done an amazing job in cataloguing titles emerging on new media platforms such as the internet and mobile phones.
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