Kate Dacey: Meaningful Insights from a Manga Critic

Posted by Linda Yau on May 24, 2011 in Comic Books, Fandom |

Kate Dacey: the Manga Critic

With the many blogs that I have encounter searching for great graphic novel recommendations, one of them is Kate Dacey of The Manga Critic. To my knowledge she had became a fan of graphic novels as an adult, and therefore provides a pretty interesting perspective from her reviews. She provides insightful responses from her email interview, to which I am quite pleased to include under the cut.

What was your first anime title? Was it the same as your first manga title?

The first anime I saw in a theater was AKIRA. I hated it. Cut the younger me some slack though! It was 1990, and I knew absolutely nothing about Japanese popular culture; my only previous exposure to Japanese cinema had been Throne of Blood and A Taxing Woman, so I found AKIRA bewildering. It wasn’t until the early 2000s, when the InuYasha anime was airing on the Cartoon Network, that I started exploring anime and manga in earnest. The InuYasha TV show led me to the comic, which in turn led me to other titles by Rumiko Takahashi such as Mermaid Saga and The Rumic World Trilogy.


What’s your favorite title and why?

That depends on when you ask me — I’m easily swayed! But if I had to pick just one, I’d have to say it’s Osamu Tezuka’s Phoenix. Though the series is uniformly excellent, I’m partial to Sun, the final story in the saga. Tezuka deftly weaves events from the past with speculation about the future, creating a powerful, strange, and moving allegory about the arrival of Buddhism in Japan. The illustrations of futuristic cities, military battles, and wild landscapes are among some of the most beautiful images I’ve seen in comics, period.

neko ramen

Has there been a recent series that you would recommend people to check out?

I’m sorry Tokyopop went belly-up before it could finish Neko Ramen, a 4-koma manga about Taisho, a cat who runs a noodle shop. As a self-proclaimed dog lover, I wasn’t predisposed to like Neko Ramen, but I found it consistently hilarious. The secret, I think, is that Kenji Sonishi doesn’t just trot out hairball and litterbox jokes — though there are plenty of those scattered throughout the series — he also pokes fun at Taisho’s complete lack of business sense, making him a more universal figure.

Is there any fandom(s) that you would be an avid follower for?

Not really; my taste in manga is too eclectic to be confined to a single fandom!

viz ipad

Are there any issues in the trend of anime and manga that you feel passionate about?

I’m glad to see publishers embracing digital distribution — not because I think iPad apps will curb piracy, but because they have the potential to attract new audiences to manga. The VIZ app is the best of the digital manga readers — the interface is easy to use, and mimics the print-reading experience — but I wish it were available to folks who don’t own an iPad or iPhone. The Dark Horse model seems like a more sustainable one, as their comics are compatible with any web-browsing device.

Why did you decide to start social media/blogging?

I was motivated by two things: a desire to learn more about blogging, and a desire to connect with other manga fans. Prior to 2006, my entire online experience had been limited to web-surfing, and I thought it was time to get some hands-on experience building a website and populating it with content. I did that in baby steps: first I had a blog at Tokyopop, then I joined the editorial staff at a big website and learned to use WordPress, and finally I struck out on my own and created a site from scratch.

What is your favorite part in the blogging experience?

Over the last five years, readers have steered me towards books I might otherwise have missed, educated me about the Japanese publishing industry, and convinced me to give hated books a second chance. That kind of idea exchange is really stimulating, and keeps me invested in writing about manga — a good thing, because reviewing mediocre books can really curb my enthusiasm for blogging!

Other than your own blogging site, has there been any other social media projects/site that you have been involved with?

From 2007 to 2009, I was the Senior Manga Editor at PopCultureShock (now defunct). I’ve also been a regular contributor at Good Comics for Kids since 2008. And I’ve been on Twitter since 2009, talking about manga, politics, feminism, food, bad grammar, dogs, music — whatever interests me on a given day.

What are tips you can offer for other people looking into getting into the hobby that you are in?

If you’re interested in blogging about anime or manga, spend some time thinking about who you’d like to reach with your site: shojo manga fans? horror buffs? Miyazaki aficionados? Having an audience in mind will make it easier to design your blog, choose appropriate tags and categories, and pick interesting topics. Trying to write for a general audience of anime or manga fans is a lot harder to do, as the community is splintered into many, many subcultures.

Do you picture yourself as an anime/manga fan/blogger, ten years from now?

That’s hard to say; frankly, I’m sometimes amazed I’ve been doing this for as long as I have! But I think the answer is yes, if American publishers continue to license interesting, off-beat, and historically important manga. I’d hang in there for the opportunity to review English-language editions of GeGeGe no Kitaro, Ludwig B., and The Window of Orpheus.

Linda Yau is a fan of Japanese culture, and various anime/manga titles. She is a freelance writer and editor under her own name or animemiz. Her main blog is here and she can be contacted by Twitter.

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