death of an admired artist

2014-08-03 TOKYO, JAPAN -- Obi Hiroshi (帯ひろ志), a manga artist and teacher whom I respect and admire, died this morning due to a sudden illness.

A year ago yesterday we met for the first and last time at the Sapporo Clock Tower. Obi Hiroshi chose his pseudonym from his birthplace Obihiro city on Hokkaido island. He left Hokkaido when he was a toddler, grew up and lived on Honshu island, and opened his manga studio in Sagamihara (a city in Kanagawa, close to where I spent my adolescence). The day we met, he had returned to Hokkaido island for the first time in 50 years.

Obi Hiroshi earned fame in soft-porn manga for teenage boys. I approve of his manga because his work is full of loyalty, friendship, and happy endings. There is no violence or broken promises. His heroines are healthy, optimistic, extroverted, and courageous.

Above: My favorite character Chisato from “Miracle lingerie”. Chisato gains super powers by wearing lingerie sent to earth by aliens. Her bra and panties are activated only when exposed to sunlight and to the full view of men transfixed at the 14-year-old saving the world. Obi Hiroshi softened the sexual aspect of his story by drawing Chisato as if she was wearing a bikini swimsuit, and by assigning Chisato humanitarian missions to overcome her embarrassment. Contrary to what amazon says, the books are available for purchase. (This cover artwork is identical to the books I own.)

Another reason why I respect Obi Hiroshi is his generous, sincere love of his students. He was an assistant professor at an
art school. We talked about teaching techniques and student psychology. He taught at various off-campus venues including Sapporo. I believe he was teaching a manga clinic at Tokuyama University (in Yamaguchi) when he suffered a brain stem hemorrhage that killed him within hours.

Overwork must have caught up with him. He mentioned his hectic schedule and health problems. Manga artists are rarely paid well for their artwork. Obi Hiroshi supplemented his income by illustrating corporate instructional material. He was proud of his fast turn-around times. I wish I had paid him to draw for my online courseware. If only I could have afforded to pay him enough so that he could have worked less.

It is so unfair for such a super-friendly artist and ultra-caring teacher to leave us behind.

Obi Hiroshi was 54 years old.

Above: Obi Hiroshi signed his book for me. It occupies a treasured display position in my office.

Above: Obi Hiroshi and I exchanged messages over the past few years on twitter.

Above: Obi Hiroshi’s wife announced her husband’s death on
his twitter account.

Goh meets Hiroshi Obi

2013-08-02 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- Hiroshi Obi (帯ひろ志), a manga artist and teacher, visited Hokkaido for his first time since he left the island as an infant many years ago. I met Hiroshi Obi at the Sapporo Clock Tower. When I asked for Obi’s autograph, Obi thrilled me by drawing my favorite character Chisato! Wow! Obi held Sirokuro Puppy and took a picture together. We then visited the old prefectural building.

See Obi’s pictures (taken by yours truly) on
his blog. Here’s the autographed drawing. Watch Obi draw it in the video below.


how to become a manga artist

2013-01-13 SAPPORO, JAPAN -- I read advice on how to become a manga artist. The advice offered by manga editors is similar to what I offer my graduate students. Perhaps the similarity stems from the fact that both manga and research rely on creativity (the author’s unique contribution) and convention (a set of rules or formats that authors and audiences agree upon). If I am correct, then it should follow that this advice would apply to other fields that blend innovation with protocol.

Although I absolutely lack artistic talent (I can’t draw or sing), I do enjoy manga. I was pleasantly delighted to receive last week a full-color image of Ubel Blatt signed by Shiono Etoroji. I respect Obi Hiroshi because (based on what he has written) he is probably a talented and dedicated teacher. And I’ve read Inoue Kazurou’sMidori no hibi” many times because the characters and storyline remind me so much of Noriko and me.

my favorite manga

I’m a big fan of “美鳥の日々” by Kazurou Inouye, and ”3x3 eyes” (サザンアイズ, no official website) by Yuzo Takada. I bought the whole sets at a used manga store plus a new volume including episodes after “3x3 eyes” ended (講談社漫画文庫 15-24). These two artists are my top favorites at the moment. “Captain Alice” is an ongoing story that’s on my must-read list.

a moving story

I recommend you read this young man’s story. I cried. (It’s written in Japanese.)