Manga grows in the heart of Europe
The supernaturally focused manga "Kekkaishi" is one of the top manga titles in Germany.
January 26th, 2012
03:08 PM ET

Manga grows in the heart of Europe

Editor's note: Danica Davidson is a writer whose articles have appeared on, Publishers Weekly and the Los Angeles Times. She also writes English adaptions of Japanese graphic novels. She has recently finished her first young adult novel and is seeking a publisher. 

Anime and manga are gaining in popularity around the globe.  The realization of that first hit me when I was attending a fair at the German city of Wiesloch. There —  amidst the bratwurst and schnitzel stands, the arts and crafts and the homemade goods — were “Yu-Gi-Oh” tapes and cards.

I was lucky enough to be on an inexpensive (read: actually affordable for a writer) group trip to Germany and France, where we stayed with German host families at night and toured during the day.  I never stopped being amazed by the grandeur of the old buildings or the kindness of the locals, especially the host families, but seeing anime and manga became a regular occurrence.

Every bookstore I went into in both countries had manga sections. Anime and manga magazines were being sold like the ones you can get in America.

I flipped through “Peach Girl” at the bookstore in Wiesloch. I checked out “Bleach” at a bookshop in Heidelberg not far from Heidelberg Castle, which you can see in Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster.”  I could go into a mall, say, “anime,” and be pointed in the right direction.  I didn’t have much time for television watching, but I did see “One Piece” in German and “Naruto” in French.  And, yes, I bought myself “Yu-Gi-Oh Der Film” from the fair. FULL POST

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Will nerds feed starving kids in Africa?
Part of the We Can Be Heroes logo featuring the silhouette of the Justice League.
January 25th, 2012
12:26 PM ET

Will nerds feed starving kids in Africa?

Diane Nelson is not "technically" a nerd, she said, and neither are many of the people she works with. She's the president of DC Entertainment and she just happens to hang out with comic book royalty, like Jim Lee and Geoff Johns. (So much for the theory that one can catch geeky cooties due to proximity.)

She may not be a nerd, but she runs a company whose media inspires nerdy devotion. And starting this week, DC Entertainment is hoping their characters from "The Justice League" will be a vehicle to educate fans about the very real famine in the Horn of Africa, and inspire them to donate money to the cause.

Time Warner and DC Entertainment have partnered with Save the Children, International Rescue Committee and Mercy Corps in an awareness and fund-raising campaign called We Can Be Heroes, which uses the imagery of the Justice League. For every dollar that is donated to help the aid organizations on the ground in Africa at, DC will give a matching donation, up to $1 million per person. (Time Warner is the parent company of DC and CNN.)

The We Can Be Heroes website also offers specially branded merchandise for sale, featuring the silhouette of the Justice League against the outline of Africa. Fifty percent of the proceeds of this merchandise will also be donated.

"Actually, one of my favorite things about this completely insane geek community is seeing what happens when we try to band together to help," said Daniel Dean, a manager for Titan Comics & Games in Smyrna, Georgia, and a frequent Geek Out collaborator.

"See, to me this isn't about 'I like the Justice League, therefore I will help a 6-year-old girl not starve to death.' It's a case of believing in everything people like Superman and the Justice League are supposed to represent," Dean said, "and standing ready and waiting to help so that when an opportunity like this comes along we can jump at the chance." FULL POST

New Comic Wednesday: January 25, 2012
Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise Part 1, Writer: Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko Artist: Gurihiru Cover Artist: Gurihiru
January 24th, 2012
01:18 PM ET

New Comic Wednesday: January 25, 2012

Hello again, fellow comic readers!

The recommendation this week will, with any luck, help you forget a certain big-budget live-action film that disappointed both fans of the series that inspired it and people who'd never seen the series.

I've been looking forward to the release of Dark Horse’s “Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise Part 1” from the moment it was “advance-solicited” (a geeky comics-industry way of saying “announced”).

Our friend Daniel Dean from Titan Games and Comics in Smyrna, Georgia, is excited too. And apparently we’re not alone.

Dean said he’s been “fielding questions from kids who saw ads for it online and parents who earmarked the solicitation for purchase come January.”

As to his own excitement? “My wife and I are big fans of the series ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender.’ We were this close to naming our dog after one of the characters,” he said.

Young and old, a lot of very devoted fans have been attracted to the series, which ran on Nickelodeon from 2005 until 2008. That’s evident in events ranging from the AV Club's series of in-depth dissections of the show's themes and threads, to the electricity last week when advance previews of a follow-up series, “Avatar: Legend of Korra,” were leaked. FULL POST

The beginner's guide to Japanese drama
Japanese actor Takuya Kimura, who is also part of the popular Japanese boy-band SMAP, is a frequent star of J-dramas.
January 23rd, 2012
05:49 PM ET

The beginner's guide to Japanese drama

Often the key that opens the door to otaku culture is anime. Anime is a pervasive medium, and even those outside the fandom of Japanese culture and media can recognize the hallmarks of anime at fan conventions -  DragonBall Z or Bleach costumes are ever-present. (We saw a cute InuYasha at last year's Dragon*Con. His brother Sesshomaru was also milling about.)

Some fans remain firmly rooted in their love of anime for years. But more and more in America, otakus are discovering a form of Japanese television because of its sheer wackiness and anime-like humor. It's called J-drama (Japanese drama,) and it inspires obsessive dedication.

J-dramas are daily or weekly broadcasts that make up a great deal of Japanese television programming. These are comparable to sitcoms and dramas that run in America, but they have their own distinct flavor. J-drama incorporates many different genres, from medical dramas to romantic dramas, and frequently feature Japan's most prominent stars in key roles.

It's lovingly dubbed "J-Dorama," due to the way the Japanese pronounce the word. Since the Japanese syllabary consists of specific character sets, certain English words pose a challenge for them to pronounce. For example, Americans often notice something like a "U" sound added to the end of English words as spoken by Japanese (something fans often adoringly poke fun at). There is no character in Japanese for just the letter "D," but there is "DO," hence "Dorama."

The U.S.-based fandom that revolves around J-drama is strong and well-organized online. Many websites cater to fans through extensive forums, offering outlets for fans to talk about their favorites actors, actresses and shows, as well as upcoming dramas to look forward to. There are multiple wikis cataloging J-drama releases each season, making it easy for a new fan to discover what they might like or make friends who can point them in the right direction. Other sites offer a guide to dramas by season that allows fans to keep an eye on what's up and coming all in one place.

There's also "The Dorama Encyclopedia," which covers drama series that aired up until 2003 and lists hundreds of productions across all different genres. Whether you find you've been recently infected with the J-drama bug or have advanced addiction and need more, this book presents a fun read that is sure to bring your knowledge of this popular subset of otaku interest to the next level. FULL POST

Welcome to 'Geek Therapy'
January 23rd, 2012
03:02 PM ET

Welcome to 'Geek Therapy'

It's not unusual for a therapist to quiz their patients in order to find out more about them. But this isn't your average therapy session.

The therapist is a geek therapist, and she wants to measure her patient's GQ, or Geek Quotient. Once the patient answers a question about the "Transformers" character Unicron by saying, "There were no unicorns in 'Transformers," things start to look bleak for her GQ score.

Actress/comedian America Young, of, has played the Geek Therapist in three episodes of "Geek Therapy," posted to YouTube. She has taken a wannabe geek as a patient and discussed the difference between geeks and nerds with a married couple.

CNN Geek Out spoke with Young about the new Web series.

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