Exploring the Turnpike once moreI'm sure some readers were expecting this to be the topic this month. After all, I did "Exploring the 'Pike" in June and November of last year, and in June of this year, so it stands to reason that the November 2000 column would follow the pattern. Well, the truth is, it just happened that way. I was honestly very surprised when I checked last year's archive and found how regular a pattern I've been keeping.
For those unfamiliar with this topic, this is where I wander through the Turnpike's "Anime/Manga Series" pages, concentrating on those series that have only a small number of sites devoted to them, series unlikely ever to get a column of their own. This month's exploring produced 20 sites for 16 series. All but three of the series had only one site worth mentioning. I found a lot of solidly designed information sites, but only a little unique content. Without further ado, let's dive in:
Dr. SlumpHere's a series I would like to know more about. I've been intrigued by Dr. Slump since I read a review of it in a fan magazine a long while back. This manga and anime were created by Akira Toriyama of Dragonball fame, so you'd think an American publisher would give it a try, but then again, Dr. Slump is as different from Dragonball as night is from day. For an illustration of this fact, visit , a good information site available in three languages: English, Spanish, and Catalan. I'm not sure what the site author's first language is, but it's obviously not English, as the site's text contains a fair amount of broken phrases, though not enough to hamper comprehension. My favorite part of this site is the map of Penguin Village, which allows the reader to access pages on specific locations by clicking on the area in question. The character pages are quite informative as well. Now, if the author would only replace those navigation icons with icons that actually mean something, we'd have an excellent site. Navigation is maddening on this site; you essentially have to click on everything until you find what you like. You can read the URL as you move the mouse over the link for a clue, but come on...
DualOr, as I like to call it, "El-Hazgelion". Okay, so this anime isn't the most original that's ever been released. It's still nice enough to look at, with enough fun characters to get me to overlook the bits that are borrowed from elsewhere. For some info on Dual, you might want to visit , a basic information site with an attractive design. The character page has detailed writeups for seven major characters, with brief descriptions for another five. Another page details the show's giant robots. (Curiously, the mech pages are off the "character" page. I suppose the robots could be considered characters in their own right.) A choice of nine wallpapers are offered, all from the opening sequence, and all sized at 640x480.
EarthianThis shojo manga/anime is the only series highlighted this month to have more than two sites worthy of mention. The best I found, by a hair, was . It utilizes that "white design" with pastel colors that seems to work so well for shojo subjects and for which I'm such a sucker. The site has some basic background information on the manga and anime, but not much of a character page. However, it does have plenty of image scans and screen captures, as well as fan art, fan fiction, and multimedia toys such as Winamp skins and desktop wallpaper.
For better character information, visit . Two primary characters are granted their own pages, with lengthy writeups. A third page is devoted to four other characters the site author deemed less interesting.
Last but not least, check out and look at the milk ads. Yes, milk ads, parodies of those ads which feature celebrities sporting milk mustaches.
Eroica Yori Ai o Komete (From Eroica With Love)I'd never heard of this shojo manga, about a British noble art thief and the German NATO intelligence agent devoted to tracking him down, but after viewing this site, I understand it has a small, but devoted following. is the only site listed on the Turnpike for this manga. The site author has done an impressive job of tracking down fanfics. The fan fiction section has over 140 works, culled from "email archives" (mailing lists?), web sites, and print sources. The works date as far back as 1989. Those of conservative mindsets should tread lightly, as the main character in this manga is openly gay, so many of the fanfics feature homoerotic content. This site is full of useful and interesting stuff. The "Manga Summaries" page summarizes the first eight volumes, published from 1976-80, with more summaries promised. "Dorian's Wardrobe" describes and critiques the outfits worn by the main character. There's only one significant thing missing from this site. A character page! There's no character page! The background information consists of one paragraph on the main page. Sadly, this site seems to be designed more to be a resource for experienced fans of the manga, rather than to introduce new fans.
EsperSYet another shojo series. Funny how shojo seems to crop up so often in these "exploring" columns. While I still don't care much for shojo personally, I have to admit, I like shojo sites. The fans have taste and know how to design a pretty site. Case in point, the eponymously-named site. I'll criticize this site right off the bat by noting that nowhere does it say "the manga is about this". However, you can go to the manga section, click on the picture of the first volume, and read a synopsis of the first six installments. Or if, like me, you're too lazy to read that much, you can read the character descriptions on the attractive character page and piece together the basics of the plot. The plot, not to mention the art, strongly resemble what you would expect from CLAMP, so much so that the site author devotes a page of the site to the similarity. One thing is most certainly different: unlike your average CLAMP site, you can find plenty of lovely scanned artwork to gaze upon.
Excel SagaI have no idea what this series is about, and after reading the two sites devoted to it, I still don't. But I get the idea nobody else does either, even the people who created the anime. If you're interested, read first. Ordinarily, I don't mention sites like Anime Colony, which consist of umpteen zillion one-page reviews, all of which get posted to the Turnpike as if they were individual sites. However, in this case, the only other site, , a superior site in every other respect, has no series overview. It is a good "shovel site" in every other respect, though, with a decent character section, images of merchandise, sounds, song lyrics, and multimedia downloads.
FAnother new one to me, apparently a motor racing anime. I say "apparently", because the only site devoted it, , is yet another otherwise solid info site with no plot overview. That and the fact that it resides on NBCI, formerly Xoom, the world's most suck hosting service, are the only things I can count against it. (I hate those commercials with the sexy redhead giving you the "tour" of NBCI. Why can't they be realistic? She should be surrounded by dialogue boxes reading "connection reset by peer".) To be fair, there is a synopsis of the first three episodes available, so I wouldn't be totally clueless if I read that. The character page is well-done, and gives an illustration and a one-paragraph description for twenty characters. There are also galleries of merchandise and cels, as well as screen caps for the opening and ending sequences.
Fairy Princess RenThis was a great, shortlived, OAV series. Sadly, there is no general info page available for it. The site called simply is worth spending a minute or two on if you liked this series. (Of course, if you like the series, the chances are that you already have.) The site consists of over 40 screen captures, a couple of cosplay pictures, and some movie clips. I recommend it because any web presence for this anime is worth cheering. And the site is nicely arranged, if thin on content.
FakeMore shojo! Yet another general information site with no overview! The site is , and like so many shojo sites, it's very pretty. Reading the detailed descriptions on the character page, I get the feeling that Fake is a combination cop show/homosexual romance. The "manga" section has a single-paragraph summary of each volume. Each manga volume gets its own image gallery as well. The site sports a fan art section as well as a small collection of mp3s, with lyrics included. Except for the glaring absence of an introduction section, this is a wonderful site.
Fancy LaLaThis magical girl series is due out in the US from Bandai, if I'm not mistaken. AnimEigo spent a long time running a petition to drum up interest in a possible release, and it worked so well, Bandai decided to release it themselves. Nothing like doing free marketing for your competition. If you're interested as to what's coming, check out Mahou no Stage Fancy LaLa, a page from the incomparable Hitoshi Doi. Doi never disappoints, and as usual, his site is full of everything you need to know, right down to detailed summaries of all but two of the 26 episodes. Check out the cel gallery, and the "Lala pitching" section in particular. Doi has collected 13 consecutive cels! They show Lala pitching a baseball and represent almost two seconds of animation. Since I'm on this "overview" kick, I should be fair and note that the overview on this site consists of precisely one sentence. Nevertheless, it's more than I got on those other sites.
Fashion Boy is CoolAnother shojo manga with a single interesting page! Only check it out: this one actually has a section labelled "introduction"! What a concept! I'm referring to the page. The character page has a decent amount of information, but also some bugs. One of the sections has the background color set incorrectly, rendering the text invisible (select it to read it). Also, the images on the character page are slightly distorted by being forced into boxes. There's a "summaries" section which briefly summarizes the entire manga story, which spans 13 years. The site also has a gallery of over 40 manga scans.
Fatal FuryBrowsed 15 sites for this anime. Liked one. A rather unique one, at that. I've never thought of Fatal Fury, an anime based on a beat-em-up video game, to be something that would appeal to shojo fans, but the author of disagrees. She sees the main character as quite the bishonen. So what we get is a shojo-style anime site for a very shonen anime. An intriguing mixture of tastes. The site is essentially a collection of shrines to the male characters, with bouncy, big-chested Mai being half-grudgingly granted a shrine as well.
Five Star StoriesThe site has to be one of the most humbly-named sites I've ever visted. "Five Star Stories Encyclopedia" or "Five Star Stories Universe" would better suit it. I spent way too much time browsing this site, when I should have been finding more sites. I couldn't help myself. The content was so fascinating. "In-depth" doesn't begin to describe it. I won't go into a blow-by-blow description of the content; that would take all day. Click on the character section. Character site is more like it. The section not only describes the characters in depth, but the world they live in, its history and social system. Go to the "Mortar Headds" section for enough data for any mech-head, specs for 20 different mecha. The "kit how to" section isn't complete yet, but the sections on metal kits and "IP" kits are worthy of their own Turnpike links. And, of course, the site has fan art and sounds and movies for download. I had to stop myself from reading it again just now. Gotta finish this column...
Fubuki the Female NinjaWhen the magazine Chibi-Pop disappeared from the shelves late last year, then was discontinued on the web last spring, Fubuki the Female Ninja is what I missed the most. This silly, cute manga about a female ninja (kuniochi?) who travels to the present via a magic mirror was my favorite feature of the magazine. is just that, the only site devoted to this simple but fun manga. Yes, there is an overview, in the "Series Information" section. The site is designed in the mostly-white shojo style. The author considers Fubuki to be a shojo manga, which is odd, since I thought it to be shonen. You know, cute girl out of a mirror? The character page only details eight characters, but does a good job. The series died young, so not that many characters had been introduced. The site also offers one short fanfic, by the site author.
Futaba-kun ChangeThis has been one of my favorite manga since Ironcat began translating it. I was already excited when they came out with their first issue, since I'd already seen the Futaba-kun Change Homepage. Overview? You bet. A whole paragraph's worth. Clever character page, with the link to each character's page being a headshot inside either a "male" or "female" symbol (visit the site and you'll understand why that's very important). Over 20 characters are highlighted, including all the major characters I know of to the point I've read. The "COMPLETE Manga Translations" are just that, covering every chapter of all eight volumes. The site also offers a sizable gallery of manga translations and a critique of the Ironcat version of the manga.
Future Boy ConanOther than the fact that it was directed by Hayao Miyazaki, I knew very little about this series before visiting this site. A site entitled simply has the basic information you need to get acquainted, although the organization's a little off. The "Synopsis" section is the sixth link, after several links to individual images. You can choose between two synopses: a "brief non-spoiler version" which gives you the basic overview of the series, or a detailed synopsis of the entire story from beginning to end. There is a character/places page with descriptions of the important stuff, with references cross-linked, which is something you don't see much of anymore. There's also plenty of music to download, as well as scripts for all 26 episodes, in either HTML or text format.
I think that's enough links for one month.