Charles Solomon, author of Enchanted Drawings: The History of Animation, went bicoastal on Sunday with feature articles on manga in the L.A. Times and anime in the N.Y. Times. In the L.A. Times Solomon reviewed and contrasted three manga series, Hiromu Arakawa's Full Metal Alchemist (Viz), Ken Akamatsu's Negima (Del Rey) and Yoshiro Togashi's Hunter x Hunter (Viz). In the N.Y. Times Mr. Solomon examined the influence of hip hop on a number of anime series including Shinichiro Watanabe's Samurai Champloo and Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent and also discussed Santa Inoue's groundbreaking Tokyo Tribes manga (Tokyopop).
In contrasting Full Metal Alchemist and Negima Mr. Solomon came down firmly on the side of FMA's emotional storyline (FMA 'offers something many American comics and animated films lack: heart') versus Negima's fan service/comedy. Solomon also admires the moral seriousness of Gon, the hero of Togashi's Hunter x Hunter, which gives Gon 'an appeal his relentlessly upbeat counterparts lack.' In summing up this very positive look at three adventure-laced shonen (boys) manga Solomon concludes: 'In many ways the challenges Edward, Alphonse, Negi and Gon face aren't very different from the ones faced by characters in the Harry Potter, Tintin and The Hardy Boys series. There are still wrongs to be righted, mysteries to be solved, victims to be rescued and malefactors to be brought to justice...The better manga offer a combination of words and pictures that speaks to younger readers looking for an alternative to the flashy visuals of video games, Star Wars, and Yu-Gi-Oh!.'
In his article in the New York Times Solomon discusses the rising influence of hip-hop, which he sees as something of an antidote to racist attitudes in some aspects of Japanese society. Watanabe's Samurai Champloo (Adult Swim), which deals with ethnic, racial, religious, and sexual discrimination in Japan is a prime focus of Solomon's essay as are Satoshi Kon's Paranoia Agent (also on the Cartoon Network's Adult Swim) and Santa Inoue's Tokyo Tribes manga, which introduced hip-hop elements to the worlds of manga and anime back in 1997.