This is my super-awesome autographed photo and copy of A DISTANT SOIL from actor Kyomoto Masaki.


Back in the 1980’s, when cable TV was young and I first discovered manga, I got into J-pop (Japanese pop culture). Mr. Kyomoto was a big star back then, an actor, musician, and martial artist, known for “Hissatsu Shigotonen”, “Kamen Rider”, “Ultraman”, and a heck of a lot of other geeky stuff. Early cable aired Kung Fu and low-end Japanese movies all the time.

A Japanese exchange student stayed with my family, and he later became an executive at Bandai. Amusingly enough, he tried to convince all his friends back in Japan that he was my boyfriend. I don’t know, if you cook and make tea for a guy, maybe some fellows think that means girlfriend. Whatever, he really wasn’t.

Be that as it may, I was later hired by Bandai/Plex to do consulting work about the US comics market, as they were having issues trying to get manga and anime to do well.

When I tell people about the struggles getting manga and anime to sell over here, some fans simply won’t believe it. They think it’s evil Americans trying to degrade manga and anime out of crazy jealousy. It’s ridiculous.

Early efforts at market penetration simply didn’t work. Japanese executives could not understand how the US market functioned and were puzzled why books that sold millions in Japan sold in the thousands in the USA. Every time I say this, it makes manga fans furious. Whatever.

Regardless, the executives found out I was a fan of Kyomoto Masaki, who is one of Bandai’s major talents, and they got me this autograph and photo. Alas, I had an accident in my studio, and water got on my photo, but who cares. I got this close to Mr Kyomoto!

Mr Kyomoto is still going strong, hasn’t really changed much, and his son is now a pop idol as well. For a time, I even used Mr Kyomoto as a model for D’mer in A DISTANT SOIL. He didn’t seem to mind.

I’m really not into J-Pop anymore, but this is a fun memory.