Sunday, May 8, 2011
Go Nagai Wonderland Museum
Not to be outdone by Voidmare's visit to knock-off heaven Korea, I returned to Ishikawa prefecture over Golden Week to bring back some official bootlegs from the Go Nagai Wonderland Museum.
Go Nagai, famous worldwide for his puerile power fantasies driven by cheesecake and cartooney ultraviolence, was born in the city of Wajima, a small town overlooking the Sea of Japan near the top of the Noto Pinnensula. His father's job took the family to Tokyo and Nagai never looked back until a few years ago when the tourism board of Wajima decided to cash in on the six years the author spent there by establishing the Go Nagai Wonderland Museum.
Sadly photography was prohibited, and with the staff hovering around like shit hawks you'll have to make do with a written account of the highlights, which include:
-A two meter Mazinger-Z statue shooting a rocket punch.
-Comprehensive timeline of all known works. (Surprisingly he was serialized in Shojo magazines as well during the beginning of his career.)
-E-book library of works through the mid-70's.
-Carved stone statue of his super deformed self-portrait.
-Original pages from Devilman, Dorodoro Enma-Kun and others.
-Print club featuring backdrops from tankobon covers.
The museum wouldn't be a true tourist trap without a selection of kitschy souvenirs.
Manga pages are made of pulp, which are then recycled into toilet paper. These Devilman and Cutey Honey toilet paper rolls bridge the gap between TP and manga, thus completing the circle of nature.
Individually wrapped, nondescript cookies are a must for appeasing co-workers, and the kleenex serves in a pinch when there's no Devilman toilet paper on hand.
The Mazinger-Z labeled local sake is possibly the worst offender in a long line of branded products that have nothing to do with the source material.
Wajima is famous for its lacquerware, making these Devilman chopsticks almost legit.
However I draw the line at a $300 drink tumbler, even if it does use gold leafing.
More curious than the museum itself, across the street stands a suit store operated by the Nagai family. The owner is the son of Nagai Go's father's cousin, making his connection to the author's legacy as strained as everything else in the city. This doesn't stop them from dealing in glitter-embossed T-shirts.
Get your Wajima exclusives right here.
The storefront also serves as a power spot for fans. After making the arderous pilgrimage to the museum, they leave offerings of toys and posters that the owner displays out of a sense of obligation
In fact, the whole town is rabid with Nagai Go fever. There isn't a bookstore without a sun faded window display of his manga. Renditions of Mazinger-Z and Cutey Honey adorn maps and tourist information completely unrelated to the museum.
Don't get me wrong. The shameless opportunism adds to the town's charm and makes the two hour bus ride from Kanazawa worthwhile. Like most shita-machi visits, its something to do on a lazy Sunday, rather than a must-see weekend destination. And if you time it right, you might show up in the middle of a black sabbath when the fan club makes their regular pilgrimage.