Archive for the 'manga' Category

HERE ARE SOME THOUGHTS ON THE FIRST TWO GUNSMITH CATS VOLUMES

Or the first Revised Edition really big omnibus collection thing with 16 chapters. WHATEVER.

1) For a dude who has apparently never shot a gun or driven a car (at least at the time he wrote Gunsmith Cats), Ken’ichi Sonoda sure knows a hell of a lot about them. Fortunately, I have long since picked up the habit of tacitly accepting whatever technological details handed to me from years of reading science fiction and fantasy novels, so the fact that

a) I can’t own a gun because I’d blow my head off with my tendency to fidget with things
and
b) my entire knowledge about how cars operate is derived entirely from which bits of my recently-deceased Ford Taurus broke down

doesn’t have an adverse effect on my enjoyment of Gunsmith Cats.

2) It might just be because I expected the series to be a series of self-contained arcs (or even just chapter-long vignettes), as this seems typical of action-oriented series, but the flow of the story actually has each arc bleeding into one another, for what appears to be a grand overarching story involving whatever Mafia syndicate that keeps showing up. Even on the chapter level, there’s very little reliance on traditional cliffhangers: many chapters seem largely self-contained, with plot threads left to be picked up by later chapters.

I suspect this is one of my (many) NO SHIT, SHERLOCK moments, and is probably a common structure for the monthly serials (Gunsmith Cats ran in Afternoon), but it was a pleasant surprise. I mean, I was expecting HELL YEAH GUNS BANG BANG PEW PEW OH ALSO NAKED GIRLS but not necessarily a smooth plot flow. Or whatever you call this.

3) Speaking of OH ALSO NAKED GIRLS there is a two-page sequence where Minnie-May masturbates. She is 17 and also apparently the World’s Greatest and Most Accomplished Prostitute. I am pretty sure she is also the only person in the series who has thus far engaged, or attempted to engage, in any form of consensual sexual activity. I just thought I’d point this out, especially in light of Ken’ichi Sonoda apparently being married to a children’s book author.

4) RALLY VINCENT IN SAFETY GLASSES. This is my PSA to inform the world that safety glasses are officially sexier than actual glasses. Or maybe those are actually sunglasses. WHATEVER. She should wear them more often.

5) The random kid in Chapter 12 who crosses the street to see a bunny and inadvertently manages to sabotage Gray’s car because her loose jacket gets caught in the axles of his car is officially the biggest badass of the entire volume. Completely unfazed by two cars running over her. She needs a spinoff series. NOW.

So, yeah, does this post serve any valuable purpose other than “HEY I JUST READ SOME GUNSMITH CATS” which really shouldn’t be worthy of contacting any kind of media? No, not really. Should I get a Tumblr for this sort of nonsense? MAYBE. MAYBE NOT. TIME WILL TELL.

ALSO: SAFETY GLASSES! You might need them to experience the slowly-unfolding Strike Witches schadenfreude (is it really schadenfreude if we enjoy ourselves while watching Strike Witches? Are we actually enjoying ourselves or are we lost in a mire of irony? Why am I self-promoting?)

I’ll kill you, cut you up, and cum in your formaldehyde!: Deadman Wonderland is pretty twisted

I have blazed through the 2.5 volumes of Deadman Wonderland currently available, this hit new manga from the author and artist pair of the Eureka Seven manga (Kataoka Jinsei and Kondou Kazuma, who seem to both do story and art collaboratively). The flaw with the Eureka Seven manga, or so I’ve heard, is not the actual storytelling or art, but rather the changes made from the anime timeline. And I can definitely feel the Eureka Seven influence in the designs for Deadman Wonderland–Ganta looks suspiciously like Renton, and Shiro looks suspiciously like Anemone–as well as the overall art style. Most of the other characters don’t resemble Eureka Seven characters, though.

The actual plotline runs something like this: Ganta, a normal high school boy, is thrown into a public prison called Deadman Wonderland, a sort of theme park/circus where the public can be entertained by nasty criminals. The reason he’s in prison? He killed his entire class, or, rather, a mysterious entity killed his entire class, and then he got accused of the crime. So, of course, like any wrongfully imprisoned person, he must fight to prove his innocence, but (of course) there is a Mysterious Conspiracy afoot that he has been ushered into.

The problem is, however, is that Ganta has been “infected” by something titled the Branch of Sin: a mysterious power that allows him to use his blood to form bullets. Many others in Deadman Wonderland have this ability (hence the “Deadman” in the park’s title, as this is what they are known as), and the powers seem to be stemming from a mysterious earthquake that sank 70% of Tokyo ten years ago. The backstory reminds me a bit of Scryed, except less Taniguchi Goro and more…twisted.

The fun thing about this series is that it’s a balance of cute elements and dark, twisted violence. It’s much more effective at being disarmingly cute/violent than Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, in the sense that neither side is amped up to ridiculous levels. For instance, you have Ganta’s mysterious childhood friend, Shiro, who talks in some kind of weird Yoda version of Japanese and is very childlike and disarmingly cute–until later, when she reveals her true nature and desire to protect both herself and Ganta. I shall have to remain silent about most of the rest–this manga is a bit like Narutaru in that if you have certain elements spoiled for you, the series as a whole could be ruined. Let’s just say that the part of the manga where the title of this post comes from is a bit, shall we say…devious. I will say this, though: that particular fight showcased some interesting depth of character.

The manga’s still serializing, and hasn’t been licensed yet, but it’s already pretty good. I think I need to read something less…horror…in a bit, because, well, I’ve read two seinen horros series in close succession (this and Parasyte), which is pretty impressive for someone who doesn’t really like horror all that much. Although, Japanese horror tends to get it right rather than be grotesque without a reason, so I guess I just like it more. Who knows.

Parasyte: The Thinking Man’s Horror Manga

So I picked up Del Rey’s snazzy new and massive re-releases of the first two volumes of the Parasyte manga on a random whim recently, and pretty much blazed through them both today. The author, Iwaaki Hitoshi, is currently doing another manga for Monthly Afternoon called Historie, which I read one volume of a while ago and really liked (and will talk about more when I get around to reading more), which was part of the reason why I picked up Parasyte as I did. I’m extremely glad I did–it’s not only thrilling and suspenseful, it’s also got a fair bit of brain candy to chew on.

The plot runs something like this: Izumi Shinichi is your average second-year high school student, but when a mysterious alien invasion hits Earth, his right arm ends up being “devoured” by an alien parasite. This is, of course, a failure for the parasite, because Migi, which Shinichi ends up calling him, was supposed to devour the brain and not the hand. The other, more successful, alien parasites are currently rampaging throughout humanity, devouring hapless humans and mutilating the remains. Shinichi knows of this, and decides to try and stop the invaders, with the somewhat reluctant help of Migi, who is interested in preserving Shinichi only by way of the fact that he is his host, and his life is bound to him.

As Migi evolves and Shinichi deals with the agonizing problem of having a talking hand with eyeballs, the reader is left to ponder some interesting questions: what does it mean to be human, and at what point does our humanity end? In the case of those infected by the parasites, their humanity is literally devoured and they become soulless killing machines. But Shinichi is left with his brain intact, and no choice but to try and stop the invasion by himself. The matter is complicated somewhat by the fact that as Migi becomes more human in his thought patterns, the kind and gentle Shinichi is becoming ever more ruthless and apathetic. He’s certainly spurred by a noble goal, and his methods (in the first two volumes) are not cruel, but people around him are starting to notice his humanity slipping away. Is this a good thing, then? Is it truly a noble thing to sacrifice one’s well-being for the sake of all humanity? Migi even points out that he doesn’t understand the self-sacrificing nature of humans, and considers them just another form of animal. If that’s the case, then why do we feel unique as humans? What makes us human? Is it that we are the only animal that we know of who cares for other animals, both of and not of our species?

I could go on endlessly on some kind of philosophical rant, but that’d just be my opinion. The correct thing to do, then, would be to get thee to a bookstore, and pick up Parasyte now. If you were “blessed” with reading the ancient Tokyopop/MIXX releases, more power to you–you know more about this series than I do, at the moment. The Del Rey re-releases are certainly snazzy and cool, and May can’t come fast enough for me.


NOTICE SHAMELESSLY STOLEN FROM G.K. CHESTERTON

I cannot understand those that take anime seriously, but I can love them, and I do. Out of my love I warn them to keep clear of this blog.

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