If you love a series because it plays to a whole array of personal fascinations, is that a bad thing? Nightmare Inspector is an anthology of things I adore without apology — 1920s Japan, gorgeously dreamy art, and of course manga itself — but at the same time, I know I’d be doing a disservice to anyone reading this if I didn’t review it instead of simply gushing about it.
And so with the third volume, the series has settled into a comfortable formula, although one where they ring enough twists on the basics to make it perennially interesting instead of leaden and repetitive. Each night a new customer comes to the Silver Star Tea House, seeking the aid of Hiruko the baku or dream-eater. He’ll devour their nightmares for them, and often play amateur psychoanalyst while doing so … but what his clients find is not always what they have been seeking. The way each search is visualized and played off is a big part of the fun, and the conclusions to each story often involve a clever O. Henry-style twist. There’s very little meta-plot in this particular volume, and so the individual stories tend to be highly self-contained, but the few times such connections come up they hint at a larger and more all-encompassing storyline that’s only just now being hinted at.Read more
Word has it the guy was nearly blown to bits when he was a kid, which explains that ugly piebald face and that mess of scars all over it — none of which is completely hidden by that also-ugly shock of white hair. The string tie and the cape he’s always wearing only make him seem all the more aloof. Small wonder people only go to him, with suitcases full of cash in hand, when they’re desperate. No one hires Black Jack, the underground doctor, unless they absolutely have to. And even when you do hire him, there’s no guarantee you’re going to get exactly what you ask for.
Consider the case of Acudo, son of the billionaire Nikula. The kid was a bad seed; nobody disputed that. Drove his car right into a phone pole and ended up a barely-living pile of meat. Nikula threw around money like it was falling leaves to get someone to heal his son — and sure enough, he got Black Jack to do the job. Trouble was, even Black Jack couldn’t do anything for the kid without some donor parts … and so Nikula was only too happy to railroad some poor kid, a tailor named Davy, into “providing” his body for the noble cause. What Nikula didn’t expect was for Black Jack to pull a switcheroo on everyone and give that poor Davy a way out. That’s Black Jack for you: two-fisted surgeon of the underworld and equally covert humanitarian. He may not tell you he cares, but he’ll show you … that is, if you’ve earned it.Read more
When Viz announced their VIZBIG line of reprint editions for select titles, I couldn’t help but let my mind go scurrying off in a dozen directions at once. Three volumes in one for the price of two; an 8 ½” × 6” trim size, French flaps, top-notch print quality … the last time I was this jazzed was when I found out the Criterion Collection was preparing to offer its catalog titles in Blu-ray. But if Criterion was offering The Man Who Fell To Earth and The Last Emperor, what did Viz have planned?
As it turns out, they picked one of the best titles they could possibly have elected to offer in the VIZBIG format. I speak of Takehiko Inoue’s Vagabond, which is not only one of the best titles Viz has under its wing right now but probably one of the best manga to see print, period. I try not to hyperbolize, but believe me, this is one of the few times where the comic in question is worth every bit of the fanboy gush. Doubly so in this edition, which not only gives you that much more Musashi for the money but serves it up on a page that’s even bigger and bolder than the original editions did.Read more