Before Masayuki Ishikawa had his big hit with Moyasimon (a tale of talking bacteria, no less), he had a couple of other one-shot titles that may or may not get an English release. I’ve been pushing for “may”, as after I discovered Del Rey was putting out Moyasimon I went to their acquisitions editor and encouraged her to look into also picking up Ishikawa’s Kataribe. It only ran for one volume, but what a volume it is: it’s a rousing, violent, eye-filling adventure that comes off like one of Miyazaki’s wide-gauge productions, right down to the stubborn young heroine in the titular lead. A clone it’s not, though, and the Japan Media Arts Festival gave it a recommendation when it appeared back in 2006 (right alongside Honey and Clover, and Moyasimon itself).
The plot: Kataribe’s the disguised daughter of a noble family returning to Japan after being in exile*, now that the internecine conflict on the island finally seems to be winding down. Unfortunately they return just in time to be captured by a band of marauding warriors, the “Demon Masters”. The lucky prisoners only get killed and have their bodies thrown to the Demon Masters’ pack of cannibal-like conscripts. The unlucky ones probably end up as those beasts — and they’re a truly creepy gang, with their names tattooed on their backs, their faces always obscured behind rough hoods with eyeholes, and buckets of severed human ears as proof of their conquests. Read more
Maybe it sounds like a cheap shot to say I picked up the manga adaptation of Otsuichi’s Zoo for a dollar, but it’s the truth. I was already curious about how the short-story collection had been adapted into manga, but having a pricetag that low closed the deal, and now I’m here to tell you if this doesn’t show up in English anytime soon you won’t be missing too much.
Well, that does sound like a cheap shot, doesn’t it? Especially since Zoo itself was bumpy going; the best stories in there were cheek-by-jowl with other stories so inept I wanted to red-pencil them as I went along. The manga version adapts three good stories from that collection (“Words of God”, “Zoo”, “Song of the Sunny Spot”) and one dud (“Kazari and Yoko”). Art’s by Akihisa Yanari, the creator of Tattoon Master, which is not exactly the biggest credential around but the results are acceptably clean and dramatic-looking. On the whole, though, it’s lockstep: for fans and completists only. Read more