Another instance of Miura (Berserk) lending his considerable talents as an illustrator to a nearly-worthless story. The last time he did that was with King of Wolves, also with a story by Buronson, but Japan is worse.
In some ways this is Wolves turned inside-out: a gallery of characters are flung into the future instead of the past, where Japan has turned into a wasteland and all the natives have been ground under the heel of a pan-European dictatorship. Their one hope is a meat-headed yakuza (at least he knows he's a meathead) who doles out Justice and Righteous Vengeance in equal measure.
The story's dumb enough, but there's also generous dollops of crass sexism and pinhead sociology to boot. At least when Kazuo Koike did this kind of thing (Crying Freeman), or when Ryoichi Ikegami drew it (ditto, plus Wounded Man, Sanctuary and Buronson's own Strain), it had the saving grace of being enjoyably smarmy pulp trash. The whole thing feels like a dry run for a series that was never commissioned, and thank goodness for that: Miura's far enough behind on Berserk as it is.
A plotless meditation on the concept of hell (or, strictly speaking, purgatory) as seen from a Japanese point of view. Several people who have recently died find themselves in a place that is much like the life they just left behind, but with some key differences. Everyone else's thoughts are readable; past and present intermix freely; and the things you worry about have a nasty tendency to come true. The only way out is to stop struggling — a conceit that students of Buddhism will recognize immediately, but Tsutsui uses it for satirical ends all the way through.
A love-letter to Japanese kaiju, or the giant monsters we all know and love, from Godzilla all the way on down to Varan and everything in between. In a slightly-alternate present, Japan has a special government division, the MMD, to deal with giant-monster attacks of all varieties. Like any government agency their work is underfunded, thankless, and tiring; their sole reward for sparing Tokyo from destruction yet again is often nothing more than a hostile round of press coverage and their next paycheck.Read more
Back before No Longer Human had even its first volume released in English, I went and copped all three volumes of the original untranslated Japanese edition. I read the first two of them back-to-back on one train ride back home, and I read the third a month or two later, while sitting in Bryant Park on a cool autumn afternoon (an incongruous setting for enjoying such a punishing piece of work). In short, I knew what I was getting myself into when Vertical, Inc.’s English translation arrived, but that didn’t make the experience any less emotionally shattering.
It says something that I can finish the story, find flaws with it that bothered me on a conceptual or dramatic level, and yet still see the whole as being unassailable. I’ve since found that’s the only sort of perfect you’re likely to get in this world: one where you can see something’s flaws all the more clearly because you love the whole, and in the end you forgive the whole those flaws because the entire package is worth the effort. Read more
The end. And it’s a fitting end to a manga series that’s always stood poised on the knife-edge between sweet fairy-tale simplicity and the tougher sensibilities of stories for mature audiences. Black Jack might well have been Osamu Tezuka’s finest work by dint of how it combines the accessibility of works for younger readers (Astro Boy, Unico) and the sophistication and ambition of his experimental productions (Phoenix). Now’s the time to go back to the beginning, if you haven’t already, and experience the whole of this saga of a black-market medical man from start to finish.Read more
If one were to travel into the universe of GTO: 14 Days in Shonan and look up Badass on Wikipedia, I would find the article deficient if a picture of Eikichi Onizuka didn’t appear as the illustration of choice on that page.
GTO stands for Great Teacher Onizuka, and the adventures of Onizuka and his stupefying excursions into rock-ribbed machismo have been chronicled in both a manga and its subsequent anime adaptation. Both were translated into English, but are now sadly out of print. Enter Vertical, Inc., who have been looking to broaden their manga offerings. Rather than reissue all of GTO, which would have been problematic at best, they elected instead to bring English-speaking audiences this previously-untranslated follow-up series. It’s a gamble, but not a reckless one, and the presence of previous GTO stories doesn’t create a major barrier for newcomers. Read more