Here begins the greatest section in what is one of the greatest manga yet created — the story of how Guts, the Black Swordsman, came to be the man we were introduced to in volumes 1, 2 and 3 ofBerserk. This arc, which author and artist Kentaro Miura dubbed “The Golden Age,” was retrofitted into the TV adaptation, which ended abruptly but at the same time served the same purpose: to show us how Guts evolved into the killing machine we meet right at the start of it all. The comic version of the same arc has the advantage of being in its original context: if you’ve been curious about the TV show, start reading from volume 1 until I tell you otherwise, and then you’ll see what I mean.
(A side note: strictly speaking, this particular story arc started at the end of the last volume and continues into volume 4, but for the sake of convenience I’ll talk about it as if it were part of this book. Be sure to pick up volume 3 along with this one if you’re just joining in. The blurb quoted above from the back cover is horrendously inaccurate, since it completely ignores the flashback structure that kicks in at this point.)Read more
Most people think of an erotic story as something with explicit sex, or at least a great deal of skin. Apollo’s Song rarely shows anything more than a deep kiss (although it has plenty of skin) — but it’s one of the most profoundly erotic manga I’ve ever come across. It is not about sex alone, but love and lovelessness, and more importantly desire — about wanting to find that one other special person and melt into them and become one, whatever the cost or the challenge.
Books like this are why I read manga in the first place — to discover something as new and off the beaten path as possible, something that makes me want to rush out and collar all my friends and shout at them, “You must read this immediately!” Like Ode to Kirihito, another of Vertical, Inc.’s offerings from Tezuka’s back catalogue, Apollodefies easy comparison with other manga. It’s so fiercely and completely its own animal that I’m again tempted to tell people to just read it and catch up with me afterwards.Read more
Gin’s a sleepy-eyed fellow with a shock of silver hair and a mouth that looks like it was designed to say nothing but insults, which is not far from the truth. The occupation on his business card reads Odd Jobs, and from what we can see, he does mean odd.
He works out of the second story of a ratty building where the rent goes perpetually unpaid in exchange for doing favors for his crabby landlady, like fixing her VCR (which, given the rest of his personality, he probably accomplished by smacking the thing against a doorframe). He’s a quintessential underdog: perpetually broke, always in one kind of trouble or another — and, worst of all, his blood sugar’s so dangerously high he can’t have more than one chocolate parfait a week. It's a small wonder why, in the opening scene, when a couple of clumsy aliensknocks over said dessert, he goes Viking on their faces with a (banned) wooden practice weapon.
Yes, folks, aliens — the “Amanto” who have blanketed Japan in Gin Tama’s alternate reality, crowding into every aspect of life and leaving the proud samurai of old feeling extremely out of place. It’s a parallel to a part of Japan’s own history, when centuries of Shogunate rule ended and “aliens” from the outside world flooded in to do business. And, in a way, it’s also a parallel for the changing Japan of today, where everyone from Americans teaching English to Portuguese day laborers and Korean professionals are doing their best to fit into a nominally insular society that looks askance at outsiders. Read more