Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Thoughts: Sometimes it's just inappropriate

Oh, Black Jack you scoundrel...uh what? I was reading volume 9 of Black Jack when I came across this panel which made me literally laugh out loud. Out of context this is pure comedy gold. “A family suicide? Exactly what I've been waiting for!” Just what every doctor has ever wanted! Did Black Jack want his family dead? Or someone else's family dead? How often do you get a full family suicide?

I'm not going to say it was translated wrong, because hey I don't know Japanese, but this just seems so...well wrong. Didn't someone translating it or editing it go “Hey maybe this isn't a good idea?” This had to pass though a few hands before print.

Even in the context of the story it is pretty fucked. Black Jack plans to show someone up by fixing a child's illness. To fix said illness child needs a full skin transplant. Conveniently after Black Jack shows up and states he will stay for how ever long it will take he gets the call. After which he fixes said child and said person is like OMG! Black Jack you so awesome! I understand in a short story sometimes a plot convenience is needed since the idea is the moral of the tale, but this is to way over the top into brokenly unrealistic. I mean at least make it seem like Black Jack had to wait a while for appropriate skin to show up. This was like fucking magic, really terrible magic...

Ack, this weekend ended up being a bit more crazy then I thought it would be. While I started work on a review for another title last week, I didn't have time to do it. It's something that I want to be awesome when done so it might be a couple weeks before it surfaces. As next weekend I will be at PAX East playing the video games, so most likely I won't be posting.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Review: A Drifting Life

So this week is a review of the title is A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Let me start off by saying, this is a the first title in a while that I enjoyed a whole lot. This manga is an abundance of elements rolled up in one. First and foremost it's a biography of Tatsumi's life, which I feel he really managed to capture different moments in life. I really felt what he was feeling at different points in the story. I felt very drawn into manga, I felt like I could see everything going one before me. An example of this is when he is at Kyoto University to take the entrance exam. He starts to take the exam but the weight of all the numerous things going on in his life at the time drive him to run out in the middle as a whirlwind of emotion overcomes him. I felt almost dizzy during it, I was so drawn into the story. I can't say much about the title as a biography, I really haven't read that many. If they are all this engrossing though, maybe I should read more of them.

Next it is also a view of post war Japan in daily life and pop culture. It really gives a feel for Tastsumi's daily life growing up with his family and going to school. The title as presents the good and the bad of his family in a balanced manner. Sure his Father did some rather idiot things, he isn't painted in a stereotypical bad Father light. (I also learned from this title that during the early post where period Japan used vehicles powered by coal...Sakura Wars makes so much more sense now!) The story also often takes short breaks where Tatsumi will interject with what is going on in pop culture at the time. These make great reference points to the time of the story and to give a general feeling of the world at the time.

On another level it's also a history of not just Gekiga (what Tatsumi is known for) but of manga in general. We see him and his brother doing short four panel strips, admiring early Tezuka, and discussing what manga is. And trust me all of the different people he meets along the way have a different meaning of manga in their hearts. I also got the feeling for just how much western works influenced manga (here's a secret...a whole fucking lot). Tatsumi goes to the movies often and works to incorporate the style of narrative from his favorite films into his work. There is also a great point in the tale where we learn how much on of the first hard boiled novels really influenced Gekiga and manga in general.

The art is a pretty unique style, on one hand it's undeniably manga and Japanese but on the other hand it's not like any art style we see today. It does hearken back to a different time of manga, a time I've only really ever dipped my toes into really. The art is rather expressive and well done and I do think it does a great job of helping immerse one into Tatsumi's world. The problem being is that it doesn't look like today's manga and that will most likely be a turn off for every but the super serious manga fan, or the alternative comics fan.

That being said this is a title that is really worth checking out if you are a anime/manga fan just for the rich history it goes into. With the parts that talked about Osamu Tezuka, really gives life and understanding to the knowledge of just how important he was. That being said this title is really about Gekiga which is another cornerstone that has influenced anime/manga. Without Gekiga perhaps much of the anime/manga anyone who grew up in the 90's loved wouldn't have existed.

A biography is at it's in essence a slice of life story and this was one I felt really engrossed in. It really gave off the feeling something important is happening around these people but even they are a bit oblivious to it. I wanted to meet these people he worked in and live in this world though, there was just some much energy. A sensation that they were on to something. This title is a must of any serious fan of manga, it's also worthing looking at for the personal look of post WWII Japan.

Final Verdict: If history class was this awesome...I would have learned more.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Scanlation Get: Kindan no Koi wo Shiyou

Another quick one this week as March Madness holds a complete different but appropriate meaning for me. I'll do my best to continue to update weekly but things are a bit more hectic then I was planning them to be originally.

This week is another smut title. I want to say it's more tasteful then Akuma na Eros but it might not be for completely different reasons. The title is Kindan no Koi wo Shiyou plus its two sequel series Zoku - Kindan no Koi wo Shiyou and Kindan no Koi de Ikou by Tomu Ohmi (Midnight Secretary). Our leading lady Hisako is a fairly stereotypical character. She pretty much is the prototypal shy, demure, and fairly dependent on others type. There are a few elements of her that break the mold, she is an adult women in her late 20's (where often these titles are still about high school girls), she had a real hobby (jewelry crafting), and she isn't and office lady (she works in an antiques shop). While not very forceful she can be very firm with the rules and about lines not being crossed. What really makes this title different is the supernatural aspect of it, her boyfriend.

Hisako's boyfriend is Yato a wolfwere?! Yes, a wolfwere he is a wolf who turns into a man under the magical power of the moon and who has lived for over 300 years. He is fairly typical character for this type of role. Though he is a lot nicer then most male leads in smut manga though. In fact he seems a lot more like 'real' dude then a lot of the uber creeps some of the girls fall for in these titles. Though this is where some of the most questionable content comes in. Most of his time is spent in wolf form and when the moon starts to become full he can turn into a man. So the question of bestiality does come up in the manga often enough. Fortunately and thankfully, it never goes there.

Since they are a couple who already live together, most of the series conflict comes from outside sources. Many of the stories are about other men who want Hisako, her over protective brother, a wealthy man who wants Yato in his collection, or ghosts from Yato's past. It's a nice change of pace in this genre where all the conflict is about getting the couple together. Most of the chapters are self-contained stories but some do go on for a few chapters but there isn't a whole lot of continuity to remember. What is also interesting is that her hobby and place of work is often worked into the stories almost giving them a slice of life feel but are mixed in with stories of the supernatural. I really like the mash up of the various elements and they work together well.

The art is very shoujo, but for me on the better end. Screen tones are used much better then I would say in a lot of shoujo titles. There are still a lot of backgrounds of flowers that plague so many of these titles. The panels are loose in a more typical shoujo fashion but have good flow. The drawing in this series is fine. Though I don't think anyone would have Tomu Ohmi as there favorite artist.

Over all this is a fun fluff series. Best read a chapter or two at a time. The main characters are likable enough and I really enjoy their relationship. As a smut series it's pretty mild. There is some sex, and if I remember correctly all of it is consensual, which is a huge rarity in the genre. If you have ever been curious about these genre but didn't want rape and dickertry this is a good place to start.