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Blue Moon Reviews — Silent Möbius: Complete Edition, Vol. 1

The influential sci-fi manga Silent Möbius is back in a new edition from UDON Entertainment, featuring “a new UDON translation, the restoration of the traditional right-to-left reading format, as well as new scans of every page taken directly from the original artwork.” UDON also plans to release a one-volume prequel and two volumes of short stories.

So, how does this refurbished classic hold up?

silentmobius1By Kia Asamiya
UDON Entertainment, 200 pp.
Rating: Older Teen (16+)

Score: B

In the year 2026, humanity is threatened by Lucifer Hawks, a race of other-dimensional monsters that now inhabits Earth. To combat this menace, the Attacked Mystification Police Department (or AMP) was created and is staffed by a team of capable women with a variety of skills, including a priestess, a psychic, a mechanic, a witch, and a cyborg. Against a backdrop of a polluted and ravaged Tokyo, they respond to the scene of Lucifer Hawk attacks and have jurisdiction anywhere they please.

The first chapter in this volume is the longest, introducing the characters and their world. The hotshot of AMP is Katsumi Liqueur, the daughter of a renowned magician, and when she is targeted by a Lucifer Hawk to be its next host, the rest of the team comes to her rescue. It’s an effective introduction, and also sets up what I assume will be the central mystery of the series: exactly what kind of involvement did Katsumi’s father have with the Lucifer Hawks?

Each of the two subsequent chapters focuses on a different member of AMP. Chapter two features Nami, the priestess who must prove her worthiness as heir to a powerful spiritual family by single-handedly battling a bunch of monsters, and chapter three stars Kiddy, the extremely strong team member who has unfinished business with a serial killer who dismembers his victims with wire. I actually begrudge the opening chapter some of its length, because just when Kiddy’s story is getting really interesting, it’s “to be continued.”

So far, the plot is definitely intriguing; somehow the experience of reading the manga felt like I was watching a fansubbed OVA from the ’90s, which is actually a compliment. UDON’s new edition features a nice color illustration gallery in the front of the volume and the sound effects are translated, with the original katakana sometimes left intact, sometimes not. The translation reads smoothly, but one thing I did notice is the tendency of characters to say “grr” a lot. It doesn’t happen on every page or anything, but it’s often enough to be noticeable. Here are a few examples, presented in ascending order of intensity.

Kiddy: “Now beat it, and don’t ever show your face around here again!!”
Random Dude: “Grr”

A Lucifer Hawk: *is menacing*
Katsumi, injured: “Grrrrrr”

Chief: “No, Kiddy! Don’t use the graviton. You would be risking Katsumi’s life.”
Kiddy: “Grrr!!”

And my personal favorite:

A Lucifer Hawk: “That is why I have taken her… and her blood.”
Kiddy: “Grr!!”
Chief: “Grr!!”

Asamiya’s art boasts detailed backgrounds, something I’m always a big fan of, and effectively uses repeated panels of the endless acid rain falling upon Tokyo’s ruined skyscrapers to create atmosphere. I like the way Ken Haley phrased it in his Manga Recon review:

“Visually the book looks a bit dated but I didn’t find that to be a bad thing. The hair, costumes, and depiction of the city definitely hearken back to the cyberpunk cityscapes of ’80s and ’90s pop culture, with huge glistening towers of steel and glass and crumbling sections of the city that are all but abandoned and forgotten.”

Because AMP is an all-female team and this is a shounen manga, it’d be asking too much to expect that there be no fan service at all, but the depictions of characters in their underwear or undergoing nude cleansing rituals are few and far between and are in no way trashy or detrimental to the story as a whole.

Ultimately, I had a good time reading Silent Möbius. Its cliffhanger ending ensures that I will be reading volume two and probably more besides.

Volume one of Silent Möbius: Complete Edition is available now.

Review copy provided by the publisher.

14 Comments

Not being familiar with this title at all, I was wondering if it qualifies as “cyberpunk” (someone asked me for cyberpunk manga recs and I’m at a loss to say what is and isn’t cyberpunk!)

I don’t really have a good understanding of what constitutes cyberpunk. Wikipedia tells me it’s noted for its “high tech and low life,” so there’d be a combination of technical elements with, like, a group of loners or outsiders in a dysfunctional society. AMP is kind of a clean-cut group of policewomen, so at least in volume one, I’d say possibly not. They don’t seem particularly disaffected. :)

That said, I think Akira would qualify. :) Maybe Akihabara@Deep, though I don’t know much about that series, really.

Actually, Wikipedia has a list of what it considers cyberpunk anime and Silent Mobius is actually on it.
Here is that list.

yup, looking at that list I can definitely see that cyperpunk just isn’t my bag. My sci-fi tastes are fairly vanilla — ST:TNG, Firefly, and so on. (And, of course, one could argue Firefly isn’t really sci-fi at all).

I always think of William Gibson’s work when the term “cyberpunk” comes up. His works focused heavily on the role of technology in our lives, and specifically how we would change/evolve because of it. Looking at it that way, I would say Silent Mobius is NOT cyberpunk, at least not in the strictest sense. Though it does have a VERY prominent Blade Runner influence to its design, which is why most people also think of Silent Mobius as cyberpunk.

Ghost In The Shell, and maybe Akira, would be my first recommendations for a “cyberpunk” manga. BLAME! has some cyberpunk elements to it as well…

Thanks for the review of the new edition, too! I’ve flipped through the new edition of SM at the bookstore a couple times and while it looks fantastic, I could not bring myself to buy it. I LOVED the series back in the 90’s when I was first discovering manga, but I have found that the entertainment value of it just hasn’t held up well. Same thing happened to me when I sat down recently and watched the old Silent Mobius movies that were recently released on DVD. I cherished my Streamline VHS tape of the first movie for years, but actually sitting down and re-watching it, I found myself rather bored by it…

Oh well…

I mean…Grrrr…

Thanks for the Wikipedia link, MIchelle! I never considered myself much of a “cyberpunk” fan, but looking over that list, I’m surprised how many of those titles I own…

I too have had the experience of something beloved not being so great once you revisit it. Thankfully, I’d neither read nor seen Silent Mobius before reading this edition so it was all new to me.

Also, hee with your Grr! :) I was talking to my husband about it and wondering whether this was the chosen replacement for the “Tch!” sound that often accompanyies a character’s irritation in manga.

Oh dear, look at my inability to type.

If I recall, there’s a rather lengthy sex scene later in the series.

There is indeed. Somewhere around volume 8 or 9, Kasumi and…Ralph? Was that his name?…engage in some fairly graphic lovemaking. It caught me off guard at the time, as VIZ didn’t rate or mark the volume as “mature.” Thankfully, they managed to avoid getting bitten by any irate parents by that one…

Katsumi’s boyfriend in volume one is called Roy, though there is a Ralph. In fact, he’s the “Random Dude” I quoted above—a cop who didn’t appreciate being easily hefted by Kiddy.

That’s right! I got them mixed up. You’ll see more of Ralph in the series, but Roy was the one I was thinking of.

I promise I won’t spoil it for you, but the ending to the battle against Wire (that’s his name in the anime, so I’m guessing that’s his name in the manga)… wasn’t very good. There’s are three words to describe these kind of endings.

Does anyone know if the original manga went further in the storyline than the anime? At the end of the anime, it shows a black screen with white text saying: AD2030, Beginning of FINAL BATTLE.

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