BEST BETS: "Jessica Jones," "Big Trouble/Escape from New York" & More October 2016 Highlights
I continue to cover manga with “supernatural” themes as we start the countdown to Halloween (see reviews of RIN-NE and Soul Eater I posted earlier in the week). Tonight I take a quick look at Darren Shan and Takahiro Arai’s Cirque du Freak (which as some might also know, has been adapted to a U.S. live action film which will be coming out soon under the name The Vampire’s Assistant).
In Soul Eater, Atsushi Ohkubo brings together Japanese and Western horror traditions, myths and legends with shonen manga staples such as a battle-oriented narrative structure and excessive fanservice.
RIN-NE — Rumiko Takahashi’s (Inuyasha, Ramna 1/2) latest shonen work — is a solidly entertaining series, even if it is not the most original contribution to the “girl who sees ghosts” genre.
There are many, many reasons I thought I wouldn’t like Ninja Girls. It pretty much screams its fan-service-y orientation on its cover. In spite of that, the first volume not only entertained, it even made me laugh out loud a number of times.
Today I catch up with the second volumes of two of Viz’s newer Shojo Beat titles, Kimi ni Todoke and Black Bird.
Yuhki Kamatani’s Nabari no Ou is an engrossing take on the whole culture of battling “ninja clans”, thanks to strong characterizations and a gripping art style, both of which compensate for somewhat erratic world-building.
With volumes 4 and 5 of his epic 20th Century Boys, Naoki Urasawa delivers not “a gripping drama about men who save the world from annihilation,” as one character requests of two unsuccessful manga artists in volume 5, but a story that is much more complicated and brave than that.
In Detroit Metal City, Kiminori Wakasugi plays vulgarity like a perfectly tuned comedic instrument in his absurdist tale of a nice young man who just wants to make beautiful pop music but somehow finds himself headlining a death metal band as the terrifying “Krauser II.”
Our long national nightmare ends now that another volume of our favorite comic, featuring the everyday adventures of a green-haired five year old girl named Yotsuba, has been released.
Earlier in the week I looked at yaoi parody of the RPG genre (Fujiyama’s Tale of the Waning Moon) and continue this theme with an examination of Yun Kouga’s Gestalt volumes 2 and 3.
Hyouta Fujiyama steps out of her usual genre — contemporary yaoi romance — and comes up with a hilariously absurd take on RPG in Tale of the Waning Moon, in which our traveler is a young lovelorn man who has been sent on a mission to fall into the arms of his “fated one.” Who just also happens to be the spirit the last quarter moon, Ixto (i.e. he’s also a dude!), and the one who sent him on the mission in the first place.
Rei Hiroe overreaches slightly with his intricately plotted revenge / rescue saga that spans multiple volumes and kicks into high gear — finally! — in Black Lagoon volumes 7 and 8.
Each volume of Higurashi: When They Cry manages to be both entertaining and a fascinating intellectual exercise. After all, how many ways can you kill off the majority of your cast and still create a satisfying narrative arc that can sustain reader surprise and shock? The conclusion of the “Cotton Drifting Arc,” however, goes above and beyond mere “exercise” and reaches the level of pure horror perfection.
X-Men: Misfits, written by Raina Telgemeier and Dave Roman, art by Anzu, is a shojo revisioning of Xavier’s Academy for Gifted Youngsters with a teenage Kitty Pryde leading the way. While I think my 13 year old self might have liked this comic, I’m not entirely sure she wouldn’t have also been embarrassed for liking it as well.
It would be very reductive to simply call Takehiko Inoue’s — also the creator of Slam Dunk and Vagabond — REAL “that wheelchair basketball” manga. In reality, the title is a thoughtful portrait of three men in varying states of recovery from both physical and psychological trauma.
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