I dedicate this blog to comics in all forms, manga, autobio, superhero, art books, etc. And of course, since I need a challenge, I've decided that I'll read and write (short) reviews for 365 comics during 2015.
Remember that time I went to Japan and stopped updating this blog (and never again kept a very good update schedule)?
School Live! was the anime of the moment in the Honey Toast cafe we visited in Akihabara. I remember looking at it and wondering what the heck it was about, it looked like a happy-go-lucky group of school girls surviving the zombie apocalypse in their school.
That's exactly what it is. Four school girls and one teacher are living in their school, hiding from members of the student body who didn't survive the initial zombie event. We don't see that, instead we're thrust right into the action from the perspective of Yuki. Everything seems normal at first, the fact that Yuki is part of the "School Living Club," a club that stays overnight at the school, seems weird, but plausible. As the story weaves on and introduces the other characters, one of whom carries a shovel everywhere, we begin to realize that Yuki's world view has strayed a bit from reality.
While Yuki still believes that all of her classmates are alive and well, the reality is that the students she sees playing baseball are actually zombies stumbling around trying to find ways to get at the girls and eat their brains.
The other members of the school living club allow Yuki to stay in her delusion, creating games while gathering supplies and pretending to go camping when the electricity goes out. It's got it's funny moments when Yuki comments on the zombies antics, but despite the comedic nature of the manga it's a little depressing too. All of these characters have lost their entire families and are living in a school surrounded by zombies. We get glimpses here and there of their desperation and the hopelessness of the situation.
I hope that those glimpses develop into more in this series. 2 1/2 stars.
Although I wasn't a huge fan of Gantz, I admit I find Inuyashiki so far to be interesting and original. I really like the character of Inuyashiki as he accepts the fact that he is no longer quite human, but instead of falling into despair (especially given his horrible family situation) he steps forward to become a hero of the downtrodden. In this volume he searches for those in trouble, saving a family from a house fire and defending a salaryman who stood up to a gang of Yakuza, from being beaten to death for his impudence.
However, Inuyashiki also discovers that there is another such as him. When he hears the cries for help of a young woman and races to the scene he discovers a young man, whose back opens up to reveal a jet, launching the kid into the night. While Inuyashiki is seeking to help others with his powers, this young man is doing just the opposite.
Shishigami is a kid who has been witness to his best friend, Andou, being targeted by bullies. It's been so bad that Andou has stopped coming to school. With these incredible powers he can help Andou, defend him, get revenge. Shishigami once told Andou that the only people who matter were family and friends and that if anyone else died, it didn't bother him.
This has manifested in Shishigami choosing a house at random and then killing everyone inside. After killing three people he was able to feel alive again, indicating that becoming a robot has definitely affected him contrary to his claims that he is still the same person. He almost spared the teenage girl who came home as he was killing her family when he found out she liked One Piece, but then she kept crying so he ended up killing her in front Inuyashiki. Andou becomes increasingly afraid of Shishigami as he follows him and watches him demonstrate his monstrous powers.
I like the more detailed, less cartoony, artwork of the manga and so far the story has depth and complexity. Even without the component of becoming alien terminator things, the story about Inuyashiki's disintegrating family would be interesting, but coupled with this bizarre sci-fi element it becomes an odd and page-turning tale.
This volume focused mainly on the two characters developing their robotic powers, setting up their opposed purposes and their fateful meeting. I missed the interactions with Inuyashiki's family and pet here and I would have appreciated a little more back story on Andou and Shishigami's friendship. However, for fans of darker manga this could be a good series to start. 3 1/2 Stars.
For fans of Gantz, 20th Century Boys, or Bokurano Ours.
Ooku Volume 11
I was wrong! I thought, with the horrible death of my favorite character in the last volume, that the series was ended. Apparently, even though Gennai was most cruelly murdered and a man has reclaimed the title of Shogun, life goes on.
Actually, Ooku continues to be a source of interest and delight to me, even though I more than once felt like dashing this book to the floor as I became so disgusted with the turn of events and the complete loss of all the work some of the characters had done to change the political situation and cure the 'red face pox.' In this volume everything is reversed, with the power going to Harusada (her son has become Shogun, but he has no real power), things shift dramatically. All the men are banished from the Inner Chamber, instead to be crowded with women, who in turn flood the Inner chambers with babies.
It's a very Shakespearean plot, power hungry Harusada will do anything to remain in power. She enjoys belittling others and watching them die. She is truely a frightening character. At first I hated her for her political views, banning the study of Western medicine and raising farmer's taxes in order to pay for the many concubines in the Inner Chamber and her own luxuries. However, as I read on I became more and more frightened of her cold character, seemingly pleased when the prospect for punishment came up and she'd have a chance to kill.
It's a wonderful series and though I thought it was over at 10 volumes and it seems there will actually be a total of 12, I'm still sad that the series will end at all, I'm certain I could be reading about these fictional histories, political upheavals and thoughts on relationships and gender for ages.
More awesome manga by Fumi Yoshinaga:
Although I liked all of these, especially All My Darling Daughters, Ooku is by far my favorite series she's ever done.