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Tuesday, May 25, 2004
Catching Up On My Manga
Angel Sanctuary vol. 1 by Kaori Yuki, published by Viz:
What if V.C. Andrews and Garth Ennis co-wrote the Book of Revelation? This book pretty much answers that question. Over-the-top violence, occult conspiracies, evil angels, and characters who are all either gay, transgendered, or incestuous. It's every negative stereotype about manga rolled into one, and it's loads of fun. Not for all tastes, certainly, but it's bad fun. You know it's not good for you, but you like it anyway. The plot rivals the most baroque of the old gothic novels. Setsuna may, or may not, be the reincarnation of the angel Alexiel, who was killed after leading a revolt against the other angels, notably her twin Rosiel, who spear-headed a campaign by the evil angels to slay all the demons and humanity. The human Setsuna is in love with his little sister, a love she clearly returns, and they have been seperated by their parents to prevent them from consumating their unnatural attraction to one another. Meanwhile, two cross-dressing demons are trying to reawaken Alexiel because Rosiel has been reborn in order to quell another rebellion in Heaven. Meanwhile, Rosial is more interested in revenging himself on Alexiel. And from there the story gets a bit complicated...
The art is a little on the generic side, so the real appeal of this book is the story. If you like sick, perverted, degenerate books, as I do, you may like this.
Tuxedo Gin vol. 6 by Tokihiko Matsuura, published by Viz:
I like penguins. Always have. I'm predisposed to picking up anything that looks humerous if it involves penguins. But I wouldn't have kept picking this up through 6 volumes if there wasn't a little more going on. The story involves a boxer who meets the girl of his dreams, only to be killed right before their big date. Luckily, he's reincarnated as a penguin and gets to move in with her as her pet, with a promise from his guradian angel that if he lives out the natural life-span of a penguin he can return to his old body. Most of the stories involve Gin trying to protect his love/owner Minako from lechers and others out to take advantage of her, while helping other out-of-luck folks in whatever ways an irritable boxing penguin can. The art is crisp and cartoony, very expressive and very appealing. Occasionally there's some T and A tease shots, but they're not the focus of the book the way they are with some other manga (such as, say, the inexplicably popular Love Hina). This is one of my favorite manga titles to come out since the big manga explosion hit and I highly endorse this book.
Tokyo Babylon vol. 1 by CLAMP, published by Tokyopop:
Well, it's a Clamp book, so it looks pretty. As I've mentioned before, I'm pretty much a Clamp completeist, but this book is so slight I'm kind of wondering why I bothered. Pete summed it up best I think when he read it: "I feel like I'm picking something up in the middle of a story." It's even substantially thinner than most other manga books. So, if you're a sucker like me, and you have to have everything Clamp does, or you're a big X/1999 fan and you want to read the prequel to that book, pick this up. Otherwise, don't bother. Very disapointing.
Fruits Basket vol. 3 by Matsuki Takaya, published by Tokyopop:
At first I thought the premise of this book was more than a little deriviative of Ranma 1/2, but the feel and tone are completely different. Tohru is an orphan who has been taken in by the Sohma family, only to discover that certain members of the family are cursed by the animals of the Chinese Zodiac, and turn into those animals when they're hugged by a member of the opposite sex. Unlike that other title, you get the feeling that there's some forward momentum to this series, that it's all leading up to something, and that the characters are changing and learning as the story progresses. It's a sweet, unabashedly girly comic, with lots of pretty boys and girls and a broad mix of character types. The art has a manic pace, highlighting the broad humor of some of the stories, and while it's nice enough, it does tend towards the generic end of the manga art scale. If you have a low tolerance for pretty-boy stories, avoid this book like the plague, but you'll be missing out on an otherwise charming piece of work (even if the main character is a bit of a door-mat...)
Ranma 1/2 by Rumiko Takahashi, published by Viz:
This is pretty much the series that got me interested in manga in the first place. Her artwork is clean and attractive. Her stories are entertaining, even if they do have a tendency to go nowhere and take their time not getting there. Gerard Jones does some of the best translations in the business, adapting them to a US audience almost seamlessly while retaining both the spirit and intent of the original work. There's a hyperactive energy to this title that never seems to diminish. One of the all-time best mangas in America.