- Posted by Johanna on April 28, 2013 at 8:34 am
- Category: Manga News
I don’t normally talk about a lot of media adaptation announcements, because most of them, who knows if they’ll ever happen? (Although personally, I’d watch a Supernatural Law movie. Remember that plan?) I’m really eager to see this one, though, because the manga original was a terrific, twisty read, and the talent involved in the proposal is great.
Deadline reported that Guillermo del Toro (Hellboy director) is developing a series with HBO based on Naoki Urasawa’s manga. He will co-write with Steven Thompson (Doctor Who, Sherlock), and del Toro will direct the pilot.
The series, about a doctor who destroys his career saving the life of a boy who turns out to be a psychopathic killer, is well-suited to HBO, since it’s got artistic cred yet the possibility for violent content that couldn’t make it on network. The project was previously planned to be a feature film, in development at New Line since 2005, but the content — including the doctor’s attempts to find and stop the boy — was too much for a movie.
- Posted by Johanna on February 10, 2013 at 11:31 am
- Category: Manga News
This makes me happy. The song that motivates the downtrodden to rise up against the evil dictator in Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys, “Gutalala Sudalala”, actually exists! And here’s footage of the author himself singing it at Japan Expo 12 in Paris (which explains the French narration). I’ve set the clip below to skip the setup and the non-translated Japanese and French; go back if you want to see Urasawa-san adjust his microphone and such.
- Posted by Johanna on January 5, 2013 at 6:50 pm
- Category: Manga Reviews
- CREDITS: by Naoki Urasawa
- PUBLISHER: Viz; $12.99 US
For those of you who, like me, were left a little confused by the conclusion of 20th Century Boys, you want this book, the first of a two-volume sequel series.
The first chapter summarizes the events we should remember (which I found immensely helpful). Everyone’s at the music festival, there’s a UFO attack masterminded by the Friend, who’s decided, screw it, he’s just going to destroy the world. Again. (At this point, I’m adopting a very Buddhist cyclical view of events, because that’s the best way to cope with the recurring plot structures of this series. There is nothing new under the sun, and we’re doomed to repeat even things we remember. More on that later.) The attack is stopped, at the cost of a few lives, and one character is redeemed at the end and given his fondest desire: to be one of the group.
It’s at that point that I began realizing that I might have been evaluating this story the wrong way all along. It’s one of the classic differences between Japanese and American society, the importance of fitting in vs. rampant individualism. Kenji isn’t the hero here, although to an American reader, he seems closest, having gone on a traditional solo quest — most of which we don’t see. The book is about protecting society, and how culture reinvents itself in the midst of tragedy and chaos, and how someone can become a world-changing villain just because they felt left out of the gang when they were all kids together. The Friend succeeds for so long because so many people want a group to belong to, after all.
Another of the deaths demonstrates the obvious — someone assumes that they’re known, that they’re important, when they’re really not. Still, his passing is something to be sad about, in my mind, because the death of one member diminishes us all.
So, I had lots of big thoughts, and that was only the first chapter, so I was already liking this a lot. I wasn’t caring as much about what happened as how the characters were affected. Although there’s another big threat to stop, this time an “anti-proton bomb”. Before that, many of the cast members, now gathered together, tell each other what happened, which helps either remind or clarify things for readers like me.
Much of the book involves flashbacks to when the cast were all kids together, which is the part Naoki Urasawa truly excels at. He gets right how children think and act and what they care about. If you want mind-blowing, an adult version of one character loops around and meets his kid version. There’s some kind of SF explanation for this, set up a while back, but the real point is that we have to face the people we thought we’d be against who we really became.
I blanch at the idea of even trying to describe how great Urasawa’s art is. It’s incredibly cinematic, not in the “I really wish I was making movies” sense or even in the “if I draw bigger pictures I can draw few of them” way. It’s like a movie in that the scope is immense, yet we’re skillfully drawn along by virtue of the artist’s framing choices to follow the emotional high points and feel the dread and fear and exhilaration and concern of the characters.
We don’t see a lot of Kanna this go-round, but she has one key scene where two significant (at least to me) things happen. The first is the quintessential crisis of spirit expressed by someone who had been caught up in big events for most of their lives: What now? What should she do now that her purpose is no longer necessary? The second is sillier — she brings a sick friend a comic book, which she reviews:
“These aren’t all that good… I like Japanese manga a lot better myself. I bet you do too.”
The most important lesson comes two-thirds of the way in, when we learn about the success, as a rule, of “the copy of the copy”, or the third person to try something. (Remember the theme of repetition?) I kept remembering Lewis Carroll’s promise, as I learnt it from Robert Heinlein, “What I tell you three times is true.” Or “third time’s the charm.” In the case of this story, that may end up referring to the number of times I have to reread it to understand all the nuances! (The publisher provided a review copy.)
- Posted by Johanna on January 2, 2013 at 7:25 am
- Category: Shopping Guide
A small week, but a good one, as we welcome the new year.
Top of my list is the Heart of Thomas omnibus volume from Fantagraphics ($39.99) that I had a chance to read last year. This solid hardcover contains the entire classic shojo series, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in the development of the genre. It’s also surprisingly gripping in its own right.
Also of interest to fans of historic manga is the second, concluding volume of Message to Adolf (Vertical, $26.95). My copy should be coming soon, and I’m eager to see it, since I enjoyed the first book. This is the first Osamu Tezuka series I can recommend without a “ok, but you have to ignore …” caveat for bizarre plot choices or sexism. It’s a great starting point for those who want to try Tezuka.
If you’re interested in American comic history instead, you might want to check out The Complete Funky Winkerbean: Volume 1 (1972-1974) (Kent State University Press, $45), reprinting the still-going high school comic strip. It’s as dated as you’d expect, but that’s part of the charm, checking out 40-year-old gags, and there’s an informative piece about Tom Batiuk’s work by R.C. Harvey. Batiuk also includes his own lengthy autobiographical introduction, explaining how the strip came to be, based on his work as a junior high school art teacher. Nice presentation, although the Sunday strips aren’t in color. I enjoyed the flashback and learning more about the strip’s beginnings.
Fantagraphics also releases the paperback edition of Castle Waiting Volume 1 ($24.99), which reprints everything from the hardcover except for Jane Yolen’s introduction (and the ribbon book marker). The original hardcover was one of my best of 2006; it’s a gorgeous twist on fairy tales, concentrating on daily life instead of big events, which makes it charming.
I’ve already reviewed Glitter Kiss (Oni Press, $15.99), which is flawed but entertaining and very well drawn, and the manga Strobe Edge Volume 2 (Viz, $9.99). Manga fans will definitely want to note that today also brings the first volume of Naoki Urasawa’s 21st Century Boys (Viz, $12.99), the two-book sequel to 20th Century Boys. My review is coming soon, but a sneak peek reveals that things are explained a little more clearly, for those of us who were thoroughly confused by the end of the previous series, and much of the volume focuses on flashback stories to the characters as kids. That’s one of Urasawa’s strengths, the way he captures their behavior so clearly.
What are you looking for today?
- Posted by Johanna on October 10, 2012 at 10:25 pm
- Category: Manga Reviews
- CREDITS: by Naoki Urasawa; adapted by Akemi Wegmuller
- PUBLISHER: Viz; $12.99 US
It’s been a long time since I’ve followed a manga series to this length, and honestly, I probably need to reread the whole thing in bigger chunks to appreciate the subtleties before talking about it in depth. (But who has the time?) And although the series concludes with these two books, it’s not really over — that will happen in the two-volume followup 21st Century Boys.
Even when I’m not so sure how far we are along in the story, or what the status is of the various conspiracies, the art is amazing, as I’d expect from Naoki Urasawa. His flow, pacing, and character expressions are so cinematic, but not in the sense that he wants to be working in some other medium than comics. It’s that he thinks through how to guide the reader’s emotional reactions and portrays what’s needed to accomplish it, beautifully.
I will say that Book 21 really encapsulates the theme that began the series, the idea that the right, rebellious music can change the world. It opens with a crazy DJ, left broadcasting over the radio without even knowing if anyone can hear him. He encounters another character we haven’t seen for a long while, all under an atmosphere of looming dread made all the more creepy by being set in an abandoned cookie factory. What could go wrong in a sweet place? A lot, it turns out, since evil comes from people. However, the DJ also demonstrates that in some cases, it’s not too late for a second chance.
Since we are getting near the end, many former cast members reappear, including one of my favorites, the former gangster priest we met in Book 15. At first glance, this interlude is frustrating, since it doesn’t directly relate to the core group we think we’re following, but at this point, the story is really about what life would be like in a totalitarian regime and how different character types would react.
One immensely important scene (I think) happens a third of the way through this volume, as the returned Kenji, now a modern post-apocalyptic take on the wandering troubadour, reacts to the news that the Friend has announced that the new Expo will be held forever. Kenji says,
You can’t hold an Expo forever, jeez. [...]
Our future awaited us there… our 21st century…
Only thing is… I didn’t get to go…
It was almost like I’d gone, I got to know it so well…
I practically lived there in my imagination.
For Expo, I read future, and his statements also relate to the problem of growing up. You can’t keep anticipating it, and you can’t keep living in your fantasy of what you’re going to be. At some point, you have to cope with where you really are, no matter how well it matches (or fails to match) your dreams. It’s also fascinating to see how many different people remember events differently, focusing on what caused most pain to them, even to the extent of coming up with conflicting stories for the same situation.
20th Century Boys is like the world’s biggest action movie, one that extends a lot longer than two hours but keeps ramping up the suspense the whole time. Just like one of those, there are all kinds of people we keep checking in with, until we finally can’t wait to see the final confrontation.
In Book 22, it’s Kenji’s song that prevents fear in the populace and rallies them to a place where they might be safe. Music is what brings people together and what takes people back to their most authentic selves. I’m not entirely sure what happens at the end, although I do like the way an honest representation of understanding your own mistakes short-circuits those who want a more dramatic confrontation of good and evil.
- Posted by Johanna on October 6, 2012 at 9:47 pm
- Category: Shopping Guide
Books I Recommend You Consider
|The Adventures of Superhero Girl||Resident Alien Volume 1: Welcome to Earth!|
|by Faith Erin Hicks||by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse|
|Dark Horse, $16.99||Dark Horse, $14.99|
|OCT12 0042, due February||OCT12 0046, due February|
|As reported last month, Faith Erin Hicks’ charming webcomic is coming to print … and unlike the self-published edition, this time in color. It’s funny, in how it looks at how a young woman with superheroic powers would really act. She can do amazing things, but she still worries about boys and looks and what to do with her life.||I enjoyed the comics, issues #0-3, reprinted in this slim volume. Not sure I need to buy it again, but if you haven’t read it yet, it’s a nice little mystery with some sharp small-town observations.|
|Global Frequency||House of Secrets Omnibus|
|by Warren Ellis and various artists||by Steven T. Seagle, Teddy Kristiansen, and others|
|Vertigo/DC Comics, $19.99||Vertigo/DC Comics, $75|
|OCT12 0299, due January||OCT12 0297, due February|
|Now that the two previous collections of the 2002 anthology science fiction series are out of print, DC is sensibly bringing the series back into print as one big volume. Some of it is terribly dated, but some of it is still insightful. I’d read more — wish the comic would come back.||I guess printing technology has progressed to the point that you can do a 750-page hardcover collecting over 27 comics without it falling apart. I’d forgotten about this odd offshoot, titled to maintain a brand but with some unusual characters and distinctive art. Odd what books are being made these days — it’s a real “clean out the file cabinet” approach sometimes.|
|The Perhapanauts: Treasure Obscura||Naoki Urasawa’s 21st Century Boys Volume 2|
|by Todd DeZago & Craig Rousseau||by Naoki Urasawa|
|Image Comics, $9.99||Viz, $12.99|
|OCT12 0490, due December||OCT12 1259, due January|
|Image calls it Volume 2, I call it Volume 4, but the first two trades from Dark Horse are now Image’s V0, so whatever. I’m still glad to see more Perhapanauts stories, including the ones previously online-only.||I’m ready for the final final volume, since 20th Century Boys is over but there are still many questions to answer. This book promises to explore how the Friend became evil, the core of the story.|
Two months ago, Bluewater decided they would no longer work with Diamond. Their right, of course, although it makes them even more irrelevant than they already were. This month, in their cancellation list, Diamond lists the remaining orders for Bluewater titles as code 10, which means “Supplier Out of Business”. Advance notice of Bluewater’s fate, or just a last jab by the distributor?
I have figured out what Marvel Now! means, now that I see it took 38 pages of the Marvel Previews to get to an issue numbered over #4. (Journey Into Mystery #647 — when they jumped, they jumped big.) They are restarting most series, but they didn’t want to make that obvious, probably for fear they’d be accused of using DC’s tactics.
My, those weren’t very many recommendations, and all from big publishers. I’d feel discouraged about things if it weren’t the end of the year, past the holiday selling season.
- Posted by Johanna on April 24, 2012 at 9:12 am
- Category: Manga News
As our contribution to this week’s Manga Moveable Feast, Ed and I were joined for the Manga Out Loud podcast by Faith Erin Hicks (Friends With Boys) and Daniel Briscoe to discuss the works of the extraordinarily talented Naoki Urasawa. We were supposed to talk mostly about 20th Century Boys, but we wound up enthusing a lot over how much we all enjoyed Monster first.
I also appreciate Daniel and Faith giving me new perspective on 20CB. I wound up playing devil’s advocate a bit more than I wanted, but they showed me new elements to discover in the series. We also compare it to the TV show Lost.
This was a long conversation, almost two hours total, but that includes a half-hour of Ed and I first. In that section, we talk about some license announcements and what we’ve read over the last month, including my re-read of Oishinbo. (Note: I tell Ed I’m not going to spoil the last volume for him, and then my next sentence does just that, so yay for inconsistency.) We also briefly mention the new Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service and the news of Bakuman’s planned ending, plus we discuss A Bride’s Story Book 3 and what JManga Ed had read.
- Posted by Johanna on April 24, 2012 at 9:09 am
- Category: Manga News
It’s time for the Manga Moveable Feast again! This month, the topic is manga published by the Viz Signature line, hosted by Kate Dacey at The Manga Critic (and bless her for doing it, since she just served as host in February for the Osamu Tezuka MMF). There are a huge number of possible titles to cover, as Kate has listed them in her call for participation. Kate has also posted an insightful history of the imprint.
Here are some of the titles we’ve previously reviewed here at MangaWorthReading.com:
- Afterschool Charisma
- All My Darling Daughters
- Bokurano: Ours
- Children of the Sea
- Detroit Metal City
- House of Five Leaves
- I’ll Give It My All… Tomorrow
- Ikigami: The Ultimate Limit
- Kingyo Used Books
- Maison Ikkoku
- Naoki Urasawa’s 20th Century Boys
- Naoki Urasawa’s Monster
- Oishinbo: A La Carte
- Ooku: The Inner Chambers
- Pluto: Urasawa x Tezuka
- Ristorante Paradiso
- Saturn Apartments
- What a Wonderful World!