I've read (or tried to read) this four times now.. and every time I still don't get it. The book is an oddity, as its storyline is intended to lay outI've read (or tried to read) this four times now.. and every time I still don't get it. The book is an oddity, as its storyline is intended to lay outside that which Motoko Kusanagi began in Ghost in the Shell. But that's fine - we know The Major disseminated and spread across the 'net at the end of that book, and so the idea that we have a Motoko Aramaki, eleventh isotope of that fusion, is easy to accept.
What really doesn't work is the sheer amount of information, philosophy and jargon Shirow sought to cram in to his sequel. Practically 90% of the book features Motoko in virtual environments, battling 'e-thugs' and viruses. When the original manga did this, the environments were rendered as clear overlays on the 'real' world, and the conversations were kept short and made some sense. When the TV show did it, we were allowed to see these worlds in motion and there they made a lot of sense too. Not so in a comics frame. With the exception of a few illustrations, featuring Motoko's avatar diving into a representation of someone's face, or hiding behind a brain-dived individual as some sort of puppeteer, most scenes are presented as wild, abstract voids awash with text and Shirow's symbolism for files and data pathways. It feels inconsistent, confusing and mightily distracting.
Man-Machine Interface is also half finished. The artist went back over some of the work to update it with Bryce-enabled 3D, in following with his Intron Depot works. But these wonderful, coloured illustrations stop about half way through and weave in and out, leaving us again with a disorientating read. I still keep looking for some change in the plot to match up with a switch to black and white (as it can be a useful device), but there is none. It's just where renovations stopped.
Like Neuromancer before it, this work of cyberpunk fiction is a ride though jargon and pretty imagery whose plot only becomes clear when it is summed up entirely within one panel. It is almost laughable when Section 9's Chief Aramaki does so in the epilogue, making all those frames in which Motoko converses with her AI helpers feel like quite a waste. To this day I have no idea what part Monnabia, the original Motoko, or any of the other fake or not-fake characters have to play in this ultimate plot, nor indeed where it pairs up to the shinto-esque mythologies Shirow lumps upon us in the final chapter. And yet I do like it because underneath this all is the Ghost in the Shell world we Shirow fans love.
It's worth noting that in the third feature film, Solid State Society, The Major actually employs the AIs developed in this story - Max, Musashi, Lex, Conan et al - re-embodied as Tachikomas. Many of the films and TV episodes also refer back to Shirow's artworks here as representations of a brain dive, with Innocence delivering a particularly energetic take on hacking. So, the book is not without merit. It's just that ashamedly, we have to look at the rest of the series in order to see its worth reflected....more
An enjoyable enough romp, with some quite intriguing artworks and a novel premise as something of a cross between pulp magazine and comic.
I picked theAn enjoyable enough romp, with some quite intriguing artworks and a novel premise as something of a cross between pulp magazine and comic.
I picked the book up at a charity shop and wasn't disappointed by its story. While it is 'of its time', including fashions and character types which one would associate with the 1970s (think Han Solo meets Barbarella), it's a classic battle against an interstellar empire, with a twist in that the protagonist actually hasn't a clue what's going on. Instead the story is led by the two women this hapless university student meets - the rebel Qrelon and a 'Nizerine' queen. Qrelon's quest, which the student Wryn fins himself embroiled in, takes the characters through quite a rich universe in which the sadly short panels do at least portray a number of walks of life.
I enjoyed the book more for how it was made than the story it actually portrays, but that's no bad thing - the synopsis alone leaves us thinking this much....more
The biggest thing this book has going for it is the artwork - rendered in intimate detail with some poignant colour schemes and many an action scene rThe biggest thing this book has going for it is the artwork - rendered in intimate detail with some poignant colour schemes and many an action scene rendered in what reads like a silent choreography. Writer and artist both have created an impressive reboot for the Iron Man franchise, in a story which, in typical Ellis style, has just the right amount of dark humour and social commentary....more
I've lowered my initially generous rating of 2 stars to one, as this book really is just dreadful. Putting aside the stark similarities to its manga pI've lowered my initially generous rating of 2 stars to one, as this book really is just dreadful. Putting aside the stark similarities to its manga predecessor, Chobits (socially-awkward guy meets confused and mute pretty girl, dodges sexual innuendo to teach her how to talk), DearS volume 1 is simply a lewd presentation.
It starts with an initially quite promising plot, as aliens from an unknown world crash-land on Earth and are taken in as friendly refugees. In typical manga style they are, of course, a physically ideal race of androgynous men and busty, thin-waisted women. That's not a bad thing, so long as the book has some substance and sadly, DearS doesn't.
Any of the mystery surrounding Ren, a prototype DearS, is swept aside 'til the very last page. In its stead we're treated to six chapters of cheap pornography and the usual, drawn-out awkwardness as the protagonist attempts to hide the half-naked girl in his room. Ren is constantly glimpsed without underwear, and the teacher reaches far beyond decency to flirt outrageously with a 17-year-old classroom, dressed in stockings and miniscule bras.
Chobits managed to be a touching story as it presented us with a down-on-his-luck and kind protagonist, whose plight we cared about. Chi too was adorable, quite unlike the pairing here. Takeya is an arrogant and uncaring layabout, while Ren's innocence manages to be shouted out by suggestions of fetishised slavery and the antics of some thoroughly unrestrained supporting characters.
If you find DearS on a shelf and fancy its story, read Chobits instead; otherwise the art and writing here will really only taint your experience with softcore porn....more
I had this series recommended to me by a Tokyopop representative, since I was just starting out in manga and had really only latched on to the awesomeI had this series recommended to me by a Tokyopop representative, since I was just starting out in manga and had really only latched on to the awesome Ghost in the Shell works by Shirow Masamune. I was told the series might be the best match they had as a publisher.
Deus Vitae features some impressive artwork, and that's certainly what convinced me to buy into it. The artwork really is its only merit though, as the plot, framing and dialogue quickly descend past the realm of 'bad' and border unsettlingly obscene.
The Terminator/Matrix-inspired idea is that emergent AI once threatened mankind to the extent we detonated nuclear bombs to destroy it with EMP. The AI gave birth to a gynoid though, and when plans for her deployment as a bio-weapon to quell post-apocalypse terrorist cells were abandoned, she created an entirely new race in order to wipe humans from the planet. 'Present day' for Deus Vitae shows us Ash Lemy, the last human, and his quest to liberate the half-human slave classes from these gynoid, or 'selenoid', rulers.
That as a plot is decent enough, but it's nigh on impossible to enjoy in the manner DV was written and drawn. As a manga project we can expect a fair amount of fighting, but a combination of bad framing and, sadly, the same level of detail which lends the book its sole redeeming quality left me clueless as to who was striking who, and indeed why everybody was flinging cybernetic tentacles around.
We could also expect an attractive female cast, but surely not one who bares their breasts at the merest hint of a 'power move'. Visual metaphors for motherhood and nurturing are taken to extremes in scenes were we are asked to believe that the ruling classes fight their nemesis by wanting him to sleep with them.
A thoroughly distasteful climax leaves me bitter each time I read this book, and I have to ask myself how the trilogy gets away with it. It seems such a shame though, given the impressive renderings of worlds and an attractive cast. It is as though the book was somehow derailed by a pornography script mid-way through production....more
No, just.. no. Deus Vitae's sequel is both more and less of the same from volume 1. There are more visually confused fights and more bared breasts thaNo, just.. no. Deus Vitae's sequel is both more and less of the same from volume 1. There are more visually confused fights and more bared breasts than the first part, and there's so much less of a plot so weak it borders madness; even the busty Lady Shee's clothing has somehow taken on a translucency in Lemiu's reminiscence.
We shift from volume 1, which had some promise and awesome artwork but was let down by its delivery, to this. Volume 2, in which a hero and heroine have a stop-off in their campaign. They're betrayed despite good intentions, but leave smiling to the treacherous group they'd fallen in with, some of whom raped said heroine. I don't know how I wasn't more disgusted the first time I read the book. It's really not that content I have a problem with; it is just the fact that the characters and circumstances are written so weakly. Somehow we are to believe that Ash, perpetually nonchalant and somehow still appealing to Lemiu, is too cool to be blamed for anything; that Lemiu radiates so much good-will and naiveté that she'll forgive even gang rape; and that the newly-introduced Raschur is somehow not an evil person despite condoning so much of the above.
I recommend avoiding this series like the plague. By all means, its artwork is still rather pretty, but it's been so terribly misappropriated....more
I enjoyed this. The story has a taint of the familiar about it, but is told with humour, thrills and spectacle of its own. Superhumans arise and greatI enjoyed this. The story has a taint of the familiar about it, but is told with humour, thrills and spectacle of its own. Superhumans arise and greater universal forces have to be unravelled; Newuniversal reads like any other comic might, with a few nods towards the likes of Heroes.
My only tangible qualm is with the artworks. It's drawn very well, but I was almost put off by the cover, featuring as it does a cast of film star lookalikes. There's an Angelina Jolie, a Bruce Willis and a James Cromwell to be had, and when the story's Justice starts punishing people for deeds only he can see, it really does bring back echoes of Unbreakable. This seems an unfortunate choice to have made....more
"Nicely drawn, a decent plot, and laden with some pretty horrendous dialogue" would be my sentence-long review.
Hypervelocity is a book which tries to"Nicely drawn, a decent plot, and laden with some pretty horrendous dialogue" would be my sentence-long review.
Hypervelocity is a book which tries to tell a fast-paced, adrenaline-pumped story, with action the likes of which a human Tony Stark could not handle. As an digital upload of his consciousness finds itself hunted on all sides, a race kicks off to see if this sloppily-coded emergent digital persona can outsmart and outmanoeuvre hackers, mechanical warriors and a persistent S.H.I.E.L.D. task force. As a posthuman science fiction, the book has some credits. His being hacked by a mysterious A.I.'s avatar makes for a nice sub-plot. As a comic however, the book makes some unfortunate mistakes, not least of which (to my eyes) is its use of language.
Peppered as it is with internet slang, which often fails to sound much better than an attempt to appear 'cool', and swearing despite the fact such words are blanked out, I found it very hard to keep taking the storyline with any seriousness. Nor too did I appreciate the use of the word "mecha" as some form of street slang. I just felt at that point that a story with promise had sadly been let down by its delivery....more