I've been meaning to try this for a while. My impression was that this was something along the lines of Please Save My Earth, but actually it turns ouI've been meaning to try this for a while. My impression was that this was something along the lines of Please Save My Earth, but actually it turns out to be more like Cage of Eden without the fanservice. ...more
Even though Boichi's only doing the art for this, I'm seeing the same problems here I had with Sun-ken Rock -- characters take a back seat to action,Even though Boichi's only doing the art for this, I'm seeing the same problems here I had with Sun-ken Rock -- characters take a back seat to action, motivation takes a back seat to action, logic takes a back seat to action, dialogue takes a back seat to action, etc., etc. -- with the added bonus of a badly mangled Japanese take on Christian mythology that manages to make The DaVinci Code look scholarly....more
Okay, I'll admit, of all the ways for the world to end, Sabrina the Teenage Witch turning Jughead's dog into a zombie, not high on the list.
The tropesOkay, I'll admit, of all the ways for the world to end, Sabrina the Teenage Witch turning Jughead's dog into a zombie, not high on the list.
The tropes of the zombie apocalypse are well worn by now, and while putting the old gang from Riverdale in the middle is an interesting twist, ultimately they are the same old tropes -- the idiot who tries to hide his infection, the guy who has to kill a loved one, the horde of undead breaking into the impregnable fortress, etc., etc. Plus, Archie's cool and all, but really, and everyone loves Betty and Veronica, but the story is in serious need of some Josie and the Pussycat action....more
You know how in most zombie movies there are the good, normal survivors who are just trying to find a place they can survive, and then there's the ganYou know how in most zombie movies there are the good, normal survivors who are just trying to find a place they can survive, and then there's the gang of sociopaths who get off on the chance to kill the undead and end up screwing everything up. Well, this is a story about the sociopaths.
The inmates of Cell 4 are a bunch of low-down violent hoods -- well except for Maeda, our alleged protagonist, who claims he's innocent. They hate life in prison, but when the zombipocalypse breaks out, suddenly they have an outlet for all their pent-up rage at the system -- starting with the guards and rival prisoners who've been infected. Soon they're on the loose, ready for a go-go killing spree....more
I've often thought that Highschool of the Dead would be a much better series if there were less focus on boobs and more on zombie destruction. MagicalI've often thought that Highschool of the Dead would be a much better series if there were less focus on boobs and more on zombie destruction. Magical Girl of the End is exactly that.
I mean, exactly that to the point of being a ripoff. The story opens with Our Hero sitting in class bored. He glances out the window and sees a teacher confronting a little girl who's trying to gain entrance to the school. Little girl hits him upside the head with a stick; head goes boom. Our Hero rushes out of the classroom to splash water on his face thinking he was dreaming. Gets back to class to find massive carnage as the little girl murders his classmates one by one. He escapes with his childhood friend, meets up with some other students, and plans to escape by stealing a teacher's car.
Seriously, the exact same plot as High School of the Dead. The only difference is there's much less focus on fanservice here (though there is some) and more exploding heads. And characters who join Our Hero's merry band don't receive contractual immortality, so people who look like they're going to join the main cast often die in a grisly manner a couple chapters after being introduced, to the point that it's very hard to care about any of them....more
Finally, the interchangeable secondary characters with impossible-to-tell-apart faces get personalities and backstoires! I still had to flip back andFinally, the interchangeable secondary characters with impossible-to-tell-apart faces get personalities and backstoires! I still had to flip back and forth between pages to figure out if a particular scene involved Reiner, Jean or Connie....more
Oh Daisuke Sato, why's it gotta be like this. You write seven volumes of a fun (if fanservicey) zombie thriller, then, just as the story's cruising toOh Daisuke Sato, why's it gotta be like this. You write seven volumes of a fun (if fanservicey) zombie thriller, then, just as the story's cruising to a climax, you go on indefinite hiatus. Will Our Heroes escape their zombie infested town? Will they be reunited with their families? Will Rei's instability continue to deepen? Maybe we'll find out in five years. But in the meantime, the drawings of pretty girls fighting zombies are cool....more
So the world's been overrun by the titans, giants that look like they stepped out of one of Dore's illustrations for The Inferno. And they love to eatSo the world's been overrun by the titans, giants that look like they stepped out of one of Dore's illustrations for The Inferno. And they love to eat people. What's left of humanity has constructed a huge wall to keep the titans out, and for a century that works fine. But then a super titan appears and kicks a hole in the wall and his brethren rush in like a family of rednecks at Old Country Buffet.
This is before the series turns grimdark.
I didn't know what to expect when I picked up this series -- honestly, I thought the title referred to Saturn's moon -- and was surprised when the titans started chomping people in half -- very graphically -- especially since it appears nobody has any plot armor.
The one drawback to the story is the art, which is very stiff with characters who all look alike -- a problem exacerbated by the lack of anime hair, so that most blonde guys look a like, most brunette girls look alike, etc. Though TV Tropes mentions that the art improves greatly as the series goes on, so hopefully Volume 2 will be better in that regard....more
I first encountered When the Wind Blows when my high school social studies teacher showed the film version to class. It's a great nuclear apocalypse mI first encountered When the Wind Blows when my high school social studies teacher showed the film version to class. It's a great nuclear apocalypse movie, far more effective than melodramas like On the Beach or The Day After. (Has a great score, too, with music by Roger Waters, David Bowie, Paul Hardcastle and Genesis.) Sadly it's never been released on home video in the US. The original comic it's based upon, however, is.
The story concerns an elderly British couple, the Bloggses, the sort of stalwarts who grew up in the Blitz and take British indomitableness for granted. Stiff upper lip, chap, we'll muddle through somehow, etc., etc. Time has past them by, but they don't realize it. They believe WWIII will be just like WWII with slightly bigger bombs. Jimmy gets ahold of a bunch of goverment leaflets with instructions for surviving a nuclear war -- how to build a fallout shelter with a couple doors, what supplies you'll need, though apparently how how to go to the bathroom -- and naively follows them, not realizing they're bullshit even when he runs into contradictory instructions in different pamphlets.
I don't want to give the ending away, but this is a brutally realistic (and darkly funny) look at nuclear war. Don't read this if you're expecting a happy ending. ...more
HotD has been a quick moving series -- I mean, it's called Highschool of the Dead but they escaped the high school by the end of the first volume -- sHotD has been a quick moving series -- I mean, it's called Highschool of the Dead but they escaped the high school by the end of the first volume -- so it's surprising to see the characters stick to the same location for more than one volume. But though they were ready to leave the shopping mall at the end of Volume 5, it takes them all of Volume 6 to make it out. But that's okay because this volume is full of zombie-slaughter, including the JSDF proving they aren't out of the game yet, and a mall rampage that's a fair homage to Romero.
On the downside, there are hints that our merry band won't last forever. Takagi clubs Komuro with a clue-by-four about the potential for relationships to screwup the group dynamic, but he remains oblivious of Rei giving Saeko dirty looks. And at the same time, Hirano refuses to yield to circumstances by giving Alice weapons, insisting that the group can protect her. There's a nice interview in the back of the book where the authors discuss how the greatest threat in zombie stories is there heroes' on stupidity, and all signs point to it being the downfall of our group, no matter how competent they've been so far.
Well, you don't read zombie stories for the happy ending....more
The fifth book finds Our Intrepid Heroes holed up in a shopping mall after the failed American nuclear strike of the previous volume knocked out all tThe fifth book finds Our Intrepid Heroes holed up in a shopping mall after the failed American nuclear strike of the previous volume knocked out all the electronics in the Tokyo area. Go USA! But they aren't the first people to've found this mall. The other survivors there are marginally under the command of Asami, a rookie cop who was left in charge when her CO am-scrayed to get reinforcements. Now, days later, her authority is breaking down as the civies realized how screwed they are. Will the idiot civilians heed the advice of Hirano, Takagi and Takashi, or will they foolishly ruin their refuge and become zombie kibbles?
Yeah, like the ending isn't a foregone conclusion.
After the glorious Color Omnibus, this volume is quite a comedown. Black & white art on a standard paperback page just can't match the glossy goodness of the Omnibus, and at a mere 150 pages for the main plot (followed by a couple omake chapters) the story blows by. Hopefully when Daisuke Sato gets around to Volume 8 we'll get a second omnibus....more
If the title's not a giveaway, this is a zombipocalypse. I burned out on the genre about the time Romero started making all those crappy sequels to thIf the title's not a giveaway, this is a zombipocalypse. I burned out on the genre about the time Romero started making all those crappy sequels to the original Dead trilogy, but I'm still interested if someone does something interesting with it, such as Zombieland. HotD isn't the most original take on zombies -- to a large degree it's just Dawn in Japan -- but it's well done with characters who are interesting and intelligent (at least those who survive the initial onslaught). None of that World War Z crap where the military is run by people only slightly brighter than General Melchett and more interested in providing photo-ops than winning the war.
The story begins with a seemingly ordinary day at a Japanese high school (though the setting is jettisoned by the end of the first volume, giving lie to the title). Unbeknownst to the students and faculty, the zombipocalypse has already begun, and the undead are spreading around the world. The first inkling anyone has that anything's amiss is when a zombie wanders onto campus and kills a gym teacher. Unfortunately this school doesn't seem to have any sort of lockdown procedure, so once word spreads there's panic in the corridors as everyone scrambles to escape the building -- which makes them easy meat for the zombies. Within a matter of hours, the whole school is overrun.
Five students and the school nurse band together to escape the campus. The nominal hero is Takashi Komuro who borders on anti-hero territory, particularly in the way he's not totally upset when his best friend dies as this means his best friend's girl (Rei Miyamoto) is now single. They're accompanied by the school kendo champ, Saeko Busujima (whose first name is pronounced suspiciously like "psycho") and the aforementioned nurse, Shizuka Marikawa.
But the real stars are Saya Takagi and Kohta Hirano. Both are quite intelligent, but in opposite ways. Takagi is a preppy honor student who's great at thinking things through and coming up with a logical solution -- but she falls apart under pressure. Hirano, by contrast, is a tubby nerd who's a total spaz under normal circumstances, but is able to think clearly when there's adrenaline in his system. It helps that he's one of the rare Japanese gun nuts -- one who's actually taken a vacation in the US to learn hot to shoot. It helps even more that Ms. Marikawa has a friend on the police force who keeps an apartment near the school, and said apartment is loaded with guns.
I do have a couple issues with the book, both related to hangups of the two Satous which get into the book too much. Shouji Satou, the artist, really goes overboard on the fanservice at times, most notably in the chapter where the gang holes up in an apartment and the girls get drunk while bathing and begin comparing each others' breasts, but panty-shots crop up in even ordninary scenes. (Incidentally, the book contains character sheets giving details like height and weight on each character, including bust sizes for the women. Rei and Busujima are the smallest with mere DDs. I guess flat-chested girls taste better to zombies.) The story would be just as good without the fanservice, and I know, at least in the US, more people are turned off by the gratuitous T&A than will buy the book because of it.
The other Satou, writer Daisuke, is a bit of a rightwinger, and he makes his heroes share his views, to the point that at times the book sounds like something published by Baen. Take the scene where Hirano and Takashi see a news report about civil unrest of the government's treatment of zombies.
Hirano: Which means that group's a bunch of bone fide fanatics. Either that or they're sick in the head. Leftists, you know.
Takashi: Leftists tend to be fanatical and sick in the head.
A few pages alter Takashi mentions that his mother's a teacher and Hirano asks if she's one of those leftsists with the Japan Teachers' Union. (If you're unfamiliar with Japanese politics, the rightwing groups over there are as fractious as the Judean People's Liberation Front, and there are few things they all agree upon -- but one of them is that the Japan Teachers' Union is evil.)
Eventually our band of plucky heroes hook up with Takagi's father, who is an ultra-rightwing fanatic who's used his followers to cordon off a safe-zone within the city. His plans aren't fully in place yet, but he seems to have ideas along the lines of the neo-feudalists who show up at the end of The Day of the Triffids, only he's presented in a much more sympathetic light, unlike the liberals, who are universally portrayed as a bunch of idiotic cry-babies who want to talk with the zombies.
But the fanservice is easy to ignore outside that one bathing chapter, and I'm not a leftwinger, so while the political wankery is anvilicious, it doesn't get my goad up. At worse I'd give the story a half-point deduction for these issues.
As a final note, I should say something about this edition. I saw the anime a couple months ago when it came out on Netflix and enjoyed it quite a bit (the politics are completely missing, though the fanservice remains apart from a few scenes with full-on T&A). When I went to look up the manga, I noticed the full-color omnibus would be only slightly more expensive than getting the first four volumes individually. Those few extra bucks were certainly worth it as the art looks gorgeous in bright colors on high-quality glossy paper. The only drawback is that this is one big-ass book. The length isn't that bad; what's killer is that the cover is an inch wider and taller than a standard hardcover -- not quite coffee-table sized, but enough to add noticeable heft to the tome -- and the glossy paper is heavier than what's normally used for books....more
For the Japanese impaired, the book is Tabi ni Deyou, Horobiyuku Sekai no Hate Made (Our Journey to the Edge of the Ceasing World by Tadahito YorozuyaFor the Japanese impaired, the book is Tabi ni Deyou, Horobiyuku Sekai no Hate Made (Our Journey to the Edge of the Ceasing World by Tadahito Yorozuya
Our Journey to the Edge of the Ceasing World is an episodic novel -- really three novellas, though they were written as a piece -- about a world in which most of humanity has disappeared. Literally disappeared. Not all at once. This is more of a plague. First the people around a victim forget his name (which also disappears from all written and electronic records), then he turns black and white like an old movie. Eventually even his shadow disappears, and then he does as well. By the time the story starts, only a handful of people are left in the world, and it seems all them are displaying at least some of the symptoms.
The narrative follows the Boy and the Girl (no names given) as they travel through Hokkaido. Why? Well, what else is there to do after the end of the world except walk the Earth like Caine in Kung Fu? Just walk from place to place, meet people, get in adventures. Actually, they have a Honda Super Cub, though when we first meet them they are on foot due to a breakdown. And "adventures" is pushing it. Really, they just meet people and have conversations.
The first story is about the Boy and the Girl stopping at a farmhouse after their bike breaks down and meeting the Director of a Tokyo company and his Secretary. They eat some corn. The boy takes a bath. That's the story. To be fair, this section of the book is establishing setting. The next tale takes place a few days later when the Boy and the Girl stop at a warehouse to escape the rain and discover the Boss there. The Boss was part of a team constructing a human powered airplane to fly the English Channel. The Boy and the Girl decide to help him assemble the plane so he can at least make one test flight before disappearing. The end. In the final story, the Girl gets sick from riding in the rain and the Boy has to find a town he heard about where survivors have gathered. Despite some suspense early on about whether the town will welcome strangers, the place might as well be Mayberry, RFD. The Girl receives treatment and the Boy meets another girl, called the Princess, who suffers a weak heart in addition to being in the final stages of the Vanishing.
Most of the interest in the stories is generated by the guest stars, how they're dealing with their situation, and how the Boy and the Girl help them. But while there are some touching moments involving the Boss and the Princess, their stories ultimately lack any momentum. Nor are the philosophical implications of the situation really explored -- what does it mean to exist, why is it important for people to remember us after we're gone, what's the purpose of living when the world is dying. Kiyoshi Kurosawa got great mileage out of a similar premise in his film Kairo (Pulse) and it's a shame Yorozuya didn't at least make an effort (the afterword claims he wrote the book in under a month for the Dengeki Novel competition, and it really shows -- if he'd had the time to revise it, I think the book would've been improved considerably). It's all enjoyable enough, but it's missing the salt and pepper. I wouldn't mind seeing further tales in this world (the book ends with two sequel hooks, though since it came out in '08 and there's been no followup yet, I'm guessing we're not going to see either), but only if Yorozuya comes up with something with a bit more narrative weight to carry the story forward.
On a final note, the novel hasn't recieved (and probably never will) a proper English translation. I had to settle for a fan translation. Fan translations are hit-or-miss, and this one is mostly miss. It's readable despite some typos, but it's stiff and over-literal. Since the afterword mentions the book was a finalist for the Dengeki Novel Award, I'm prepared to admit that the quality of the writing might be better in the original Japanese, but I doubt it's enough to counter the narrative weaknesses of the story....more
Kudos to Vertical for publishing this. While most of the companies that publish manga in the US pick mainstream action and slice-of-life titles, usualKudos to Vertical for publishing this. While most of the companies that publish manga in the US pick mainstream action and slice-of-life titles, usually series that have an anime adaptation, Vertical opts for more out-there material. And this is as out-there as you can get without a trip to Omicron Ceti. Really, this is R. Crumb territory. If there was ever a movie adaptation, John Waters would have to direct.
The story is set in a world on the cusp between apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic. It may be the future or it may be an alternate past. Japan is at war with someone, though it's not clear whom -- there are B-52s in the air over Tokyo all the time, but all we see them drop is dead bodies and furniture. The bodies fall along the river in Suginami Ward, where if they're not disposed of promptly, they'll come back to life and attack people. But this isn't a zombie story. The resurrected corpses aren't mindless monsters; they act just as they did in life, having idle conversations with each other about movies and mahjong ... and occasionally trying to devour the flesh of the living.
The river is under the protection of the Super, an odd man appointed by the ward to kill the zombies before they can wander into populated areas. How odd is the Super? Well, he walks around wearing just a shirt like an anatomically correct Porky Pig.
Velveteen and Mandala are two girls bored of school and air raid drills, so they run away to the river and become the Super's zombie-slaying assistants. All three characters are mentally unstable. Velveteen is the most sane, though that's like "the least skeevy member of The Jersey Shore." She at least as some tenuous connection to reality, whereas Mandala and the Super are dwelling in Cloudcuckooland. Mandala, for example, is apt to spend entire hours just repeating the words, "tape recorder" over and over again.
At first the story seems to be episodic, with the girls wandering from one bemusing incident to another, often fighting with each other and the Super with cartoonish violence that has no consequences, but a plot does emerge as we learn more about the world, the zombies, and why these three people are there. In the process, many of the early events take on new, ironic meanings. This is definitely a story where you'll find yourself flipping back to reread scenes in light of new information.
That being said, a word of warning to anyone thinking of rushing out to buy this book: that John Waters reference I made earlier was not for nothing, nor is the cover blurb which describes the story as, "a sublime mixture of Hayao Miyazaki, Evangelion, and scatology." This is a very gross, black comedy, with some of the humor verging on dead-baby territory. For example, there's a scene where Mandala asks Velveteen if she's a virgin, and Velveteen proceeds to describe some of her sexual encounters. Mandala then scoffs, "I knew it. You've got it wrong. That isn't sex. That's a trick to ward off bad dreams. My dad says so. And that's why, since I was a kid, I've asked my dad for that trick every night." This pronouncement is then followed by three full pages of Velveteen simply staring at Mandala in disbelief. This is followed shortly by a scene as offensive as anything Gaspar Noe has ever put on film, in which Velveteen, having eaten a spoilt bentou is shown being graphically ill -- and I do mean graphically -- and then assaulted by zombies in a way ... well, let's just say, I've seen some debate about whether zombies could ever be treated in a manner similar to Lestat or Edward Cullen. Jiro Matsumoto comes down firmly on the side of, "Yes," but everyone in the audience will come away shouting, "No!"...more