Tuesday, February 22, 2005


I'm in the middle of reading another multi-volume series, so to tide you over until it's done, I'll do some brief descriptions of manga I haven't read, but look interesting. As it happens, the three I've picked out for today are all by artists who've been licensed, or already published, in the U.S., though these specific titles haven't been licensed afaik.

The first is R by Kaneko Atsushi (the Japanese title is the English letter "R"). DMP, two of whose manga I reviewed recently, lists as one of its forthcoming titles Bambi and Her Pink Gun by Kaneko. R is a collection of short stories, unrelated to Bambi or to each other as far as I can tell, but seemingly in much the same vein as Bambi, going by DMP's description of that title: "Tarrantinoesque" is the word that springs to mind. The art is more distinctive. For a manga it's very Western-looking, reminding me most of Paul Pope (himself influenced by manga, of course). Robert Williams' paintings are also a clear influence -- the front cover in particular could almost be a Williams painting. (Here's the amazon.co.jp page for the book, with a picture of the cover. Unfortunately it's small and somewhat blurry, so most of the impact is lost.) Gary Panter's influence is also visible. And it's printed from left to right, presumably as a further tribute to American comics.

R is 160 pages, and costs 905 yen. It's published by Shodensha, and its ISBN is 4-396-76186-4.

Isshuku ippan (I'm not certain what the title means, but if I had to guess I'd say something like "a meal on the fly") is a series of humor strips by Monkey Punch, best known in the U.S. for Lupin III; but I like this better than the two volumes of Lupin III I've read. The hero of these strips, a wandering samurai, resembles Lupin III in some ways, particularly his lechery; much of the humor is bawdy. Other strips revolve around his pursuit of money and food. But unlike Lupin III, his efforts fail as often as they succeed. Most of the strips are one or two pages long, though a few are longer; and most of them are wordless. The manga is notable less for the gags, which are simple, though often ingenious, than for Monkey Punch's lively cartooning. The book is the third is a series entitled "Monkey Punch: The Manga Selection"; the fourth volume is/will be called MP gaaruzu ("MP Girls").

Isshuku ippan is 240 pp. and costs 552 yen. It's published by Kodansha, and its ISBN is 4-06-334874-1.

Oingo Boingo Brothers Adventure is by Araki Hirohiko, creator of Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, a very long, and very popular in Japan, series which Viz recently licensed. I've seen one volume of Jojo, though, (one of its sequels, to be precise) and this doesn't look anything like that. In fact, it doesn't look anything like any other comic I've seen, manga or not. The closest thing I can think of, believe it or not, is Maya glyphs. (Again, here's the amazon.co.jp page for the book, with a small, blurry picture of the cover.) I can't tell from looking at the manga what it's about, if it's about anything other than random violence and weirdness..

The book is very slight, just 24 smaller-than-usual pages of story (and fourteen more pages which inexplicably repeat the same two illustrations of one of the brothers over and over). Still, I don't regret the four bucks I spent on it. Unfortunately, it appears to be out of print; and the cheapest used copy amazon.co.jp is offering is 999 yen (approximately ten bucks, not including shipping). The publisher is Shueisha, the cover price was 286 yen, and the ISBN is 4-08-617720-X.

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