Tuesday, July 17, 2012


About a month ago, having decided that Shintaro Kago is seriously underrated, I ordered from Sanseidoh, the Japanese bookstore in Arlington Heights, almost all the Kago manga amazon.co.jp carried which I didn't already own. Three of them have come in so far, all recent, including two that came out this year. A few days ago I picked them up. I've looked at them, but haven't read much yet, so these aren't reviews.

Antlion vs Barabara Girl, the oldest of the three, was published in 2009 and contains stories published between 2006 and 2008. In Fraction, the "Shintaro Kago" character said that he needed to write more mainstream manga. Though that was a fictional character, the stories here apparently were published in mainstream magazines: slightly over half appeared in Young Jump and the rest in Horror M, which I've never heard of but I'm guessing is also a mainstream magazine.

To what extent did this affect the stories' content? I didn't spot any explicit sex or scatology and there's little nudity. Compared to other mainstream manga, however, these stories are still very bloody and grotesque; and looking at them, I don't get the sense that they're watered down.

Toko Tochu no Deai Gashira no Guzen Kiss wa Ariuruka? Experiment [When Two People Collide on the Way to High School, Is It Possible that They Will Accidentally Kiss? Experiment], published in April of this year, mostly contains very short stories. It starts off with a color section containing nineteen twisted single-page -- and frequently single-panel -- gags which originally appeared in VICE magazine. The rest of the book contains twenty four-page stories, most of which appeared in Ax, and six longer stories ranging from seven to sixteen pages. Some of the Ax stories revisit the formal experimentation that first attracted me, and no doubt others, to Kago.

Harem End [Haarem Endo] was published only last month. Thicker than an average tankoubon, the title story itself is almost two hundred pages long. It starts out like the most banal, cliched "harem manga" imaginable, as a new college student finds himself, through a series of improbable plot contrivances, living with five women representing various stereotyped "girlfriend" types: the tsundere, the glasses girl, the silent girl wearing an eye bandage and so on. But after seventeen pages of this the story abruptly turns into a "normal" Kago story. A second plot strand concerns a sinister anime studio. Rounding out the volume are five eight-page stories. The first three of these, at least, appear to be linked.

I picked up some non-Kago boos too, which I'll try to report on soon.

The Kago books' amazon.co.jp pages are here, here and here.

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