New visitors please read this Blog from Old to New using Chronoblog, the past is important!

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 6

Fist of the North Star. Written by Buronson and illustrated by Tetsuo Hara, published by Viz Comics from April 1989 to December 1989 (that was taken from a serialized Weekly Shonen Jump from 1984 to 1988), initially ran for 8 monthly Issues covering the first 16 chapters (out of a possible 245 chapters).

Set in a post-apocalyptic world not unlike the1981 film 'Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior' where order and civilisation have broken down and Warlords and their gangs prey on the weak in a fast nuclear wasteland! Two schools of rival Marshal-arts the Southern Star & the Northern Star emerge and our hero Kenshiro is trained in this most lethal fighting style of the Northen Star overloading your oponent's body's own chi when attacking its acupressure points with the result being incredibly violent and gory with organs, muscels, and bone exploding, bodies splitting apart!

Kenshiro champinions the weak, as he walks the wasteland taking-out one Warlord and their gangs one after the other!

[I only ever picked up 2 issues of the comic-book back in the day, but I do still love the animated movie!]

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 5

Xenon Heavy Metal Warrior. Written and illustrated by Masaomi Kanzaki.Ran for 23 Biweekly Issues from December 1987 to November 1988 by Eclipse International\Viz Comics completing the story arc. Taken from serialization in Shonen Big that started in1985.

[reprinted in volumes (1 to 4) and owned by Viz Communications in 1992]

This is our first foray in to a technological World of Science Fiction, when after missing for three months the17 year old Asuka Kano having been kidnapped by the organisation of the “Bloody Sea”, and against his will made into a weapon, a Cyborg no less! The trauma of which has given him amnesia, so he does not know that he has been transformed!!

Now the deemed the 'ultimate project' and labelled 'Xenon', Asuka has become two fully integrated creatures, one mechanical, and one Human, and after his escapee from the Bloody Sea's laboratory, he is hunted by those employed with a psyche found in nature of violence, bloody violence (volunteers to be man-machines), all is not lost as his High School friends try and help him regain his identity and memories, and as luck would have it the girl with the schoolgirl crush on him has a Grandfather who is a scientist (a little off his could say) with a fully equipped mansion laboratory.
The action of blood and oil, wires and sinew took place over comic-book panels where the art replaced the dialogue in telling the story (the Manga style).

[You will find this a reoccurring theme of “man and machine” is part of the Japanese national Psyche. In understanding industrialisation, and a hope for a better tomorrow.]

[ In issue 3 a two page article written by the author of 'Manga, manga: the World of Japanese comics' Frederik L. Schodt was entitled 'Japan – A land in love with Robots'. From a child android and remote controlled brutish robot, to the piloted warrior robots, and Cyborgs, to the machine known as a Mobile Suits, Japan was indeed in love with Robots, and so it was in the West in the 1980's too!]

[A forthcoming book in January of 1988 from the pen of Frederik L. Schodt entitled 'Inside the robot Kingdom: Japan, Mechatronics and the coming Robotopia' would give us all an insight into this fascination of Japanese obsession with Mr. Robotto!]

[Later in 5 Issue had another two page article appeared, this time written by Abra L. Numata from the Viz Communication Inc.'s editorial team. It was all about the Manga industry and the Japanese art style that has a storyboard\cinematic look and feel to it, and the up and coming emergence in1983\1984 of leaders progressing the Japanese Manga comic-book to new levels, (Translated examples of this 'new wave' of comics are given as AKIRA & GREY), and the article explained how they were editorially put together for a English readership (very interesting).]

Thursday, 19 September 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 4

Mai, the Psychic Girl. Written by Kazuya Kudo and illustrated by Ryoichi Ikegami (His later art can be seen in Crying Freeman & Sanctuary). Ran for 28 Biweekly Issues from May 1987 to July 1988 by Eclipse International\Viz Comics completing the story arc.

This beautifully illustrated style from Ryoichi Ikegami that has a very realistic look and feel to it unlike the Bambi eyes and angular chins of other later manga artists, was most welcome to the fledgeling manga audience in telling the plight of this 14 year old heroin Mai Kuju.
 whose Psychic powers are bringing unwanted attention from the secret organisations of “The Wisdom Alliance”, and its rival the “ Kaieda Agency” as she maybe the Worlds strongest Esper!  She fights with the speed of thought with enough Psychic energy to explode your organs in protecting her father and friends from others with Psychic powers!

[Note: Akira Issue Number 1 was not until August 1st. 1988, on month after Mai had finished.] 

[reprints of the first few issues showed its popularity and in the UK, Titan books Ltd in1989 had permission to print the 4 volumes that combined all the material in to a digest format (this did include a previously omitted nude scene).]

[Mai, has been reprinted in a range numbered volumes by Viz over the years.]

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 3

“Area 88”, Is so much more than “Top Gun”, so don't dismiss it as a War comic-book, or just a Jet fighter action comic-book, you will find the Story and Art are done by Kaoru Shintani (who's Japanese serialization started back in 1978) was first republished in May 1987 by Eclipse International\Viz Comics as a Biweekly (of the possible 172 Issues it was cancelled at 42).

What you do find is comic-book storytelling from the passion of one man, as you follow Shin Kazama a Jet fighter pilot in a mercenary force, willing to risk his life for the money! 
The money to buy himself out, having been conned in to being a Merc. by his friend from aviation school (shin was top of his class, and going out with daughter of an Airline magnate) who was jealous!

You soon find out that Shin's 3 year contract has a price to buy-out of at $1.5 million, the trouble is will he live that long to fly all those Missions, will the constant repairs to aircraft diminish his hopes (hopes of going home, and seeing the girl he loves), or will the endless battles turn him in to a heartless killer as he becomes the ace pilot of the mercenary force, and only the thrill of life is combat?! 
Avionic action, comedic moments, tragedy, and romance, have found a good home hear.

[1987 was when comic-book companies started to take the risk of translating manga form Japan, and republishing it in a familiar format for the West.]

[Shin has greatness shoved upon him, as an unforeseen and reluctant Hero, this is a reoccurring theme in Japanese storytelling.]

[AREA88 is well known in Japan, with 2 Anime series (1985 & 2005) and a theatrical film.]

Monday, 16 September 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 2

“what did I get and read?” was of course sorted out (picked & chosen) by individuals from the comic-book the companies themselves or as in the case of Toren Smith who formed a company solely to translate the cream of the crop of Japanese Manga, and in doing so showed the variety of art styles and that of the Japanese story telling.

[I'm sure you all know how fast the amount of Japanese manga was (and still is) printed in Japan.]
With the ubiquitous access to the World Wide Web millions of manga comic-books are at people's fingertips translated or not, how are the late 90's and 2000's generations of fans and beyond find what is good rather than mediocre Fan-service with the art style made popular by CLAMP studios that is so prominent today?
With the post war (second World War) generations of manga artists and storytellers retiring or no longer with us, and with many translated works are still out of print, I hope you will still accompany me in rediscovering the time-capsule when all was new and exciting! 

So from the violent feudal world of “Lone Wolf and Cub” to “Pineapple Army”, not like the most popular genres for a Western audience whose diet of Super Hero vigilantes are more common.

"Pineapple Army" introduces us to “Operation One – Goshi: The Preceptor” published in December 1988 by Viz Comics as a Biweekly mini-series spanning 10 issues. Written by Kazuya Kudo as a side-work alongside the very popular manga “Yawara” and illustrated by Naoki Urasawa, who also illustrated “Mai, the Psychic girl” was originally Published and serialized by Shogakukan from 1986 to 1988.

A police detective is run down and kill by an unknown assailant leaving 4 daughters to fend for themselves in New York City and a crime boss threatening to kill them! Jed Goshi takes the job not of a bodyguard but of an instructor, to get the girls combat ready! He's ex-military, a man who trains others to defend themselves on the condition that he never gets involved, but he can not stay detached and uninvolved for very long. You might say equalizes the odds of his threatened clients!!

[That's December 1988 to April 1989 for the USA & UK],
[As I have so few of these comic-books, I can not at this time express an opinion on the work as a whole.]