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Monday, 28 October 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 13

Outlanders. Written and illustrated by Johji Manabe. Dark Horse Comics with Studio Proteus published 33 issues in a monthly format, from December 1988 to September 1991 . The manga was originally published by Hakusensha in Comicomi magazine in the mid to late 1980's.

A favourite manga of mine with an engrossing story and appealing art with its character design and organic integrated technology all wrapped up in a space opera.

The invasion of Earth by the galaxy spanning Santovasku Empire's immense living battleships and terrifying ground troops and war beasts, our reluctant hero a Tokyo News Photographer by the name of Tetsuya Wakatsuki is taken as a prisoner by the beautiful (but deadly with a sword) Princess Kahm who has such lovely horns befitting one of Royal blood is the daughter to the Santovasku Emperor!
For a start humans are seen as vermin on this sacred planet and battle fleets of star-ships have been given orders to exterminate the infestation! With such a large Empire of many bipedal races (much like inhabitance of moons of the planet Mongo!) some fish-like (Royal Servant Nao ), and some the pinnacle of feline (Lady Battia) and canine (General Geobalai) evolution I think.

Tetsuya persuades Kahm to save the Earth and all its Human inhabitance and she promises to marry him and take on her father, but others are plotting against her, add to this confrontations between Lady Battia and General Geobalai and family of Royal Servants loyal to the princess you have a space opera with style!

[Note. Toren Smith of Studio Proteus sold the translated manga of Outlanders to the fledgling comic-book company Dark Horse, thus gave them their first manga title and a foot-hold in the newfound market. Such was its importance!]

[Note. 8 Volumes were printed by Dark Horse covering the entire series (of 33) & the one-off specials (dates to be confirmed).]

Monday, 21 October 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 12

Grey. Written and illustrated by Yoshihisa Tagami. Viz Comics published 9 issues in a monthly format, from October 1988 to June 1989 . The manga was originally published by Tokuma Shoten in the mid to late 80's.

One of my fondest memories was seeing a poster on the wall of the 'Final Fronter' comic-book shop (sadly no longer with us) this film size poster of Grey death with the iconic two legged flying machines in the background, just looked like the coolest Science fiction I'd ever seen (back in 1989)!

Set in the future when man's lust for war has reduced the human population to small pockets of scattered villages and the occasional town, with most of the high technology lost or restricted to the general populous. Life is hard, living in what for most is a ghetto, feeding from what others throw away. There is endless war and the threat of attack from the next village or even from your own 'Troopers' who defend the settlements and strike back, because in this class system of society, if you're not a 'Trooper' you're scum (class “F”)! There are even classes of troopers class “E” up to class “A” (50% of all who start never make it to a class ”D” trooper), with the promise of food, shelter and safety from invaders in 'the City' being a class “A” entitles you to become a citizen, and you are set for life! Killing the enemy and destroying vehicles and machines of war advances you up the ranks!

We follow the chronicles Grey as he becomes determined to survive after the death of his girlfriend called Lips, carrying her dream of becoming citizen and living in the city, is his relentless drive. As a trooper he is sent on mission after mission, each one harder than the last. His uncanny survival and being the sole trooper out of his squad to return from many a mission marks him with the nick-name Grey Death as we witness him becoming a ruthless killing machine focused on the next class rank! From retro fitted WWII tanks and vehicles to power amour and Mecha, and the realisation that humanity's fate is not their own, and that there is a group fighting a resistance, Grey now seeks answers to the endless battles.

[Note. There is a three page article at the back of volume one entitled “Confessions of a rewriter by Gerard Jones. To quote him “Ultimately, the story of Grey springs not from the characters but from the machine-dominated world in which they function.”]

[Note. The American author Harlan Ellison mentions in his introduction to the manga of Grey, “it is an important comment on how a society mad for war can debase and chill its citizens. Grey is also a powerful statement about the demeaning caste systems we create to keep others in their place.”]

Manga in the 80's Pt. 11

Fire Tripper. Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. Published by Viz comics 1989 (the first the “Rumic World” showcase series). The manga was originally published by Shōgakukan Inc. 1989. 
This cleverly worked time travel short story centring on two children both flung from their respective times (1980's and possibly Japan's feudal civil war of the1500s) by a fiery explosions, with both of them having forgotten their juvenile past. The principal part of the story takes place in feudal Japan where the teenage schoolgirl Suzuko has been transported to a field in aftermath of a battle, and rescued by an older boy Shukumar who takes her to his village, where their relationship blossoms. 

[Note. Laughing Target (1990) was the second short story in the collection of Rumic World.]

[Note. Dear reader, 'Fire Tripper' is the only surviving issue I have from the 'Rumic World' that I have found in my collection, and with the OVA releases of the same name and under the same banner, I'm sorry to say I can not at this time recall all the manga that was featured.]

Sunday, 20 October 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 10

We also had stand alone issues of Manga released as one-offs at the end of the 80's, and Go Nagai's Iconic “Mazinger” was one to get.
Mazinger. Written and illustrated by Go Nagai. Published by First publishing Inc. in December 1988. The manga was originally published by Dynamic publishing Inc.1988.

From the 70's and 80's to this day the World of Go Nagai and his beloved creation Mazinger live on. Now we see in full colour this manga styled graphic novel, as each panel and page are an art peace in themselves (looking to be painted in Acrylic and Oil paint) this adds to the fantasy of science fiction, inspired by one of the tales from “Gulliver's Travels” by Jonathan Swift.

 The year is 214X, eight years after the nuclear war and its nuclear winter the ten percent of humanity is split between North & South as the new super powers fight for resources, thus starts the one hundred years war, with war machines of gigantic size!
Our hero young Major Koji Kabuto is flung in to battle in the Combat Robot Mazinger, the masterpiece of the subterranean arsenal. As the battle rages something he is unprepared for happens and the battle shifts, changing his motivation to saving a beautiful woman from the horrors of war!

[Note. Go Nagai is known for his part in the Japanese robot revolution on TV in the 1970's and his reputation for hypersexual psycoviolence (Cutie Honey, and Devilman) changed the manga industry for kids comic-books & comic-strips for that decade and beyond, spawning many Anime tv series.]

[Note. A four page article by Frederick Patten on Go Nagai at the back of this graphic novel is well worth reading.]

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 9

Dominion. Written and illustrated by Masamune Shirow. Published by Eclipse International & Studio Proteus in 6 issues in a Monthly format from December 1989 to May 1990. The manga was originally published by Hakusensha 1986.
We follow our heroin Leona Ozaki in her day to day job, protecting the citizens of the megalopolis, a city engulfed in a deadly bacterial smog (were the mask you wear saves your life!), and crime is dealt with the deadly force of the Tank S.W.A.T. Police (urban pacification that is outrageous!). In this futuristic world of bio-technology & cyber-technolgy and the use of tanks in a city Leona a girl who loves her little tank (named Bonaparte) struggles to be taken seriously as the male members of the Tank S.W.A.T. Police have the much bigger military tanks!
Shirow is know for his meta detailed city landscapes and cybernetics tech illustrations to flesh out his Worlds, and added to this is a wit and humour of the absurd with depiction of SD characters (super deformed – an art style).
A highly enjoyable Science Fiction comedy!

[Note. Like so many translated manga of its time only a short number of issues where produced to show the verity and style form Japan, and then where gone! Easily missed at your local comic-book store.]

 [Note. So popular was this series that over the years, 3 sets of OVAs have been animated (Dominion Tank Police, New Dominion Tank, and TANK S.W.A.T. 01).]

[Note. Masamune Shirow is best known in the West by his seminal work “Appleseed”.]

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Manga in the 80's Pt. 8

Lum. Written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi and Viz Comics published 9 issues in a Monthly format in 1989, taken from serialized manga in Weekly Shonen Sunday spanning from 1978 to 1987.

Known as Urusei Yatsura (Those Obnoxious Aliens) in Japan this is a fanciful comedy following Ataru and his girlfriend Shinobu, who have relationship troubles like most young couples, but things are going to get a little bit more complicated, as Ataru has been randomly selected (by computer of course) to stop an Alien Invasion in proudly representing Earth as its champion in a competition of 'Tag'..! 

Faced with the world resting on his shoulders, and running out of time to tag the very cute Alien Lum (who could fly) Ataru only manages to grab hold of (and keep) Lum's bikini-top, his new found motivation of his girlfriend's offer to marry him if he wins, gets misunderstood by Lum as a marriage proposal! Now life for Ataru Moroboshi is all kinds of weird, and that's just the tip of the iceberg.

[Note: In the back cover of Issue 1, a small Biography is printed “She attended a woman's college in Tokyo where she began studying comics with 'Kazuo Koike” (the writer of 'Lone Wolf and Cub', and Crying Freeman). By the late1980's Rumiko Takahashi was the most popular comic-book writer in Japan!]

[We in the West have come to know this female Manga artist and writer Rumiko Takahashi and her many works, both comedic and supernatural from 'Ranma ½' to the Mermaid Saga!]

[With a recognisable supporting cast of characters that rivals 'The Simpsons' in number, Lum (aka Urusei Yatsura) is a Japanese phenominum that is hard to miss, and even harder not to like.]

Manga in the 80's Pt. 7

Justy (Cosmo Police). Written and illustrated by Tsuguo Okazaki. Viz published 9 issues in a biweekly format, from December 13, 1988 and April 4, 1989.and with Dave Smeds was the English rewriter, and Translated by Satoru Fujii. Originally published by Shogakukan. Inc.

These tales of science fiction feature 'Justy Kaizard', a guardian of the innocent and pursuer of the guilty, who as a member of the Galactic patrol hunting down criminal Espers (those with extraordinary psychic powers). He himself has such formidable powers that he wears a head-band to focus and control his abilities as well as limit them!
A Super-human in a futuristic World is a Japanese archetype seen often in Manga and rivals any Marvel or DC cop in Western comic-books!

[Note: in Issue 7 that has a letters page: “after 3 years of running as a monthly manga, it was made into 5 volumes”, and its target audience was 6 to 11 year olds ( Junior High school). Dave Smeds the english rewriter made a few name changes such as Jerna's Japanese surname “Flarestar” inverted to “Starflare”.]
[Note: I am a big fan of the OVA (animé) of Cosmo Police Justy (released in Japan1985) luky I had a synopsis to read at the time.]
[Even such a short run of only 9 issues, but by issue 2 fans were encouraged to write-in and suggest a name for the 'Letters Column', and winning title was “Brain Waves”.]