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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.”]

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