Comics Alternative, Manga: Finishing Up Monster, Othereworld Barbara, and Other Manga Series

Time Codes:

  • 00:00:26 – Introduction
  • 00:02:33 – Setting up the episode
  • 00:04:17 – More listener mail!
  • 00:06:49 – Completing Monster
  • 00:49:03 – Completing Otherworld Barbara
  • 01:14:28 – Completing other manga series
  • 01:26:25 – Wrap up
  • 01:27:47 – Contact us



On this episode of the monthly manga series — the April show, actually, albeit late — Shea and Derek revisit some of the titles that they had previously discussed. They talk about these series now that they have more volumes under their belts, and in some cases, have completed the entire series. The first of these that they discuss is Naoki Urasawa’s Monster (VIZ Media), a title that they first discussed in their July 2015 episode. The last volume of the English-language Perfect Editions was released in summer of 2016, and both Shea and Derek explore their experiences finishing up the series. As they reveal, Urasawa has a penchant for vast, multi-leveled narratives, filled with a wide cast of characters, and the guys discuss this style of storytelling, its thrills as well as its challenges.

Next, they turn to the completion of a story they first discussed on the September 2016 manga episode, Moto Hagio’s Otherworld Barbara (Fantagraphics). The second volume of this series was published in August of last year, and the guys revisit Hagio’s storyworld and its wrap-up. As they mentioned on their earlier episode, this is a complex, even vertiginous, narrative that involves dreamscapes, multiple narrative levels, and time interplay. Both of them appreciate Hagio’s conclusion, although at times they wonder about the story’s lapses into sentimentalism, and if the various narrative threads may not be a bit unwieldy.

Finally, the guys discuss other manga series that they’ve been keeping up with, even completing, individually. For Shea, that includes ONE and Yusuke Murata’s One-Punch Man and Yusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom, both published by VIZ Media. Derek waxes enthusiastically about Inio Asano’s Goodnight Punpun (VIZ Media), Kengo Hanazawa’s I Am a Hero (Dark Horse Manga), and Akiko Higashimura’s Princess Jellyfish (Kodansha Comics).

Deconstructing Comics #524: “Assassination Classroom”

Assassination ClassroomHe’s taken a bite out of the moon! He’s threatening to destroy earth! He’s… teaching junior high? What is the many-tentacled Koro Sensei up to? Why is he up for letting a bunch of 14-year-olds try to kill him? Tim and Kumar talk about Yuusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom – incomprehensible sound effects and all!

Deconstructing Comics site

Comics Alternative, Manga: Reviews of Anomal and Assassination Classroom

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Yokai and Tentacles

Shea and Derek return for another month’s serving of warm, creamy manga. This one includes a heaping helping of other worldly phantoms and pedagogical cephalopods. In keeping with the spirit (literally) of the Halloween season, the guys begin with Nukuharu’s Anomal (Gen Manga), a Anomalcollection of seven short stores originally serialized in the Gen manga anthology. They enjoy the narratives well enough, but they’re not entirely sure they understand the premises that Nukuharu establishes. At times there are noticeable gaps in exposition, as if the reader is coming into the middle of a story world with little context. Nonetheless, there are some stories that really stand out for the guys, such as “Kaeshi” and “Kaguya.” While Anomal might not have been the strongest collection Derek and Shea have read, they conclude that it is worth checking out. Next, the Two Guys discuss the first six books in Yusei Matsui’s Assassination Classroom series (the latest volume having just been released from VIZ Media). Whereas several of Nukuharu’s stories were thin on premise, one cannot say the same of Matsui’s efforts. Assassination Classroom centers on a mysterious other worldly being resembling an octopus, and who threatens to annihilate the earth, after having demonstrated his powers by destroying AssassinationClassroom6seventy percent of the moon. For some unknown reason, he asks to be the teacher of the underachieving students at Kunugigaoka Academy, a junior high prep school in Tokyo. All the while, and with the help of the Japanese Ministry of Defense, the students are trained and encouraged to assassinate their alien teacher, an all but impossible task given his varied and unlikely powers. The round-faced and multi-tentacled word-be destroyer adopts the name Koro Sensei — a combination of “koro senai” (meaning “can’t be killed”) and “sensei” (teacher) — and throughout the series he instructs his students on self-betterment, self-respect, and a sense of life purpose. As both Shea and Derek highlight, the series’ strong suit is its ensemble cast, including conflicted classmates, unprincipled principals,  and teachers with dubious backgrounds, ranging from government agents to sexy professional assassins. Although Shea is a little uneasy with the series’ subtle emphasis on militarization, both agree that Assassination Classroom excels at wringing compelling stories out of outrageous premises. This is a title that the guys will continue to follow.