Shea and Derek are back with their second manga episode of the month! On this show, they discuss several horror manga that will get you in the mood for Halloween tomorrow. As they did last year, the Two Manga Guys are both thrilled and chilled with by introducing listeners to a variety creepy titles, some older and some brand new. They begin with Katsuhiro Otomo’s Domu: A Child’s Dream (Dark Horse Manga), a story that is probably the least horrific of those discussed, but it’s nonetheless one of the guys’ favorites on this episode. As the guys point out, it’s a shame that Otomo’s canonical Akira tends to overshadows other impressive efforts such as Domu.After that they look at a markedly different kind of horror manga, Hideshi Hino’s Panorama of Hell(Blast Books). This is a very violent and blood-filled work, so if you have a weak reading constitution, this might be a challenge for you. After that they cover the three-volume Mail, written and drawn by Housui Yamazaki (Dark Horse Manga). As Derek describes, this is a “lighter” narrative compared to some of the others discussed, but one that nonetheless has them wanting more.
From there Shea and Derek turn to a favorite creator of theirs, Junji Ito. However, his latest graphic cycle, Dissolving Classroom (Vertical Comics) is definitely not what they have come to expect from the horror mangaka. Somewhat similar to Fragments of Horror, which the guys discussed last year, Ito relies a little too heavily on over-the-top graphics at the expense of any bedrock terror. But the guys are more impressed with Gou Tanabe’s H.P. Lovecraft’s The Hound and Other Stories (Dark Horse Manga), an adaptation of three classic Lovecraft stories. In addition to the titular reference, Tanabe also presents manga versions of “The Temple” and “The Nameless City.” Finally, Shea and Derek discuss Neo Parasyte M (Kodansha Comics), the latest anthology inspired by Hitoshi Iwaaki’s Parasyte, which ran between 1988 and 1995. Including contributions from a wide variety of creators, this volume is similar to last year’s Neo Parasyte F, which the guys discussed on the 2016 manga horror episode. However, they enjoyed this anthology even more than last year’s.
On this episode of the monthly manga show, Derek and Shea discuss the recently published Henshin, by Ken Niimura (Image Comics), and Katsuhiro Otomo’s classic Akira (Kodansha Comics). They begin with Henshin, a thirteen-story collection from the artist behind I Kill Giants(and written by Joe Kelly). Shea points out that it’s difficult to find much information on Niimura, as most of his work has been published in either Japan or in Spain. But Henshin — which means “transformation” in Japanese — may be a good introduction to his style and range of work. As the guys point out, the thirteen stories cover a variety of genres, from crime to cooking to sports to salaryman narratives. There are also four autobiographical shorts interspersed almost evenly throughout. Neither Shea nor Derek feel that these tales are as successful as the non-autobiographical stories, but they do show a lighter and more personal side of Niimura’s work. The tone in the other nine pieces are more dramatic, and at times tender and even melancholic. In all, the collection is a multifaceted example of a non-traditional kind of manga storytelling. Next, the Two Guys look at a classic manga title, Otomo’s Akira. This series is a challenge to discuss, because it’s a sprawling saga that develops over six collected, and densely packed, volumes. But Derek and Shea do their best to highlight the premise and major events within the series, as well as addressing the significance of the story, contextualizing it within the 1980s and as an example of post-apocalyptic cyberpunk storytelling. They briefly compare the manga to the anime version, pointing out many of the stark differences between the two. Shea emphasizes what he sees as the Western or European storytelling influence on Akira — indeed, he sees the same in Henshin — yet at the same time highlights this as a seminal and defining work of manga. They even discuss Akira‘s publication history, originally serialized in the seinen weekly Young Magazine (1982-1990), introduced to American audiences through Marvel’s Epic Comics imprint (1988-1996) — and being one of the first English translation of a manga series published in its entirety — then being published by Dark Horse beginning in 2000, and then finally having new editions released through Kodansha in 2009. It is an ambitious attempt for the Two Guys to cover such a title, and they could easily devote an entire episode to the series. But listeners will come away with a sense of the story, if they’re not already familiar with it, and hear some of the major critical points that define Akira. If you’re interested in manga, this is definitely a narrative you have to experience.
Reviews: Munchkin #1, Casanova Acedia #1, Creature Cops: Special Varmint Unit #1, Dying And The Dead #1, Multiversity Guidebook #1, Nutmeg #1, Powerpuff Girls Super Smash-Up #1, Paddington
The podcast wife Erica Schultz braves the cold and slush to return for a review-filled episode! They chat about the Game of Thrones season 5 trailer and Jimmy is doing Veronica Varlow’s 28 Day Danger Diary Instagram Photo Challenge. News includes: Superman gets another power and costume tweaks, upcoming Teen Titans series will not have Beast Boy or Cyborg but will include Hawk & Dove and Barbara Gordon, turn your iPhone 6 into a Batmobile, Copenhagen man can’t be called “Superhero” and Akira creator wins Angouleme Grand Prize. 5 stars and nothing but love!