This month on The Comics Alternative‘s manga series, Shea and Derek check out two very different titles. They begin with Kazuto Tatsuta’s Ichi-F: A Worker’s Graphic Memoir of the Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant(Kodansha Comics). This is a 500+ page account of the reconstruction and cleanup in the wake of 2011’s disaster in Fukushima. As the guys discuss, the text does two things at once: provides objective reportage of the situation surrounding Fukushima and reveals the author’s very personal experiences in securing and maintaining his role in the cleanup efforts. While both guys enjoyed the book, perhaps Derek more than Shea, they nonetheless wondered about Tatsuta’s background as a mangaka — “Kazuto Tatsuta” is a nom de plume, so it’s difficult to determine any bibliography — and any potential agenda (if any) underlying this work.
After their focus on real-world disaster, the guys move into the realm of fantasy. Platinum End (VIZ Media) is a current shōnen series from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata, the same team behind Bakuman and Death Note. The second English-language volume was just released this month, so the guys have enough story under their belts to get a secure feel for the art and narrative. As Derek explains, the premise appears a little on the hokey side, at least at first, but as things develop the story begins to take on a life of its own, one that soon hooks you. Much of this is because of Obata’s style, but there are also larger thematic issues that make this title worth exploring. The guys discourse over the text’s theological import, its engagement with gender identity, and its satiric commentary on contemporary popular culture. This is definitely a series that both Shea and Derek will continue reading.
On the February manga show, Shea and Derek look at a new title and an older title. They begin with a discussion of School Judgment 1, recently released by VIZ Media. Written by Nobuaki Enoki and with art by Takeshi Obata — perhaps best known for his work on Death Note — this is the first book in a series that has a unique premise. In fact, the guys comment several times on the wacky setup of School Judgment: a legal arbitration system established in Japan’s elementary schools, where the students themselves try criminal cases serving as judge, prosecution, and defense. In this first installment, the protagonists Abaku Inugami (for the defense) and Pine Hanzuki (prosecution) battle over three strange cases, with the book ending by setting up a fourth. Shea and Derek discuss the weirdness and the social pertinence of the storylines, including arbitration concerning both drug use and pedophilic voyeurism. After that, they look at at Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s A Drifting Life(Drawn & Quarterly). With an original English publication of 2009, this is Tatsumi’s slightly veiled autobiography and a look at his growth as a manga artist. In fact, Derek points out that the book can best be read as a künstlerroman, a narrative about an artist’s growth to personal and creative maturity. This is a hefty book of over 830 pages, a marked difference from the kind of short-form manga that Tatsumi is best known for. Indeed, both Shea and Derek contrast reading A Drifting Life to their experiences with his short-story collections, such as The Push Man and Other Stories, Abandon the Old in Tokyo, Good-Bye, and Fallen Worlds (also published in English by Drawn & Quarterly). While the shorter slice-of-life narratives are clear examples of gekiga, an alternative manga form advocated by Tatsumi himself, this autobiographical work is more conventional. And being a retrospective look back at his early life, Tatsumi brings into his story the real-life artists that inspired him and served as his companions and competitors, including Osamu Tezuka, Masahiko Matsumoto, Takao Saito, and Susumu Yamamori. As the guys conclude, this is an outstanding book and the perfect introduction to the world of Yoshihiro Tatsumi.
Reviews: Power Cubed #1, Wild’s End: The Enemy Within #1, Heroes Reborn, Once Upon A Time S5 premiere, The Simpsons S27 premiere
It’s a new podcast one day early! Jimmy is heading out to visit family so decided to record/release the podcast early. Emily Edwards returns to the rotating co-host chair and hey chat about their plans for the upcoming New York Comic Con. And boy howdy, are there plans. PLANS I SAY! News includes: Titan Comics to publish Independence Day comics based on the movie, Death Note creators announced new manga, The Court rules that DC owns the rights to The Batmobile and more! Leave your iTunes comments! 5 stars and nothing but love! Also, get a hold of us!