Finally getting into manga (discussion/reviews)

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Postby chairkicker » Sun Feb 24, 2019 1:28 pm

ghost in the shell is all about the oshii's movies. give them a watch, sevenarts
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Postby Magazine » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:14 am

Does anybody have Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man they can upload or point me to? It seems pretty rare.

I'm also interested in finding works by Yuichi Yokohama and Daijiro Morohoshi, posted about in this thread.

I'm just starting to explore this stuff.
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Mar 01, 2019 8:12 pm

Magazine wrote:Does anybody have Jiro Taniguchi's The Walking Man they can upload or point me to? It seems pretty rare.

I'm also interested in finding works by Yuichi Yokohama and Daijiro Morohoshi, posted about in this thread.

I'm just starting to explore this stuff.


Had no idea The Walking Man was so rare these days, that's a pretty good one, super-chill and beautifully drawn.

Sadly a lot of the more obscure, indie-ish stuff like Taniguchi and Yokoyama doesn't seem to be scanned anywhere. I did throw Yokoyama's Iceland in the members upload thread - a really good more recent book from him and the only one that seems to be available digitally.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Mar 03, 2019 5:16 pm

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Kabu No Isaki by Hitoshi Ashinano
Ashinano's follow-up to Yokohama Shopping Trip is pretty similar in tone - very relaxed, light on plot, with mysterious sci-fi elements mostly looming unexplained in the background rather than being the focus. Here the conceit is stranger and less well-defined: the world has become ten times larger than it used to be, which provides the excuse this time for Ashinano's love of sparsely populated open spaces and a sense of scale and wonder. I think there's no question this is a strictly inferior version of his signature obsessions: the characters aren't as fleshed-out, the mysteries don't feel as deep, and the abrupt ending suggests that the series was cancelled early. The art, though simpler and stripped down compared to YKK, is warm and lovely. It's all still pretty charming and enjoyable for anyone just looking to bask in Ashinano's calm studies of isolated humanity some more, and there's enough to differentiate it that it's not merely a copy of YKK. Notably, this book is more about wanderlust and the joy of exploring, about the pull of distant places whereas YKK was very much about the subtle pleasures of staying mostly in one place. Not even close to its predecessor in multiple ways but still an OK read on its own merits.

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Outdoors by Yuichi Yokoyama
Breakdown Press has put out this somewhat older Yokoyama book and as HFC nicely summed up recently, it's really fantastic. To me, this reads as something of a missing link - a bridge in Yokoyama's career between the meditative abstractions of Travel and later, "gekiga"-influenced works like Iceland and World Map Room, with their cluttered designs and use of deadpan genre dialogue. As with Yokoyama's earlier works, there's no dialogue at all here, but there are plenty of sound effects so it definitely shares the "noisiness" of something like Iceland. There are 3 stories here, all of them featuring Yokoyama's usual outlandish characters having encounters with nature. This book also shares with the artist's later works a sense of subtle menace - these encounters mostly feel antagonistic, especially the first (in which men in tiny rockets hurtle disruptively through idyllic nature scenes, disordering everything in a quest to take pictures of the natural world) and the last (in which 3 men meticulously set up camp only to have it torn apart by stampeding wildlife, causing them to unleash a barrage of gunfire at the fleeing animals). These bookend stories, with their focus on the violence between man and nature, frame a central story in which men in strange vehicles spend a few dozen pages quietly contemplating the rain. That's probably my favorite story here, both for its very Travel-like emphasis on abstracted light effects and for the subtle ways it plays with sound, with different sound effects appearing as the angle switches from outside (gentle splish-splash of rain falling into puddles) to inside (clanging or thumping sounds of heavy raindrops on the roof of a house or car). It really encapsulates what seems to be a central theme of Yokoyama's work, playing with both the contrasts and the echoes between mechanistic technology and natural processes. The whole thing is great though and fills in an important gap in Yokoyama's work as seen from the west.

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Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi
An utterly unique early 70s graphic novel that still feels fresh and avant-garde today. Hayashi's style and story are heavily influenced by the New Wave, both French and Japanese, and especially resonate with the works of Godard - because of both the fast-paced "cutting" and pop culture referentiality, and the rather conventional frustrated romance at the book's core. A young unmarried couple living together - shocking enough at the time in 70s Japan, apparently - struggle with their lack of success as artists, their uneasy place with respect to tradition and family, and their hot/cold feelings for one another. They spar, have sex, and trade nasty barbs, but the book is enthralling in spite of the central story/couple rather than because of them. It's Hayashi's visual ingenuity that makes it really shine, the way he presents scenes as fragmented moments, varying his style with each page or panel - sometimes photorealistic, sometimes sketchy and raw, sometimes broadly cartoony in the style of Tezuka. Hayashi's images are often metaphorical and abstract rather than direct, and his figures often float in a white sea of nothingness, divorced from their surroundings as they act out their tragic poses. Like Godard's boldest movies, it gives the sense of a collage, frenetic and irreverent, skipping wildly from one deeply felt emotion to the next and changing the visuals to reflect the intense feelings of the lovers.
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Postby Wombatz » Tue Mar 05, 2019 5:49 am

sevenarts wrote:Red Colored Elegy by Seiichi Hayashi
An utterly unique early 70s graphic novel that still feels fresh and avant-garde today. Hayashi's style and story are heavily influenced by the New Wave, both French and Japanese, and especially resonate with the works of Godard - because of both the fast-paced "cutting" and pop culture referentiality, and the rather conventional frustrated romance at the book's core. A young unmarried couple living together - shocking enough at the time in 70s Japan, apparently - struggle with their lack of success as artists, their uneasy place with respect to tradition and family, and their hot/cold feelings for one another. They spar, have sex, and trade nasty barbs, but the book is enthralling in spite of the central story/couple rather than because of them. It's Hayashi's visual ingenuity that makes it really shine, the way he presents scenes as fragmented moments, varying his style with each page or panel - sometimes photorealistic, sometimes sketchy and raw, sometimes broadly cartoony in the style of Tezuka. Hayashi's images are often metaphorical and abstract rather than direct, and his figures often float in a white sea of nothingness, divorced from their surroundings as they act out their tragic poses. Like Godard's boldest movies, it gives the sense of a collage, frenetic and irreverent, skipping wildly from one deeply felt emotion to the next and changing the visuals to reflect the intense feelings of the lovers.

the gold pollen collection is also excellent and such a beautiful and well-edited book (one of holmberg's best efforts) ... of course a bit uneven, but the best stuff is probably even stronger than red colored elegy ... funnily the title story is the odd one out, with its somewhat half-assed pop-psychedelic interludes, otherwise the thematic consistency and artistic development make it something special ...
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Mar 21, 2019 6:23 am

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so i've finally read tezuka's dororo, which i'd always eyed a little suspiciously because it has samurai and the title figure wears kind of astro boyish features. but then the title figure hates samurai more than i do, so it's fine. i maybe wouldn't place it highest on my list, as hfc does (which made me get this, thank you!), because in the end it's merely a genre romp, but the level of creativity and formal invention on every page in this book is absolutely amazing. the balance between comedy and spooky stuff and how this may switch from panel to panel is absolutely amazing also. plus there are interesting daredevil/wolverine parallels in the figure hyakkimaru, who lacks 48 body parts because demons took them at his birth and overcomes blindness and limblessness by extra senses and has prosthetic arms with inbuilt swords underneath (and an artificial nose he can use as a grenade etc) ... anyway, made by a true comics god.

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i also read the first volume of captain harlock by leiji matsumoto (same series as devilman). this starts out a bit confused, in the way that i feel about some manga (see lupin III), where there seems to be motivations missing and the humor doesn't work and it may all be a bad translation or alluding to (and eliding) a set of narrative clichés i'm not familiar with ... again, it goes back and forth between slapstick and teenage space drama, and the art relies a bit much on set pieces, very schematical spaceships vs moody close-ups of the hero's scar brooding under his lively forelock ... but after a hundred pages or so it had me very much engaged. the story (involving alien paper women who tend to go up in flames) does add up to something interesting so far, much more gray in gray morals than expected, i will definitely continue the ride at some point ... (like devilman, this seems to contain some strange editorial decisions, though, regarding storylines)
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:06 am

Glad you liked Dororo! Easy to forget that under that fantastic design he has no facial features, sensory organs or limbs :| It's a strangely severe limitation to place on your character to then disregard almost completely
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Postby Wombatz » Wed Mar 27, 2019 5:10 am

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so i've read the first volume of devilman in the classic collection series. for 250 pages, the origin story, it's really great, sick, silly and absolutely bonkers ... the art a bit stiff, but then exploding for the battle scenes which are delightfully hard to decipher ... then after the timid teen turned devilman flies into his first sunset things become increasingly more episodic, fights against specific demons of vastly entertaining shapes, and finally, in midst of a volume of the proper series, the book without explanation switches to a few chapters of the time traveler sequel, where our hero fails to buy a painting from adolf hitler or to save marie antoinette's head ... these are all still a fun read and i like the sense of futility around the stories, but i suspect it might not be worth it going into the second volume, as the story probably won't go anywhere soon (sevenarts, did you read the whole thing)?
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Postby sevenarts » Wed Mar 27, 2019 9:42 pm

Nice! Yea, I read the whole original series which is collected in just 2 chunky volumes now, it's pretty worth reading all that since the series goes to some pretty bonkers places in the latter half. The time travel sequel was mostly pretty cringeworthy I thought, and I haven't read any of the zillion other spinoffs and sequels and such. Still, the whole original serial is real fun even though it's pretty awkward and has aged poorly in so many ways, it's just such a unique and bizarre thing.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Mar 28, 2019 2:24 am

ah, just two volumes, all the offshoots had me confused there ... so i'll definitely get the second one
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Postby mercenaries of slime » Fri Mar 29, 2019 8:14 pm

what are the other places to download manga from?

i'm looking for dead dead demon's dededede destruction but library genesis only has vol. 2

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Postby Spooky Jim » Wed Apr 17, 2019 9:29 pm

Monkey Punch died today. Castle of Cagliostro was formative for me :(

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Combarieu declares that the songs of birds are not "musical" either, because they are "very difficult to take down in notation." See his Music-Its Laws and Evolution, 155. Will some divine power please create a "Musical" bird to sing the Air for G String in exact Equal Temperament for M. Combarieu?
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Postby vivian darko » Tue Apr 23, 2019 11:05 pm

yokohama shopping trip is amazing

been thinking about revisiting favorites from childhood (eyeshield 21, skip beat, hikaru no go) to see how they hold up but i guess i should work my way through the recs in this thread first!
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 09, 2019 5:59 am

Glad everyone's enjoying Yokohama Shopping Trip. I'm still only on vol. 6 - I like to drop in on that world as an occasional treat
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 09, 2019 6:03 am

Read a couple of mangas this week

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Osamu Tezuka – The Thief Akikazu Inoue
Another lesser-known Tezuka, surprisingly enjoyable again. This is Tezuka in a mature, relatively grounded mode, unspooling a collection of psychological thrillers. They're not exactly revelatory in terms of what he can do, but there are some good yarns in here. I especially liked the opening story starring the real-life serial killer Peter Kürten. Additionally, this collection contains some of the best art I've ever seen from Tezuka. His landscapes in particular are extraordinary and there's some really beautiful water-based ink stuff in the Peter Kürten story.


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Yoshitaka Amano – The Tale of Genji
This is an interesting one. Amano is a legendary and incredibly influential artist, having provided early design work for stuff like Speed Racer, Vampire Hunter D and especially the Final Fantasy series, which owes its entire aesthetic identity to his distinctive style, with its thin wispy line, ornate detail and vibrant colour used for everything except his ghostly white figures. I don't think he's done a huge amount of traditional sequential work; this is the closest I've seen to a narrative in my limited exposure. This book is his adaptation of an 11th century piece of fiction with claims to being the world's first novel – it follows the romantic exploits of a prince demoted to a commoner by his father the Emperor. Amano's adaptation is close to an art book – it's very light on text and very selective about what it includes. In practical terms it's more like a series of paintings, given minimal context by quotes from the text and brief biographies of the women that Genji gets entangled with. So anyone picking this up is probably in it for the art, and fair play it does look absolutely mindblowing, with the elegant qualities of someone like Charles Vess but taken to a whole new level of abstraction and ethereality. The colours as well are completely gorgeous – there's just nothing else like it. What really struck me was how far it strays from traditional manga illustration – the closest analogies I recognised were the paintings of Gustav Klimt, and more recently the gnarled figures and burning colours of Sarah Horrocks, who does a fascinating job of taking Amano's beauty and distorting it slightly (much less than you would expect) for a really mutated effect.
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Postby Wombatz » Tue May 14, 2019 8:41 am

hfc made me read

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cromartie high school (the first volume only, unfortunately). it's really funny! not in the usual manga way where you're never sure if it's a joke or a quirky translation, but really chuckles to guffaws funny. give me another volume of this ...

i thought the art looked a bit inspired by latter day ikegami, the model of badassery, and by chance i also read

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strain by buronson and ikegami (all five volumes). well, in a way the art has declined sadly from masterpieces such as mai the psychic girl, offered, or early chunks of crying freeman. it's formulaic, very photo-based, totally static (all movement is in the motion lines), endless rows of pretty faces looking inscrutable but ... i found that very addictive, a kind of minimalism, all the faces, staring at you with hardly noticeable variation, waiting patiently for you to read something into them. the story starts out as one of the usual perverts getting off on violence things, but then all the perverts become buddies, so it tones down until all you have are those pretty faces all looking the same with different hairdos. i can't really say anyone should dig this, but i did.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue May 14, 2019 11:17 am

Posts like that really make me feel like I'm having a small positive impact in the world - thanks man

Cromartie rules
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Postby sevenarts » Sun May 19, 2019 8:53 pm

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Baka To Gogh by Shinkichi Kato
As recommended by HFC - as he said, this has a really unique style for manga, with very thick lines, distinctive cartoonish faces, dense detailing, and lots of visual flourishes (the backgrounds often reference the wavy, hazy nighttime scenes of Vincent Van Gogh). I get a sense that Kato is more influenced by American indie comics than by other manga - this is the kind of book that would fit very comfortably in the 80s/90s indie boom, and would stand out way less in that context than it does in Japan. It's the story of three friends: a pair of goofy "idiots" who play in a band together, and Gogh, a shy clothing designer who they both predictably fall in love with even as they befriend her platonically. The first volume is pretty fun, just a goofy hang-out book as the trio become close and engage in silly hijinks, and Kato's textured art makes it even more enjoyable. Unfortunately it completely lost me in the second volume, as the trio breaks apart and the melodramatic plotting just sucks all the fun out of it. I feel like Kato gets a lot of mileage out of being outside the norm for manga; if this was an American book it'd be utterly forgettable.

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Pink by Kyoko Okazaki
Continuing my obsession with Okazaki's unique, darkly funny vision, this one is often touted as her absolute masterpiece. For me it doesn't come close to overturning Helter Skelter, which is just about perfect, but it's quite good in its own right too. It's about Yumiko, an office girl who works nights as a prostitute because her pet crocodile's voracious appetite requires the additional funds. Like everything I've read from Okazaki to date, the absurdist humor, bursts of silliness, and heavily melodramatic plotting contribute to an overall queasy, unsettling atmosphere that helps her social satire land with with maximum impact. This is all about late 80s consumerist excess, about how capitalism makes everyone a whore to one degree or another. Okazaki's so great to me because her stuff works on so many levels, and this is no exception - it's a rip-roaring fun, vicious melodrama, the kind that Douglas Sirk could've really sunk his teeth into, complete with an almost hilariously overwrought tragic ending, but she also piles on the satirical layers, the goofy hang-out moments, the adorable crocodile humor, and it just keeps getting richer and richer. She's a real treasure.

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Death Note by Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata
A very well-known series I probably wouldn't have bothered with if not for the HFC rec - he called this "the Sistine Chapel of plotting" and that's just so unbelievably apt. This book is absolutely addicting, as from the moment it kicks off with its high-concept plot engine (a notebook where whoever's name is written in it will die) it's just completely unrelenting as it rockets forward. It's so tight, so well-realized, for all 12 volumes. Ohba keeps introducing new rules and new twists on the central concept, delighting in the elaboration of this basically simple device. It also helps that the central protagonist, Light Yagami, would be the villain of most series; he's a manipulative genius who uses his death notebook to kill criminals in a bid to make a "better world," with him of course as its god and ruler. The rivalry between Light and the master detective L is absolutely riveting, and even when the plot progresses to its twistiest and wildest extremes, there's this unflinching logic at its core that makes its every absurd move make a weird kind of sense. Obata's art basically stays out of the way, the perfect economical style to propel the narrative ever onward without halt. This is some kind of ideal form for shonen manga.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon May 20, 2019 3:48 am

Shame that Baka to Gogh didn't hold up, but I'm psyched you enjoyed Death Note. You read the whole thing already? Probably the best way to do it tbh. Those creators took an interesting turn for their follow-up project, Bakuman, which drops the dizzy plotting and thriller elements entirely and is kind of an autobiographical piece about two kids trying to write a hit manga. It's not dry at all but it's very much a process story - a really rigorous guide as to how the manga industry works in Japan. It's a good read if you're interested in the form.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon May 20, 2019 3:49 am

Next stop One Punch Man yes?
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Postby sevenarts » Mon May 20, 2019 7:02 am

Yea, I just slammed through all of Death Note. I was traveling earlier this week and it made a long flight go by so fast. It's perfect binge reading because it was so hard to put down once I started.

I'll definitely do OPM (and Bakuman) soon enough.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Mon May 20, 2019 4:24 pm

One Puuuuunch

I just discovered the prosaically named Free Manga Downloader tool so now I can finally read lots of the weirder stuff itt in my preferred format
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Postby sevenarts » Mon May 20, 2019 11:44 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:I just discovered the prosaically named Free Manga Downloader tool so now I can finally read lots of the weirder stuff itt in my preferred format


Wow this thing rules. Basically just what I've been looking for to grab scans without relying on Library Genesis. My backlog is going to get even more ridiculously huge now.

I've started reading Blame! and maybe I'm really dumb but I'm at the end of the first volume and have only the vaguest idea of what's even going on at all.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Tue May 21, 2019 5:24 am

Yeah it's great. I'm taking whole series, zipping 'em up and turn them into .cbrs to read with Honeyview. The whole thing only takes a couple of minutes
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed May 22, 2019 11:47 am

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Seiichi Hayashi – Red Red Rock
This is some early, very influential experimental manga from a pioneer in the field. His most well-known work is Red Coloured Elegy, also reissued by Breakdown and reviewed by sevenarts a couple of weeks ago. This collection of short pieces is probably a little more challenging if anything; in some senses bound very tightly to its time and place. It’s strongly political in ways that are often pretty confusing: like reading political cartoons from half a century ago, a lot of the nuance is lost in the ironic speech and characters who represent some largely forgotten point of view. The more traditional narratives hold up better but are still written in an obscure style.

The parts that really work are the startling collision of pop culture images and tropes, stemming from Hayashi’s involvement in an avant-garde movement that prioritised cultural and visual omnivorousness. The art is striking and wildly referential, often employing images that clash in some way with the text rather than working alongside it. There’s also some stuff which you can see Yokoyama developing a few decades later – interesting formalist representation of structures, nature and the visualisation of sound. This is definitely not for beginners but it’s a good next step for people who admired Red Coloured Elegy.
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Postby Wombatz » Thu May 23, 2019 5:56 am

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just to say that i finally read the second half of devilman, and oh wow, this thing really gets going. if the first half struck me as a sometimes awkwardly plotted basically episodic thing that was held together mainly by a perverse world view, now all the threads come together in a proper war with devilman caught between the demons and humankind ... one could deduct points for frequent stylistic changes in the art, but then that produces some of the best pages, especially for the beautiful b/w brushwork, and e.g. the father of the girl is splendidly characterized by his totally different inking ... anyway, the story hurls down the precipice with scant regard for the reader's feelings ... loved this book, it immediately belongs in my still quite overseeable manga pantheon.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Thu May 23, 2019 10:09 am

That's a great spread you chose. Looks very cool
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Postby sevenarts » Thu May 23, 2019 9:51 pm

Nice! I've got both Gold Pollen and Red Red Rock on hand, excited to get to more Hayashi soon.

Devilman is so much better than it has any right to be. It seems to be on the verge of falling apart entirely at every turn but somehow remains entertaining and interesting. I really like the brush-heavy pages too, they look like they come out of a completely different comic. The varying styles are weird because it rarely seems really purposeful, it's just like randomly "this'll be a cool look for this page." It kept making me wonder how many different hands were actually drawing it. I know later Nagai is basically all studio assistants, but I'm not sure how much he was actually drawing back then.
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Postby Wombatz » Sat May 25, 2019 1:04 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:Osamu Tezuka – The Thief Akikazu Inoue
Another lesser-known Tezuka, surprisingly enjoyable again. This is Tezuka in a mature, relatively grounded mode, unspooling a collection of psychological thrillers. They're not exactly revelatory in terms of what he can do ...

so i had to check this and yes, it's rather subdued, some stories moving toward a predictable punchline almost in ec comics mode, others with educational content ... but i also found another collection

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metamorphose, and that's again totally amazing (well, the last story is dispensable) ... starts with an insane science fiction riff on kafka's metamorphosis, then you get an involuntary school bully who wants to be fashion designer (shades of cromartie?), a wererabbit, a bird tale with unpredictable meta twists, the whole collection a wild ride, very recommended ...

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Postby sevenarts » Sat May 25, 2019 4:04 pm

I really need to read more Tezuka, he's a huge blind spot. I might start with Phoenix.
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