Finally getting into manga (discussion/reviews)

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Postby tonybricker » Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:08 pm

Annie May wrote:Reading blade of the immortal now, buying a couple of the big omnibus volumes each week. I know that it's a huge waste of money but i just wanted to have physical copies. At least it'll look good on my bookshelf after I'm done and i have a couple friends who'd probably want to borrow them.


this is not a waste of money, this rules and is why money exists ;)
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Postby sevenarts » Thu Dec 20, 2018 10:49 pm

jca wrote:Did anyone feel like some dread/anxiety while reading Travel? I feel like the close-ups of hands and faces and seeing two characters lock eyes ramped up the tension


I don't really get that sense from Travel - maybe it's projection but I always found it extremely chill and calming - but there's a definite paranoid vibe to some later Yokoyama books in his "gekiga" series. Those books, like World Map Room and Iceland, have more dialogue and more "action" and a definite sense that something ominous is going on, though as usual for him nothing really too conventionally dramatic ever actually happens. Iceland especially is an extremely anxious book to me: there are so many massive sound effects crowding every page that it gives the impression of constantly clattering noise as these characters wander around, interrogating everyone they meet like a gang of noir detectives.
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 23, 2018 11:02 am

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Ghost In the Shell by Masamune Shirow
Uh, am I just, like, confused or something in thinking that people generally love and praise this book? It's like a "classic" right? 'Cos I finally got around to reading it and its 2 sequels and wow is it aggressively not my thing. On its surface, it sounds fascinating: a dense sci-fi police procedural set in a futuristic world where most people have started turning themselves into various degrees of cyborgs, even in many cases leaving behind just a human brain in a wholly synthetic body. In practice, the dialogue is 90% technobabble gibberish and my eyes just glaze over so quickly. It's dull, the characters - members of an elite investigative unit - have nothing to them beyond their shiny cyborg surfaces, and Shirow's drawings of women's bodies are frankly egregious. Most of the first volume involves discrete cases being worked by this team, so there's not even really an overall narrative arc, and the thematic core - the nature of the body and the mind, what it means to be human, how humanity is transformed by advances in technology - is buried beneath such a mix of real-world and invented jargon that it's honestly difficult to even access the ideas being discussed.

The most interesting stuff, concerning the heroine Motoko Kusanagi's encounter with a sentient computer network, happens towards the end of the 1st volume, then the in-between 1.5 volume mostly leaves her out in favor of even more procedural plots with the rest of the cast. But when she returns for the 2nd volume, ostensibly to focus more fully on those human/technology themes, it never seems to actually delve any deeper - at least so far, I'm admittedly just a little over halfway through the 2nd volume because it's been such a slog. Moreover, the art takes a big downturn in vol. 2. In the first book, Shirow's hyper-detailed style, so well suited to capturing all the complexities and fine lines of this cyberpunk future, is one of the main appeals. But in vol. 2 the art becomes heavily digital and glossy, with lots of goofy-looking wholly CG figures and backgrounds inserted, and it just doesn't look nearly as good for most of it. Shirow's tendency to draw lots of, let's say "fan service," also becomes even more distracting - the porny bits were an occasional thing in the earlier work but in this one his scantily clad cyborg women are on nearly every page, and their bodies look even more distorted, often laughably so.

I don't know, I'll still struggle through the remainder of this but this just seems not good.
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Postby milknight » Sun Dec 23, 2018 1:53 pm

i love one piece
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Postby Ampersand » Sun Dec 23, 2018 3:05 pm

posting to follow these wonderful reviews
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sun Dec 23, 2018 8:56 pm

Oh that's interesting about GITS. Do people put it on a par with the movie series then? I'm honestly not sure I've heard it talked about that much
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Postby Annie May » Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:44 pm

I haven't read the manga but the 95 film + GITS stand alone complex are awesome and pretty different from the manga judging by the reviews I've read
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Postby sevenarts » Sun Dec 23, 2018 9:57 pm

Maybe that's where I'm getting confused and people basically only like the anime. I did finish vol.2 now and it pretty much just got incomprehensible by the end. I have to admit the combination of this convoluted, wordy stream of technical and mystical jargon with constant upskirt shots is pretty funny.
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Postby tonybricker » Mon Dec 24, 2018 1:22 pm

I haven't read the GitS manga since like 1998 but I think it's just more of an overall vibe than an attempt at a coherent story. Drawing the hell out of the environment + a police procedural angle that isn't especially compelling but looks cool in order to have a story framework + a bunch of nonsense tech/cyber babble + some basic psychology about identity = Ghost in the Shell

I think a lot of the cult legacy status is because of the quality of the art (fan service aside) and that there just wasn't anything else like it around at that point
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Postby Melville » Mon Dec 31, 2018 9:10 pm

I finished reading Inio Asano's Goodnight Punpun over the holidays, and I've got to say - it's not just the best manga I've read, but one of the best things I've encountered in any medium. It's tragic and sprawling and exciting like nothing else. Its basic trick is that it depicts its protagonist (Punpun) and his family (but no other characters) as crude cartoon figures, which stand out starkly against Asano's photorealistic environments. This might seem gimmicky, but it creates a kind of bracing cognitive dissonance, and Asano utilizes it in really powerful ways, whether literalizing the characters' alienation, emphasizing the strength of a feeling by using exaggerated cartoon tears, or suddenly, violently exposing layers of reality by giving one of the characters realistic human eyes. It's the kind of thing that wouldn't work in the hands of a less skilled artist, but it works perfectly in the context of Asano's mastery of the more realistic cartooning around it.

The story might not be so much to others' liking, as it's largely driven by characters' self-loathing, but it's right up my alley. It's essentially a story of growing up, following Punpun from childhood to twenty-something, seeing him become worse and worse, hating himself more and treating others more poorly. It reminded me of how Dostoevsky described Notes from Underground: a depiction of the kind of person modern society gives birth to. It has a running theme of how people are driven by fantasies of escape or transcendence, whether in the promises of a spiritual cult or in the dreams of unsullied love -- and how those fantasies inevitably crash into the dirty complexity of reality. The tone evolves accordingly as well, starting out with puppy love and cartoon gags and getting incredibly bleak towards the end. It examines damaged people in damaged relationships with cutting precision.

And it has an entire volume devoted to Punpun's chronically depressed uncle, which almost works as a standalone story and might be the highlight of the whole series for me.

Highly recommended.

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Postby shizaam » Fri Jan 04, 2019 10:15 am

bought the collected nausicaa after reading this thread, and maybe 1/4 of the way through the first book (of two volumes). it's just incredible!
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Postby HotFingersClub » Fri Jan 04, 2019 12:30 pm

That's a really great Punpun writeup Melville. You're right that, for me, the self-loathing and emotional intensity in Asano's work is often hard to take on board. Have you read any of his other stuff to compare? His art is always gorgeous, never more so than in Punpun
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Postby Melville » Fri Jan 04, 2019 7:33 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:That's a really great Punpun writeup Melville. You're right that, for me, the self-loathing and emotional intensity in Asano's work is often hard to take on board. Have you read any of his other stuff to compare? His art is always gorgeous, never more so than in Punpun

Thanks. I've also read Nijigahara Holograph, Girl on the Shore, and Solanin. I loved the first two, but nowhere near as much as Punpun. Solanin was good too, but it felt like a relatively run-of-the-mill take (both narratively and artwise) on 20-somethings not sure what to do with their lives. I'm not sure where to go next with him. He and DeForge are definitely my two current favorite creators.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 09, 2019 5:59 pm

Just realised I should probably be putting Tezuka here rather than the alt comix thread

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Osamu Tezuka – The Euphrates Tree
Another newly-translated entry from the endless back cat of the God of Manga, this is my favourite Tezuka I’ve read in a while. Genre-wise it’s probably a sci-fi thriller, but more along the relatively restrained lines of MW than Ambassador Magma. In this book, three students catch a ferry to a remote island, where they discover the locals and animals acting strangely amidst some unusual flora. Things develop pretty quickly, as with most Tezuka, but the pace is reined in to make a satisfying thriller that foregrounds environmental themes as well as the corruption of power and the nature of talent etc. Unfortunately, the art is a little more basic – technically very solid as always but none of the incredible imagery you get in stuff like Dororo.
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:06 pm

Anyone else a Tezuka reader?
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Postby HotFingersClub » Wed Jan 09, 2019 6:07 pm

Official HFC Tezuka rankings:

Dororo
MW
Apollo's Song
Buddha

Ode to Kirihito
Crime and Punishment
The Euphrates Tree
Phoenix
Swallowing the Earth
Astro Boy

Metamorphose
Yaketpachi's Maria
Say Hello to Bookila!
Ambassador Magma
The Twin Knights
Wonder 3
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Postby Hal Jordan » Wed Jan 09, 2019 7:55 pm

tonybricker wrote:I haven't read the GitS manga since like 1998 but I think it's just more of an overall vibe than an attempt at a coherent story. Drawing the hell out of the environment + a police procedural angle that isn't especially compelling but looks cool in order to have a story framework + a bunch of nonsense tech/cyber babble + some basic psychology about identity = Ghost in the Shell

This is basically what i thought about Blame!
well that was intense
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Postby Wombatz » Thu Jan 10, 2019 8:05 am

HotFingersClub wrote:Anyone else a Tezuka reader?

i'll bite. here's my rankings, in strict order:

Great to superbly entertaining:
Ode to Kirihito
MW
Book of Human Insects
Parts of Phoenix like Resurrection or Yamato
Barbara
The Mysterious Underground Men (nothing special, but such a handsome book)

Got their moments:
Apollo’s Song
Rest of Phoenix
Adolf
Black Jack

Straight meh:
Ayako
Buddha
Astro Boy

I haven't read Dororo yet, putting it on my wishlist.
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Postby j-ol » Fri Jan 18, 2019 2:44 pm

found this thread searching for punpun, which i just started reading yesterday. extremely my shit. this thread is gonna be an embarrassment of riches considering i've only read several of the essential books - uzumaki, yoshihiro tatsumi, yuichi yokoyama etc
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Postby Hal Jordan » Sat Jan 19, 2019 9:20 am

Blade of the immortal is so good. Especially enjoyed the dreamsong arc. Thanks, thread!
well that was intense
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Postby j-ol » Tue Jan 22, 2019 6:11 pm

HotFingersClub wrote:
sevenarts wrote:Image
Record of a Yokohama Shopping Trip by Hitoshi Ashinano
A resolutely quiet, tranquil comic about the end of humanity. Set in the future, where a global ecological catastrophe has led to rising oceans washing cities away and leaving behind small, disconnected pockets of humanity in ramshackle mountain cities and rural areas. A human-looking robot named Alpha runs a cafe in a remote area where basically no customers ever visit, other than a few friends from a nearby community. It's virtually free of major incident for most of its 14 volumes - Alpha makes friends, explores the beautiful countryside, takes photos, drinks lots of coffee and tea, enjoys sunsets, makes occasional trips to Yokohama to buy coffee beans. There are hints of drama below the surface, with mysteries relating to the creation of the robots, Alpha's long-missing owner, some supernatural phenomena, and a strange plane that perpetually speeds by overhead, but none of these mysteries are ever resolved or become a real focus. Instead, the comic is driven by its wistful, peaceful tone, a tone very well-suited to Ashinano's gorgeous, graceful art. It's all about sensation, nostalgia, memory, experience - what it means to be alive in the world from moment to moment, feeling and thinking and remembering. I've never encountered another sci-fi work that had this particular tone, this gentle acceptance of humanity's end, leaving behind these friendly robots to appreciate the world as it now is, and remember how it once was. One of the best manga I've read.


Great review. Japanese media seems to have a strong tradition of this kind of tone: stories that reflect on the lower-key emotions – calmness, wistfulness, the strains of sorrow or pleasure that have nothing to do with gnashing teeth. As someone who experiences life primarily in this mode (as I suspect most of us do), seeing it represented in art is like fresh air blowing through my head. So glad you enjoyed it as much as I did.


this doesn't seem to exist in physical form anywhere (i'm in canada)

can somebody do a link for me to get the scan?
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Postby sevenarts » Tue Jan 22, 2019 11:16 pm

Yea that somehow hasn't been officially translated into English. I'm gonna throw the full scans into the members comic upload thread now, hope you enjoy it!
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Postby j-ol » Wed Jan 23, 2019 11:30 am

sevenarts wrote:Yea that somehow hasn't been officially translated into English. I'm gonna throw the full scans into the members comic upload thread now, hope you enjoy it!


thanx a millie!!

* and thank you also to everyone in this thread contributing lists, writeups, commentary... it's made me hella excited to delve deeper into the world of manga. glad to know i've been on the right path with some of the more artful stuff like yuichi yokoyama - his stuff blew my away on first sight many years ago - but i'm well overdue to dive into some of these cartoon tomes.
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 25, 2019 3:46 am

folks in the know wrote:the members comic upload thread

um, where would i find that?
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Postby sevenarts » Fri Jan 25, 2019 6:45 am

Go to Board Index and you should see the member forum, it's in there. I think you have enough posts to be able to see it...
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Postby Wombatz » Fri Jan 25, 2019 7:02 am

thanks! no i see nothing yet, but it's ok i found the the book.

somewhat back on topic, dororo has just arrived ...
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Postby tonybricker » Sat Jan 26, 2019 1:21 am

Hal Jordan wrote:Blade of the immortal is so good. Especially enjoyed the dreamsong arc. Thanks, thread!


Yesssssssss
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Postby Kenny » Thu Jan 31, 2019 2:13 pm

Why do you read manga from the back of the book forwards? I thought this was because Japanese was written right to left, but I guess it's been left to right now for a while.

Edit: Ah, so it's because it's written in the traditional way still in manga

That's gotta be annoying that you have to switch the way you're reading all the time
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Postby HotFingersClub » Sat Feb 23, 2019 3:05 pm

Cross-post from the alt-comix thread, get this in yer manga pipe

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Yuichi Yokoyama – Outdoors
Speaking of unique voices, here's the new one from probably the most distinctive and boundary-breaking artist working in manga, and not to get everyone overhyped but I think it's probably a new favourite for me – up there with Travel and New Engineering. This book has three stories, all great, and all focusing more than usual on nature and the ways it can interact with people and built objects. In the first story, probably my favourite, a pilot flies a camera drone at incredible speeds through trees and grassy wetlands, disturbing flocks of birds and shoals of fish. It's the most perfect, quintessentially Yokoyama idea: the futuristic shape of the done blasting with incredible force and speed through fruit-laden trees and thick grass. The second and third stories I won't spoil because the surprise of these conceits is part of the pleasure, but they're also fantastic. Breakdown have made it a beautiful package, with sound effect text by Joe Kessler of Windowpane fame. As a little bonus, there's a tiny and fascinating two page Q&A with Yokoyama at the back of this book which pleased me greatly. Revelations include that he doesn't own a computer and has never been into video games, and he prefers quiet sounds and music “without much incident” but has recently been using as many sound effects as possible because of a strong desire to “cram [his] images full.” I hadn't realised it was a recent development, but he's totally right. Iceland and Outdoors are both incredibly noisy, but go back to Travel and it's comparatively silent – the only noise is implied.
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Postby animefilm » Sun Feb 24, 2019 7:07 am

Is anyone here overly familiar with Shirow Masamune's minor 1980's works? I need some help identifying a character illustration of his
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