Tag Archives: manga

Junji Ito’s Frankenstein Review

First off, Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it. Second, I know I’m late to the party (again,) but 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of Frankenstein. Hell, The Morgan Library has an entire exhibit devoted to this (it’s actually really awesome.) So, I decided to get in on this action by reading Junji Ito’s manga version of it (and buy the 1818 version of the book. What? It’s for historical/scholarly reasons.)

For those unfamiliar with Junji, Ito, he’s considered to be the king of horror manga and his artwork will give you nightmares. Hell, I still can’t look at spirals without freaking out because I read Uzumaki. And that same artwork of his on full display here. While the nightmare fuel he’s known for isn’t that high here, there are still images that will give you nightmares. One of them is the monster. Remember, the monster is supposed to made out of random body parts and sewn together. There are panels that show the monster in some seriously scary ways which is how he is supposed to be.

Everything else, it just looks normal. He does manage to drawn Western people that actually do look Western. Before you go on and say, “it’s manga,” look at how he draws Japanese people. They clearly look Japanese.

As for how the Ito adapts the story, he adapted the 1818 version (Frankenstein shows more free will and Elizabeth is Frankenstein’s cousin who he marries.) It’s also different from the movie versions which people are familiar with (no Igor, no castle with a giant lab where Frankenstein uses lightning to bring him to life. Also, the monster learns how to talk normally rather than just grunt and say random words.) This version is scarier than the movie versions because the monster shows high intelligence. Combine that with high strength and Frankenstein is helpless.

While Shelly’s words may not be on display here, Ito does manage to bring her story to life in a way even literature snobs would enjoy. Trust me, if there was anyone who’s able to make this work as a comic while still being true to what Shelly intended, it’s Ito. In fact, Ito did a lot more to make me want to read the original novel than any movie version or teacher. Now you know how to make me read literature.

Do yourself a favor and read Junji Ito’s comic adaptation of Frankenstein. His artwork combined with the 1818 version of the work makes this worth reading for anyone, even diehard Frankenstein fans. I always say, just because it’s a comic, doesn’t mean it has no literary merit. You’d be surprised at what a comic can do that a novel can’t do.

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My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness Review

Get your perverted heads out of the gutter, people. This is a serious comic and not some cheap porno.

Now that that’s out of the way, Nagata Kabi has written a manga called My Lesbian Experience with Loneliness which is the true story of how she spent a good amount of time feeling lonely and decided the best way to go about it was to hire a lesbian escort. Again, shut up.

I’m no shrink, but her entire depression/anxiety stems from wanting to just be loved by a motherly figure. Yes, that is what she says. Why the escort? She kinda wants to fuck her mom. It’s weird in a way because she also has this issue of wanting to please her mom by getting a salaried position just to make her proud but she is constantly failing at that.

The overall manga is pretty interesting, to say the least. Kabi writes in a way that makes you feel her anxiety in everything she does, even eating. She even had an eating disorder where she didn’t eat anything and then she was super hungry a few weeks later. Again, I’m no shrink but you don’t need to be one to understand and enjoy this manga.

What about the experience itself? Well, without spoiling anything, it’s awkward in all the right ways. It isn’t arousing or pornographic in any way. Again, you feel her emotions in every panel and it feels like you’re on a roller coaster.

This is helped by the art. The artwork is different but it does have that manga feel to it. Hell, it actually goes beyond the typical manga by making it feel like an original style. One way is that Kabi adds pink to the black and white. It may sound weird, but it works in a charming way. The best bits are the main lead’s facial expressions. Take the typical manga expressions and make them go to eleven. This is a woman who’s suffering and these reactions are warranted.

Would I recommend this manga? Hell yes. I knew going into it I was going to enjoy it and it didn’t disappoint. Hell, I remember going through the emotions Kabi went through but I dealt with them differently. There should be more stories like this as long as they’re written in such an emotionally charged way.  I applaud you, Kabi san. I applaud you, madam.

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Parasyte (Manga and Anime) Review

While I am an anime/manga fan, I admit I’m more of a casual fan than anything else. I will find series that are not mainstream from time to time and like them. One of these is Parasyte by Hitoshi Iwaaki which I only found out through Anime America (who are awesome by the way. Check them out.) The only reason I decided to look for this series is that the idea of an alien parasite taking control of humans interests me. So I bought the first volume and then the last seven volumes and now I have a few things to say.

The story is a group of alien parasites come to Earth and take control of humans by crawling into their noses to their brains. One of them tries to do that to our lead, Shinichi Izumi, fails and ends up in his right hand. This causes the parasite to, basically, befriend Shinichi and now Shinichi must live a “normal” life and protect himself from other parasites. This does, however, have a huge impact on his personal life, especially with his girlfriend, Satomi Murano.

While this does sound like Invasion of the Body Snatchers, it doesn’t escalate into the level. Of course, this series does bring up some tough questions about humans and animals. The main one is Shinichi is constantly calling the parasites monsters, but Migi (the parasite in his right hand)  tells him that they only kill to survive and humans do the same thing. Migi even brings up how humans kill animals for food and humans are OK with that while parasites killing humans for food which makes them monsters. It’s the same thing. Also, murder is brought up a lot and, again, Migi uses the whole (we do that to defend ourselves) thing.

Now, some people will read that and think it’s trying to sound more important than it actually is, but that’s really up to all in who reads it. Also, the manga doesn’t get preachy about it which is one of its strengths. Another strong suit is the writing. These are excellent characters that are well developed, even Satomi. Hell, Satomi’s reason for being in the story is to basically bring into question Shinichi’s personality. He becomes less human over time to the point where he no longer shows emotion over the deaths of people close to him (on top of having superhuman strength, speed and agility.)  Hell, near the end of the series you cry for a character you thought you wouldn’t.

The art may be 80s (this came out in 1988 and ended 1990,) but it’s so well done that it doesn’t look generic. Hell, even normal, everyday occurrences are drawn so well. This has to be one of the better-looking series to come out of that decade.

Then there’s the anime. While it does follow the manga 95% of the time, it is different. SOme characters were taken out, scenes shortened (the scene where Reiko Tamura is running around with part of her head missing is done a LOT better in the manga.) Also, there’s the whole updated thing. The art style and even year have had a major update. There are cell phones and tablets, for crying out loud. While it is understandable as to why they did this (probably to get more people to watch,) it’s not 100% as good as the manga. The artwork just doesn’t work.  The manga has this scary, gritty look to it that made it scarier. The anime is just too colorful. Plus, it’s not as gory as the manga.

While I still say the manga is better, the anime is still worth a watch because of how awesome the series is and for everyone to see how it looks as an anime. I do recommend both but, just be warned that the manga has an edge over the anime.

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Fragments of Horror Review

That’s right people, I’m touching another manga written by the master of messed up horror manga Junji Ito. This time, it’s his short story collection Fragments of Horror. For those wondering why didn’t I do this for Halloween, I kinda forgot I had this thing and read it after Halloween.

I suck, I know.

Anyway, this short story collection is as messed up as you’d expect from it.

The first story, Futon, is about a woman who is worried about her husband who refuses to get out of his futon because he claims he sees monsters. The woman does not believe him but does once she starts seeing them. It’s a nice and scary story with a great idea, but the payoff isn’t all that.

Wooden Spirit is about a girl and her dad who own a large house that has just been labeled by the Japanese government as a historical landmark. One day a woman drops by and asks for a tour. She falls in love with the house and marries the father. However, there is a lot more to this woman than she gives off. This one is excellent from beginning to end. The ending is pretty messed up.

Tomio – Red Turtleneck is pretty meh. A guy cheats on a fortuneteller, but the fortune teller only wants his head. She cuts it off, but he tries throughout the story to keep it on. Not that interesting, even though the idea is scary enough.

Gentile Goodbye is about a girl who’s constantly having nightmares about her dad dying. She marries a guy from a pretty wealthy family that at first seems normal, but as time goes by she finds out that some of the family members are really ghosts. This is another one that’s not really scary, but it does have a pretty touching ending.

Now the really messed up stuff happens in Dissection-Chan. One day a woman sneaks herself into a medical school as a cadaver to be dissected. Turns out she’s been doing this all over the place. One of the students recognizes her as his childhood friend “Dissection-Chan,” called that because she loves dissecting things and wants to be dissected herself. This one is messed up because this woman is really hell bent on getting dissected that she DOES IT TO HERSELF! Holy crap, man!

Blackbird is about a guy who was found with both legs broken in the woods. Turns out he was in the woods for a month when he found. He says he rationed his food to survive, but in reality a strange woman came to him every day and fed him food from her mouth like a bird. This one was pretty creepy all because of that woman. Even the ending will leave you scarred for days.

Magami Nanakuse is about a girl who’s a fan of a novelist named Magami Nanakuse. One day she meets her at her home and finds out she;s a lot scarier than she should be. This is the worst of all of them. Not scary, uninteresting, boring. Skip.

Finally, there’s Whispering Woman. A man is at his wit’s end because he has a daughter that needs someone to make every decision for her (as in should she sit down or stand up.) He hires a woman to help her and she’s pretty good at it. However, this woman is slowly degenerating to the point of death. This is a decent story, not all that scary. The ending is the best part of the whole story.

In all, Fragments of Horror is a pretty good short story collection manga for fans of horror manga.



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Another (manga) Review

It’s pretty inevitable that if you write a young adult novel in Japan it will be made into a manga and then an anime. Thus is the case with Yukito Ayatsuji’s Another. Hell, there’s even a live action movie version of it. This time we’ll be looking at the manga since I already touched upon the novel here.

As with any adaptation the adapter needs to know what to keep and what to leave out/change. Artist Hiro Kiyohara actually manages to keep 95% of the original story. Since this is a manga that’s fine. A smart thing he did was to not include the many pages of narration from the book since manga and novel are two different mediums (something some comic writers fail to take into account.)

The changes that were made in the manga version are the inclusion of Izumi Akazawa’s story. While Akazawa was a side character in the novel, here we delve deeper into  the character and how she feels. This is actually pretty interesting in that we get to see the emotions and reactions from other characters. Since the novel is written in the first person this tactic would not make sense (even though the interludes in the book were third person which I felt were pretty weak.)

Here’s a good question, though: Why Akazawa?  For starters she does eventually become the class leader for the girls and two people she was close to do die. Also, the personality we’re shown is different than what she’s really like. If there is to be a spinoff of Another then she would be one of the likely candidates (Mei being the first.)

Another thing that changed (though slightly) is the ending. Two characters are omitted entirely in order to continue developing Akazawa’s arc. In a way this does not make much sense, but in another it’s probably for the best since these two characters seemed like Ayatsuji came up with them at the last second.

The art is pretty phenomenal. This manga shows that manga art can be subtle, nuanced and break boundaries. The characters are drawn pretty well and the background art is nice to look at. One thing that may go unnoticed to some is the symbolism in certain scenes. Hell, Mei’s eye patch is symbolic the characters only seeing half of what’s really there. The only time we find out who the casualty is is when Mei takes off the thing. Wrap your brains around that.

So as not to write another post about this title, I’ll come out with my feelings on the anime. It’s OK all around.The acting, the art even the added scenes (the beach episode) were nice. It was what drew me to read the novel so that’s a start. While it is a good place to start, I don’t really think it holds a candle to the novel or manga. For starters the death scenes are pretty drawn out and overly dramatic. The final episode writes a brand new ending where the characters flip out and attack each other. Again, the novel/manga versions did it much better. This is because this is just way too over the top and the deaths that happen just don’t make any sense.

So, if you’re a fan of the anime or the novel the manga version will not disappoint. It’s the closest thing to the novel, the added scenes with Akazawa are pretty nice and the art is phenomenal.




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