Tuesday, November 23, 2004

I went looking for manga from publishers other than Viz and Tokyo Pop last week, as those two tend to be over-represented in my reading schedule. I picked up Revenge of Mouflon from Raijin and Land of the Blindfolded from CMX, which I think is Central Park Media’s manga publishing subsidiary. [Correction - CMX is actually DC Comics' manga line. Whoops!] Mark recommended Revenge of Mouflon, but I can’t say I was that impressed. It was a worksmanlike, bland thriller, flittering around the edges of a serious subject, post-9/11 hostage drama. I’m getting a little tired of the Japanese inferiority complex about the American military, but it wasn’t as bad as some treatments, I guess...

I see that the new anime Zipang is a Japanese version of that goofy old military time-travel film the Final Countdown, except that instead of sending back the nuclear aircraft carrier Nimitz, it’s a fictional Japanese Aegis cruiser named the Mirai sent back to WWII. (“Mirai”=”future”. Real subtle there, jack.) I have to wonder how the hell they’re going to approach this. Will the creators approach the subject with any sort of objectivity, or is this a Leiji Matsumoto revere-the-heroic-ancestors sort of deal? It’s easier to revere the old butchers, imperialists, and rapists when they’re safely dead and silent, isn’t it, Mr. Japanese Nationalist Historical Blinders Guy? Meh.

Speaking of blindfolding, Land of the Blindfolded is kind of neat - your typical high-school romance, with the minor twist that the minor protagonists are both minorly psychic. The female lead is a touch precog - she sees the likely future of a subject occasionally, when she physically touches said subject. These futures can be changed by intervention, but the results are often unexpected and unintentional. The male lead can only read a person’s past, in partial visions of what definitely was. He’s envious of her vision, because she can do something about what she sees - all he can do is watch. They’re sort of a demonstration of hope and experience - she sees potential, while he can only see the truth. The first volume is sort of thin, but the author doesn’t cheat, and the story is solid in a quiet sort of way. As is usual with a short first volume, the publishers fill the pages out with minor short works from the same author, and unusually for this sort of thing, the shorts are actually worth reading on their own merits. The two shorts, one about a sports-festival romance, and the other a befuddled schoolroom haunting, are affecting and well-written. The author spends her time in the usually-frivolous freetalks discussing her art in an honest and straightforward fashion that I, at least, found refreshing.

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