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I figure it’s time to come out of my break from newborn baby fever and start doing some more manga reviews. This is the proper way to get the year going with some Berserk action! Reading Berserk always seems to creep me out, but it’s a good kind of feeling of creeping out, nothing too horrible (maybe that makes me weird). From Demons with giant appendages having their way with innocent virgins to a pretty boy that releases a Demonic Release attack of sylphs to destroy his enemies; these are the things to look forward to in this book. The Band of the Hawk is still fighting against what is only described as Kushan’s version of Shiva. Of course this is an easy task for Griffith since most of his soldiers can transform into demons. Meanwhile, our gang is caught up in a battle with some demonic pirates, whose ship turns out to be a giant demon. Just in time Guts awakens to take on this new foe and put on the knight armor for possibly the last time. Unfortunately, we are caught up with the Japanese release and now we probably have to wait another year to see what happens, but it’s so worth the wait. I guess the only way to describe this series is to call it a dark fantasy, but you see it’s so much more than just that. It’s a story of adventure, friendship, love, sacrifice, betrayal, and revenge. Pretty much all the things that make up an entertaining movie or book are included in this series. This is still one of my highest recommendations in this genre. A
It never ceases to amaze me how Tezuka could come up with so many story ideas. Of course there’s an overall story arc, but you definitely get your money’s worth of stories about patients who suffer from normal medical conditions to things such as leaves growing on the boy’s skin. I’m sure it was fun to come up with different medical conditions for each story. You also get to see how Black Jack reacts to moralistic issues such as what it means to grow up or getting plastic surgery. This is it! The final two volumes of Black Jack and funny enough my first two.
And he doesn’t just stick to one genre within the stand alone stories in Black Jack: when a gang is trying to rob him of ten billion yen, they explain how one man shadowed him for a year, and had to go to such great lengths as to hide in a cushion that Black Jack is sitting on and hide in a bathroom for 31 days. From helping a young girl who can’t walk to become a bird to helping build a human from scratch the doctor always finds a way. If Tezuka doesn’t add comedy in his story through the dialogue, every once in a while he will draw a panel with the girl’s eyes bugging out, but the next story’s heroine’s eyes are very detailed and beautiful. We also see Pinoko find an admirer at a bath house in a really cute story. There is a patient whose body reacts strangely to the scar on Black Jack’s face. I have to say the most touching story is the one where he tries to find Pinoko a family of her own.
Black Jack is a very entertaining read, and I can honestly see kids around the age of 10 even enjoying this. It deals with mature issues, but I think kids can understand and appreciate these types of things more than society allows them to. The art is the usual great stuff that has made Tezuka a legend, with a lot of pages crammed with panels and visual info. I am so impressed his attention to backgrounds that he makes so detailed, they come to life! As a first time reader to this great series I was completely blown away by how easy I could just sit down and read the books without having to much information on the previous 15 volumes. The last volume comes with detailed notes in the back chronicling the release dates and chapters of the Black Jack stories. It is very sad to see Black Jack’s journey come to an end, but so exciting to go back and read all 17 books again. A+
As much of a fan that I am of Tezuka it’s amazing that I never heard of this book until I started looking at books that Vertical was releasing. The plot of this book is pretty simple at first: Toshiko Tomura is a genius and an all around perfect girl in her twenties. Some would say she is a modern-day Michelangelo; she is already an established international stage actress, an up-and-coming architect, and the next recipient of the prestigious Akutagawa Prize as Japan’s best new writer. However, that’s not all Toshiko is. She happens to also the mastermind behind a series of murders. She is the ultimate copycat; she has plagiarized, blackmailed, stolen and reproduced the works of others. Her design award should have gone to the man that she plagiarized and her Akutagawa should have gone to her old roommate. As she rises in popularity so does her list of enemies that are jealous of her success. The book pretty much follows characters that enter Toshiko’s life and shows how she drains them of their talent leaving them broken or dead in some cases. I have to admit this book is not one of my favorite Tezuka books, but it is definitely one of his most diverse. I never got the feel of humanity from Toshiko, sure she is shown crying and sometimes suffering, but I never got the sense that she ever felt any kind of regret or compassion for the people she was backstabbing. She is a horrible human being, if you can even call her human, because she hardly shows any emotions. As the main character of a book, she is impossible to like or feel sorry for. We never get a background story on why she does the things that she does. I guess some people are just born evil, but a little background sometimes helps carry the story. One thing I love about all of Tezuka’s books is the amount of time you devote yourself to reading his works. When the average comic is 3.99 and take a total of five minutes to read, it’s nice to know there is an alternative B+
Of course you can tell that this is one of Tezuka’s earlier works because the story is a little choppy, but I think that’s part of the charm of Princess Knight. For example, when the angel Tink wakes up in a barn, he thanks the horse for letting him sleep there and mentions that Jesus was born in a manger. It’s very random, funny, and cute.
The overall story is very simple: Sapphire has to pretend to be a prince, but she is really a girl. Its pure genius how the kingdom comes to believe she is a boy: the man who announces the birth has a lisp, and they assume he says, “Prince.” She is born with both a boy and girl heart. This leads to lots of ‘woe is me’ and ‘help me’ moments for her girl side, as in fairy tales, but she also fights proficiently with a sword at other moments when her boy heart takes over. In one chapter she wears a mask in order to help those in need, but that gets thrown to the side when a couple of other characters try to save her, so I hope Tezuka brought that back in part 2 (the end of the story). B