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Godzilla

November 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Godzilla
By Kazuhisa Iwata
Dark Horse, 200 pp
Rating: 10 +

Originally created in 1954 by a legendary duo of Eiji Tsuburaya and Ishiro Honda, Godzilla stomped a path of destruction across Japan and on the silver screen that would span five decades and leave an indelible impression upon the minds of audiences both young and old. Arguably one of the most well known film franchises in the world, Godzilla has carved a swath of destruction through film, television, animation and, yes, comics and manga. Originally released in 1988, Godzilla was Kazuhisa Iwata’s adaption of Godzilla 1985 (aka. The Return of Godzilla) and was one of the first, if not the first, manga series released by Dark Horse Comics. With all that in mind one might expect Godzilla to be a lost epic, one of the cream of the manga crop. If only that were true.

The manga closely adheres to original Japanese movie, depicting the events that lead to the legendary monster’s return and the attempts of the Japanese government to halt the monster’s advance. The drama heavily unfolds through the eyes of a young reporter named Goro Maki and others as they desperately try to cook up a scheme to defeat the monster. The story is solid and fans who have only seen the US edition of the movie, Godzilla 1985 will be pleased to see the original plot line unfold pretty much as intended with a little extra focus on the human characters and their relationships to one another.

While the story remains as solid today as it was in the 80s, the artwork has not aged as well. The character designs are hideous and the heads seemingly emerge from the torso sans any necks. Mouths are placed at bizarre, impossible angles and everyone emotes dramatically no matter what conversation is being had. There’s a distinct lack of background throughout most of the book which in turns hurts attempts at conveying atmosphere or location, particularly for the human portions of the book. Thankfully Godzilla fairs a little better and comes off looking appropriately monstrous in several portions, and there are also some lovely full page spreads showing the amount of devastation that his rampage wrought upon Tokyo. The few actions that occur are unfortunately short and lack any real ebb and flow, often times feeling static and.. dare I say it, almost boring at times.

Godzilla is an interesting historic relic, but sadly that’s about it. The manga leaves a lot to be desired in the visual department, which is kind of key for any Godzilla comic or manga. The story itself holds up alright, it’s just not a fantastic adaption. If anything, I guess this goes to show that it’s not just American comics which has run into problems with translating the exploits of King of Monsters into the sequential art medium.

Godzilla is available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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Skullman

October 21, 2012 1 comment

SkullmanSkullman
By Shotaro Ishinomori
Comixology 94 pp
Rating: 15 +

Shotaro Ishinomori’s manga classic, Skullman, is available for the first time in the US thanks to the fine folks at Comixology! This singe volume story tells the tell of a dark, masked avenger carrying out a war against a massive, secret organization that seemingly controls the world. Unlike his spiritual brothers in the Kamen Rider franchise, Skullman presents a rather grim take on the concept.

This is something I’ve been wanting to read for a while now and there’s something of an urban legend feel to it’s creation. The story goes that Ishinomori was asked to create a new hero for a kids show Toei was putting together. He presented them with this, Skullman, a dark, grim and possibly insane man waging a war against a secret organization. Reportedly the executives rejected it as being too violent and scary, so Ishinomori went home and after a few days he tweaked the concept and thus was born Kamen Rider. Indeed it’s hard to look at Skullman and not see quite a bit of Kamen Rider present in it. But make no mistake, the executives were right on this account; Skullman is surprisingly dark and he’s definitely not a knight in shining armor, he’s not even a knight in slightly tarnished armor, he’s a driven man who seems to take sadistic glee in the lives he takes and at one point even claims that genocide is an acceptable means to his ultimate end.

Shotaro Ishinomori’s artwork is lovely and effective. His action scenes are easy to follow but exciting and he does a fantastic job at conveying motion, speed and energy throughout the book. At times the cartoony style does seem to clash with the grim nature of the story and there are a few moments which lose a little impact because of it. In addition there’s another small issue with Skullman when it comes to visuals, namely… Skullman himself. His costume is fine, the all black clothing and the jacket that is vaguely evocative of some kind of military dress suit and the cape all work wonderfully together. It’s the helmet that really threw me a loop though. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by the recent Skullman anime series, but Skullman’s helmet in this just doesn’t scream scary or skull to me. It’s a large, white helmet which covers most of his face, leaving his mouth and jaw exposed, with two giant red eyes. It’s not terribly skull-like and actually made me think of Riderman rather than.. a scary, skull like monstrosity. Still, despite this and the odd cartoony style I did love the book and it has some absolutely gorgeous moments. The opening with the giant bat in particular is visually impressive and memorable.

I’m incredibly glad that this is finally available in the US and I’m very thankful for both Ishinomori Productions and Comixology for getting it out to us, along with several other series of his that I’ve been interested in. While I did have some minor issues with the visuals as I mentioned above, and the ending feels a bit sudden and anti-climatic, I did enjoy reading this and I can see myself going back to it again and again in the future as well. Fans of classic manga, tokusatsu shows like Kamen Rider or the Power Rangers, and superhero fans in general should definitely give this a look.

Skullman is available now from Comixology.

Mega Man Megamix, Vols. 2 + 3

September 28, 2012 1 comment

Mega Man Megamix, Vols. 2 + 3
By Hitoshi Ariga
Udon Entertainment
Rating: Not Rated

Hitoshi Ariga’s retelling of Mega Man’s exploits and battles against the evil robots of Dr. Wiley continues in the final two volumes of Mega Man Megamix! These two volumes cover events from the various games and come complete with two collections of of Mega Man comedy strips.

Despite these being the final two volumes there’s no real closure on the adventures of Mega Man. We get some thematic climaxes with regards to why Mega Man does what he does and what makes him special amongst the various robot characters, but people looking for a more complete finale may find themselves disappointed. Game wise these two volumes seem to cover up to Mega Man 6 or so, though it doesn’t really adapt them so much as retell and brush over. Many of the events in the climatic volumes don’t really line up perfectly to in game events but the tale’s are so engaging I can’t imagine it’d matter to any but the most hardcore of Mega Man fans.

Ariga’s artwork seems to improve with each volume as does the intensity of his action scenes throughout these two books. His style seems to fit the world of Mega Man perfectly and his character designs look faithful to the original and are slick and eye catching. It’s a bit of shame that the later robots were so ornate and over done that they really seem to clash with the earlier, streamlined designs. Despite this Ariga manages to make even the more ornate designs fit in with the rest of the robots regardless.

It’s not life changing but Mega Man Megamix has been a fun, upbeat and enjoyable series. It also deals with some rather interesting material such as what it means to be a robot, free will and more without being too angsty or depressing. It’s been a good, solid read and I’m hoping to track down volumes of Ariga’s follow up, Mega Man Gigamix in the near future.

Mega Man Megamix, Vols. 2 + 3 are available now from Udon Entertainment.

Rurouni Kenshin, Vol. 6 (Viz Big Edition)

September 5, 2012 1 comment

Rurouni Kenshin, Vol. 6 (Viz Big Edition)
By Nobuhiro Watsuki
Viz, 584 pp
Rating: T +(Older Teens)

Rouroni Kenshin’s epic Kyoto arc comes to a head! For the past several volumes Kenshin and his allies, the brawler Sanosuke Sagara, former Shinsengumi member turned cop Saito Hajime and the rest have clashed with the forces of Shishio from Tokyo to Kyoto and now the battle comes to its conclusion with the final showdown between Kenshin and Shishio! But as one threat fades another rises as more figures from Kenshin’s past emerge from the shadows.

It’s been a while since I’ve read Rurouni Kenshin but one of the things that impressed me is how easy it was to get into the story even after a break of a year or more from it. As mentioned above this volume finishes off the Kyoto arc which is probably the best known and most well regarded arc from the series. I saw it years ago in anime form on Toonami and it’s lovely to see it in it’s manga incarnation. Everything that comes after it though, that’s all new material and uncharted territory for me. I’m rather interested in it all since finding out more about Kenhin’s history is always welcome. That said I’m a little worried that Watsuki’s repeating himself here. Shishio’s arc was pretty heavy with Kenshin being forced to face and deal with his violent past and judging from the second half of this volume it looks like we’re heading there again. At least it looks to be a little more personal this time around though.

Visually Watsuki’s art is pretty fantastic. While we get the odd hit or miss character design in this volume when he gets it right he gets it right in a big way. Shishio is an incredibly memorable figure as are most the cast involved in the final showdown with him. The new group doesn’t look quite as good at this point but we haven’t seen much of them yet but at least one character is noticeably anachronistic and another is the fourth or fifth X-Men we’ve seen so far. Watsuki’s action scenes are intense and full of splash pages that feel like they’re ready to explode off the page. While they’re lovely to look at I found myself wanting some more back and forth in the fight. Some smaller moments between the big moves and supposed one hit kills would have been nice and I think the final battle with Shishio which dominates the action in the volume really would have warranted them. It’s also worth mentioning that thanks to the paper quality of the Viz Big line Watsuki’s art looks absolutely fantastic and beautifully sharp and detailed. Whether it’s the line work indicating speed and force or just the quiet Kenshin gives Shishio it all looks crisp and amazing and as good as anything coming out today.

I’m still digging the hell out of the series even if the final battle with Shishio wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. It carried a nice emotional punch though and the following arc certainly seems to be something I’ll be interested in reading. Hopefully this time I won’t wait a year or so in between tracking down the Viz Big volumes.

Ruouni Kenshin, Vol. 6 (Viz Big Edition) is available now from Viz.

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The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 12

August 27, 2012 2 comments

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 12
Written by Eiji Otsuka, Art by Housui Yamazaki
Dark Horse, 224 pp
Rating: 18 +

After far too long of a wait Eiji Otsuka’s and Housui Yamazaki’s wonderful, black comedy, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service continues with it’s twelfth volume! We’re treated to three tales this time dealing with a Second Life-esque virtual world, stand up comedians and some rather disturbing dolls.

For those not familiar with this series here’s a brief rundown of the central idea behind it. A group of students at a Buddhist university are having trouble putting their unique skills and talents to use in the real world (embalming, dowsing, etc) so they come together via a college club and end up dealing with the dead. They communicate with them, solve mysteries, transport corpses and more all for a fee which often comes from the corpses belongings. It’s absolutely hilarious, well drawn and genuinely scary and disturbing in many areas. This particular volume continues the trend of shorter more stand alone tales though there are a few continuing subplots. This usually kind of annoys me since there are some mysteries and counting story arcs at the center of the series and for the past several volumes they’ve just kind of meandered showing the KCDS crew taking on various jobs here and there. Thankfully Dark Horse has been slow to release volumes of the series so by the time one does come out you’re so starved for it that you don’t really mind the fact that the volume consists of three one offs. It also doesn’t hurt that the one offs in this volume are pretty fun. The first is a twist on the idea of prisoners being forced to play online games as part of their punishments and while it’s not inherently funny there’s a certain visual that runs through it that’s both hilarious and kind of creepy. The second tale, probably my favorite for this volume, focuses on an ill fated romance between two would be stand up comedians. While the comedy is far more prominent it doesn’t really shy away from the disturbing imagery. It does a fantastic job at nailing the mix of humor and horror that makes the series such a treat to read. The final tale involving a certain dictatorship on the Korean peninsula is clever and focuses on the supporting cast as the two unofficial leads of the series are away for some unknown reason. It not only tells a rather disturbing tale that mixes historical fact into it’s tapestry but it also expands upon one of the characters histories and gives some possible hints regarding his particular mystery and “origin”.

Visually the book continues to be absolutely solid thanks to skills of Housui Yamazaki, It’s clean, easy to follow and he’s got a great sense of pacing for the more disturbing and horrific moments. In addition he knows when to ramp up the detail and when not to. Most of the book looks simple and clean but when gore is called for the detail ramps up, the pacing alters to heighten the mood and tension and it becomes a glorious bloody mess with corpses, faces being removed and much more. He’s really a fantastic and underrated artist who seems to deliver on a consistent basis.

The series takes forever to come out but once it lands I devour it. This volume was no different. It’s incredibly entertaining but the short story nature of this volume and most of preceding can make it feel like the series is just spinning it’s wheels. That said The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service in wheel spinning mode is still an incredibly fun and entertaining read that fans of black comedy and horror shouldn’t miss out on.

The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, Vol. 12 is available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 25

August 6, 2012 1 comment

Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 25
By Hiroaki Samura
Dark Horse, 224 pp
Rating: 18 +

Manji and Rin have had some rough times of late. The two were separated, Rin’s quest for vengeance was put on hold as she undertook the rescue of Manji. Since then they’ve had rather clear sailing though with plenty of time for rest and relaxation. Unfortunately all that is about to change. The 25th volume of Hiroaki Samura’s samurai revenge epic brings us the beginning of one of the major and most anticipated showdowns in the series as Manji must face off against the psychotic Shira.

The last few volumes have slowed things down a bit introducing new antagonists and focusing on the machinations of Kagimura, the disgraced samurai now sworn to track down the Itto Ryu, and the Itto Ryu. Now it’s time for the spotlight to once again rest upon the duo of Rin and Manji. While the showdown with Shira is the driving point for this volume it’s not the only thing that happens. Samura takes the chance to fill in some blanks and call back to the torture arc which explored attempts at transferring Manji’s immortality to others as he reveals the final conclusion reached by Burando, the doctor in charge of the experiments. While it’s both interesting and vaguely fascinating to revisit that arc the revelations in this volume feel a bit out of place and forced. Samura essentially spells out the mechanics of Manji’s immortality boiling it down and explaining in detail, complete with a chart detailing certain biological aspects of it. The whole thing feels less like something I’d expect to see in this series and more like something I’d expect to crop up in the middle of a generic shonen fight scene. While his reasoning for spelling it makes a certain amount of sense and allows for a rather interesting and disturbing upgrade for a certain someone, I can’t help but be a bit disappointed with the revelation and feel that in doing so Samura’s stripped the series of a little bit of it’s mystery and charm.

Visually the book hasn’t lost a step at all and it looks fantastic. The action sequences are engaging and interesting, especially the opening chapter which briefly switches to a first person perspective before switching back for a rather incredible and gory two page spread. Beyond that though Samura’s art looks as lovely as ever, a trend which seems to have started with the end of the torture arc and which I’m glad to see continue here.

It’s a rather important volume for the series as several plot threads come together once again for what promises to be a rather brutal and entertaining battle. I can’t really see Manji or Rin dying, but Samura’s spent the last few volumes building up a supporting cast, several or whom are present and it’s quite possible that any number of them could end up dead before the end of Manji’s battle with Shira. I suppose the only way to find out is to stick around for volume 26, something I definitely intend on doing.

Blade of the Immortal, Vol. 25 is available now from Dark Horse Comics.

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Mega Man Megamix, Vol. 1

July 25, 2012 1 comment

Mega Man Megamix, Vol. 1
By Hitoshi Ariga
Udon Entertainment, 220 pp
Rating: Not Rated

Udon Entertainment continues it’s trend of bringing out classic manga adaptions of Capcom video games with this, the first volume of Hitoshi Ariga’s Mega Man Megamix! Witness the creation of the legend and his earliest adventures, spanning moments from the first three Mega Man games and beyond!

I have to admit up front that I’m not a huge Mega Man fan. I played it when it first came out, sure, but I was never a huge fan who followed the story religiously and could pick up on subtle references to previous games and the like. That said Udon’s success with the various Street Fighter manga series had me curious about this series and Jason Thompson’s fantastic review of Ariga’s works in a recent House of 1,000 Manga finally tipped the scales for me. With that in mind I have to admit that I did find myself enjoying this even if I wasn’t blown away by it. The story itself is straight forward enough as a massively compressed version of the events of the first three games. We get to see Mega Man confronting most of the memorable robots and learn of his origins and such and it was all done in a nice, all ages friendly action adventure way. Still, there was just something about it that didn’t quite click for me. Maybe it’s because it was focused so heavily on the action that Mega Man and the rest of the cast end up feeling like flat, one note characters. Maybe it was the slightly stilted dialogue or the way certain events like Mega Man 3 and the first appearance of Proto Man are given a single page. I just know that while I enjoyed it I didn’t fall head over heels in love with the book.

Hitoshi Ariga’s adaption and plot might not have blown me away but that doesn’t change the fact that this is a damn good looking book. The art’s clean and all the characters are true to their original character designs. Their special attacks are all present and Ariga makes the action scenes fun, exciting, clear to follow and enjoyable to read. Sure, they might be super fast and Mega Man might not take a full volume to defeat whoever but that doesn’t make them any less enjoyable to see played out on the page. There’s a lot of visual humor and gags and while I’m generally not a fan of over reactions and the like for comedic affect they definitely work here and don’t feel at all out of place. That’s probably due in large part to the nicely cartoony look of the artwork to begin with. It means that sudden and weird reactions or goofy expressions don’t break the visual flow or stick out like a sore thumb.

No, I didn’t fall instantly in love with the series but I definitely enjoyed it enough to want to read the next two volumes if nothing else. The action scenes are fun, the stories are simple and straight forward and the artwork is lovely and eye catching making the most of the simple, iconic and memorable designs of Mega Man and his friends and foes. Long time fans of the game series will clearly get the most of the book but it’s pretty new comer friendly and people coming in cold to the world of Mega Man shouldn’t find themselves too lost or overwhelmed. Mega Man Megamix, Vol. 1 has an undeniable charm and purity to it that helps over come it’s short comings in other areas and the result is a enjoyable, light read.

Mega Man Megamix, Vol. 1 is available now from Udon Entertainment.

Barbara

July 16, 2012 1 comment

Barbara
By Osamu Tezuka
DMP, 435 pp
Rating: Not Rated

From the mind of Osamu Tezuka comes Barbara, the dark and bizarre tale of writer Yosuke Mikura and the winding paths his life takes after a chance encounter with a homeless, drunk by the name of Barbara.

Barbara is over 400 pages of sexual deviancy, occult happenings, mystic babble and ponderings upon the source of creativity and more. The story focuses on the relationship between up and coming writer Yosuke Mikura and the young, homeless drunk he takes in, Barbara. What follows is a car wreck of a relationship full of abuse, hijinks and more. It’s difficult to really like Yosuke Mikura, which is a bit of problem for the book since he’s the main character and the narrator throughout it all. When we’re introduced to him he’s already psychologically disturbed and for a while it seems like Barbara might be his savior in that regard. Sadly it’s not really the case and he goes from being a perverted, unlikeable jack ass to an abusive, unlikeable jack ass. Even in the later parts of the story when he’s shown to be struggling, trapped in a dead end life and desperately looking for a way out I just couldn’t find it within myself to root for him or hope he’d get out of things. Barbara isn’t a whole lot better. She’s got that whole “Magical Pixie Girl” thing going on, a beautiful woman who helps lift a broken man out of his doldrums and inspires him, but her constant state of inebriation and her willingness to take the non-stop abuse just makes it difficult to do anything other than hope she gets her life together and moves on. Now a tale of abusive relationships between creative types might have had some traction. There’s been plenty of them in real life that have made for compelling tales (ie. Sid and Nancy, but then Tezuka throws in tons of stuff involving magic, the occult and the fact that Barbara isn’t just your typical drunk. No, she’s literally a muse from Greek mythology. At that point the story went from a troubled relationship and veered into weird supernatural funkiness. It just gets weirder as it goes as the story takes stranger and stranger turns as it attempts to say something about the nature of creativity and insanity. And ultimately it does. It just takes a little while getting there and at times feels like it loses itself along the way.

Visually it’s as solid as you’d expect an Osamu Tezuka work to be. He does a fantastic job at depicting emotions, managing the pacing and allowing the visual flow of the story to just grab you and pull you along with it’s deceptively simple artwork. It’s also full of other little Tezuka-isms, warping walls or backgrounds to help enhance the surrealistic or hallucinatory feel of a scene or sequence and things like that. The humor is toned a bit though it’s certainly still present, absent are the visual gags that are present in many of his all ages works.

This was one odd book. Despite the rather unlikeable characters it was still a fairly compelling read and I found the pages going by at a surprisingly fast pace. It was enjoyable but I don’t think it’s one of Tezuka’s better works. It will undoubtedly find a welcoming audience here and while it was kind of enjoyable, fun and interesting at times I don’t think it’s something I’d find myself re-reading again and again.

Barbara will available on August 29th from DMP. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

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Erementar Gerade, Vols. 8 + 9

June 19, 2012 1 comment

Erementar Gerade, Vol. 8Erementar Gerade, Vols. 8 + 9
by Mayumi Azuma
DMP
Rating: Teen (13+)

Mayumi Azuma’s saga continues with the eighth and ninth volumes of Erementar Gerade! Following the dramatic and violent events of Coud and company’s battle with the Viros it’s time for a visit to the doctors. Unfortunately for our heroes the mysterious Org Night which has been pursuing Ren is still on their tails.

These two volumes are a bit of a mixed bag for the series. You can see where it’s starting to tread water with the villain of the week formula and there’s a huge info dump in volume nine which stops any momentum the story had dead in its tracks. Worse, it’s an info dump that lays out the power tiers and hierarchy of Edel Raids, complete with diagrams. If there’s one thing I’ve always hated about shonen series it’s their inexplicable love of tiering for characters and their abilities. Despite this there’s some interesting twists and turns along the way as well. A figure from Ren’s past appears all to briefly and we get a better look at Org Night and their forces. Sadly we also see the departure of my two favorite characters, but I’m hopeful that they’ll both pop up in a future volume. The odd sexual exploitation theme that the series has been flirting with takes something of a back seat in these two volumes. We get some small mention of a doctor who molests his Edel Raid patients and there’s a line that seems to confirm that whatever Viro did to Ren was akin to rape, but that’s about it. That said one of the villains is bonded to multiple Edel Raids which does raise some interesting questions and ideas about relationships and emotions in general. With rare exception the Edel Raid/Pleasure pairings have been female/male and they’ve touched upon the idea of using women as objects and exploiting them versus a healthy relationships, but with this volume we’re introduced to a male Pleasure who’s bonded to no less than ten Edel Raids! If we continue along the idea of an Edel Raid/Pleasure relationship being akin to male/female relationships then what are to think about this? Edel Raids can only be bonded to one Pleasure at a time but apparently Pleasures can be bonded to as many Edel Raids as they want. Is there some kind of weird commentary about men being able to juggle multiple women but women only being able to give their heart to one man at a time or am I simply reading way too much into it?

The artwork is still solid but not terribly spectacular. The fight scenes take a small step backwards as well in volume nine, losing the clarity and flow that they had started to develop in favor of panels full of barely decipherable lines which contain the suggestion of action and movement rather than the depiction of it. The new characters who are introduced don’t strike much of a chord with me visually either aside from the figure from Ren’s past.

Overall these two volumes were a bit of a surprising read. The unveiling of the Edel Raid tiering structure, something that had been hinted at before but never explicitly explained, was incredibly disappointing and its inclusion was awkward and clunky. The repetitive nature of the villains is also starting to grate though at nine volumes this seems like something that won’t be changing any time soon.

Erementar Gerade, Vols. 8 + 9 is available now from Digital Manga Publishing and Emanga.com. Digital review copy provided by the publisher.

The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition

May 21, 2012 4 comments

The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition
Created by Variety Art Works
One Peace Books, 576 pp
Rating: Not Rated

The latest release from One Peace Books is a massive manga adaption of The Bible. Yes, that Bible. It contains adaptions of key stories from both the Old and New Testaments with a streamlined, all ages friendly feel to it.

As mentioned above this feels like a very streamlined and trimmed down version of the Bible that most people are at least passingly familiar with. It starts with Genesis and covers many of the major and more well known biblical stories right on through to The Passion. That said, it’s not exactly uncut. There are a few stories missing and the snipping and tweaking of the Old Testament reinforces the idea of it as a family history. It essentially focuses on and follows a succession of kings from the blood line of Adam and Eve. While many of the more well known stories from the Old Testament are intact, such as Noah, Moses and Exodus, Solomon, David and more, I couldn’t help but notice some of the missing tales. Things like Samson and Delilah, Jonah and the Whale are no where to be found and what’s left has been edited and tweaked to give it a family friendly feel. For example, yes there’s the bit about Sodom and Gomorra but this adaption glosses over the details of those cities and what happens afterwards with Lot and his daughters. The editing and missing pieces continues into the New Testament portion of the book where they gloss over The Passion, omitting the details of Jesus’ punishment and skipping over the Stations of the Cross. The Doubting Thomas incident is also missing and the book only pays lip service to books and events that took place after the crucifixion. There’s also the omission to the one piece of the Bible I was most looking forward to seeing a manga rendition of, namely Revelation.

Visually the book is average but solid work. Despite some of the hugely memorable moments there are few stand out and eye catching moments. Moses parting the Red Sea is probably the visual highlight of the book, but other events that would seem to lend themselves to a visual spectacle aren’t really given time to convey their import and impact. The destruction of Sodom and Gomorra, David’s battle with Goliath, the siege of Jericho and even The Passion and crucifixion lack the visual oomph you’d expect them to carry. Some of this might be due to the writing, there’s a lot of stuff to get into this single volume even at nearly 600 pages, so everything’s fairly compressed and it lacks some of the visual emotional beats and visual cues often associated with manga, such as lingering establishing shots to enhance the mood and so forth. In fairness if they took the time to include those it’d probably be a multivolume set of thousands of pages, so hey. The character designs are nothing amazing or special but most of the characters are different enough to be able to tell them apart. That said there’s something odd going on with the eyes in this book. The looks of happiness and rapture in several places come off as the opposite, and some of the panicked or fearful looks are so over the top that they’re almost laughable.

It’s hard to critique this given that it’s, well, The Bible and as such wasn’t exactly written with plot and character development in mind. It was intended to convey ideas, morals, oral history and more and this adaption does an ok job at getting some of those things across. It just fails to deliver in the some of the more emotional and moving moments. I don’t think this will be replacing the tried and true prose editions the Bible but I can see where it might make a nice, all ages, accessible version to supplement and perhaps even help encourage interest in Christianity in younger people already inclined in that direction.

The Bible: A Japanese Manga Rendition is available now from One Peace Books. Review copy provided by the publisher.

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