Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Ryouichi Ikegami

Mr. Alchemy commented, on my entry for Garo #42, that Ryouichi Ikegami's fans (Mai, the Psychic Girl and Crying Freeman) wouldn't recognize Ryouichi's early works. Something that I'd also remarked on back when I saw his debut work, "Crime of Awareness". I figured that I have enough of a catalog for him that it'd be worth showing the evolution of Ryouichi Ikegami from September, 1966, to February, 1968.

Crime of Awareness, 12 pages, issue 25, the debut work. You can see the full story by clicking on the image. The influence of Tezuka's style is pretty blatant, and is similar to that of other artists who copied Tezuka early on, such as Shotaro Ishinomori and Yoshiharu Tsuge.

Summer, 20 pages, issue 36. A big jump in style in only 11 months. "Summer" is more of a psychological horror story, and the character designs have taken on a more realistic, less cartoony look. The lines are thinner and there's less use of heavy blocks of black.

Globe, 18 pages, issue 37. We're starting to see more refinements in the character designs, but they're still not quite at Ryuichi's stylistic level yet. "Globe" is another psychological study, this time about a young boy who may have a small-scale version of the actual planet Earth in a cage, or it may all just be the fevered dreams of a boy trapped in a coma.

Game Preserve, 24 pages, issue 39. We're getting a little closer to the Crying Freeman style now.

3-sided Mirror Flirtation, 18 pages, issue 40. A little bit of a regression in character design, as he tries his hand at Alfred Hitchcock-style humor.

Fuutarou, starting with issue 42. Fuutaro marks his first attempt at serializing a gritty slice-of-life manga for Garo. We can see a lot of growth in his designs in only 17 months. But he's gone back to a thicker, bolder line, and it makes the facial details look blocky and clumsy when the character is drawn at a distance.

This is as much as I have of his works from Garo at this point, seeing that I've only bought Garo up to issue #44. If/when I get enough material to continue this overview, I'll add it at a later date.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Garo Feature #21

For the Mar., '68 issue, I'm highlighting:

Akira Ogawa's - Adolescent Gravesite
Shigeru Mizuki's - Kitaro Night Stories

青春の墓 (Adolescent Gravesite)

Akira is finally back with a short-one shot. A high school boy is involved in a love triangle between two other friends. The one male friend reads a script the boy has written and thinks that it's going to be a hit, and the girl both of them like could be the star of the show. The rival then announces that he and the girl may get married soon. Some time later, the girl arrives at the boy's house to announce that the rival fell ill quickly and has died. The boy runs over to the rival's house, and sees the script in the rival's room, and ends up modifying it to put himself in the role opposite the girl in the play. Time goes by and everything seems to be going according to the boy's plans, until the girl commits suicide and leaves a note saying that she just couldn't live without her true love to support her. The boy's spirit is crushed and he says goodbye to his innocence.

鬼太郎夜話 (Kitaro Night Stories) #10

The fake Kitaro (FK) finds himself in a boggy hell. The real Kitaro jumped into the river after them, but he can't swim and passersby have to help pull him to shore. He did manage to get Neko Musume away from FK, but she died anyway. Kitaro's father offers to go to hell to try to get the demon vest back from FK, and is flattened by a car while standing in the middle of a street. FK initially thinks that hell is pretty neat, lacking other people, a need to go to school or having to work. But, he does eventually get hungry, then discovers that the fish in the bog are all just skeletons. Kitaro's father (AKA: Otosan) shows up and declares that the lack of food is one side of hell - if FK doesn't leave, he'll waste away and turn into a mummy after 100 hours. They start looking for the tunnel entrance into hell proper, which then takes them to a house where Neko Musume's spirit has taken up residence. FK panics and runs away, getting lost in hell's vast reaches, the absence of other people suddenly making him very lonely.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Yoshihiro Tatsumi, Black Blizzard

Yoshihiro Tatsumi is probably well-known to those of you here that follow Garo, as being one of the main proponents of the gekiga (realism manga) movement that led to the formation of Garo magazine. The western newspapers in Japan have picked up on the release of Black Blizzard by Drawn and Quarterly, with both the Japan Times and Daily Yomiuri running reviews of it. I'm just mentioning this here in case you want to check them out.

(From the D&Q site, for review purposes only.)

Note that the English wiki doesn't list many of Tatsumi's titles. The Japanese wiki is more complete, but of course it's in Japanese...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Garo Feature #20

For the Feb., '68 issue, I'm highlighting:

Yoshiharu Tsuge's - Futamata Keikoku
Ryouichi Ikegami's - Vagrant

二岐溪谷 (Futamata Keikoku)

(Futamata is a place name in Hokkaido.) The main character, who probably really is Tsuge himself, has arrived at Futamata, a remote hot spa resort located in some hills next to a river. The character buys some bananas and checks out a stream where he discovers that the elusive fish there enjoy eating banana peals. He races back to the resort to get some fishing line, but the owners have everything packed up for closing the resort for the season. The traveler returns to the stream, but the bananas are also gone. He takes a soak in the onsen and encounters the monkey that's been causing mischief at the spa for a while now. That night, there's a huge storm and the monkey gets trapped on some branches in the middle of the raging stream. The monkey's cries keep the traveler awake at night. The next morning, the storm is over and the monkey's nowhere to be seen.

風太郎 (Vagrant) #1

Fuutarou, a young, one-eyed boy, arrives in a seedy district in Osaka in search of his father. A pair of drifters takes him to a construction site where a man matching the father's description is up wandering along the scaffolding of the building. Fuutarou climbs up as well, but slips. The other man makes a grab to save the boy, but falls and lands on the ground several stories below. The man is taken to the hospital, where the doctor says he'll be ok, but they've got concerns over who'll pay for the costs. Fuutarou realized that the man wasn't his father, based on the shape of the guy's hand, and he disappears to keep looking. However, he leaves some money behind, which the two drifters use to pay the other guy's bills.

From the artist of Crying Freeman. This is the start of a short serialized story.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Garo Feature #19

For the Jan., '68 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shouhei Kusunoki's - Red Water, Second Half
Yuu Takita's - The Long Road
Shinji Nagashima's - Small World

赤水, 後篇 (Red Water, Second Half)

The older brother staggers back home and tries to recover from the embarrassment of having been thrown out of the drinking party. A little later, he has a thought and goes into a cave in the hills where the rich boy's would-be betrothed is hiding. She's been there for several days and greedily wolfs down the onigiri he brings with. He leaves again, but when he returns with more food stumbles on another soldier who's also found the cave and is attempting to rape the girl. The brother kills the soldier with a rock. At the same time, the rich boy is paraded out in front of some of the peasants to show off his riding skills. The little brother is impressed, but dismayed at seeing how the rider mistreats the horse with his spurs, drawing blood from the horse's sides. The rich one gives the horse to the little brother, who then races it around the village. He finally reaches the temple at the top of a hill, where he discovers the bodies of his brother and the girl, hanging by their necks by ropes from the ceiling. It's not clear what happened, but it may have been a punishment killing rather than a lover's suicide. The temple priests are shocked, as well as being put in a bind since the rich family is scheduled to come to the temple soon to pray for their son's victory in war. They haul the bodies out down a back path as the new procession arrives. The little brother is so enraged over what happened that he takes the horse out to a river and kills it with a bamboo spear. He then stands in the middle of the river, catching fish with his bare hands, and the growing plume in the river around him causes the boy to comment on the "red water".

長い道 (The Long Road)

A disheveled samurai is told to clean up his act, so he has his wife shave him and gets a new set of clothes. But, his meal ticket at the castle ends and he finds himself out of work and unable to pay the new bills. When he reports this to his wife, she tells him to cheer up because life is still full of possibilities. She orders two bowls of expensive tempura soba and after the couple is done eating she reveals her plan - to pack up all their belongings and run out on the bills.

ちいさいな世界 (Small World)

In this wordless short, #6 in Shinji's gekiga collection, a small boy out playing with his dog dashes across the street, where a careless driver hits and kills the dog before driving off heedlessly. The boy is heartbroken, but makes friends with a girl who has a doll. Again, the children run across the street in front of a truck, with the doll on the boy's trike looking like a girl pedaling in the street. The driver swerves into a lamp post as the children ignore him.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Garo Feature #18

For the Dec., '67 issue, I'm highlighting:

Yoshiharu Tsuge's - Nishibu Tamura Incident
Shouhei Kusunoki's - Red Water, First Half
Shigeru Mizuki's - Japan's Gods

西部田村事件 (Nishibu Tamura Incident)

A fisherman (probably the same one as in Red Flower) is out in the countryside looking for a new fishing spot when an excited villager runs up and says that an inmate - arguably violently insane - at a nearby hospital has escaped. A number of other villagers show up to find the escapee, with one of them claiming to have seen someone in a gown climbing up in the trees. After discovering that the trees are too hard to climb, the townspeople give up and leave. The fisherman discovers the inmate, who leads him to a glade where fish swim around in seep holes. The guy accidentally steps in one of the holes, and the fish trapped under his foot swims around, tickling him. The fisherman goes into town for help and the inmate is eventually extracted and returned to the hospital. The fisherman looks at the trapped fish then releases it into the river.

赤水, 前篇 (Red Water, First Half)

This is a tale of four people - 2 brothers, a girl and an upper class boy being groomed as a soldier in the Great War. The younger of the two brothers is supposed to be helping tend the rice in the paddies, but instead is spending his time with the upper class boy as a way to get closer to the other boy's horse. During this time, the upper class boy is mistreating the farmboy mercilessly with a form of military training. The rich one's family has decided to marry him to the prettiest girl in the village, which is why she disappears. The older brother tries to explain to the younger one that the horses are being used for war, but it doesn't take. One night, the rich family throws a party to celebrate the chosen one's selection to the officer's ranks, and during the drinking session afterwards, the older brother gets sick and the other soldiers throw him out into the rain.

日本のカミサマたち (Japan's Gods)

Another short commentary by Shigeru. This time, he's describing Japan's new gods, such as that for freeways and yacht fishing.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Reading the Era of Garo

Thanks to Roberto for bringing this to my attention. This is a video overview of Garo magazine, entitled "Garo no Jidai wo Yomu" (Reading the Era of Garo). Originally uploaded in August, 2009. It's broken up into 5 parts.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

If you want to learn more about Garo. It is in Japanese without English subtitles, but you can fastforward to the parts that you think are the most interesting.