Sunday, August 29, 2010

Garo Feature #33

For the Jan., '69 issue, I'm highlighting:

Manabu Ohyama's - Accident
Tadao Tsuge's - Longing Melody

遭難 (Accident)

A blond westerner, presumably an American in Japan from the fighting in Vietnam, wakes up in some guy's car. He'd been out drinking the night before and had passed out. The driver had jacked the car and they're now having a joyride. The blond panics, wondering what will happen if they get caught. Soon after, they encounter a traffic stop, and the Japanese cop calls over his superior to help with the language barrier. The driver laughs and floors the pedal, tearing away from the stop. Suddenly, a bike rider pulls in front of the car, and the driver hits him before plowing into a tree. The blond exits the car, sees the accident victim struggling to get to his feet, takes the driver's gun and has a flashback. He was a greenhorn in a patrol in 'nam when they got ambushed. He was trapped out in the open and his buddies tried to reach him from their foxhole. A sniper above them in a tree picked off the rest of the patrol until some other soldiers arrived and took the sniper out. Back in the present, the blond shoots the cyclist 4 times in the chest. The driver recovers and the two of them run away from the scene.

懐かしのメロディ (Longing Melody)

This looks like another autobiographical tale with Yoshiharu's younger brother, Tadao, sitting at a bar while an old man reminisces about a friend of his, Sabu, back during the days of the university unrest. Sabu had lived in a rundown shack along with a prostitute. His only rule for her was that she not sleep with foreigners. At the time, some local punks were terrorizing the neighborhood, and Sabu took it on himself to chase them out. At one point, three of them gang up on him and beat him up pretty badly. Realizing that he couldn't take them on all at one time, Sabu disappeared. Rumor was it that he was slowly eliminating the punks one by one. Eventually, he does surface again, missing his right eye and looking much meaner. Unfortunately, he runs into the prostitute, who is in the company of an American serviceman. Sabu snaps and tries to kill the guy, while the girl yells that he has the wrong idea. A crowd gathers to watch the American get pummeled, then they start wondering if Sabu is really going to kill him. Finally, some police arrive and they catch the girl. She yells at Sabu to run and never come back. He bolts. Back in the bar, Tadao and the old man have gotten very drunk, and Tadao staggers off home. He turns back to ask if Sabu was ever seen after that and the old man says he doesn't know, but isn't it better this way? Tadao laughs and agrees with him, leaving the bar as the old man sits there looking pensive.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Garo Feature - Kamui Special Issue

For the Jan, '67 issue, I'm highlighting:

Sampei Shirato's - Kamui-den

カムイ伝 (Kamui-den) #1

It is the year that our story is set in, and nature is in full bloom. In the mountains and along the streams, weasels eat mice, hawks eat weasels, birds knock seeds from the trees that are eaten by deer, and the deer get eaten by bears. One rabbit gets hit and killed by a stick thrown by Mountain Man (a big, hairy, dirty sasquatch-like guy with little vocal ability). Mountain Man holds up the dead rabbit and says "kamui" before shuffling off. In Hanamaki Village near the base of the hills, work proceeds on harvesting rice, when the village headman comes up looking for Danzuri, one of the villagers who's carrying in rice stalks for processing. The headman asks a small boy - Shousuke - where his father, Danzuri is. Danzuri is found and requested to represent the village for something coming up.

At the main castle, the feudal lord and a number of ranking samurai are riding horses in the courtyard, shooting arrows at dogs for archery practice. They kill the last of the dogs, and the lord orders a vassal, Yokome, to find more. He and the dog handler go into the seedier part of the village where the vagrants live, and the handler is forced to take his family's pet Akita back to the castle for the practice. Yokome notices an ugly-looking creature in a cage, and ignores the handler's protests. They bring the two animals with them. In the courtyard, the Akita just sits there obediently as the archers turn it into a pincushion. The handler cries silently, while the retainers complain that that was really boring. The lord demands that a brute with real fight in him be brought out. Yokome drags out the second animal, which turns out to be a grizzled, wounded wolf. When the first arrow flies at him, the wolf springs, killing several retainers before escaping back to the mountains. The feudal lord is shaken, not having wanted something with quite that much fight in them.

Danzuri is next seen running into the village, establishing Hanamki as the town with the fastest runner for another year in a row. To celebrate, the headsman invites all his friends and lower-level samurai to a banquet. Danzuri, being a mere villager is relegated to the stables, where a servant gives him and a couple other villagers a stack of rice cakes and a jug of sake. Shousuke protests this treatment, but this is just one more example of the kind of class-level behavior that he'll have to learn to live with. One topic of conversation that comes up between the villagers is that Danzuri had seen Kichibee hiding out in the woods, and the other two go silent. Shousuke asks what a Kichibee is, and his father tells him that there had been an insurrection against the samurai 3 years earlier, and Kichibee was its main leader - there's a death sentence on his head, and the villagers hope that he'll remain free.

In one of the samurai houses, Ikkaku is the head of a kendo dojo, where he teaches his sponsor's son, Ryounoshin, the art of sword fighting. At the end of one bout, Ikkaku tells the boy's father that Ryounoshin shows some promise. After the two leave, Ikkaku starts nursing the huge bruise on his ribs that the boy just gave him. Nearby, Shibutare goes to one samurai retainer and tells him that Kichibee has been spotted in the woods. Shibutare is a professional snitch, and this tale nets him a few coins. When he, and the retainer's messenger, leave the household gates, Yokome, who is spying nearby, figures that something is up. The feudal lord is told that Kichibee is still alive, and the order is issued to have him captured. The villagers are told to do the grunt work, but they don't try very hard. Yokome then suggests that the vagrants be enlisted to sweep of the woods. Kichibee is quickly hunted down and imprisoned. The villagers accuse the vagrants of being murderers.

At Ikkaku's dojo, there's a disturbance. A swordsman, Ukon Mizunazuki, is issuing a challenge to see if the dojos, which teach using wooden swords, can really compete against seasoned samurai with battle experience. Ikkaku accepts the challenge and gets thoroughly defeated. When Ukon goes outside, he's challenged by Yokome, who uses a chain and sickle attack. Ukon gets faked out by the chain, and the sickle bites deep into his right ankle. As Yokome drags him in on the chain for the finishing blow, Ukon cuts off his own foot and escapes, screaming in pain.

Finally, out in the mountains, life goes on, with the various animals preying on each other. With one exception. An old wolf lies in a cave, waiting for his arrow wounds to heal. Days pass, and when he can move again, he starts taking out deer with one bite to the neck, and eats only the best parts, leaving the rest of the carcass to the scavengers. He climbs up a hill and calls out to his old pack, which soon gathers up. Winter comes, then turns to Spring. The day of Kichibee's execution arrives and the villagers press up against the barricades to watch in protest. The vagrants are ordered to raise up the wooden cross that Kichibee is tied to, and they're the ones that have to run spears through the man's body to kill him. During this, Kichibee remains silent. Afterward, one of the vagrants that had been handling the spears, Yasuke, sits in the storeroom, thinking that Kichibee had been a great man. Yokome finds him and orders him out. As Yasuke returns home, he's pelted by rocks by villagers that call him a killer. Back at the vagrant village, Yasuke is told to hurry, his wife has just given birth to a son. The man stands there with the infant in his hands, wondering what this world needs with one more vagrant. While, up in the mountains, a female wolf has given birth to a new litter, including one rare white pup.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Garo Feature #32

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

Shinji Nagashima's - Furuyanomori
Tadao Tsuge's - Vincent Van Gogh on the Hill

ふるやのもり (Furuyanomori)

(#3 in the Folktale Series.) A rather clumsy ninja rushes to a farm where he's been hired to protect the family's horse from a wolf. Said wolf then approaches and enters the house and crouches next to the horse, ready to attack. The family consists of an old woman, her husband and a young boy. The boy asks his grandmother what the world's scariest thing is, and she answers "a ninja", which gets the ninja very excited. The grandfather agrees that ninjas are scary, but what about wolves? The ninja goes into a panic at the idea of a wolf being near by, and the wolf becomes very happy. The grandmother agrees that wolves are also scary, but what about "Furuyanomori"? (furuya is an old house or cabin, and "mori" is a forest, so the impression is something that lives in a old cabin in the woods). At this everyone in the house gets shivers and agrees that furuyanomori are scary. Just then, some water leaks through the roof onto everyone's necks and they all go yelling "furuyanomori, furuyanomori". The ninja falls from his perch and lands on the wolf, who goes screaming out of the house thinking that the furuyanomori has caught him. The wolf tears into the woods, knocking the ninja off into a hollow tree. Deeper in the woods, the wolf encounters a baboon and some other animals and warns them of the approaching threat. The baboon promises to protect them all and they go to the tree where the "furuyanomori" was last seen. The baboon lowers its long tail into the hollow of the tree, just as the ninja recovers from his concussion. He grabs the tail and tries to climb out. The baboon panics and tries to bolt, ripping his tail off. The narrator then explains that this is why, to this day, Japanese baboons have short tails, and that their faces and buttocks have turned bright red out of shame. Finally, back at the house, the boy starts asking "grandma, what's the world's..."

丘の上でヴィンセント。ヴァン。ゴッホは (Vincent Van Gogh on the Hill)

A part-time factory worker/university student spends his days at work, and his nights learning to paint just like Van Gogh. He talks to the reader about Van Gogh's life, and wonders what had happened to make him paint so many self-portraits. A co-worker drops by with some grilled chicken and sake and they revel through the night, leaving the worker exhausted the next day. This is the time of the U.S. war in Vietnam, student unrest in Japan, and union strikes. The factory is trying to keep the workers happy, but it's not working. The artist buys some grilled chicken to share with his friend, but then discovers his friend in the company of two university students that are planning on trying to rescue another student demonstrator that had been arrested earlier. The friend decides to go with the other two, and the artist returns back home to his paintings.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Garo, first 10 years exhibit.

There was an exhibit on the first 10 years of Garo magazine held in New York a couple of months ago. I was hoping that someone that had attended it would make a mention of it here, but that hasn't happened. Fortunately I did find a review of the exhibit at the Drawn and Quarterly blog site. Check it out.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Garo Feature #31

For the November, '68 issue, I'm highlighting:

Shinji Nagashima's - Old Monkey-Crab Days
Seiichi Hayashi's - Rose Crest
Yuu Takita's - A Woman's World

さるかに昔 (Old Monkey-Crab Days)

Long ago there was a crab scuttling along the beach, doing his daily chores. One day, he found a persimmon seed, so he planted it, and tended it until years later it had grown tall and borne its first fruit. Unfortunately, the tree's trunk was too slippery for the crab to climb it, so he asked a passing monkey to go up into the tree and toss down one of the persimmons. The monkey instead decided to eat all of the fruit itself, telling the crab to make do with the discarded pits. The crab pleaded with the monkey for just one fruit, and in disgust the monkey hurled a persimmon at him, killing the crab. However, a hundred tiny crabs came to life from the now empty shell, and they grow up to carry on the old one's work. Eventually, the monkey kills another one of them and they decide to get revenge. On their way to the monkey's house, they pick up allies, including a thorny seed, a cow patty, a large pot and a bee. Working together they ambush the monkey and then crush him under the pot. The survivors live happily ever after.

It looks like Shinji has forgone his "Shinji Gekiga Collection" to start up a new series retelling various old folk tales. This is #2 in his new "Dansan" series.

花の紋章 (Rose Crest) #2

Seiichi is departing from his bizarre satirical works involving gorillas, frogs and wizards and moving into the realm of gangsters. Two young boys have decided to sneak out to a shack on the outskirts of town, where a woman is rumored to be sleeping with some guy, and they can watch through the windows. The guy is a famed gangster, who spends most of his time beating up punks and reminiscing about a beautiful woman, while the narrative text is drawn to look like an overblown movie poster, or the lyrics of an enka song.

彼女の世界 (A Woman's World)

A secretary sitting at her desk, powdering her nose, sees a discount coupon for a department store fly by the window and land on the ledge outside. She goes out on the ledge to pick it up when her boss happens by and thinks that she's been having a bad love life and is about to jump. The fire department, the police and ambulances are called. Crowds gather to watch, with a few guys taking advantage of the situation to look up women's dresses. She falls. Her boss is next seen watching TV and laughing. She wakes up at her desk, takes the coupon out of her purse and tears it up before returning to powdering her nose.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

TSOJ Garo Index update

Ok, it's time to update the Garo index for the manga titles and artists that I have read issues for. My version of the index is getting pretty impressive, if I do say so myself, even though it only covers a three year span (July '66 - June '69).

We've got some big names here, with the latest being the creator of "Sampei the Fisherman". Check it out and let me know if you find any errors.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Garo Feature #27

For the August, '68 issue, I'm highlighting:

Yoshiko Naono's - Experiment
Susumu Katsumata's - Katsumata's Creation Collection

実験 (Experiment)

A group of young adults are led to a reinforced room and one of them locks the group inside, saying that he'll be back to let them out in 200 hours. Initially, the group thinks that they'll be able to do this easily. But the sink in the room only supplies sludge, and the group quickly runs out of food and water. They all crack and get on each other's nerves after a while. No one has a watch and they lose track of time. Then, they hear some sounds coming in from one wall and yell to be let out. On the other side of the wall, the one with the door key is happily listening to loud music in a bar.

勝又進 作品集 (Katsumata's Creation Collection) #26

3- and 4-panel gag strips. It's time to show off a little more of Katsumata's works.