Sunday, September 26, 2010

Garo Feature #37

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

Yuu Takita's - Tamanoi Neighborhood House



玉の井界隈○番地 (Tamanoi Neighborhood House)


Part of the Terajima Series.This is one of the Terajima stories, although Kiyoshi and his family don't really factor into it much. A street walker unsuccessfully tries to drum up business, then gives up for the night. As she's settling in her apartment, one of the customers runs up to say that one of the other girls is in pain.After a certain amount of dithering, the girl is taken to a doctor where she's diagnosed with a burst appendix. Very few of Kiyoshi's family understands what it means to have an appendix removed, and in an attempt to come to grips with this, Kiyoshi pretends to operate on Tama. Eventually, the story returns to the first street walker, who is in her room alone again, wishing that she had someone to take care of her.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Garo Feature #36

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

Takao Takahashi's - Lingering Song
Shigeru Mizuki's - Kitaro Night Stories



長持唄考 (Lingering Song)


"唄" is "song", and "考" is "thoughts" or "report on". There's no direct translation in my dictionary for the two kanji combined. I'm using "Lingering Song" as a working title for the moment.

A middle aged man is walking through modern day Japan, looking at the fashionable young women out shopping and enjoying themselves. He suddenly flashes back to a court case where a woman is under trial. We then flash back to the events regarding the woman, and it looks like we've jumped back to old Edo (or at least to a very rural village that hadn't been modernized yet). The woman was at home, tending to her young daughter, when the rice kettle exploded and burned half the girl's face. This destroys the woman's sanity, but she spends the next few years caring for the girl. The girl grows up to be very cheerful, and at about age 7 or 9, happens upon a traditional Japanese wedding. The girl dreams of getting married, but the mother discovers her in the crowd and drags the girl out to a temple in the woods. As the woman works up her courage, the girl realizes that something's wrong and runs away. The mother chases after her and eventually kills the girl, supposedly as a way of saving her from the grief of becoming an unweddable adult. After the fact, the mother breaks down and cries over the girl's body. The scene switches to the modern court room, where the woman is also crying. The scene returns again to the man on the street, who is still looking at the people around him, and telling himself that he doesn't understand what the woman had been thinking.



鬼太郎夜話 (Kitaro Night Stories) #22


This is marked as the last chapter of the series. The duke sees Kitaro's hair and shoots at it. The hair escapes, but there's a trail of blood indicating that it's been hit. The duke finds the note the hair had written, but is more surprised that hair can write kanji than at the message telling them to leave the house. That night, as the duke is sleeping, the hair crawls down from the ceiling and suffocates him. It gets a knife and cuts the rope holding the fridge closed and lets Kitaro out. The hair then chases after Nezumi Otoko, who runs out into a field and collapses. When he recovers, Nezumi goes back into the house, where he finds Kitaro and his eyeball father taking a nice warm bath (the fridge had been very cold). Nezumi sees the dead duke (identified again as the werewolf) and is offended at overhearing Kitaro and his father joking that Nezumi may also have been killed. Nezumi enters the kitchen, and Kitaro reminds him that he'd been the one that initially tried to kill Kitaro. Nezumi excuses himself, saying that he'd just wanted to find a place to live. Kitaro leaves the house, saying that Nezumi can have this place. Nezumi asks where Kitaro is going, and the boy says "some place you don't know".

This is marked as the last chapter of the series. The duke sees Kitaro's hair and shoots at it. The hair escapes, but there's a trail of blood indicating that it's been hit. The duke finds the note the hair had written, but is more surprised that hair can write kanji than at the message telling them to leave the house. That night, as the duke is sleeping, the hair crawls down from the ceiling and suffocates him. It gets a knife and cuts the rope holding the fridge closed and lets Kitaro out. The hair then chases after Nezumi Otoko, who runs out into a field and collapses. When he recovers, Nezumi goes back into the house, where he finds Kitaro and his eyeball father taking a nice warm bath (the fridge had been very cold). Nezumi sees the dead duke (identified again as the werewolf) and is offended at overhearing Kitaro and his father joking that Nezumi may also have been killed. Nezumi enters the kitchen, and Kitaro reminds him that he'd been the one that initially tried to kill Kitaro. Nezumi excuses himself, saying that he'd just wanted to find a place to live. Kitaro leaves the house, saying that Nezumi can have this place. Nezumi asks where Kitaro is going, and the boy says "some place you don't know".

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Garo Feature #35

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

Haruo Koyama & Haruko Ri's - Oyuki
Kuniko Tsurita's - Sound



おゆき (Oyuki)


Oyuki is a young girl living alone outside one of the villages. When she comes into the village one day, asking if anyone knows about a baby that had been left at a shrine some years ago, the villagers call her the god of death and attack her to chase her out. One of the older villagers soon dies afterwards and they all say that this is obviously Oyuki's fault. She tries approaching another village and the same thing happens. Later, Oyuki sees a little girl playing with a ball along the seashore, and the ball gets caught by the waves. To protect the girl, Oyuki runs out into the water, but gets trapped by the undercurrent. The little girl's brother comes along and saves her. Next, some samurai enter the village and demand more rice for tribute to the local lord. The villagers have nothing left to give and some of them are killed as they protest. They see Oyuki watching from up in the hills and they blame her for all of this. They throw rocks at her and she falls from the hill and dies. The little girl's brother tried to stop the villagers, and he's the one that finds that Oyuki had been holding a note that implies that she was the abandoned child, and had originally just been a villager like them, but was cast out because of the actions of the samurai. The villagers turn on the samurai and chase them away. The scene changes. An old man is telling a young woman the story of what had happened at this spot a few hundred years ago. As the woman gets up to leave, she takes off her sunglasses, revealing a slightly older version of Oyuki.


音 (Sound)


A young man wakes up one morning to find himself without a body, and someone else sitting in his bed. The interloper drinks his best wine and eats his favorite rice crackers, and the main character yells that he's doing it wrong and corrects him. The interloper laughs that the main character has no hands for doing all this himself and then he goes outside. The main character stays in his room, unable to leave, surrounded by the ticking of his alarm clock.

Friday, September 10, 2010

AX

I was surprised the other day to discover that the English weekly rag in Tokyo, Metropolis, actually had a feature article on something manga related. Now that Galbraith is gone, the Pop Life section went from being bi-weekly to non-existent. The Met never really did seem to like covering anime or manga, and a number of readers complained when Galbraith made Pop Life bi-weekly at the beginning, saying that they couldn't care less.

But now, the cover story is on the release of an English edition anthology of Ax magazine stories. If you know Garo magazine (and if you've visited this blog before, I'd like to hope that you at least know the name) then you know that it was the big "alternative" manga outlet in the 60's and 70's. It triggered the publication of COM, Osamu Tezuka's competing magazine, and ultimately led to the start of Ax. Garo and COM are now long gone, but Ax is still running. It doesn't have much of a print run, and I've never been able to find a place that carries it (not even Mandarake has back issues).

At best, the images reprinted in the Met article compare to the bottom of the barrel of what had been in Garo from the period that I've covered so far, and the review of the anthology fails to move me to buy a copy. There is an aesthetic to "manga" that non-Japanese just can not replicate, and that untrained Japanese artists miss more often than they hit. It's great that a publication like Ax exists, to give an outlet to artists that can't appear in the mainstream monthlies. But there's a reason why Ax's print run is so low.

What's really needed is an editor of Katsuichi Nagai's sensibilities, who can guide new artists into a vein that would resemble Garo Mark II. In the meantime, I'd just settle for D&Q releasing some Garo anthologies.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Garo Feature #34

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

Maki Sasaki's - Sad Tree (?)
Ryouichi Ikegami's - Electric Artificial Arm



かなしいまっくす (Sad Tree (?))


More surrealism that doesn't really say anything. Interestingly, though, the last panel of this manga is a modified photo of a jazz trumpeter, which plays right into the next manga, by Ikegami.



電動式義手 (Electric Artificial Arm)


A young man with an artificial right arm is playing jazz trumpet in his room. His landlady comes in to complain that she doesn't like jazz. Although she can understand his situation, his playing trumpet from morning til night has been irritating the neighbors and affecting those that work nights or are trying to study for exams. The woman looks at the doorway where a pair of woman's shoes have been set next to the door, and she comments that she knows there's a girl hiding in the room. The landlady leaves, and her daughter, a university student, is shown standing behind the door. The girl opens the curtains and remarks how it's so strange, with the drapes closed, that you can't tell that there's a huge factory so close by spewing out clouds of pollution. She hates this place and wants to leave. Later, she goes to her own apartment, where her mother the landlady asks how her studies are going.

The boy goes into a flashback. He was an aspiring jazz player, a member of a good band. As he was crossing over a bridge, the driver of an oncoming car lost control and swerved right at him. The car stopped short, but he'd fallen over the railing onto the tracks of an oncoming train. A few months later, the driver confronts the boy, profusely apologizing for the accident, and mentioning that he's a design engineer for a prosthetics company and he wants the boy to be the first one to use their new artificial electronic arm. It'd be just like his own. The boy then practices using the arm for 2 years leading up to a big live performance of his band at a night club. The engineer has been given a personal invitation, but that day he spends his time drinking at a bar, unable to get his courage up. The engineer is convinced that the arm was a poor first attempt. That night, the boy goes into a rage, trashing the stage. The other members try to calm him down, but give up and return to their hotel. The boy staggers out into the middle of the street, where the engineer sees him as he drives up. The engineer apologizes again, saying that his claim that the arm would be good enough was just his way of assuaging his guilt. The boy claims that the arm is perfect, when it suddenly grabs the engineer by the throat under its own accord and starts choking him. The engineer wheezes out to cut the power, but it's too late.

At the end, the engineer is lying on the ground, the detached arm still squeezing tightly. The boy wanders over to the factory district where the girl finds him. Initially she's overjoyed to see him, but then notices his empty sleeve. The boy says that he'll go to the police, and then try to get a better arm. The girl looks at the factory in the background and says that it's too scary being here.