Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Select reviews from Manga: The Complete Guide

A while back I asked Jason Thompson (the driving force behind Manga: The Complete Guide) if I could reprint some of the reviews I wrote for it here. I wanted to share them with everyone and also promote the book a little.

Not only was he kind enough to give permission, but he also took some time out to pick his favorites. Here are his selections.

Adventure Kid (Adventure Kid) (アドベンチャーKID) • Toshio Maeda • Manga 18 (2002) • Brahman (2001) • 4 volumes • Straight Adult Manga • X (explicit sexual content)
A kid is next to a computer when it explodes and before long he and his girlfriend are sucked into the digital world and dumped into the past – in the middle of a World War II battlefield. A bunch of delinquents follow them in and fight off the evil, lecherous American soldiers. It turns out the computer was haunted by a mad scientist and the only way to escape is to go back in time and stop him from entering the machine. But then all the dead solders start moving again – they’re zombies! Meanwhile, the kid’s fat father has sex with a bunch of women. Back to the action! The kids are transported to a fantasy realm based on a video game where they fight/seduce demons to escape! As you can probably tell, this manga is more interest in not making sense than anything else. There are plenty of sexy women and frequent (but brief) sexual interludes, but really it’s just a weird mix of video game references, zombies, yakuza-wannabees, and demon sex.
3 stars

Battle Binder Plus • Rulia 046 • Antarctic Press (1994-1995) • 1 volume • Straight Adult Manga • X (explicit sexual content)
It might start as a sci-fi story of cyborg combat and rampant lesbian sex in the future but Battle Binder Plus quickly leaves all the sex behind. The first few chapters feature our heroine getting naked and engaging in sexual show-downs with a variety of beautiful female criminals before transforming into a giant armored robot and killing everyone, but eventually the whole sex pretense is abandoned entirely in favor of getting right into the cyber-suit powered armor combat. Lots of bystanders and big buildings are destroyed in the process, of course. Not that there aren’t plenty of nude reaction shots, but it’s more about blowing things up than blowjobs by that point. The mechanical and environmental designs are rather good but the humans just don’t measure up (and the artists skips more than one frame, jokingly apologizing for being lazy). In the end, the entire thing was probably just written as an excuse to draw a destroyed skyscraper on the moon and have a hot chick in power armor fight and kill herself.
2 stars

Fantasy Fighters • Koh Kawarajima • Manga 18 (2002) • (1998) • 1 volume • Straight Adult Manga • X (explicit sexual content)
Everyone knows that the rich rape the poor, but rarely has it been so graphically (and absurdly) demonstrated than here. A poor girl’s father is nearly killed after a fight with some mutant delinquents and is now only kept alive by a coin-operated life support machine. How does his daughter pay for it? By being the sex-slave for the evil rich boy that led the gang of mutants. That’s when things get interesting. The girl’s father is used in an experimental program to create supersoldiers for the rich (androids for the bourgeois – thus he’s a “bourgeroid”) so he escapes to rescue her. But it turns out that the father of the rich boy tried to stop his son from defiling her and committed suicide in atonement – only to be brought back as a bourgeroid himself! Now the two old men/cyborgs must fight (after traveling through a secret tunnel hidden in the bathtub) – and it is revealed that they were friends as children. Thankfully, the cyborg dad has angelic wings, so he can fly to safety. “The hidden power of the wretchedly poor has defeated me!” The art may be a cheap copy of Satoshi Urushihara and the sex boring, but the bizarre story and sheer absurdity of the dialogue gets high marks,
4 stars

Love Touch • Akira Gatjou • Studio Ironcat (1999-2000) • Vision Publishing (1993) • 1 volume • Straight Adult Manga • X (explicit sexual content)
Another entrant into the category of terrible fan-art that somehow got published, Love Touch begins with a sense of humor but quickly loses amid jumbled, incompetent storytelling and art that degenerates to the point where it is almost impossible to distinguish characters form each other. Even more puzzling is that the series also becomes more focused on relationships as it progresses instead of just straight-up sex (though it never really did that particularly well either). The art is basically pretty simple, but still manages to end up a cluttered mess without any real sense of eroticism, aside from the fact that people are naked and (might) be having sex.
1 star

Oh My! (Iya!) • Protonsaurus • Sexy Fruit (2002-2003) • Izumi Comics (1996) • 1 volume • Straight Adult Manga • X (explicit sexual content)
The best that can be said about Oh My! is that it is cute, once or twice. Everything else is terrible. Stories of incest and inappropriate student-teacher relationships might be worth the time if the art wasn’t entirely abysmal, amateur sketches – and if it didn’t go to such great pains to try to convince the reader that the clearly underage girls are eighteen and just about to graduate college. The sex is fine, but no one should care when it looks like this.
1 star
Manga: The Complete Guide is available on Amazon. Jason Thompson is a cool dude and available on LiveJournal.