Monday, October 02, 2006

Manga Monday 11

Hikaru No Go (Volume 1)
Yumi Hotta & Takeshi Obata

It's about time that I got around to this book. From the pages of Shonen Jump comes the popular manga that follows a sixth grader as he releases a ghost attached to a blood-stained go board in his grandfather's attic. Young Hikaru quickly strikes a deal with said spirit and finds himself playing expert go players to the fiery passion of Fujiwara-no-Sai's ghost, despite his own indifference to the game. I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this manga. Like Hikaru, I knew nothing about the board game and had no interest in it. I still don't have much interest in the game itself and find myself glossing over the parts that explain plays. Yet the events that surround these games are positively engrossing. I wanted to run out and buy the following volume immediately. It certainly doesn't hurt that the fantastic art is provided by none other than Takeshi Obata, who illustrates my current favorite manga Death Note. This is a great all ages read, and one of those few titles worthy of its popularity. A

The Red Snake: Hino Horror #1
Hideshi Hino

For those readers unfamiliar with this master of horror manga (and his great creation Hell Baby), this is a nice introduction to the bizarre, horrifying world of Hideshi Hino. This story centers around an eccentric (and by eccentric, I mean stark-raving mad) family who live in a strange old house no one is able to leave and whose rooms seem innumerable and ever-shifting. One example of a troubled member of the family is the grandmother who lives on a nest of branches and believes she lays the eggs that her son brings her, clucking at everyone who passes by her door, screaming if she suspects someone has stolen one of her eggs. And then there's the creepy relationship between the mother and grandfather... Anyways, awful things begin to happen to the family as one of them disobeys the creepy grandfather and gets a glimpse at what lies beyond a mirror situated in the middle of a hallway. The family was crazy before, but it gets madder, if that were possible, bordering on the surreal at some points. Hideshi Hino isn't shy about using absurd scenes of mutilation and gore, and aims to brand his images of monstrosities and disturbing behavior on the minds of his readers, a feat he manages to accomplish with ease. It's no wonder he's regarded as such a master in his field. Growing up in postwar Tokyo inspired such gruesome figures and images in Hino's work and the horror he witnessed seems to have palpably transferred to his art. Although it's a really quick read, it remains imaginative, bloody and suspenseful throughout. Wicked fun. A

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