Monday, August 13, 2007

Manga Monday 42: Apollo's Song

Apollo’s Song
Osama Tezuka

The complete 500+ page story from the master “godfather” of manga comes in a beautiful package from Vertical, a similar treatment to the fantastic Ode To Kirihito released last year. And while Apollo’s Song is a strange tale, it’s nothing compared to the oddities of Ode To Kirihito, but similarly exemplifies Tezuka’s attempts to grapple with larger issues. Apollo’s Song is much more straight forward, but only comparatively, and not as epic in tone. This book focuses on love. We see love through the eyes of a boy, Shojo, who may be beyond it. He grew up in horrendous conditions and exhibits homicidal tendencies when confronted with animals procreating, etc. But the boy is cursed to feel love through several lifetimes, whereupon he or his love will die, so that it eludes him. And so in a remote cabin in the woods where he trains to be a marathon runner, on an island where he is stranded alongside a troublesome reporter, and in the far future where he attempts to assassinate the queen of oppressive androids, he meets this woman, his soul mate, and has her slip through his grasp again and again. Each new chapter seems larger in scale than the previous and seem ambiguous as to when they take place, if they take place outside of our young sadistic friend’s mind at all. It’s all very over-the-top and silly (and a bit twisted), but in a good way. Apollo’s Song is an exceedingly entertaining book brimming with heartache, action and horror, and easily one of the best manga to come out in recent years. I’m really happy that Vertical has taken it upon themselves to release these classic stories for American audiences and can’t wait to see what else they’ve got up their sleeves. A+

Monster (Volume 9)
Naoki Urasawa

If you thought that the last installment of Monster was mostly set-up, then all is forgiven with volume 9, where things that have boiling for awhile come to a head. Many lives collide as individuals caught up in the web of intrigue are pushed in their various directions for their own reasons. One chilling moment is of a certain BKA agent whose fingers flutter as he takes in data for a case. In one particular scene when he follows up on this Johan he’s heard so much about, enters the room Johan previously vacated, the panels focus on the agent’s hands, completely still. It was a cool moment if you’ve followed the book for awhile. Also, we’re treated to the children’s story about a monster that Johan had quite a reaction to, and perhaps learn a little about what is going on with him… A

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