Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture (Volume 1) Masayuki Ishikawa
After a delay from the publisher due to legal reasons, I finally got my hands on one of my most anticipated manga of the year, Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture. The series follows Tadayasu, a new student at an agricultural university, who has the unique ability to see bacteria, germs and various microbes with his own eyes, without the aid of microscopes or any other technology usually used for this sort of thing. And these germs and whatnot appear to him in really cutesy forms, saying cute little things. And they do funny things, and seem to be having a generally really good time, which never failed to bring a smile to my face. Tadayasu has learned to identify the forms that these creatures take on, making him a very useful resource at his school, especially to Professor Keizo Itsuki and his assistant, the skeptical Haruka Hasegawa. But they're not the only ones interested in Tadayasu's unique talents, as a pair of sophomores want to use his abilities for money-making schemes. Overall, this book is actually really educational. The students learn plenty about the process of fermentation, how bacteria works in our bodies, and in general how germs and micro-organisms live and thrive, sometimes through the rants of the odd professor, but also through the specialties of various students involved in the story. There are also little blurbs on the sides of pages going into more details on some of the bacteria. And amid all of this, the story remains pretty captivating, for a wholly unique read. Ishikawa is also a really damn good cartoonist. He has come up with some great character designs, and some imaginative looks for the microbes and how they infiltrate Tadayasu's environments. While the bacteria are very simple and cartoony, Ishikawa's depiction of the students amid university life constrasts them nicely with detail and realistic-looking, expressive people and scenes. Moyasimon is a pretty offbeat story, but it's really a lot of fun. I think the creator had a great concept when he came up with this series, and established his vision for the book on the page exceptionally well.