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Worlds Without End Blog

SF Manga 101: Eden – It’s an Endless World Posted at 3:45 AM by Glenn Hough

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eden1In an earlier blog, I mentioned that it was my intention to peruse the endless manga bookshelves to find the best SF and bring it to your attention. And by doing this, hopefully some quality SF manga would earn places right next to their top level USA SF counterparts.

To my own chagrin, I’ve discovered I didn’t need to look any further than my own bookshelves for this title. For a variety of reasons, none of which are any good, Eden made it’s way onto my shelf, but not onto my reading pile. That has changed. Eden is a manga we should pay attention to.

This is what Dark Horse has to say about the first volumes of Eden: It’s an Endless World.

Eden Volume One is both a brilliant love song to the post-apocalyptic survival genre and the beginning of a deep exploration on man’s role in the natural order. In the near future, a large portion of humanity is wiped out by a brutal, new virus that hardens the skin while dissolving internal organs. Those who aren’t immune are either severely crippled or allowed to live with cybernetically enhanced bodies. Taking advantage of a world in chaos, a paramilitary force known as the Propater topples the United Nations and seeks world domination. Elia, a young survivor searching for his mother, travels towards the Andes Mountains with an artificially intelligent combat robot. When he encounters a group of anti-Propater freedom fighters, a maelstrom of unique characters unfolds. Graphic, cyberpunk, and philosophical, Eden is a place where endearing heroes face a constant struggle for survival and violent surprises wait around every corner!

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Horror Manga 101: Another Posted at 8:20 AM by Glenn Hough

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another01I must say up front that delving into the Horror manga genre is very new to me. I’ve simply never paid any attention. But since I’m doing these blogs for WWEnd and the site covers SF, Fantasy, and Horror, I feel that I must expand my own horizons.

And I’m very glad that I’ve done so.

Here is what Yen Press has to say about Another:

In the spring of 1998, Koichi Sakakibara transfers into Class 3-3 at Yomiyama North Middle School. But little does he know…his new class has a horrible secret. When he takes his seat in class for the first day of school, Koichi is unsettled by his fearful classmates. Despite this atmosphere and warnings from fellow students, Koichi is drawn to the beautiful, distant Mei Misaki, another classmate. But the closer he tries to get to her, the more mysterious she and their class become. And when a fellow student dies a disturbing death—the first of a long chain of deaths—Koichi seeks to learn the truth behind the curse of Class 3-3. But can he get answers before the curse kills him?

Right from the start line we have some horror standards: young people and young people dying. These are interacting with manga standards: young people and a school setting. So the plot equation looks like this: young people, plus a school setting, plus a curse, plus secrets, equals lots of people dying.

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Horror Manga 101: Uzumaki – the Spiral Posted at 9:48 PM by Glenn Hough

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Uzumaki 1Can the simple shape of a spiral be cause for alarm? Can it be a sign of a curse? A manifestation of a haunting? Or is it a gateway signature to something else entirely? These are the lingering questions that draw us, hypnotically, like the swirling lines of the spiral itself, every deeper into the mystery that is Uzumaki.

Here is what VIZ says about Uzumaki:

Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!

Uzumaki: The Spiral.

I’d heard that this was a manga to pay attention to. How right that advice is.

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Contemporary Fantasy Manga 101: Bleach Posted at 12:10 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


bleach07To say that Bleach is a popular Manga here, in Japan, and around the world is to understate the obvious. Bleach is a Pop cultural icon of the worldwide manga movement.

Tite Kubo, as a mangaka, is prolific. Bleach debuted in August of 2001. As of this writing, chapter 573 is due out this week. That’s about 63 takubon worth of material. That’s quite the pace for a weekly series since I’m sure he did have some time off during the last ten plus years. Bleach has probably made Kubo a Billionaire many times over. (A billion Yen. The quick and dirty conversion for Yen to Dollars is to move the decimal two places to the left so ¥1,000,000,000 equals $10,000,000. One Yen is like one Cent.)

This is what VIZ says about Bleach, Vol. 1:

Strawberry and the Soul Reapers

Ichigo Kurosaki has always been able to see ghosts, but this ability doesn’t change his life nearly as much as his close encounter with Rukia Kuchiki, a Soul Reaper and member of the mysterious Soul Society. While fighting a Hollow, an evil spirit that preys on humans who display psychic energy, Rukia attempts to lend Ichigo some of her powers so that he can save his family; but much to her surprise, Ichigo absorbs every last drop of her energy. Now a full-fledged Soul Reaper himself, Ichigo quickly learns that the world he inhabits is one full of dangerous spirits and, along with Rukia–who is slowly regaining her powers–it’s Ichigo’s job to protect the innocent from Hollows and help the spirits themselves find peace.

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Contemporary Fantasy Manga 101: Oh My Goddess! Posted at 9:16 AM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


OMG01The manga which has the record for longest continuously running manga in the USA is, (drum role please)…A romantic comedy!

Oh My Goddess! premiered in the USA in August of 1994 and 46 takubon later is still going. It’s been going on even longer than Blade of the Immortal. Blade has ended it’s run in Japan. The saga of Keiichi and Belldandy has not, so we will see a 20th year mark for USA publication next year.

We’ve all heard of star crossed lovers before, but this is ridiculous.

Dark Horse has this to say about the first Volume:

Alone in his dorm on a Saturday night, Nekomi Tech’s Keiichi Morisato dials a wrong number that will change his life forever – reaching the Goddess Technical Help Line. Granted one wish by the charming young goddess Belldandy – a wish for anything in the world – Keiichi wishes she would stay with him always! Complications are bound to ensue from this; the immediate first being the new couple getting tossed out of the dorm – it’s males only! As the hapless student and his mysterious “foreign beauty” ride around looking for a new place to stay – risking the different dangers of seeking shelter with an otaku convinced Belldandy is an imaginary woman, and a Zen priest convinced she’s a sinister witch – Keiichi’s still got his classes on Monday morning! How is his new “exchange student” companion going to be received on the N.I.T. campus? A little too well for normal life to ever return…

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Fantasy Manga 101: Claymore Posted at 1:33 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


Claymore01Back in the introduction blog, I said that the usual order of things was for a manga to get an anime adaptation and not the other way around. This has a gatekeeper effect, promoting what is deemed the best manga. (Best in this case does mean things like what sells the best and what can generate the most money from the anime and from the merchandizing.) But it still means that high quality manga out of each new crop is recognized.

Paradoxically, I’d say that 90% of the time, I will see the anime first and then go back to the manga. So this gatekeeper effect is key to finding new manga. It makes the flood far more manageable. With Claymore, I saw the anime
first and then went back for the manga.

And to my chagrin forgot about it.

Fast forward three or four years and I rediscovered both. I’d originally read what was available of the manga online. This time I bought the series and regot the anime. I am intensely hooked. My opinion went from “it’s ok” to “my god, what was I thinking, not getting this, not paying more attention to this”. I’m so glad I went back for a second look.

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Fantasy Manga 101: Blade of the Immortal Posted at 3:38 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on Fantasy Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of fantasy within it.


Blade03When I started the SF Manga 101 blog, I said that the top three spots in SF where agreed upon; it was only a matter of differing opinion as to the pecking order. The situation in Fantasy is not as clear.

The first question is how do you define Fantasy? What’s in? What’s out? Since most of these mangas can be defined in various ways, what’s the deciding factors as to how to classify them? And does it really matter that much? Good is good, right?

For the purpose of this new blog on Fantasy, I have to decide and I’m going with K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple, Stupid). The manga in this Fantasy blog will be as close as possible to the motifs of High Fantasy. I’ll consider three factors: the technological level is not on par with our own. I’m thinking of the infamous medieval lite motif or even 18th to 19th century levels – that’s all fine. Swords have to be involved somewhere and/or magic. (Elves and/or Dwarfs score bonus points!) Some combination of those elements is the key. (Travel to alternative dimensions is also allowed.) So all the top contenders which would be contemporary fantasy or magical realism get shuffled over to the supernatural category. That’s just the way the line is drawn.

Now that the housekeeping is done, it’s time to start.

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Month of Horrors / Vampire Manga 101: Dance in the Vampire Bund Posted at 3:15 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. This is the first in Glenn’s new series on Vampire Manga, a companion piece to his excellent SF Manga series, which will be accompanied by separate series for Horror and Fantasy.


Dance01The Japanese love, love, love, the supernatural. Their folklore and native religion of Shintoism foster a worldview that is positively bursting with gods, demons, and beings of all shapes and sizes living alongside Humanity. When Stoker unleashed his Count Dracula upon the English speaking world, Vampires and European Vampire lore found especially fertile soil in Japan. Like a sponge.

It’s not a surprise then, that Vampire related Manga is prolific enough for it’s own category blog. So we start.

One of the best – number one as far as I’m concerned – is a relative newcomer to the manga scene. It debuted in 2006. What gives it top of the heap status for me? Two words: Mina Tepes.

Princess of the Vampire Clans and Ruler of the Night: Mina Tepes.

Anyone who knows Stoker and the saga of Vlad the impaler should appreciate how deeply entwined her name is in all the Vampire lore which has gone before. How deeply right that name sounds for a Vampire: Mina Tepes.

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SF Manga 101: Knights of Sidonia Posted at 4:25 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on SF Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of science fiction within it.


Knights of SidoniaWay back at the start of the Appleseed blog, I mentioned that only one author got more than one series in this cavalcade of SF manga. Shirow has three entries. Time, money spent, and new material imported into the stateside SF manga scene has shown me there are always new treasures to find on these unending bookshelves. Tsutomu Nihei brought us Blame!, now it’s time for some Knights.

Vertical has this to say about Knights of Sidonia Vol. 1.

“CORE EXPOSED”
Outer space, the far future.

A lone seed ship, the Sidonia, plies the void, ten centuries since the obliteration of the solar system. The massive, nearly indestructible, yet barely sentient alien life forms that destroyed humanity’s home world continue to pose an existential threat.

Nagate Tanikaze has only known life in the vessel’s bowels deep below the sparkling strata where humans have achieved photosynthesis and new genders. Not long after he emerges from the Underground, however, the youth is bequeathed a treasured legacy by the spaceship’s cool-headed female captain.

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SF Manga 101: Mobile Suit Gundam Posted at 12:34 PM by Glenn Hough

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Glenn Hough (gallyangel) is a nonpracticing futurist, an anime and manga otaku, and is almost obsessive about finishing several of the lists tracked on WWEnd. In this series on SF Manga Glenn will provide an overview of the medium and the place of science fiction within it.


mobile-suit-gundam-the-origin-01Do you know anyone who couldn’t give you a basic outline of either Star Trek or Star Wars? And I mean just a basic sentence. Star Trek: The crew of a starship out having adventures as they explore space. Star Wars: Good and Evil in a galaxy spanning milieu. Who, I wonder, can not do that in the U.S., if not most of the world where U.S. culture has touched?

Let’s take it a step further and ask if there are any Brits who can’t do the same thing for Doctor Who? The tagline: An immortal time traveler out having adventures as he explores the universe. There’s the high probability that something resembling a 60ies era British phone booth is involved.

What I’m getting at here are franchise works, cross media, which have embedded themselves into the bedrock strata of a national culture. Just like a particular food or cooking methodology is embedded in a country and culture, these SF franchises are just part of what that country is all about. When one talks about SF manga or anime, Mobile Suit Gundam, or just Gundam, is that type of work. It’s part of the bedrock cultural attributes of Japan.

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