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Worlds Without End Blog

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 According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the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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SF Manga 101: Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex Posted at 2:13 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.


SAC05And in the Beginning there was the Major…

What Shirow started over two decades ago is still rolling along. The Ghost in the Shell manga I talked about way back at the start of this little series, is now informally known as GITS 1.0, which is followed by GITS 1.5 and GITS 2.0. Next come the Stand Alone Complex series of takubons and three original novels. There have also been three movies, two seasons of the Stand Alone Complex TV series, and numerous specials. As of this writing, the newest installment OAV, Ghost in the Shell: Arise (which concerns how the Major was recruited and Section 9 was created) is just out. The accompanying manga is also just out in the monthly anthologies and has not even been collected into a takubon yet. This just about sums up the official GITS franchise. Oh, did I mention games. Can’t forget about those and all of their accompanying books. (Imagine the shelf space it all takes up!)

This is what Kodansha says about the first manga Takubon of GITS:SAC.

Stand Alone Complex takes place in the year 2030, in the fictional Japanese city of New Port. The story follows the members of Public Security Section 9, a special-operations task-force made up of former military officers and police detectives. The manga presents individual cases that Section 9 investigates, along with an ongoing, more serious investigation into the serial killer and hacker known only as “The Laughing Man.”

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SF Manga 101: Blame! and it’s prequel Noise Posted at 1:52 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.


Blame11And now for something completely utterly different.

The last four mangas I’ve blogged about, Twin Spica, Planetes, 7 Billion Needles and Chobits, all have a core slice-of-life normalcy to them that the SF elements wrap or entwine themselves around. It’s time to leave anything and everything of the mundane world totally behind and enter Killy’s world.

Tokyopop says this about Tsutomu Nihei’s Blame!:

In a future world rife with decay and destruction, Killy is a man of few words who packs one very powerful gun. He wanders an endless labyrinth of cyberdungeons filled with concrete and steel, fighting off cyborgs and other bizarre silicate creatures. Everyone is searching for the fabled Net Terminal Genes, but no one is quite certain what kind of power they contain. The answer may lie hidden among the scattered human settlements of this vast and desolate future world.

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