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.
To a certain section of the population the name Hayao Miyazaki should be familiar. If you’ve ever paid any attention to the Oscars, especially in the animated feature category, the 2002 win by Spirited Away should leap to mind. Miyazaki was the director.
It is not a overstatement to say that Hayao Miyazaki is one of the gods of animation in Japan. He should be mentioned in the same sentence with early Disney and Chuck Jones. His movie My Neighbor Totoro has been compared to a perfect summers day; were both the movie and the day are equally, delightfully, plotless. It’s said of Spirited Away that it’s a reflection of the Japanese soul, which includes bathhouses, spirits, and the ever recurrent need of youth to find and embrace their courage in the world.
What does this have to do with SF Manga? It’s simple. In Miyazaki’s early days, he was the mangaka who slowly wrote and drew, taking 12! years, the manga that’s in second place on my list: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind.
Yes, the name of the title character comes directly from Homer’s Odyssey. Homer’s Nausicaä is a young princess. Miyazaki’s Nausicaä is a young princess. And that is where their similarities end.
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 in it.
Hi. Hi. Glad to see you again. Welcome. It’s practically time to say pull up a chair by the fire. It’s the dampness. That’s what gets me.
Since I know we can all go wiki-wiki and have all the summery one could want in seconds, I’d like to concentrate on the questions: why these mangas? Out of all of the possible SF mangas, why should we, why did I, pay attention to these?
Well, when it comes to the top SF mangas out there, I think the top three spots are basically agreed upon. Their order, however, is not. It’s a matter of personal appeal. Do you go for the ecological collapse and resource wars as humanity lives on in the twilight world of Nausicaa? Or do you go for the forced human evolution and the releasing of psychic powers which can not be controlled in Akira? Or do you go with the cyberpunk ethic, wrapped in a police procedural, which ends in something that looks very much like what the Kurzweil crowd would call the singularity in Ghost in the Shell?
Personally, I think Ghost in the Shell takes the top spot. Yes, definitely, all three have transformation at their cores but I think Ghost is more relevant as a motif for what the 21st century will be about.
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 of Glenn’s new series on SF Manga where he’ll provide an overview of the medium and the place of science fiction in it.
A bit ago one of our fearless leaders at WWEnd asked me if I’d like to do a blog concerning SF Manga. I guess he rather liked the short summaries I’d been doing over in the forum section, so why not expand things a bit for a blog? Sure, why not.
My hope is that as we all get more familiar with SF Manga that some of you will will soon have a copy of Nausicaa next to your copy of Dune. Or on your shelf will be The Demolished Man, next to Dying Inside, next to Akira. Or even, on the shelf next to that 1st Pantasia Press hardcover of Neuromancer (you lucky sod) will be a first run flipped and censored edition of Ghost in the Shell, followed by a second run unfliped uncensored edition of Ghost in the Shell. And hopefully each and every title I’ll be blogging about will gain a few more fans from my humble efforts.
But first I think we need an intro to help lay out the landscape we’re going to be traversing together. This is the common starting point, just in case someone is coming to all of this totally cold as I’m sure some of you are.
Manga is the Japanese word for comic book or comic strip. It’s used in America to denote comics specifically from Japan. It also denotes an artistic style. There is a very different visual style between Japanese and American comics.