Manga Stock Tropes: “My Girlfriend’s A Loner!”

My Girlfriend's A Loner

A brand new segment that discusses common tropes in manga? And it’s on WordPress? Is it your birthday?

Unlike manga reviews, Manga Stock Tropes seeks out to discuss common tropes in manga, without a particular series in mind.

This time, “My Girlfriend’s A Loner!”

So what is that? Okay, have you read Kimi Ni Todoke? How about “No Matter How I Look at It, It’s You Guys’ Fault I’m Not Popular!”? You may know it by the Japanese title, “WataMote.” Very funny, American translators.

Hanagai? Say I Love You? My Little Monster? Wallflower?

“My Girlfriend’s A Loner!” is mostly associated with shojo, but generally with high school manga as a whole. Simply put, women are loners in school until they get My Fair Lady’d by a hot dude. Well, not in WataMote. That’s more of a cautionary tale.

A little history: Before women in high school were loners, they were losers. They had friends, but they were often the butt of all jokes. The love interest involved would be some hot jerk, but they could change each other, usually she to him. Itazura Na Kiss, Love Com, Fruits Basket, Kodocha, and Happy Hustle High are examples of this.

Nowadays, they start the manga without any friends whatsoever. What changed? Did we change? Like, our tastes? Is butter pecan now more on the broccoli scale than the pecan scale? Should I invest in a Bedazzler?

Maybe. It does say something that manga is centered on the heroine needing to be rescued by a handsome guy. Especially since the previous standard was the woman fending off the advances of the obnoxious would-be lover. In that scenario, mind you, the woman could have initially been infatuated. But realizing his true nature, she’d try to avoid him.

Without a friend circle, the heroine needs the hero more than ever to boost her confidence, extending her circle.

See, the values as I understand it are like this:

‘-The “Resistant Heroine” is derived from the desire for readers to change someone while being changed. An equality that makes the male seem dominant, but ultimately it’s the female that has control. This could also tie into changing feminist ideals in Japan, the need to rise above instead of crawl below. Or it could come from fatigue over decades of kind love interests. In the early days, the good were good, no questions asked. Having a domineering male rather than the sweetheart brought out the passion and the question of will they/should they.

-Making the girlfriend a loner has also made the love interest kind again, since solitude put barriers on her heart. There’s no need to have the hero be a jerk, since the heroine will assume that no matter who he may be. The conflict (of volume one, mostly) comes from her having to trust someone, or successfully socializing if there’s no love interest. I’ve limited my statements to shojo, but Hanagai isn’t a shojo. WataMote isn’t a shojo. The main idea is that teenage girls in manga nowadays have no friends. Above all, the heroine is a loner. It’s just more common in shojo, given the “I’ll place myself in her shoes” ideology of shojo heroines.

-Of course, the friends exist to soften the blows the heroine receives, despite some arriving from said friends. Being without a support group would be worse than having one with barbs. So, to up the stakes, the support group is cut off. No barbs, but no blow barriers. Oddly, it just puts us back to square one. The friends don’t hurt or harm, the girl is self-conscious and quick to attack, and the guy is softer to balance that out. Instead of:
Jerk guy comment + Hurt heroine + Friend defend and/or attack = Optimistic misery
We get:
Guy does misunderstood thing + Hurt heroine = Pessimistic hope
Not that different, really.

Is there really significance in attributing manga tropes onto the young women of Japan? Yes. Once upon a time, and I loathe the following term, “nerd culture” was a source of mockery. But now, not expressing desire to see Avengers evokes a response of “Oh… um, hey, I see normal people on that side of the planet. Lemme go say hi.”

Repetition of singular success. That’s why we have tons of shows and movies based on or that glorify “culture that was once formerly attributed to the less physically indulgent.” It’s also why there’s an emphasis on teams in hero movies. Movies in general under Disney. Not just Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, the forthcoming Fantastic Four. Not just Big Hero 6, the forthcoming Star Wars, Wreck-It Ralph, Frozen, Tangled, Frog Princess, Beauty and the Beast, Little Mermaid, all the Toy Story films, and basically everything else but Mary Poppins where Mary does it all.

Not just those.

But also Finding Nemo.

If Marlin hadn’t met Dory, would he have found Nemo? No. Why? Because she was there to push him on. “Just keep swimming.”

Now, does that mean this idea resonates with the young women of Japan? That they need to be encouraged to “keep swimming,” even if it’s hard or a shark tries to eat you? Well, yeah. That’s a basic need. But does it need to be a man as a savior? Actually, rather than go with the “make your own path without relying on someone else to gallop on a horse” angle, I think opposite gender being the first step to involvement in society works from a narrative standpoint. Like, if she can deal with the cutest guy on campus, interacting with female classmates should be easier. Though yes, it’s usually the “tacks in the shoes” when she befriends the hot guys.

Having a team. Note, the Disney films work up to becoming a team. Same thing with the trope, as friends are gradually made over the course of the series. It’s multifaceted in that sense, with the larger emphasis on friendship over men. The prospective boyfriend is a hook, but the friend team makes the reader feel something they were unaware they felt. Loneliness. Kindredship. An urge to read a funnier manga.

Just something to keep the reader motivated and understood. Just keep swimming.

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Japan Inc. OR, “A Manga With Ronald Reagan”

A NOTE FROM THE MANGA CONNOISSEUR: Sometimes I need to do a review quickly because I’m afraid of losing the thoughts I had about a manga, requiring a reread. “Japan Inc.” is so long and dull that I think it necessary to just give cliff-notes on the manga, rather than reread it again. I have interspersed the review with standout information, so keep an eye out for those. Let’s review this for the Gipper!

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Manga: Japan Inc.

Author: Shotaro Ishinomori

American Distributor: A bunch of mindless jerks who’ll be the first against the wall when the revolution comes. But they prefer to be called “University of California Press.”

Purpose: To educate the manga masses about the ins and outs of economics in Japan back when Reagan was in charge. It is, in actuality, a textbook.

Content: Characters discussing economics.

A NOTE FROM THE MANGA CONNOISSEUR: This is the fundamental issue with Japan Inc. If there must be constant prattle of a subject, said subject must resonate with its audience. Unlike Oishinbo (food), Moyashimon (agriculture and viruses), and a good example of a manga that utilizes music and/or art (K-on! and GA don’t count), it must be visible, so the audience can become invested, and there’s what to show. As my main man Shiro Yamaoka says…

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Production Values: Poor.

A NOTE FROM THE MANGA CONNOISSEUR: With a name like University of California, how could you not trust them to faithfully put out manga? Yes, this is from the era of “people are too dumb to read manga, so let’s make them backwards.” But I’ve NEVER seen a manga where they had to sever images to suit sensibilities. The font is also off-putting, which is made more noticeable when there’s no punctuation at the end of a sentence, which is almost always.

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Art Style: Fair, but unappealing. Many exterior shots of buildings, although quite cumbersome and unpolished. Characters drawn well, though unremarkable in the grand scheme.

Characters: A NOTE FROM THE MANGA CONNOISSEUR: I don’t get it. Any of it. So there’s the “daring hero,” the “feminine coworker love interest,” the “office hardbutt,” and the “nebbish underling.” The hero is married, so the love interest has nothing to do. She has a thing, perhaps, with the nebbish. The office hardbutt is my favorite, as he has personality and a proper demeanor for the jerk, making him interesting. He cheats on his wife, so that’s pretty out there for a manga about economics. Everyone else is a businessman who flashes by (sans the boss-types), a politician, or a worker.

There is also Ronald Reagan.

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Educational Value: If comprehensible to the reader, it could prove invaluable. If unfamiliar with basic laws of economics, do not pursue. There are educational facts on the bottom of the pages, but they are less appealing than the manga. Laws are likely archaic, as it is about thirty years ago. Rioting Americans against Japanese manufacturers may be of interest, and it is the first conflict of far too many to become invested in.

A NOTE FROM THE MANGA CONNOISSEUR: There is one chapter that resonated with me. Chapter Four discusses retirement homes, with the nebbish’s sister trying to force her into one. When the group sees the horrific conditions of the home, the hero tells his company that changes must be instilled. It’s the only time the characters truly feel human, and the horror unfurling before them uplifts me, particularly the “what kind of world have we made?” look I admire.

Recommendation Level: Medium-Low.

Triple Trouble: Lost World, Nextworld, Metropolis

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Once again, Triple Trouble takes over the scene! I like this segment and it’s not going away so soon! Heck, I got a few themes planned already! Three manga that use the “man and woman switch bodies” theme! How about a manwha theme, using only supernatural plots? Are you Hwaiting on that one? Actually, no idea what that means. Excuse me.

Ah, it’s like, “Let’s go!” and mostly as a spectator cheer. And it’s derived from “fighting.” So that’s the reason people look at me oddly when I ask if they’re Hwaiting for the bus! One of the reasons.

But I’ve digressed into ridiculousness. Let’s talk about Osamu Tezuka! The common element of the three manga I’ve chosen, while the obvious one is Osamu Tezuka, it’s actually “bad science!” Lost World, with its animal engineering; Nextworld, with nuclear energy; and Metropolis, with abusing the sun to power robots. Please pretend that’s a sound link.

Osamu Tezuka, like an aged wine, got better with age. Here, we’ll look at his grape juice days: Sweet, but you will most likely pour it on your white shirt and cry, before you had time to take it in. Also, a lot of childish characters and similar designs. Wait, that’s the metaphor for these manga and childhood.

On that note, all three of these manga have one common link:11156970_10153189447739845_296254268_n

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If you know your Osamu Tezuka, you’ll know he loved to use Mustachio. Hey, cute design, easy to draw, sexy lip beard. He appeared as a regular in Astro Boy, but Mustachio is essentially Tezuka’s flagship character. A detective in all three and most of Tezuka’s works, Mustachio is gruff but with a playful vibe, although that doesn’t mean he’ll stand for injustice. The only other manga I remember him from was “MW,” where he was being tortured by sticking pins under his nails. His name is actually Shunsuke Ban.

Actually, it’s not only Mustachio to be reused, as most characters in these three appear at least twice. The difference is that they’re different roles. A bum in one, a reporter in another. Leader of a Russia-like country or crime syndicate mob boss? Anything’s possible in the world of Osamu Tezuka!

ANYTHING.

Wait, sorry. A few things. First, these three manga have one link: They’re the science fiction works Tezuka wrote from 1948 to 1951 (Lost World, Metropolis, Nextworld). However, we’re looking at Metropolis last. Plus, I only have the first of two Nextworld volumes.

Second, I have the 2003 edition by Dark Horse. They say in the beginning that there are racial images, but changing them would be worse than not presenting history. They proudly flaunt the “unaltered” works, yet the opposite page says the manga is flipped. HA! My point is, be aware that 2003 had different ideas of “unaltered.” The racial stuff is honestly blink-and-you’ll-miss-it.

Let’s not keep waiting! Hwaiting!

Oh, unlike last time, no letter grades. I mean, it’s by the same author.


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Lost World. I kind of adored this manga because it introduced me to Osamu Tezuka. That or Apollo’s Song. Admittedly, I preferred flipping through Lost World, which was a mistake since Lost World sucks.

WELL IT DOES. The art is really sketchy, but it was early on. But any complaints must be redirected to the Story Department, although they’ll transfer you to Pacing. A man is murdered, and Mustachio is on the case. He meets a white rabbit, Mimio, who takes him to the lab where he was created. Oh, Mamango, a planet that orbits Earth every five million years, will be doing so soon.

The man was murdered for hidden stones that can power a rocket. After a LONG chase, Mustachio goes on the rocket with far too many passengers and, after various mishaps, lands on Mamango. It has dinosaurs! Oh yeah, Mamango is a chunk of the Earth that was dislodged in Earth’s formation.

Long story short, everyone dies except Mustachio who makes it home and two passengers who stay on the planet. Much on that later.

This needs dilution. Way too much of the manga focuses on Mustachio being chased by the thieves who want to go to Mamango. Why? Why do they want it, that is? Popeye asked it.

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Okay, he’s Doctor Jupiter. Still, he’s the closest we’ll get to manga Popeye. He’s got money, he’s curious, etc.

The payoff with the thieves is about 25 cents. They’re stopped, they sneak aboard and hide, they cause a food shortage, they reveal themselves on Mamango, they’re killed by dinosaurs. And the reporter who sneaked aboard was a much greater threat. So they were there for… faux drama. Awesome.

Pacing, next stop! There’s one guy to give Mustachio a dirty look, as he thinks the detective is a bad guy. This guy previously shot Mustachio, then died realizing Mustachio is good. I’m so glad he was on board and in the manga. He moved me. To the shelf to read something else.

Most pacing issues are too much focus on a one-conflict plot point or not enough focus for plot points that lead to the ending. I care little about Mimio, since he did very little and not very cutely. So when he falls on the pavement (supposedly), all I can think about is how long a rabbit’s lifespan is.

And then there’s the love story between a human and a humanoid plant. She expresses interest in him, even though she’s a plant created to marry her scientist. Actually,

pacing’s the least of their problems…

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Dark Horse decided that it was better to have them be “siblings” instead of lovers.

Inhale.

Exhale.

ARE. YOU. KIDDING ME.

First, the entire point of her creation was to marry a human! Why pretend they’re not interested!

Second, SHE’S A PLANT. Yeah, okay, “You can’t marry a plant,” but she’s human! Like US audiences couldn’t handle it? Gimme a break!

Third, this cannot come off to readers as “Oh, Sailors Uranus and Neptune? They’re just cousins!” And speaking of censorship!

Fourth, the whole “unedited?” BULL. “Not right then, not right now?” This is, in a sense, segregation! Hey, Belle loved a monster, and none of the writers said, “Hmm, people will be put off by this. Let’s make her wish to be his sister!”

Fifth, SHE’S A HUMAN! Okay, she only drinks water, but she’s a plant! Like US audiences haven’t handled it? Gimme a break!

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Sixth. and most important, it’s bizarre. Why censor that element? The manga has death, semi-incest (the professor who makes plant women is doing it for wife husbandry only), copyrighted characters…

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Oh, there’s Popeye! Left page, mid-top, center, getting hit with a rock! That’s cool! Oh sure, having people fall in love with plants is odd, but not if they look exactly like humans. Anyway.

The research center is… oh, goodness. They alter animals to become like humans. Makeup seems okay now. It’s not portrayed negatively, but it has bad connotations. They’re forced to stand, speak, not to mention it’s all possible because the scientists alter the animal brains to become human ones.

One more pacing thing: They get to Mamango on the 159th page of 246 total. It’s really just dinosaurs and energy crystals. Money well spent, Jupiter. He keeps it for himself, though.

Do I like anything about the manga? Not really. Initially, I was drawn to the odd Popeye bits, the friendship between Mimio and Mustachio, the overall goofiness. Now, I still like the Popeye stuff, but Mimio feels superfluous to the story, and he would have died anyway if he stayed at the research center. They barely interact, and one wonders who let a small rabbit on board. Or a nervous butler. Or two plant women. A detective. So many scientists. Lives well spent, science.

Personally, I don’t enjoy it anymore. But maybe what I’ve said interests you, so search for it if you want to see Popeye drawn by Osamu Tezuka. But to me, Lost World is a lost cause. What’s next?


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Nextworld! So, um… heh.

This is going to sound unfair, but I want to make this quick. I don’t own the last volume, so we’ll be doing volume one, and mostly in bullet-points.

It’s an allegory of the Cold War, with America and Russia, although the countries are “Star” and “Uran” respectively. Japan, of course, is Japan and involved for some reason. The representatives of Star and Uran hate each other, and agree to go to war. Meanwhile, a scientist finds an alien, which is freed by Mustachio. So yeah. Along the way, there are spies, prisons, separation, the breaking of the human spirit, and one-dimensional representations of culture. Volume one ends with the alien stating her species is going to enslave humanity. And a Christian sermon.

I found the cast vapid. We have the Star rep: Fat, quick to anger and war, greedy. His daughter, a spoiled brat. Uran is cruel, however. The Uran rep is lean, arrogant, and… poignant?

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Yeah, he’s really the only one I enjoy, since he’s tactical. Ivan’s a nice kid, although he’s coerced into cruelty by the leader of the prison, a doppelganger of Star’s rep. Why? Maybe volume two knows. Or maybe it’s my suspicion that he could only draw one female face.

Bullet-points!

-Art’s not great, but it’s definitely better than Lost World. Better designs, better movement, less deadness in the figure when unintended.

-Plot, for the first volume, is unremarkable. One problem with both Lost and Next is having more than two plots and not ranking them (A, B, C). This way, everything in the other plots kind of fades away until it pops back in the manga.

-Not a great allegory. “Star for the US flag, Uran for Uranium, aliens and Japan are involved!” Also not really an allegory. It’s just a slanted Cold War story. And you can’t pick a side like in good war stories, since Uran wears black hoods and tortures inmates, while Star is fat and spoiled. Obviously Uran is more likable.

-A weird digression on Tezuka’s part. Mustachio’s family (I think?) tries to heal the alien. Are these characters from something? Which work? This proves why Tezuka’s long way around method didn’t work, and fortunately stayed focus later on.

-Best moments: Uran. The prison is too wretched, but the bulk of the cast is there, not to mention the Uranians are pleasant / poignant.

Also, one of the Star characters has to live in a town where everyone wears bird costumes. Why? So he can fly. Mmm.

I say Nextworld is a better investment than Nextworld. It has heart, but it takes a bit of looking. It’s not particularly deep, but it goes deep enough. But if you want a solid Cold War plot, this likely isn’t your flavor.


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That cover is a lie, you know. It happens, but like this:

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On the cover, it kind of looks like he’s going to adopt the girl, doesn’t it? Nah, sorry. That’s Duke Red (the poignant Uran rep from Nextworld), who wants make an Astro Boy that looks like a statue. Maybe this was the inspiration for Astro Boy. Not the statue part, but Dr. Tenma made Astro Boy to look like his dead son, then abandoned him, while Duke Red was cut off from seeing Michi, a robot made from sunspot energy.

Michi is gender-neutral, so it’s referred to as “he” or “she” throughout. Later on, he can turn into she or vice-versa. Any message made here? If I HAD to, I might souse it out as a metaphor for gender confusion, whether the confusion derives from gender or sexuality. Michi spends its time trying to find answers, like where it’s from, who its parents are, why Michi is treated differently and feels unlike anyone else.

Or maybe it’s an unrelated plot hook. Did you know that Duke Red made the sunspots? Did you also know they increase animal size?

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Ahahaha, Mikimaus Waltdisneus! Get that gold when it’s not a lawsuit issue! Oh, rats! HAHAaaaaah, hoo boy. Couldn’t get away with that now. Oh, not that. Gutting open a Mikimaus and wearing it to escape, while being chased by tons of other Mikimaus rats! Twelve total pages, you know. When does it stop being fair use?

The art, much smoother, despite being before Nextworld. Or maybe it’s a printing thing. Or delirium from so many Mickeys. Sheesh. And the plots feel properly balanced, with emphasis on Michi, then the Duke, then the police, then the flower girl, whose sister abuses her.

Michi learns from Duke Red about his origins (“Hah hah hah hah! You don’t have any parents… BECAUSE YOU’RE AN ARTIFICIAL BEING!!”), and Michi loses it. He takes command of Duke Red’s clunky robots and tries to destroy humanity. However, he starts melting since the sun spots start fading, and everyone forgives him with a tearful goodbye.

Oh, and  this.

11165953_10153189447834845_2121076951_n“Oh, by the way, I’m an orphan with a suddenly brain-damaged sister. I have no income or likelihood of survival. Nobody address this!”

I say Metropolis is the way to go. Fun, but haunting. Plus, for Astro Boy fans, this might be an interesting read / comparison.

Big Hero 6 OR, “D-don’t Think I’m Satisfied With My Care, D-dummy!”

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I try to avoid manga adaptations of films, since I might as well talk about the film, but this hardly qualifies. Yen Press’ Disney’s Big Hero 6 manga reminds me of Toy Story’s Black Friday, but less dark. You see characters you know, but they’re not acting as they do.

Created by Haruki Ueno, the manga has attractive art (my brother: “Somehow they made Aunt Cass even cuter!”) and most of the personalities are mostly intact, assuming there are any here. This time, we’ll compare the cues of the film and the manga, and decide if the manga aspect would have been better or worse if put in the film.

The film begins with Hiro bot-fighting for money, so Tadashi shows him his lab. Professor Callaghan inspires Hiro to enroll in the university.

The manga begins with Hiro already in university, with no mention of bot-fighting. He has a porcine-like professor unseen in the film. The professor hates Hiro because he’s smarter and younger. Hiro is less energetic and more of a mini-Sheldon Cooper. He prefers to pull pranks like putting rockets on everything.

With all of these changes, the movie did it better. It’s more interesting to see Hiro as smart yet lazy than yet another condescending prodigy who learns how to make friends. And the professor is lousy. Nothing more than a flat minor antagonist. Movie point.

Tadashi shows Hiro Baymax, barely any mention is made of the parents, the presentation focuses on Hiro’s microbots.

It was actually Tadashi that built a Daruma doll robot for Aunt Cass after “her family” died, cheering her up. Hiro realized from that incident how Tadashi’s inventions cheer people up and decides to be on the same level. The microbots actually appear early on, made solely by Hiro and without a headband, in the form of a dinosaur. The pig professor sabotaged the microbots, but Hiro stopped them. Prof. Oinks tries to rat out Hiro to Callaghan, who quickly turns it on the Pig H.D. The presentation introduces us to Baymax.

Exploring both Tadashi and Aunt Cass would have been great in the film. Kind of a shame that making Tadashi too likable would have gotten petitions to resurrect him. But the film puts him on a level of likability that people are sad he died. Manga point.

It’s cool to see the microbots as formed figures, but it’s better to see the buildup than the microbots as threats. This way, they are viewed as “evil” rather than “practical.” I do like how Hiro views them as disaster relief tools, which is better than the film using them for everything, like construction. There’s less risk of a building collapsing if its structural material is stably bound together. Plus, their purpose as disaster relief turns on Kabuki Mask. Oh, and they don’t use a headband. Microbots manga point, microbots introduction and suspense film point.

Baymax used in the manga is weird. Honey Lemon trips and Baymax shows off his functions. Having her be Baymax’s first patient undercuts Hiro’s connection to the robot. Movie point.

Krei wants Hiro to sell out, Callaghan tells him not to squander talent. Tadashi and Callaghan die in a fire.

Krei doesn’t actually exist in the manga. No, the person who wants Hiro to squander his talent is…

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Oh yeah, he’s the one character that looks nothing like the movie version. It’s Professor Callaghan! Yes, he encourages Hiro to use his microbots as weapons instead of disaster relief. I mean, he was there when they were used as dinosaurs, right? Why would it need to be further developed into guns? This is a dark side of Callaghan, and if his daughter is in the other volume, she couldn’t redeem her father as human. Not after this scene. Movie point.

Oh, thing. Tadashi was upset that Hiro turned the offer down after the weapons thing, to the point of slapping him. Did Tadashi not get the part about how his professor wants to use the microbots for war? And how his little brother said no? Actually, the slap resulted from Hiro rejecting the offer because he wanted to follow Tadashi, but the latter is transferring. Tadashi recommends Hiro to stop tagging along and explore and help the world, but Hiro cries out that he doesn’t care about the world. SLAP! Still, rejecting the weapons deal? Hiro, you do care. No point, since it’s part of the previous paragraph.

If you’ve seen the movie, you know Callaghan and Tadashi die in a fire. If you’ve seen past that part, and this is the part where those who haven’t scroll to the next paragraph, Callaghan started the fire to get revenge for his daughter’s portal death. IN THE MANGA, Tadashi is connected to the portals somehow, as he’s connected to the base. He gets sucked into the portal by a visible Kabuki Mask. Not having read the other volume, I assume Tadashi is alive. This undercuts the very reason Disney has characters die. Good for the fans, but weak for the film. Movie point.

Hiro meets Baymax, finds and runs from Kabuki Mask, teams up with Tadashi’s friends, and become superheroes.

In the manga, Baymax shows up near the end of chapter one and doesn’t interact with Hiro. But I digress; the manga version of Baymax appearing post-Tadashi is the most similar to the movie. Plus, they don’t do the “gotta lie to Aunt Cass” shtick. For that, manga point.

The Kabuki Mask is better in the manga, as the possibility exists that there’s two. Hiro blows him up, but he shows up unscathed. The way he’s drawn, the body shape is more ambiguous, which is wise. And the bots stop to turn on Kabuki Mask to relieve debris, as they were programmed to. Probably would have been hard to work in the film, but if they could, a great touch. Manga point.

Now for the other four of Big Hero 6. In the film the four all have fun personalities. However, they really exist to bounce off of Hiro, and they all serve the exact same function. Hiro does something immoral, the four act as one voice with different pitches and tones. In short, having four diverse characters feels like a waste because there’s not enough space.

No such problem in a manga, right? Okay, there’s length limitations and contracts, but how is it Fred and Wasabi are referenced by Hiro as “the other two”? He doesn’t even know them! Tadashi put Hiro’s photo in a frame with the four, to encourage friendship. In the film, it makes a little sense that they’re friends. They met in the lab, they helped Hiro with the bots, they wanted to help their own friend’s brother, their new friend. There’s a similar approach here, but no lab scene, no assistance, no video call scene.

But it’s better like that. In the movie, Hiro is too depressed to confront his old enjoyments, so Baymax calls them up on Hiro’s behalf. In the manga, finding the photo leads Hiro to initiate contact with his brother’s friends.

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This scene is more powerful than any interaction between Hiro and the four. First, he does know Gogo, and there’s the “Don’t think I like you, d-dummy!” mentality coming from Hiro. His manga personality as a recluse is implemented wonderfully with this scene. Not to mention people he hardly knows care about him. It’s a little weaker without prior scenes featuring interaction, but it’s more meaningful. Manga point.

Oh, the lab scene. Right, there was foreshadowing there, yeah? So each power is based on a lab-scene invention, but without that, the manga just shows Hiro giving them suits with no meaning.

“Here you go, Frank! A dragon suit that breathes fire!”
“It’s Fred. And I have pyrophobia!”
“And I have social anxiety, Ford. Let’s get this over with.”

So becoming heroes feels strange without solidified skills to match. Movie point.

Before we wrap up…

The whole Kabuki Mask reveal of the film (spoilers, scroll) made me realize that this era of Disney Animated Canon is one-note. In Tangled, while the whole point was that the witch was the villain, Rapunzel didn’t know. But she raised Rapunzel, so it’s conflicting! I mean, sort of. In Wreck-It Ralph, King Candy goes in and out of villainy until he stays in the evil territory. Twist! Frozen, not even a spoiler to say it was Anna’s fiance. But she loved him! Big Hero 6, Callaghan was the villain! But he inspired Hiro! And he was never mentioned after his death! And they put so much emphasis on Krei!

You see where I’m going with this, right? These films… follow a structure! Every other movie is catered to girls and every other other movie is to suit boys’ tastes. Remember the 90’s when the movies catered to both? Lion King, right? Oh, and they didn’t all rely on “Surprise! I’m the villain!” Anyway.

Wrap up!

So, both Big Hero 6 stories have good points and bad points. What? A tally? Nah, it’s not a competition! Granted, if I did have an opinion, I’d say that while there were some aspects better presented in the manga, it wouldn’t have been worth replacing the movie version in its stead. But I do recommend it, especially for those who’d like to see the film in a new perspective. It’s a bit less fluid, but it’s more powerful where it counts.

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Dragon Ball OR, It’s Still April Fool’s Day Somewhere

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UCH. Let’s get this over with. I accidentally put the manga (if you can call it that) on the left hand side, and I just used the first shot I took. The cat got in the shot! Way better to look at than… what’s it? “Jargon Ball?” Oh, Dragon Ball. Kay.

This manga was created by Akira Toriyama, who created the outstanding Dr. Slump, Cowa!, Sandland,  Jaco the Galactic Patrolman, and the untranslated Nekomajin. This is not those. This is worse.

Where to begin? This naked boy (PENIS AND ALL! LITTLE BOY PENIS!) lives alone in the woods, AND he has a tail! A monkey tail! WHY DOES HE HAVE A LITTLE PENIS VISIBLE? ‘Cause that’s what people want to see, right? I swear, this was only translated because it had Toriyama’s name on it.

Goku is his name and he meets an older girl named Bulma. THE WORST. She’s sixteen and basically there to be fanservice. In this volume (yes, there’s multiple!) alone, Bulma:

-Flashes her panties at Goku
-Get stripped of her panties by Goku
-Unknowingly show a dirty turtle guy her vagina TWICE
-Flaunt her size 32-C breasts at a pig
-Use her panties as bait to catch the pig
-Take a naked shower, T&A and all
-Wear a Playboy bunny outfit, even though she probably didn’t have to put on the bow tie, cuffs, and ears.

Where’s the tasteful manga, huh? Goku shows his piddle again while Bulma bathes him. You know, Bulma is it? Bulma, that fanservice role can only escalate. You’ll always be there to strip. What’s it gonna be like when you get together with that shy bandit, Yamcha? Damn, he’s cool. He has a transforming cat, offsetting their transforming pig, but the cat can stay transformed for more than five minutes. Yamcha is obvious equivalent to success.

At the very least, Bulma’s the brains, inventing a device to track… Oh, right. There’s seven magic balls that, when gathered, grant a wish. That’s kind of cool, but I can’t see it being used practically in such a silly manga. If it were action-based with lots of deaths or dramatic with romance mixed in, I could get it. But the humor comes from rapid-fire wishing, so limiting the wishes and time to gather the balls is weird.

This is a weird world, mind you. There’s talking animals. Not just bears or turtles, but dinosaurs. Is it a throwback from Dr. Slump, or is it a lazy world? Keep in mind, Penguin Village was the only place with weird stuff. AND, and they make a reference to Dr. Slump! I bet Toriyama missed doing Dr. Slump.

So Goku is super-strong, but why tail? Is he a failed experiment to artificially create a human-monkey hybrid? Maybe he’s a missing link? Or he’s human with a freakish monkey tail, who ran away from the circus to live in the woods. Know what would be stupid? If the tail was an alien stuck on his butt. Or if he was an alien. Less dumb, but still.

So get ready for this: Dragon Ball ran for SIXTEEN volumes. I’m surprised it was translated at all! But that’s not all. It has a sequel! Dragon Ball Zee, 26 volumes! I’M DEAD SERIOUS. That’s 42 volumes total! Who could write 42 volumes of panties and little boy penises? Only Toriyama, I think. That’s dedication to your craft.

My advice? If you want to waste an hour, read Dragon Ball. I’m astounded that it survived the manga market, but at the very least I suggest reading it to support the testament that anything, no matter how pandering or lowbrow, can make it to 42 volumes. But don’t worry: You only have to read volume one.

And yes, they did the “Dragon testicles” joke so you don’t have to. HOW WAS THIS EVEN PITCHED?

(Note, if it isn’t evident from the title, this is an April Fool’s entry. Of course I think Yamcha is weaksauce. Sweet, buttery weaksauce.)