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:
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!
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.
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.
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…
Dark Horse decided that it was better to have them be “siblings” instead of lovers.
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!
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…
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?
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?
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.
-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.
That cover is a lie, you know. It happens, but like this:
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?
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.
“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.