Manga Worth Reading

Do you ever get tired of reading shit like Bleach and One Piece?  Tired of reading manga that just goes on and on with no end until it gets so stale and predictable that you curse yourself every time you pick up a new volume?  Well good, you are evolving out of your retarded otaku stage and into a functioning human being with real taste.  Fact is, there is way better manga out there, and it has totally eluded you… UNTIL NOW!  That’s right, because I am here to tell you what to read.

First, a super super short history lesson.  Basically, manga as you know it, started after WW2 in Japan.  It was revolutionized by one Tezuka Osamu.

This guy is a god in Japan

If you haven’t heard of him and you are a professed lover of Japanese culture, then promptly hand over your otaku card and kill yourself.  Before Mr. Tezuka, Japanese comics were nothing more than things resembling Sunday Comic strips.  They were very flat pictures that didn’t really illicit any excitement.  Tezuka Osamu introduced film aspects to these otherwise flat, slow paced stories.  For example, take a car driving down a road.  In traditional Japanese comics, there might be one frame dedicated to a car driving on the road.  What Tezuka did was use several frames, showing the car proceed down the road and perhaps have the car drive towards the frame.  The angles of the drawings would also change, as if several cameras were used to capture the car in motion.  This gave the art much more depth, and gave the comics more of a movie feel.  Tezuka not only changed the layouts of comics, but the style and topics he covered were much more realistic and dark.  His stories involved much more dramatic moral issues, with deep character development, and potentially darker outcomes.  I am sure anyone reading this has heard of the Lion King.  And some of you may have heard that Disney ripped the story off from a Japanese comic.  Well that comic was made by Tezuka Osamu and it was called Kimba The White Lion.  You can find tons of stuff dedicated to showing all the parallels between these stories.  Anyways, if you have seen the Lion King, then you know the story of Kimba.  That kind of depth was unheard of in Japanese manga story telling.  This kind of story telling paved the way for all modern manga (including the popular tripe of today…..)  So do yourself a favor, read some goddamn Tezuka Osamu.  His some of his most famous works being: Black Jack, Phoenix, Astro Boy, and Metropolis.

Another master manga-ka is Shigeru Mizuki.  He is most famous for his comic Gegege no Kitaro.  Which has one of the catchiest theme songs ever.  He is said to be the master of yokai.  Yokai is basically all those crazy traditional Japanese monsters.  He has made a pretty sweet monster encyclopedia with cool pictures.  Check it out.  Anyways, this guy’s art is everywhere in Japan.  It hasn’t really penetrated into America though since it’s old I guess.  What really makes Shigeru Mizuki stand out though,at least to me,  isn’t what he is famous for (in Japan).  Shigeru Mizuki is 90 years old, and he fought in WW2.  He was stationed in New Guinea, which was essentially the worst place to be stationed.  While there, he managed to be the only survivor of his platoon, which is a huge disgrace apparently since you are SUPPOSED to die if the rest of the platoon dies.  At least, that’s how it was in the Imperial Army.  Later though, he got one of his arms blown off and almost died of malaria.  He survived though, and became a major advocate about the reality of WW2 (lots of ultra-nationalists like to think it wasn’t Japan’s fault for raping and pillaging a bunch of countries).  He documents his experiences in meta-fiction manga about the war.  Basically he takes his own personal experiences,  and incorporates them into fictional stories (THAT’S WHAT META-FICTION IS).  So for example, one of his best graphic novels has to be Onward Towards Our Noble Death.

I don't think this guy is going to make it...

You can guess what the story is about.  It takes place during the last days of the war in New Guinea, using a lot of what Mizuki experienced there.  Essentially, the war is at an end, but the commanding officers think its a good idea to still send suicide attacks towards the American army.  It is really interesting to see WW2 from the perspective of the Japanese soldier.  It’s a hard reminder that the enemy, is usually having the same feelings and fears as we are.    It’s stories like these, that made me love Japan and made me want to live there.  Crazy shit like love hotels, and 7 story porn stores are like the appetizers, but real quality history and culture, THAT’S THE MAIN COURSE THAT IS JAPAN.  Now I know the bulk of the annoying ass American Otaku out there, haven’t even read or heard of this guy, let alone his awesome autobiographical graphic novels.  I mean, this book doesn’t even have a wikipedia page!  So if you 5 or 6 people that will read this post like manga, and have friends that like it too, spread the word.  Also, quit being fucking ignorant pussies, branch out from your sugary fan-service crappy shonen comics, and learn something about the country you “love”.  ALSO TURN DOWN THAT GOD DAMN J-POP!

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