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Monday, May 3, 2010

An End to Segregation Pt. 1

Laughing Ogre comics has a vast selection of great products for all kinds of fans - collectible cards, figures, shirts, novels, statues, comics, manga, and more.  Why do I have to list comics and manga separately?  Both explore visual story-telling through a vast number of genres. Is it because of the style of the art?  The two sides each have as many deviations in art as the other and there many instances when they're hard to distinguish.  Maybe the region of origin?  No, there are manga made here and comics drawn there.  We accept other foreign "comics", regardless of printing format or origin, so why is manga different?

Are you a comic fan tired of being prejudiced against drawings of big eyes and spikey hair? Maybe you are an otaku with a suspicion that comics are about something more than killing and resurrecting the same characters?  It's time we put an end to comic book xenophobia.  Today, I suggest a few options for comic fans to venture into the rich world of manga.

1. "Pluto" - Urasawa's dark homage to Tezuka's "Astro Boy"

     In an ideal world where man and robots coexist, someone or something has destroyed the powerful Swiss robot Mont Blanc.  Elsewhere a key figure in a robot rights group is murdered.  The two incidents appear to be unrelated... Except for on very conspicuous clue - the bodies of both victims have been fashioned into some sort of bizarre collage complete with makeshift horns placed by the victims' heads.  Interpol assigns robot Detective Gesicht to this most strange and complex case - and he eventually discovers that he too, as one of the seven great robots of the world, is one of the targets.

2. Akira - this is the "Watchmen" of the Manga community

   Welcome to Neo-Tokyo, built on the ashes of a Tokyo annihilated by a blast of unknown origin that triggered World War III.  The lives of two street-wise tennage friends, Tetsuo and Kaneda, change forever when paranormal abilities begin to waken in Tetsuo, making him a target for a shadowy agency that will stop at nothing to prevent another catastrophe like the one that leveled Tokyo.  A the core of the agency's motivation is a raw, all-consuming fear of an unthinkable, monstrous power known only as Akira.

3. Death Note - the ultimate debate on the death penalty and man's right to judge man

   Light Yagami is an ace student with great prospects - and he's bored out of his mind.  But all that changes when he finds the Death Note, a notebook dropped by a rogue Shinigami death god.  Any human whose name is written in the notebook dies, and now Light has vowed to use the power of the Death Note to rid the world of evil.  But when criminals begin dropping dead, the authorities send the legendary detective L to track down the killer.  With L hot on his heels, will Light lose sight of his noble goal... or his life?

4. Biomega -Robots vs. Zombies?  Nihei began that fight in '98

      In Tsutomu Nihei's nigthmare vision of the future, the N5S virus has swept across the Earth, turning most of the population into zombie-like drones.  Zoichi Kanoe, an agent of TOA Heavy Industry, is humanity's last hope, and he's not even human!  With the help of Fuyu, a digitized intelligence built into the computer sytem of his heavy dual coil motorcycle, Zoichi's search for the key to salvation will take him on a journey across surreal landscapes and hurl him into battle against mind-bending evil.  Prepare yourself for the ultimate trip - prepare yourself for the world of Biomega.

     Zoichi Kanoe plunges into the depths of 9JO - an island city in the middle of the Pacific Ocean - in search of Eon Green, a girl with the power to transmute the N5S virus.  He's not the only one looking for her, though... agents of the Public Health Service's Compulsory Execution Unit are also hot in pursuit.  Zoichi and his transhuman allies have no time to waste; the countdown to the zombie apocalypse has begun.

5. Black Butler -  a dark, calculating 12 year old sells his soul to a demon... and makes him a butler

Just a stone’s throw from London lies the manor house of the illustrious Phantomhive earldom and its master, one Ciel Phantomhive. Earl Phantomhive is a giant in the world of commerce, Queen Victoria’s faithful servant…and a slip of a twelve-year-old boy. Fortunately, his loyal butler, Sebastian, is ever at his side, ready to carry out the young master’s wishes. And whether Sebastian is called to save a dinner party gone awry or probe the dark secrets of London’s underbelly, there apparently is nothing Sebastian cannot do. In fact, one might even say Sebastian is too good to be true…or at least, too good to be human…

Don't hesitate to ask for more suggestions the next time you are in Laughing Ogre. Next up... Five comics books for Manga fans.

*** Blurb's were taken from the books covers or sleeves.

- Ryan

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