Three years of not paying any attention to my blog, huh? These days, I have two reasons to reactivate it: I bought some Japanese manga,that I’ve wanted to purchase for several years, but never did, because I thought, due to my awful skills concerning the Nippon-esque language, they’d just lie around (and ‘d be marvelled at by my aesthetic inner self), but wouldn’t be read or – understood. By now I am at least able to understand manga with furigana (still, by consulting the internet, of course), but I need my time for them anyways and thus some self-discipline. It’s less difficult to push myself to learning more Japanese, if I can tell other people (I’m looking at you, my dear readers! :D) about it. (I guess after having read some of the manga, it’ll be much easier though.) The second reason for the late renaissance of the French snow storm is that the books that I am going to blog about are rather obscure and hence (probably? maybe? eventually?) interesting for the internet fandom.
What I have available right now:
- Eien naru Hitomi no mure: an early short story collection by Hiroshi Masumura
- Kaze no Matasaburou by Hiroshi Masamura, based on a tale by Kenji Miyazawa
- Cosmos Rakuenki 1-5 by Hiroshi Masumura
- Mosaic Rasen by Moto Hagio
- Pocket no naka no kimi by Saho Tono
- Yuukan Club 1 by Yukari Ichijo
- Betsuma Days: short story collection by Fusako Kuramochi
- two Garo issues from the 70s
- two Afternoon issues
- Cross Game 1 by Mitsuru Adachi
- Gin ni naru by Mari Okazaki
- Haru tsuge komachi
- Kakkou no musumetachi: a short story collection by Minori Kimura
- Kuragehime 1 by Akiko Higashimura
- Sayonara nante ienai 1 by Fuyumi Ogura
- Shiko Shonen 1 by Kaoru Fujiwara
- Youma 1 by Kei Kusunoke
- some other manga that I randomly bought years ago and that I don’t consider to read
The list kind of represents my taste in comics right now. I love old shoujo manga (I don’t really have a definition for “old” though, maybe everything before the 90s/late 80s?), surreal or quiet stories (Hiroshi Masumura! Daisuke Igarashi! Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou! Aria!), kind of “alternative” stories (Kitoh, Furuya, Maruo, well-drawn horror manga, the Garo/Ikki/AX crowd and so on), readable and interesting classics (Of course I worship Tezuka and Shigeru Mizuki), josei manga or, basically, good stuff from every genre, country and time period.
“Hyouzan 1977″ by Hiroshi Masumura
Anyway, to not just rant, but to start things off: Recently I began to read the works of Hiroshi Masumura that I bought. It feels like ages and decades that I first stumbled upon pictures by him in the awesome “Manga Design” by Taschen Verlag. I immediately fell in love with the creativity and the dreamlikeness of his imagery, but never got any chance to read anything by him, because his works haven’t been translated into a language that I understand. I’ve seen “Night on the Galactic Railroad” though, an anime movie made somewhen in the 80s that is based on his manga adaptation of a Kenji Miyazawa classic, and was so impressed by it that my desire to read his works just grew some more.
Masumura is best known for his cats. Because he’s bad at drawing humans (They all look a bit impersonal and… overly geeky?), he just decided at some point he’d go with furry animals behaving like humans or, in some works, penguins. (Great decision. I love cats.) What seems to be common in his stories is a certain almost kitschy fascination with stars as well as surreal and bizarre elements sometimes leading to subtly violent plots. Besides the probably just great “Cosmos Rakuenki” series I didn’t dare to buy Masumura’s most famous work “Atagoul” (that spans several series and still runs in “Comic Flapper” magazine), because I’d probably have been unable to cope with such a long series at the beginning, but instead bought the two one-volumes “Kaze no Matasaburou” and “Eien naru Hitomi no mure”, latter being a short story collection published in 1979 containing early and earliest stories by Masumura
One of the stories in “Eien naru Hitomi no mure” is “Hyouzan 1977″ (Iceberg 1977), which was published in Manga Shounen magazine in, as the title suggests, 1977. It’s just 18 pages long and doesn’t have all that much of a story. It doesn’t amaze with cats, but instead with dolphins, which is just as awesome! XD Two guys, skipping learning classes for their university entrance exams, randomly discover a mysterious iceberg nearby the coast and – young and adventurous as they are – decide to step into the iceberg through a hole that, out of unknown reasons, leads into caves and halls inside the iceberg. There they meet aliens who have already been living in the sea for a long time in order to research humanity. Over the years, the aliens have frozen people who they have encountered and who haven’t done what the aliens wanted them to do, but have a different treatment for people who are obedient: They turn them into… dolphins, who are supposed to get their human bodies back after three thousand years. Why they are turned into dolphins and not, say, rabbits, isn’t explained, but I guess that’s based on a Japanese saying or myth.
The two guys discover a frozen dolphin human hybrid.
What’s interesting is that it’s the second time that I know of that Masumura refers to the Titanic. In “Hyouzan 1977″ the victims of the Titanic catastrophe are cited as an example for obedient people turned into dolphins. In “Night on the Galactic Railroad” Giovanni and Campanella, the two cat main protagonists, meet two human children who have died on the Titanic and step out of the galactic train, in which the plot is set in, to get into Christian heaven.
Let’s turn the boring humans into dolphins!