From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, no.178
Welcome back ya’ll to our all-ages column here, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! Readers who’ve been with us over the years know I like to mix it up often in this column, from digital only formats to foreign titles a plenty. Well this is one of those weeks where I’m gonna say read this and support that! So take your mind off that exclusive Jem figure being sold at SDCC and let’s get down to it.
You may know Takao Saito in the States not by his name but by one creation, which to be fair is a milestone of manga and anime which stands firm until today: Golgo 13! Yes, the world’s greatest assassin who never misses a target is a pure thrill ride packed with nothing but violence and sex-filled hard boiled action, and has remained a fan favorite here in the U.S. since the early Stream Line Picture days of the 1990s, as well as an incredibly easy character to cosplay. But wait?! Why on Earth would you write about Duke Tolgo in an all-ages comics column?! Well, like Lupin III is Monkey Punch’s bread and butter, Golgo 13 is Saito’s, but that doesn’t mean he hasn’t done a ton of other projects, and one favorite is the old school sci-fi/tokusatsu inspired action manga that anyone can read: The Shadowman!
When website JManga went under a few years back, a ton of manga readers mourned the loss of its demise since the digital only site gave them official legal access to tons of titles in genres that may be considered not worth the gamble for print (i.e., train manga, foodie manga, animal lover manga), along with just tons and tons of other cool titles in super accessible genres, but may have not seen the light of day here due to one reason or another. A bulk of Saito’s work that finally hit digital print we thought had been lost forever, until Crunchy Roll did what I will dub the first digital manga rescue and released a bunch of titles on their manga app, once again my favorite being The Shawdowman.
At its core, the title is an old school Japanese superhero tale that’d fit right in place with any American comic at this time, or Japanese tokusatsu-vibe manga, like Kamen Rider or Saito’s other very old school manga Barom One (also on the Crunchy Roll Manga App). The Shadowman tells the tale of a young man named Katagiri who is caught up in a scheme by a mad scientist, Dr. Takizawa. Dr. Takizawa works for an evil organization named Relish, which is trying to create super-humans for their evil deeds. Dr. Takizawa tries a formula on Katagiri, and for the most part they think they killed him. However, Katagiri awakens and escapes, and discovers when night falls that he suddenly has both super-human strength, and a bizarre transformation where his skin turns black (but not African ethnicity black, like Crayola black) and his hair turns white. As he comes to terms with what happens, he vows to stop Relish and dons a mask by night, becoming the Shadowman!
Anyone who has read the Batman manga from the 60s knows the kind of pulpy goodness this kind of manga is. It is a purely good time, and you’ll fly through the pages of awesomeness as Shadowman fights bad guy after bad guy! I’m sure at first glance some may be put off by Katagiri’s skin changing black, and wondering if it is actually some sort of racism or comment on the times. Truth be told, it is not. Any avid manga reader can tell you that anything from the early 1990s and down when drawing characters of African origin, manga-ka usually drew them with noticeably stereotypical traits, especially Saito if you look at other works of his like Japan Sinks or Golgo 13. So here it is used as a fantastic element. His skin could turn purple instead of black for all we care, and we needed a transformation here, it is tokusatsu-esque manga after all. So keep an open mind and read it without feeling any guilt; you can dig in and just go for the ride.
Both volumes of The Shadowman are up now on Crunchy Roll’s Manga App and to read on their website.
Crowd sourcing anime is still an idea that is on the fence to some anime/manga fans in North America. There are those who will go out and gladly gamble on sites like Animesols.com or the few projects that have made it to Kickstarter, but plenty of folks would rather pony up for Crunchy Roll or something already licensed, and hey, to each their own. That said, I have preached the good word about a fave-company of mine a few times in this column already in the past, the already mentioned Anime Sols. Anime Sols digs up old anime or anime based on classic characters and tries to get it released here via crowd sourcing. Sometimes it works, as we have seen the new Black Jack anime series and classics like Creamy Mami and Dear Brother get DVD releases here thanks to successful crowd sourcing campaigns by them, and other projects as this sort of thing goes didn’t always work (although I still hope they try again with Hurricane Polymar, but in a premium priced set like Japan; they are tossing that idea around, but that’s the topic for a separate column). After a short break, Anime Sols is at it again, and one of their new projects is another DVD release, this time a set for a new anime that is still currently airing in Japan: The File of Young Kindaichi Returns!
The show as the website says is: “Based off of the original manga by Seimaru Amagi, and Fumiya Sato, The File of Kindaichi Returns centers on the Hajime Kindaichi, grandson of the famous detective Kosuke Kindaichi. Though he usually appears to be a regular high school student, when a difficult case arises Hajime, along with his childhood friend Miyuki Nanase, police inspector Isamu Kenmochi, and rival Kengo Akechi, use their sharp deduction skills to solve each mystery.“
110% without a doubt, there are mystery anime fans throughout North America, but it seems we only really see Case Closed. Well here is something new for you lovers of that genre that is also on that level of young/fun crime solving awesomeness. The show currently is being simulcast here the same day ‘n date it airs in Japan, and you can watch it on both Anime Sols or Crunchy Roll.
Check out the project page here; your 40 bucks can help bring a great title to a physical Stateside release.
That’s it for this week! See you soon!