Publisher: Gen Manga Entertainment
Writers/Artists: Junji Ohno, Richard Rodriguez, Kosuke Kabaya, love, Isora Azumi, Nukuharu, Hajime Taguchi, Ryo Hanada
I was not familiar with the Gen Manga company nor what they were about until I was given this book. Their mission statement: “GEN stories are published no where else in the world. They come straight from the artists in Japan to you. We translate the stories and put them out as they are created.” That stuck with me, and with it being a monthly title, I gotta say it’s a mix of stories I found interesting, and others I felt need more for me to fully understand. That cover image also doesn’t have its own story in this, so that threw me off a bit. Let’s look at each story involved.
Android Angels by Kosuke Kabaya
This story is about a world in which life-like androids work for humanity. These kinds of stories about robots will always get me interested. The idea of a former military android becoming the caretaker of a young girl has a lot of potential. That’s why I have hopes for this story as it continues, even though this part was really mundane, which was likely the point. The story does hint at the trouble to come, with his former teammates watching over the android and the girl. The artwork in this one is solid and detailed, with some of the best art in the book. Overall, this one is isn’t far enough along to fairly gauge it.
One Is Enough by love
From robots to young love. Matsumoto is an awkward freshman who, through a violent accident at school, ends up taking care of and falling for sophomore Mizushima. The question is, does Mizushima like him back? Romance stories aren’t one of my favorite genres, I don’t do the shipping thing fellow fans of stuff I like often do. This does make me glad to see a story that is not just straight people, though; I’m always for more of a variety in storytelling. The accident that occurs does seem rather violent for the material, but it could be seen as a metaphor for young love being a bloody mess. I didn’t much care for the forceful grabbing of Matsumoto’s face, it seemed a bit much. This is another story where I feel I’d have to see more to get a feel for it, since it ends kind of abruptly. Still, never been a big fan of romance, so take that into consideration.
Stones of Power by Isora Azumi
This story is a set up for a romance with possibly a supernatural twist. The reason I say possibly, is that it’s all played very much as though it could just be a strange dream. Though too much seems to sync up for it to just be a dream. The story is about a young man who works in a fish store, and how he and a young woman who came into his store may be fated to unite in some way. As the young man goes to pick up a piece of jewelry made of power stones from a nearby store, he learns that the woman, who was in his store earlier, makes them, and that she and her brother own a very rare pair of fish. It seems the fish are having trouble having children, and so the young man will help them with his knowledge of fish. To make matters more confusing, the dream mentioned earlier is of the male fish talking to the young man about his stresses and why he must help them so the fish can have children. This story is weird, and I’m not even sure what I can say about it since it looks to just be setting up.
Anomal by Nukuharu
Now this story, this one I liked nearly right away. It’s a story about a man who is losing his sight and is given it back by a yokai known as the hyaku-me (“Hundred-Eyes”), a humanoid creature covered in eyes. To repay his debt to the hyaku-me, he must go live in a temple that houses other yokai (yokai are basically any weird or strange creature, so supernatural ones) and do different jobs for the hyaku-me. While there, he befriends a Sparrow Painting Spirit who becomes the final debt he must repay. It seems the Sparrow wants to be free of his painting and has escaped; to finally pay off his debt he must return his friend to his painted prison. Instead, the man gives up his sight, no longer owing any debt, and is able to take his Sparrow friend with him. The two leave to live life together as friends, with the Sparrow acting as the man’s “eyes.” I loved this one. This story has an interesting world, and whether there is anymore to the story, it is fine if it ends here. If it does continue, I’d be happy to just see episodic stories that take place in this world, though seeing more of the man and Sparrow would be pleasant, too. I recommend this one highly.
Alive by Hajime Taguchi
This one is so odd that I ended up really liking it. This one is the story of a man, Nakayama, who is trying to cope with his break-up and loneliness by living with a Real Doll. Some of the art isn’t that great in that some faces, when looking upset, suddenly age greatly. The story is very strong, though, and has my favorite quote of the book in the line, “Don’t you think the kanji for ‘love’ and ‘strange’ look a lot alike?” It’s a great way to sum up just about any love in existence, especially this one. Soon a new woman, Yoshino, is working with him, and it is clear that she likes Nakayama, but he is still dealing with his own issues of self-worth. Nakayama is clearly not crazy as much as he is lonely; he talks to the doll because he just wants someone to talk to, he would like nothing more than to feel he doesn’t need this doll. As he begins to bump into Yoshino more and more, he realizes she is trying to attract his attention and sees that it might be time to move on from his ex and from his doll. This was a story that reminded me of the premise of Lars and the Real Girl, but takes it in a different direction with how its lead deals with the doll initially.
Good-bye Geist by Ryo Hanada
This is another weird one in that it starts like it’s something out of a horror film, and we learn that a student has been killing animals and is finally caught in a blood-covered mask. This is another weird story that just up and changes into a different plot. Some of the faces in this one are odd, since the heads are at a 3/4 angle, but an eye may be way off. This one ends on such a creepy note with a letter that has “SORRY” spelled out of its written words. It seemed to be dealing with schoolyard crushes and relationships, but the whole thing gave me a spooky vibe due to the beginning and the end.
There was one more story, but it didn’t have a title card, only separated from the story before it with a different enough style and story of its own. This one was interesting in that it was just two weird people graduating, meeting one another while trying to avoid their graduation ceremonies. It’s a cute little conversation that goes weird places, like being psychic, with way too precise pick-up lines.
What stories I liked would bring me back to check out the next issue, but I’d probably just skim the stories I didn’t care for if they were continuing. If you want some manga as much from the source as you can get in book form, check out Gen Manga Publishing.