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June 21, 2012

GEN Manga Review: GEN 12

Gen 12
GEN Manga Entertainment
Junji Ohno, Richard Rodriguez, Kasuke Kabaya, LOVE, Isora Azumi, Nukuharu, and Hajime Taguchi

GEN Manga returns this month with another collection of stories, some continuations from last month, and others that are brand new and single-serving size! The continued tales ramp up what makes them interesting, and the new stories are often times pretty fun, or downright soul-stirring. Let’s take a look at each one individually.

Android Angels by Kasuke Kabaya

We continue our view of the life of a young girl and her robot butler. It seems that the butler’s former life as a bodyguard in a battle zone has come to haunt him by way of an attack from a shadowy group. His past life has valuable information on clients he protected, and some people want to take those memories and use them. Thankfully, our butler is a skilled combatant still, and handles them with ease to get the girl to safety. The girl seems to be developing feelings for her protector (How old is she? The visual age difference between these two makes this romance downright creepy, with him looking to be in his mid-twenties and she looks to be 12-13.), but he’s capable of realizing that the 4-year limit on their interactions means it would be doomed, and also he is an object. This story could go places in regards to the butler’s past, but I feel the way the young girl is drawn makes the romantic angle too uncomfortable since he’s drawn much older looking.

One Is Enough by LOVE

Here we return to the awkward Matsumoto and his increasing feelings for his senior classmate Mizushima. Matsumoto is trying to deal with his budding feelings and the possibility that Mizushima is dating someone, and a girl at that. When Matsumoto finally does get to hang out with Mizushima, he gets to cook him dinner. This is a cute story; it’s weird in how much of a goon Matsumoto is, and how it’s exacerbated by the fact that he knows liking a guy is not the norm in his school. He struggles with his own feelings and how to express them, and I like watching him struggle with trying be cool while being both excited and terrified. The link to blood and cuts in this is different, but it does seem to be the connection between these two, and it’s a cute romance/crush. Though I did have a problem with telling the difference between Mizushima and Matsumoto’s friend, as they are both blonde and have similar features, once I saw Mizushima enough I could tell them apart; but at first I thought Matsumoto was talking to him and not his friend.

Stones of Power by Isora Azumi

This issue really takes the plot up by including that not only must the fish breed for their own sake, but for the planet’s water supply. It seems that the fish have a legacy of controlling the rain and purifying water. Without them, the rains will not come, and this could bring about the end of the world. It also seems the woman in the kimono could be more than she appears. Could she be trying to take control of the rains? Her brother seems far more likely, but this story definitely took an interesting turn and I’d like to see what happens next.

Anomal by Nukuharu

This issue of Anomal is a different story and setting from last month’s. This time there’s a quirky detective that is incredibly shy and re-enacts the crimes he is investigating to solve them. The guy wears a mask in public, that’s how shy he is, and he even wears several masks during public speaking. In this one he does the best/worst way to hit on his partner by re-enacting an amorous situation that leads to the victim’s death. It is a silly way of getting the two leads to kiss, and show that the great detective seems to fancy his partner since he can take his mask off in front of him. It was a cute story, I’m a sucker for mystery stories, and this one was goofy enough to keep me interested. “Anomal” keeps presenting short stories where I’d love to see more of the world, but am happy to have this glimpse into each world.

Alive by Hajime Taguchi

This one is actually several shorter stories wrapped into one collection. They go from funny, silly, to downright sad.

I’ll Give You A Name

This one is about a young woman who finds a talking frog. They discuss the value and power of names, and then she proceeds to name him, and all other talking frogs. It’s a cute little dialog that discusses labeling, and what names mean in regards to feelings.

Thus, We Are Dirtied

Here we have a few young high school guys who find a wallet with cash as they sit across the street from a strip club. They begin to wonder how they’ll get in to see naked women, and which of them will even get to go. Their consciences get the better of them, and they just end up giving the wallet to the police so that the owner can hopefully find it. It reads as a very truthful hour or two between some kids as they try to get their first look at live nudity. When one guy says his dad wouldn’t spend cash at a strip club because he’d have blown the money on video games, I realized that it was parenting from people closer to my own generation.

But then the story takes a dark turn. We see, what I assume is, one of the boys talking to a counselor at school about what he wants to do with his future. His goal is to not become an adult. When the counselor chastises him for it, he just says that adults are dirty. Then the boy is shown looking older and disheveled and not desiring to be an adult, and apologizing for his mistakes. These are written down and he travels into the woods. He sets up his car to be sealed so he can let the exhaust take him out. The panels begin to fade as his life does, and as we are left in a white set of panels we are told he’d like to come back as a human.

This was a chilling end to the book. Sad, lonely, and mournful for a character I only saw for a few pages. Well done. Overall, I really enjoyed GEN 12 a lot, it took all the continuing stories and improved upon them, and gave me a lot of interesting new ones. I’m finding GEN Manga to be a solid company and look forward to their future releases.

Alexander Bustos



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