From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No.125: Warrior Princesses….and fruit!
‘Ello, reader! Welcome back to our column here for all-ages titles, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week we check out a beautiful classic epic that has been reprinted in its ultimate edition, a new favorite title that has been catching a lot of attention since last year around this time, and finally the last character I ever expected in my 27 years of living to make it into their own comic book (although I suppose odder stuff has happened). Let’s check it out!
A truly stunning epic, presented in a truly beautiful edition, Viz’s deluxe release of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is a fantastic collection of comic art for everyone. Originally published between 1982 and 1994 in Japan, with Miyazaki taking breaks to direct multiple animated films, Nausicaä is one of the few manga completely drawn and written by the current living-master of animation, as much of an epic adventure as it is a look into the personal world of Miyazaki’s pen.
For fans of the film Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, the manga goes way beyond that in terms of scope and story. The basic set-up is the same – a post-apocalyptic world in which the Sea of Corruption (a toxic forest that creates giant mutant insects and the like) is slowly expanding across the planet, as the remaining human beings deal with both that and the eternal struggle between each other. Caught in this is one small kingdom known as the Valley of the Wind, home to a small amount of citizens, most notably a young female named Nausicaä who has a mysterious connection with the world and its eco-system. The collection goes beyond that plot line (the film probably making only 1/5 of the manga’s complete story), fully fleshing out the world of the story, characters, and giving us a more solid ending than the film provided, as we see everything both Nausicaä and her kingdom go through as they overcome challenges, leading us up to the fate of them and the planet.
So how do you write about something that’s been written about so much? At this point, it’s to tell you, reader, to just go out, pick it up, and experience it yourself. This fascinating manga is certainly up with fantasy-adventure epics like The Lord of the Rings and such, and is something that really just needs to be experienced. The early half of the manga lays the ground work for so many manga/anime after it, from Neon Genesis Evangelion to the recent hit Attack on Titan, yet still by the ending half of the manga, Miyazaki creates something that stands by itself no matter how many things would pull inspiration from it afterwards.
Viz has done a great job with this edition. For just $60.00 dollars we get the entire seven volume collection presented in two large sized hardcovers, in a nice hard slip case, with a bonus poster, interior color pages, the works! Sincerely, it is a perfect edition of the material, book shelf worthy in every shape and form, and released right in time to make a great holiday gift, I may add.
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind is out now in print from Viz, a high recommendation!
After a long break, Princeless from Action Lab is finally coming back! Around this time a year ago we were introduced to the world of Adrienne, as she steals her dragon and goes her own way to free her sisters and not be controlled by this world of knights and princes saving them; she’ll save herself and be her own person.
The latest issue picks p right where we left off, with Adrienne, dragon Sparky, and the very plucky Bedelia stealing some food to survive on their own. Meanwhile back at the castle, the King has deployed several of the greatest warriors to hunt down this “villain” who has crossed him and his poor Adrienne. Prince Devin, worried about Adrienne getting killed, goes to his Mom, who to his dismay is no help and is overwhelmed with being Queen. Finally, our pair of heroines meet Roderick Lovelorn, master of the poetic arts, as they are camping, and it turns out their goals are the same: Adrienne’s sister Angelica.
It’s just the first issue, but using it as a barometer, volume 2 is just as good as volume 1, the story, style, and writing linking flawlessly with volume one, not letting fans of the first series down with the sophomore story in the world of Princeless. Martin’s art looks good here, and Whitley continues to craft a cool story with action and adventure. There’s lots of good stuff in these pages, even a great Tezuka-ish moment, like we see in the all-ages classic Astro Boy, where we are introduced to the variety of warriors and in one panel each we totally get each one’s unique personality and style, nearly stealing the issue (and thus I may add could justly hold an entertaining comic all of their own if more Princeless spin-offs are to follow).
Issue #1 of the second volume of Princeless is about to hit stands soon, so get to your local shop and pre-order this book, you won’t regret it!
Out this week from Papercutz is the last thing I ever expected to become a comic: Annoying Orange. I have to give Daneboe credit. He created possibly the weirdest/most borderline annoying thing ever, that has captured the hearts of billions across You Tube with its pun-humor, suddenly leading him within a few years to have everything from t-shirts in Hot Topic, a hit show on Cartoon Network, and now a comic from Papercutz. That’s not to say I don’t get how people like this character; my own fianceé is fond of him, and she showed me the shorts when we first met almost three years ago, but I just didn’t see this coming. Before I wrote this off, though, I noticed Scott Shaw! listed on the credits, and I am very fond of his work on DC cult-comic Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew!, so I decided to give this a shot this week to review.
To sum up volume 1 of Annoying Orange, it is, like the shorts themselves, pun-humor comics. Some jokes are Laffy-Taffy cringe worthy, and some I even found myself laughing at, but that’s what it is, and being what it’s based off of, what it’s supposed to be. A good chunk of the comics are one to three page gag scenario stories, which probably works best for this type of thing, but we also get long-form stories “Grapefinger,” which parodies James Bond, and “The Salad Days of Grandpa Lemon,” which is a fun Gang Busters kind of tale.
All the stories are written and drawn by either Scott Shaw! or Mike Kazaleh. Shaw!, who also works as a storyboard artist on the Annoying Orange cartoon currently, and Kazaleh, who has worked on a ton of animated shows as well, provide a solid duo to tackle this project given their solid background with the medium, to take on the task of translating these characters to the comic book page. The strongest story out of the bunch (not making a fruit-pun there) is “The Salad Days of Grandpa Lemon,” which goes from funny to so bizarre within a few beats, and has a huge pay off at the end; it holds up against some of the best comedic comics out there, the work on this one all being done by Kazaleh. That noted, it wasn’t the puns that bothered me, but the art. I really wanted to see the comic done looking like the style of web-shorts. I know it would have made it feel more like a photo comic possibly, but I think that style is the stronger and more appropriate for the characters; instead we get something that visually is forgettable.
Complaints aside, kids love the crap out of this character, and they are sure to enjoy it. Annoying Orange Vol.1 “Secret Agent Orange” is out now in print from Papercutz!
That’s it for this week! Join us next week when we do our annual “best of” column, in which we look at the top 15 all-ages titles of 2012!