Monday, January 25, 2010

Garo #23

I'm going to start up a new thread. The Mandarake used manga shop is about 4 blocks from my work, and they've got a fairly complete collection of copies of old Garo magazines. I've kind of gotten enamored with the idea of reviewing the manga that ran in Garo, and I figured "what the heck". Now, I do have to take back what I'd said earlier about the collectability of old Garo issues and the pricing of the first few issues. Actually, for the first year, Garo is priced between 1000 and 4000 yen ($12 to $45 USD) depending on condition. It's not until about July 1966 (2 years later) that the prices drop consistently to 200 yen each. Since I don't want to collect them, just comment on the manga in each one, I'm only going to buy copies that are priced under 500 yen. And, since the circulation drops off after "Kamui" ended, I'm only going to go up to about 1972 (or maybe as late at 1980 depending on what happens). In any event, I'm going to try to print 1 issue per week, and I'll run a selected story on Nihongo Hunter.

Another comment - Garo has this weird numbering system where certain stories are given 入選作品, or "chosen work" numbers. Apparently, these are assigned to guest artists, and don't represent anything like serialized chapter numbers. Also, the table of contents looks to be alphabetical or something. The stories aren't in page number order, making the TOC kind of hard to use.

I'll start with July 1966, which was issue #23. The magazine held up pretty well for its age, although the glue in the spine is badly degraded. This issue is 200 pages long, and over half of that belongs to Kamui. I guess the last chapter in this series wasn't an exception after all - each chapter appears to be ungodly long.

カムイ伝 (Kamui-den) #20

(Kamui in disguise, with the magistrate's attache.)

First, we have Sanpei Shirato's (白土三平) "Legend of Kamui", chapter 20. Turns out that Sanpei didn't have a chapter in *every* issue. Just *almost* every issue. Because Kamui has been translated into English commercially, I won't bother summarizing this one right now. 110 pages.

政治の完全犯罪について (Perfect Government Crime) #16
This is a 2-page text-only essay by Koshi Ueno (上野昂志). I'm not going to try to read it - it'd take to long. Suffice it to say that Garo ran essays and fiction along with the manga features. Koshi worked as a journalist and/or critic, and has a series of blog entries for the Asahi Shimbun. As of 2008, he was the president of the Japan Journalist College.

大空と雑草の詩 (Poem of heaven and weeds) #5

This is one of the weakest manga in this issue. Since I'm coming in during the middle of the series, I'm not really following the story. Seems that a high school student is in the middle of a mystery involving a fellow student and some shadowy agents after the other student goes on a rampage. Fairly jingoistic (pro-group, anti-adult) and I don't care for the art style. 20 pages long. I'm not finding anything concrete on Akira Ogawa (おがわあきら) right away, either. This seems to be a fairly common name and hits come up on some musicians and physicists.

勝又進 作品集 (Katsumata's Creation Collection) #2

Katsumata Susumu (勝又進) was still doing his short-panel gag series in 1971, with the issue that I reviewed for the Garo vs COM post. Although here, the artwork is much cruder and he only did one page. In the first strip, the text reads "His shoes are Astro Boy, his shirt is Obake Q-taro, his backpack is Bambi and his grades are in the gutter." Susumu is best known in the U.S. for his English-translated "Red Snow".

L.ミゼラブル (L.Miserable)

This is an odd little story parodying "Les Miserable". An exploratory ship visits planet R, which starts out having large deposits of platinum. Then, the main land mass sinks and the ship escapes, but accidentally leaves the captain behind. Initially, the captain is happy because the land around him is made up of chocolate. Then, it turns out that he's been eaten by a large alien who visits an alien doctor for stomach problems. After the medicine does its job, the alien brings the captain's corpse in to the doctor, who declares it to be a new species and he puts it in a small display jar. Meanwhile, the ship has returned to Earth and the captain is lauded as a lost hero. Note in the fifth panel above, we have Shotaro Ishinomori, Tezuka and Nezumi Otoko from Shigeru Mizuki. 11 pages long.

There's a little coming up for Kuniko Tsurita (つりた くにこ) (1948-1985) in Japanese and a couple of French pages mentioning her, implying that she had some success as a shojo artist, although a lot of her early work was published through Garo. One fan page has a profile on her, but it is in Japanese only.

Silent Comics

"Silent Comics" looks like a one-shot. If so, then the subtitle is "Koma" (panel). The full 5 pages can be found at my Nihongo Hunter blog.

The only thing coming up for Tatsuji Namiki (並木達二) in Japanese are hits listing the stories that ran in Garo, and even then, only for "Koma". Almost looks like Namiki was either a pen name used once, or was just making a one-time special appearance in the magazine. There's nothing on him in English.

青空太郎の絵日記 (Aozora Tarou's Picture Diary) #6

I apologize on this one. The story was so short (4 pages) that I overlooked it when doing the scans. But, the artwork is pretty amateurish so it's not worth going back and just scanning one page. Essentially, a couple visits their friend's house for his birthday, and the friend hits on the girl, ignoring the guy. Until the guy offers a birthday present - a live snake. After the friend recovers from the shock, they open up bottles of champagne, and two of the corks go up his nose. End of story.

Mitsuo Fujizawa (藤沢光男) had a number of stories appear in Garo, but otherwise there's no information on him in English or Japanese.

日本忍法伝 (Japan Ninja Arts Legend) #10

As can be seen here, this is chapter 10 of an illustrated story. This one's 6 pages long. The artwork is fairly symbolic, and most pictures aren't as involved as the one shown.

Mamoru Sasaki (佐々木 守) did the writing, with art by Satsuko Okamoto (岡本 颯子). Sasaki was a prolific TV and film screenwriter, who died in 2006. His credits include a few "Ultraman" episodes. Satsuko is an established illustrator, with a long credit list on the Japanese wiki. The main hits in English are for some children's book work that she did.

ザ。ゴッド。オブ。デス (Shinigami)

"The God of Death" (AKA: Shinigami) is a 6 page one-shot. A patient visits a doctor, complaining about having the same bad dream all the time. In the dream, a vampire approaches him and attacks just as he wakes up. The doctor asks who the patient thinks the vampire is, and he answers "shinigami". The doctor turns around, saying "that's it exactly!" The newspaper in the last panel has an article about a patient that jumped out of a hospital window, killing himself.

Shigeo Masai (正井 滋魚) is yet another artist who only shows up in Garo. However, it looks like he may have contributed to a book on professional skier Yuuichirou Miura, and he has one more story appearing in the Sept., 1966, issue of Garo.

ノンセヌ。ミステリー (Nonsense Mystery)

The main character is a minor feudal lord who receives a threatening note saying that someone's going to steal his fundoshi (loin cloth). The next morning, sure enough, the loin cloth is gone. The next note promises the theft of his chest hair, which is later returned as a Beatles-cut wig. Finally, the last note threatens his life. His wives and vassals ask if he's done anything that someone would hold a grudge against him for and he mentions his womanizing, taking bribes and a penchant for lopping people's heads off, but nothing worth really getting upset about. Then, his wives and vassals pull out their swords, saying that they're the ones that sent the notes. The last panel says that his death was too ghastly to show in print. 10 pages.

Now, this is unusual. The author's name (嗚海幸保) doesn't even show up in the list of Garo artists in Japanese, and I'm not sure how to pronounce the kanji. You'd think that he'd surface in a search. Oh well.

惑星 (Planet)

Shigeru Mizuki was an established artist, coming out with "Hakaba Kitaro" a few years before the advent of Garo magazine. But, he seems to be trying his hand here as a short story horror writer in the Twilight Zone vein. He has two stories in this issue, both of which are 8 pages long. The first one, "Wakusei" ("Planet") features a very poor man who wakes up one day to the news that a strange planet has parked itself between the moon and the Earth. Anyone with lots of money is chartering a rocket to visit the planet. Afterwards, the planet disappears and the world's rich are taken with it, resulting in the world's poor being able to eat steak for cheap. The next day, he wakes up only to discover that he'd dreamed all of it. As he eats his breakfast gruel, his wife reads in the paper that Elizabeth Taylor is getting married again.

一万人目の男 (The 10,000 Person Man)

This is the second of the two stories by Shigeru. I liked this one enough to run it on Nihongo Hunter. I'm not going to translate it, though, unless I get enough requests. The story is about a house that sits in the darker regions of the forest. Two hikers that discover it enter the house and are then eaten. In reality, it's a monster in the shape of a house. As it eats more people, it takes on new shapes, becoming more modern over time, going from a wooden cabin to a hot spring resort, and finally to a glass and steel version of the Tower of Babel as it consumes its 10,000th person.


Over all comments: Obviously, the main selling point for Garo is the Kamui series. Few of the other artists went on to make names for themselves, with the exceptions being Shigeru, Katsumata, Mamoru and Satsuko. The artwork is uneven, but even the lesser known people aren't all that bad. It's a pretty quick read. I tried to follow all of the Japanese text in the strips, and it took about 5-6 hours to go through. Not a bad value for 200 yen ($2.50 USD).

1 comment:

Mr Alchemy said...

Yes indeed, really love these write-ups of yours, all the way from Garo #23 through #28.