Sunday, March 14, 2010

Garo #28

Dec., 1966, issue #28. 202 pages, cover by Shigeru Mizuki. This is one of the first issues lost when the laptop stopped working. Fortunately, I was able to locate another copy of the magazine at Mandarake for about 500 yen ($5), and it was in good enough condition to survive the scanning process this time, plus the smell from the old paper wasn't all that overwhelming.

This is an unusual issue (for the timespan that I've covered so far) in that Sanpei isn't the featured artist this time. Instead, Shigeru Mizuki has the lead spot, which is why he also has the cover. Sanpei then takes Shigeru's place at the back with a three-part story called "War" (which originally ran in the March, 1963, issue of "Boy's Life" magazine.

怪奇死人帳 (Bizarre Corpse Book)

Shigeru Mizuki (水木しげる) gives us a 98-page tale of a young son of a samurai who's out browsing an old used bookstore. The owner says that he's gotten these books from a temple. One, bound in iron and missing the key for the lock, catches the boy's eye. He takes it home, breaks the lock, and learns that it's a manual used by Shinigami (the god of death). He follows the instructions for summoning Shinigami, but that just takes him to a cave with an empty coffin. Later that night, there's a knock on the door and an old man claiming to be Shinigami shows up, saying that since he'd been called, the boy now has to give up his life. The boy challenges the old man to a game of Shogi, and wins by accident. Shinigami claims he'll be back the next day and leaves. The following morning, the boy's older brother stops by to explain to him the family's secret - in a back garden on the grounds is a closed-off area filled with poisonous plants, where a "poison woman" lives. The woman's touch can kill, and the boy almost bumps into her accidentally. They leave, and that night Shinigami returns for a jug of sake and a rematch.

This time, Shinigami proves that he's an 8th-rank player, and easily defeats the boy. He takes the boy to the land of the dead, along the way encountering the poison woman who apparently had died shortly before from unknown causes. When the trio reaches the entrance to the land of the dead, they discover that the corpse book is back at the boy's home. The boy runs back to get it and is arrested by a police squad under suspicion of killing the poison woman. The boy is placed under house arrest. Shinigami arrives at the house just long enough to recover the book, then leaves again. When the boy is released, he attempts to retrace his earlier steps but fails to find the land of the dead no matter hard he tries.

ノッペラボーについて (Fitting the No-Face Woman) #21
Koshi Ueno (上野昂志). 2 page article.

手錠 (Handcuffs)

This is an early unpublished 18-page story by Yoshiharu Tsuge(つげ義春) (Neji-Shiki). A detective chasing a robber gets into a gun fight with him, and shoots the villain in the leg. A hard downpour starts and they find an abandoned mine for refuge. Since the robber can't walk, the detective handcuffs him to a pipe and heads out to find help. But, the trail gives way and the detective falls. He comes to in a hospital, but now has amnesia. Time passes and the robber can't free himself from the handcuffs, even after hitting them with rocks, so he waits, suffering from a lack of food and water. The police chief takes the detective out to where he'd been rescued, and a near-accident helps jog his memory back. He races to the cave, only to find that the robber is sitting up in place, dead. The chief follows, telling the detective that 3 months had passed since the robbery.

作品集 (Creation Collection) #7

Just 1 page by Katsumata Susumu (勝又進) this time.

おせん (Osen)

Another Edo-era story by Shouhei Kusunoki (楠勝平). A carpenter working on a construction site encounters a feisty young woman named Osen. The carpenter, who's actually well-off and living in his own house, finds himself attracted to her, but she doesn't recognize him when he visits her sweet potato stall in his good clothes. They eventually become friends and he invites her to his house, where he shows off the family's prized treasure, an old vase. Osen is introduced to the carpenter's uncle and it looks like she's gotten his approval. The old man leaves, and Osen and the carpenter get into a little rough housing which results in Osen's backing up into the vase and smashing it. She immediately lashes out saying that it wasn't her fault and that the carpenter is all to blame. She runs away. The carpenter gets drunk and swears at the sky about women, while a distance away, Osen cries over her mistake. 24 pages.

こんな話 (A Story Like This)

A young manga artist is visited by a friend who wants the artist to pay back the money he loaned him. The artist refuses, asking the friend to wait until his story sells. The friend is kicked out of the house and vows to come back later for his money. Days pays and he returns as promised, only now the artist is gone. On the table is a manuscript for a story about a man that learns to walk through walls, leaving a gray humanoid shadow on the wall and a pile of clothes on the floor. The friend looks around and sees the artist's clothes on the floor near a wall with a gray shadow on it. The friend panics, thinking that the artist made the story come true, and knocks himself out running into the wall. Elsewhere, the artist is out in the countryside for a stroll, laughing at the idea that his friend may have fallen for his trick, when he sees someone looking like the character he'd created, stepping out of a wall. He faints. By Kuniko Tsurita (つりた くにこ), 19 pages.

戦争 (War)

A three-parter by Sanpei Shirato (白土三平). 36 pages. In the first part, the German army overtakes a Polish village and shoots everyone related to the resistance. A young girl tries to escape and falls into a hole in the snow, next to a pistol dropped by one of the victims. A German soldier spies her, and she instinctively shoots him in the chest. He lands on her, collapsing the hole so that no one else sees her. Later, the Russian army liberates the town, and a Russian soldier tries to befriend her, only to be shot in the chest before she runs away again.

In part 2, the German air force drops bombs on a village, and one of the bombs fails to go off. A demolitions team is brought into defuse it, but they bobble the ordinance and it falls over. They discover that it's filled with sand. When the German army invades the town later, the villagers are convinced that the soldiers are running low on ammo, and don't put up a fight when lined up in front of the firing squad. The narrator informs us that the Germans used this trick to make it easier to take over villages.

In the last part, a Japanese husband at home is talking to his wife and children over dinner. We learn that he can't eat raw meat for some reason. The next day, he and his two sons go out to visit a zoo, and they stop at a sushi restaurant for a quick meal. The father isn't paying attention and pops a piece of sushi in his mouth. Realizing what he'd done, he runs out to the street to throw up and is hit by a car. He flashes back to when he was a soldier during WW II on an island when the Americans bombed it. Only he and one fellow soldier survived the air raid, but there's nothing to eat on the island and they start to starve to death. The friend gets desperate and attacks the father, but is killed himself in the fighting. The father tries to eat the friend raw and can't bring himself to do it. He stumbles away, only to discover an emaciated woman hiding in a house. The scene skips to where the father now has a full belly, but he walks into an American patrol sweeping the island and he gets shot before being taken prisoner. He then wakes up in the hospital with his wife and kids. He pretends to be happy but is now riddled with guilt over his recovered memories.

I'm featuring this one on Nihon-go Hunter.


Mr Alchemy said...

Great write-up. I think you made the right choice going with Shirato's war to be the focus over at Nihongo Hunter. Of course I would love to read the others, but that one certainly stands out.

It's interesting to finally see more examples of art styles and types of stories that ran in Garo, and to become acquainted with the artists who are largely unknown in the West (and probably even in their home country).

If you do more write-ups of this depth and calibre you could construct the first Garo encyclopaedia available to English fans on the web. Kind of like your Akira Toriyama Super Database.

TSOTE said...

Thanks for the feedback, I appreciate it. I am scanning a few more stories per issue than I'm posting, in part to have something to go back to and work with later when I have the time. I'm trying to get all of the stories by Tsuge and Kusonoki. I haven't decided what to do with Shige Nagashima - he starts showing up in a few issues and has some fairly thoughtful stories and a clean drawing style. But I don't know how many stories he's produced, total. Then there's Shigeru, who has a large, consistent output that I'm just going to sample, and Kuniko who's kind of hit or miss. If we set up a file drop point, I may ask for help just cleaning up the files because of the number of pages involved per issue.