Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Garo 45

Garo #45, May, '68. Cover by Shigeru Mizuki. 234 pages.
This is a first for the span that I've been covering. Sampei Shirato doesn't have any kind of presence in this issue. Instead, Shigeru gets the cover and the feature story position, plus his regular spot at the end of the magazine with Kitaro.

白い旗 (White Flag)

By Shigeru Mizuki (水木しげる). 50 pages.
February 10, 1945. Iwo Jima Island. A group of Japanese soldiers have taken up camp in the caves. They've been pinned down by the American forces, and are trying to store up water from the ongoing squalls to last them for more than a few days. Then, in the next series of assaults, the Japanese forces get whittled down to almost nothing. They've completely exhausted all of their ammunition, and when the next supply air drop arrives, it just consists of a crate of bamboo spears. The captain decides to surrender in order to save the handful of wounded survivors from his group. But, his superior officer demands that everyone on the island fight to the death, because that's what it means to "be Japanese". The two men argue over which is more important - family or honor, with the captain vowing to ensure that his men make it out of the war alive. After several attempts to plant a white flag on the beachhead, the captain is warned that he'll be shot as a traitor next time. Then, when the flag does go up one night, the captain is shot in the back under orders from his superior, and the muzzle flash gives the American artillery something to aim at. The resulting barrage wipes out the last of the resistance. A little later, the wounded that had been hiding in the caves take a boat out onto the waters and drift off to safety.

勝又進 作品集 (Katsumata's Creation Collection) #23

By Susumu Katsumata (勝又進). 14 pages.
More 4-panel strips mocking society. Again, these are split up into 2 parts. The first one, here, is 4 pages, and the second following Kusonoki's "Special News" is 10 pages. In the above strip, Susumu meets up with Nezumi Otoko, who'd gotten tired of hanging around Studio Mizuki Pro and escaped. They commiserate over each other's current lives with a few bottles of sake. Naturally, neither of them have money, so they use their combined sake-breaths to knock out the cashier and skip out on the check.

孤独の島 (Island Solitude)

By Yuu Takita (滝田ゆう). 10 pages. This is a featured manga on Nihon-go Hunter this week.
This is actually two short stories in one. In "Island Solitude", a shipwrecked castaway daydreams about escaping the island he shares with his wife and 4 babies. In "日々是好日" (Everyday Zikouhi) an Edo-era city official notices a pretty woman drop her hair comb on the street, but a basket priest picks it up first and follows the woman to her house. The official follows the priest. He watches as the priest stares through the door into the house, then stomps over to a river to throw the comb in the water. The official also looks into the house and sees the woman with another guy. The official then throws a whole bunch of rocks into the river after the comb.

宇宙人国旅行記 (Madam Haruko: Journals of the Trip to the Space Alien's Country)

By Kuniko Tsurita (つりたくにこ). 35 pages.
The angels' rocket takes Madam Haruko and her posse to Planet R, where Haruko is welcomed as a savior. She focuses on writing a series of plays that cajole the few remaining inhabitants into being eradicated and giving all of their possessions to her. After the population drops below half of what it had been, the posse attempts to revolt against her. The coup fails, and the posse negotiates itself into taking the rocket back to Earth to avoid being sentenced to death instead. Haruko continues her purge, until only two angels remain. She then accuses them of being too selfish, having remained alive while their fellow countrymen died. This claim is just too much and the last two angels die of shock. Haruko happily collects all of her loot and prepares to return to Earth herself, until she realizes that there'd only been the one rocket. She consoles herself with the thought that she still has all of Planet R's wealth for herself.

死者の独占 (Monopoly on Casualties) #38
By Koshi Ueno (上野昂志). 2 pages.

日本忍法伝 (Japan Ninja Arts Legend) #28

By Mamoru Sasaki & Satsuko Okamoto (佐々木 守 & 岡本 颯子). 6 pages.
Subtitled (韓国模様 (Korean Figure), Part 24). Note that the hiragana written over the kanji for Korea is "Karakuni", an archaic name for that country.

臨時ニュース (Special News)

By Shouhei Kusunoki (楠勝平). 34 pages. This is a featured manga on Nihon-go Hunter this week.
Shouhei has forgone the Edo era again, trying for his second story set in the 1960's. This one is well-drawn, but kind of pointless. A girl, her father, her younger brother and their dog live at home. The girl gets hit by a car and injures her arm, but it gets better. The father encounters the driver of the car and his boss, and accepts the settlement. The boy gets into a fight with another kid and hits him in the head with a rock, but the victim comes out of the altercation ok. (The other kid is actually the son of the car driver, who tells his boy to quit crying and fight harder next time.) At the end, the dog growls at someone that seems to be a bad guy and that's it. Nothing is resolved or changed.

巨大な魚 (Gigantic Fish)

By Seiichi Hayashi (林静一). 15 pages.
A woman living alone is visited by her long-lost son. The boy is upset that his father is missing, apparently having been eaten by a large fish. The boy yells at his mother for a while then runs out to kill the fish. He disappears, and it looks like all of this has taken place in the woman's head, and that she's just insane.

どろ人形 (Mud Dolls)

By Hideshi Hino (日野日出志). 16 pages. This is a featured manga on Nihon-go Hunter this week.
A group of disabled children living in the shadows of some factory smokestacks create a statue out of mud and then beat it down with sticks as a symbolic retribution against the adults that built the factories that spew out the black ash that has stolen away their eyes, mouths and ears. Unfortunately, the ritual fails to work this time too, as the factories remain standing. At the end, they watch the beautiful sunset through the smog.

I'd never heard of Hideshi (1946-) before, but he's an established horror artist, according to the English wiki entry. The Japanese wiki has a much more complete listing of his works, but it's missing the name of his 1967 debut work for Tezuka's COM magazine (the rival of Garo). There's also no mention of Mud Dolls in either wiki. According to the wiki entries: Born in China, his family escaped back to Japan when the post-war anti-Japan actions erupted. His grandfather was a yakuza, and his father was an itinerant pig farmer with a spider tattoo on his back. His early influences included Shigeru Sugiura and Yoshiharu Tsuge. His works have also appeared in shojo magazines, and a number of his manga have been turned into live-action films.

最後の鋳掛屋 (The Last Ikakeya)

By Yuu Takita (滝田ゆう). 16 pages.
Ikakeya no longer exists as an occupation, but post-WW II it flourished as craftsmen worked to solder metal pails during construction, or repairing aluminum pots and pans, along with similar metalworking tasks. An old ikakeya worker wanders through the town, calling out his trade name. A trio of middle-aged biddies misunderstand him and attack him in the belief that he is insulting their looks. He tries explaining the type of work he does, but with the over-abundance of cheap pots and pans, people just toss out old kitchenware instead of trying to repair it. The old man goes home and watches a TV show with his wife that supposedly recreates the era of tobacco pipe repairmen, but it's obviously a fake show. Despondent, the old man leaves the house just before the TV show's producers call to set up an interview with him. Turns out though that he's found new work - repairing an old Japanese battleship.

鬼太郎夜話 (Kitaro Night Stories) #11

By Shigeru Mizuki (水木しげる). 29 pages.
It initially seems that Kitaro was mentally unhinged by being hit over the head by Nezumi Otoko, but he's really mourning the loss of Neko musume. He decides to go out and enjoy himself, eating chocolate, drinking coffee and lounging around. He encounters a beatnik doing the same thing. Kitaro asks the man for tips on raising money for enjoying himself, and the guy tells him to bump into a woman with a fat butt on the train platform. The woman is outraged and knocks Kitaro down onto the tracks. While the onlookers watch in horror as the train approaches, the beatnik picks their pockets. Kitaro catches up to the guy later, accusing him of being a thief, and he just says that he's doing this for the thrill.

They part ways and Kitaro returns home, where he finds his father, the eyeball, and a little bald kid. His father reveals the kid as being the one that was passing himself off as the Fake Kitaro (FK), but he's repented now. Unfortunately, Neko musume didn't want to return to the surface with them. There's a knock on the door - it's the mailman with a postcard from someone in hell. The mailman refuses to accept the value of the hell stamp on the card and Kitaro doesn't have the 30 cents to pay for it. On the other hand, Kitaro just read the message on the card (inviting him to a party) so he lets the mailman take the card back undelivered.

Kitaro returns to his room, but the fake Kitaro is getting ready to go to sleep and curls up where Kitaro usually has his bed. In disgust, Kitaro goes outside to enjoy himself again, but he's forgotten his money. He runs into the beatnik, who tells him to intercept the next woman who comes along. Kitaro does this, but the beatnik accuses him of being a thug and runs off to get the police for the woman, right after stealing her wallet. The policeman hauls Kitaro to the station, where the station chief recognizes "the boy" as the "Hakuba Kitaro" that has been made famous in manga, TV anime and films by the great artist Shigeru Mizuki. The chief lets him go, and Kitaro finds the beatnik again. The beatnik had promised to split the money, but now refuses because it was all done just for the thrill. Kitaro says that he understands, and offers to show the man a real thrill. They ride a scooter out into the woods, where flocks of crows and various ghosts cause the guy to declare nervously that he's not scared. At the end, there's a "thud" and it looks like the bike's been set on fire.

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