Sunday, December 19, 2010

Garo 75

Garo #75, May, '70. Cover by Sampei Shirato. 234 pages.

カムイ伝 (Kamui-den) #61

By Sampei Shirato (白土三平). 70 pages.
Time has passed. Life has settled down in the new Hanamaki village, and everyone is focused on growing new crops. Shousuke teaches the farmers how to grow cotton, and goes on to show how to make silk. Villagers force thieves and ronin to throw down their weapons, and they even complete a tunnel through the mountain to connect with another village. The peace between the villagers and the vagrants continues, with mixed-class couples living together and having children. Kigusu has been given orders by Yokome to assault Shousuke but he can't do it. Yokome is hiding up in the hills, watching in disgust. Naturally, this state of bliss can't last long.

The first hint that trouble is brewing is a feudal lord who approaches Ryuunosuke to siphon off some of the land for himself. Ryuunosuke refuses and chases the guy out. A little later, some merchants and Edo townspeople show up carrying a certificate of ownership to various plots of land. Ryuunosuke kicks the certificate into a fire and has the interlopers arrested. But a messenger from Edo arrives and shows proof that the certificate is legally valid. The interlopers are released, and more Edoites arrive to claim the land the farmers worked so hard to develop. Both sides prepare for war again, but just before things can get completely out of hand, a veiled basket priest intervenes and calls the farmers idiots for not checking first whether this is a trap. Turns out that more soldiers are hiding just the other side of the hills, waiting for the signal to come in and aid the Edoites. The farmers angrily demand to know who this guy is. He throws the disguise off, revealing Gon, covered in scars from having been shot with arrows.

Gon rallies the inventor kids group, and sends parties of farmers out to the rice paddies under his orders. When the army, led by the first lord that Ryuunosuke blew off, tries to sweep in and take over, they find the villages deserted, and the bridges over the rice patties sabotaged. Suddenly, the villagers show up, stamping on the ground in unison. The vibrations in the ground spook the horses and the army is forced to back off. At the end of the chapter, an Edoite runs along the path and tumbles down a hill, shouting out a new warning.

大部屋 (The Large Room)

By Shouhei Kusunoki (楠勝平). 36 pages. This is a featured manga on Nihon-go Hunter this week.
Note: The title, "Ohbeya", can simply mean "large room", an actor's common-use room, or a hospital ward.

The story takes place in a hospital, where various patients are waiting for major surgery. The majority of the conversations revolve around the decision whether to have the surgery or not, with jokes about why any given decision would be bad. If you have the surgery in the morning, the doctor might be coming in drunk; in the afternoon the doctor is tired and making mistakes. If you don't have the surgery, you usually only have 6 months to live. If you do have it, you may overhear the nurses wondering where one of their pairs of forceps went, or that their post-surgery inventory of the needles is coming up one short. Two guys get the surgery at the same time; one comes out of it fine, the other starts coughing a few days later and dies during a post-surgery operation. Another patient comes in, saying that he'll have his surgery in a couple of months, so two of the ones that have already had their surgeries start joking about missing needles, and the new guy yells at them for making him worry, with the resulting tension about to flare into a fist-fight. Eventually, most of the people have left, with one guy who put off the idea of being operated on looking emaciated, coughing weakly, and near-death.

[言論-出版の自由]とは (Discussing Freedom of the Press)
By Jirou Iwata (岩田二郎). 2 pages.
Article. Artwork by Maki Suzuki.

新-日本書紀 (The New Old Chronicles) #11

By Mamoru Sasaki & Satsuko Okamoto (佐々木 守 & 岡本 颯子). 6 pages.

近藤勇と国境線 (Izumi Kondou and The Border)

By Shigeru Mizuki (水木しげる). 1 page.
Article with photos.

赤色エレジー (Red-Colored Elegy)

By Seiichi Hayashi (林静一). 23 pages.
The Elegy is finally making a small amount of sense. The two lovers move in together but the closer proximity drives them apart.

どぶ街 (Ditch Road, Part 2)

By Tadao Tsuge (つげ忠男). 22 pages. This is a featured manga on Nihon-go Hunter this week.
An artist approaching a pachinko parlor gets harassed by some local thugs protecting their turf. The thugs' leader comes out, recognizes the artist as his friend and apologizes to him. They go to a coffee shop to talk. Turns out the artist has fallen on hard times and lost his job. They depress each other, and go back out to the street. A woman happens by and asks the artist to meet up with her to go drinking. A little later, the thugs run to get their leader to announce that a rival gang is trying to get into their pachinko parlor. There's a fight and one of the enemy gets knifed and dies. Everyone scatters, but the police are summoned and they catch the leader as he flees the scene. The artist and the woman happen by, and the woman runs to the leader to demand that the police let her husband go free. The artist wanders away and despondently kicks through some lumber at a demolished building site before walking off.

やさしい人 (The Gentle Person)

By Shinichi Abe (安部慎一). 19 pages.
An artist, wanting to draw manga, meets up with a woman. The two spend time in the guy's apartment, talking. She tries wearing his sunglasses, and then playing his guitar. She sees the red specks on the guitar and is told that it's dried blood. They drink for a while and he goes to sleep. She takes the guitar, runs her hands across the specks, and then licks her fingers.

Shinichi Abe (1950-) is the second of Garo's so-called "1-2-3" artists (along with Masuzou Furukawa and Oji Suzuki), because the kanji in their names can be read as the numbers 1, 2 or 3. While Abe has an extensive list of credits in the Japanese wiki, and his autobiographical manga "Miyoko Asagaya Kibun" was released as the movie "Miyoko" in 2009, there is very little information on him in English. In fact, the following information comes only from the Twitch Film review of the movie. Abe lived in the artist district in Tokyo in the 1970's. His debut work for Garo was "The Gentle Person" (May, 1970). He started out as a struggling artist until he decided to feature a model, Miyoko, as his main character. Later, they marry, and the "Miyoko" manga is serialized in Garo. However, Abe had a problem with drugs and alcohol, and things spiraled out of control, as described in the "Miyoko" manga. More recently, Abe was one of the artists to appear in the "Ax Anthology, vol. 1".

陰火 (Shadow Fire)

By Tsuguo Kougo (向後つぐお). 19 pages.
Another rambling, unfocused bit by Tsuguo. This time, a guy living by himself is having a conversation with his pillow, as if someone else is sitting in it. He gets excited watching a female neighbor undressing in an apartment across the street. After cleaning up, he goes to a bar, where he just drinks tea. At the next table over is a grizzled old man with a rough beard. The old guy just wants to drink his sake in peace, but a guy in a suit arrives to tell him that he has an appointment with a client. The old guy asks for 10 more minutes to drink his sake. The "hero" recognizes the old guy as a formerly well-known psychic and demands to have a palm reading right then and there. The psychic blows the "hero" off, and gets angry at not having been able to drink quietly in his remaining 10 minutes before leaving. He tells the "hero" to not do "that" anymore. The "hero" gets offended and orders sake for himself. He leaves and eventually makes his way to another bar, where he runs into the psychic again. He angrily repeats the psychic's words back at him, then stalks out of the bar. The psychic turns red and spills his sake onto the counter.

わら草紙 (Straw Book)

By Susumu Katsumata (勝又進). 22 pages.
Susumu is departing further away from his 4-panel gag format, which is given star positioning as the last story in this issue.

This is another one of his longer tales involving animals reflecting on human society, this time involving a tanuki. A young boy is cooling his feet in a pond. The tanuki invites the boy to his den for a meal of raw snails and sake. The tanuki turns out to be a grumpy old man, upset with the way his kids are growing up, the destruction of his hillside, his wife's obsession with grooming, and so on. Later, the tanuki dresses up in a jacket and a cap, and the two of them go into town to watch movies at night. Usually they'd return home along a specific road, but this time they take a shortcut past the school, where the tanuki spies a wooden tanuki statue standing outside of a restaurant. He gets offended, and the boy replies that this is why they were taking the other route. Eventually, the boy grows up and moves to Tokyo, where he gets a job making tires for cars. The burning smell of rubber makes him feel like he's going to die. After two years of this, he's taken up smoking and has developed a dead-looking face. Walking by a goods shop, he sees a raccoon dog hanging over a coat rack, looking like a fur stole. But, the stole has the same staring eyes as his old friend, and it laughs when he tickles it. But otherwise, it's stopped talking to him, and the teenager comments on how silly it looks.

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