Thursday, May 19, 2016

Area 51, vol. 12 review

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Area 51, vol. 12, by Masato Hisa. Grade: A
Finally! Volume 12 is out! I have read it and now I have to wait for #13... Sigh.

H50) I Will Do That, After Making More Witnesses.
The Nue that was activated at the end of the last volume makes a beeline for Amaterasu, and the rest of the chapter is spent with her and Tomoko attempting to escape it. The monster is nearly indestructible, can shape-change, and its Medusa tail keeps turning bystanders into stone. Amaterasu, as one of Japan's main goddesses, does have a few tricks of her own, including an Ultraman-style cross beam attack. She uses her network of subservient monsters to help her evade the Nue, while also getting an SOS to her assistant, Tsukuyomi. Tsukuyomi goes ballistic at hearing that his boss is being threatened, and sends his people to figure out what's going on. His first thought is that Amaterasu is being targeted by the Egyptian gods, so he calls Ra to confirm this. Ra says that he has no idea what's going on, but he has his suspicions. He summons Anubis, the jackal-headed god of death, who feigns innocence.

(Tsukuyomi finishes his call to Ra, who then interrogates Anubis.)

Elsewhere, Kishirou the kappa and Major Felix follow separate leads to the shed where the face changer had his lab for creating the Nue. From the evidence (i.e., a knife through a photo of Amaterasu) they confirm who the monster is after.

(In-jokes: Signs for the Karloff Cafe and Lugosi Store. And, when the Medusa tail petrifies everything, signs for Sharon Ice Cream, Oliver 7&4, and Sly & I.)

H51) I Rip You Up To 128 Pieces.

(I love that first panel on the right-hand page, equating Tomoko with a hissing cat, and Amaterasu with a waiting lion.)

Tomoko crashes her truck into a light pole, and uses a magic eye bullet from Pike to locate an abandoned windmill building to hide in. Pike asks who is behind all this, and Amaterasu thinks it's the Egyptians. However, the Nue had yelled that it was going to tear them into 128 pieces, and Tomoko says that she's heard that expression before. She flashes back to a case when she was still a detective. Someone had dismembered the bodies of a woman and her 3-year-old daughter. The woman's husband, Kiburou Itsuki, a bio researcher, had been out of town for a week, and had come home to discover the carnage. Itsuki vowed that if he ever found the culprit(s), he'd tear them into 128 pieces. Being a bio researcher, he might have uncovered the formula for making the Nue, so maybe the Egyptians are innocent. However, it seems that Anubis might be involved anyway (possibly having given the instruction book to Itsuki somehow) as part of his own plans.

(The trap is sprung.)

Tomoko asks Amaterasu why Itsuki would be after her, just as the windmill building transforms into the Nue (it was a trap). Amaterasu looks at Tomoko and says "Please don't hate me," then the Nue kills her, while Tomoko is knocked unconscious and ends up sprawled in a pool of blood.

(Amaterasu dies.)

H52) The War Has Began Already.
Ra wants to call Tsukuyomi to prevent a potential war breaking out between the Egyptian and Japanese gods, but Anubis uses his mummy bandage wrappings to take the phone away from him. Ra, gets suspicious, and lashes out with his solar fire, then discovers that this "Anubis" is a decoy. The real jackal wraps the burning bandages around Ra, and the sun god dies from his own fire. Anubis wants this war, and is gleeful as Tsukuyomi issues the formal declaration - "Anyone related to Egypt must die." Anubis tells Ra's daughter, Sekhmet, that the Japanese killed her father, and she issues similar orders against Japan's gods.

(Anubis kills Ra.)

The Nue counts the pieces of Amaterasu scattered around the ruins of the mill, and gets up to 127. It cuts one piece in half, accepts it as piece 128, smiles, and collapses into separate pieces itself. In the Japanese gods' HQ, the blind mariache, Umibozuu (Sea Priest) warns Tsukuyomi that the enemy is approaching and he should escape now. And, Tomoko realizes that she's living the memories of Amaterasu.

H53) Don't Bother.
In the memories, we see that a long time ago, the world's gods were fighting the First Snake, at a time when Thor was still friends with Hades, and Hades was still alive. The Egyptians were under attack, and Anubis committed himself to dying to save Isis. He leaped into the mouth of the lead snake to kill it from inside. However, after being disfigured by the stomach acid, he was rescued by the Japanese gods, who easily wiped out the rest of the enemy. So, instead of being received as an honored martyr, Anubis was turned into a laughingstock in front of both the Japanese, and other Egyptian, gods. Now safely encased in his astronaut-like suit, Anubis looks forward to his revenge against both sides.

(Anyone recognize this guy?)

In the middle of the war, Umibozuu channels his inner Robert Rodriguez and launches various monsters against the Egyptians, who rely mainly on tanks and robots. At the same time, Kishirou has to rescue his "kids" from the elementary school that has become ground zero.

The scene ends with Amaterasu's memory of the creation of the 10 Gods Council, and the other 9 gods (Thor, Ra and the rest) welcoming her into their ranks. The problem is that while this is a part of Amaterasu's recollections, the woman in the kimono at the table has McCoy's face.

"Five Years @Bunch"
Masato recounts his time at @Bunch magazine. The question is, how is the "@" character pronounced. According to Masato, it has no pronunciation, as it's the name of a Cthulhu-like demon that is summoned by the Bunch editors to make Masato a faster artist. "@" gives them a demonic pen nib, which lets Masato meet all his deadlines, with the side effect of turning the magazines into a monster. McCoy kills the monster while the editors quake in fear.

Summary: Yeah, I love this manga. With its in-jokes, cultural references, introductions of obscure mythology, and just plain good action scenes, what's not to like? Highly recommended to anyone not offended by female bodies, and casual destruction.

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