Happy Monday internet! Who’s ready to get Schwifty!? If you get that reference you are amazing, and if you don’t, watch Rick and Morty already. It’s on Youtube for free and is probably the most consistently funny and thought provoking program on television right now. Before I begin today’s post, I wanted to let you readers know that reviews for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain are starting to come in and………..it’s a masterpiece. Literally, IGN gave the game a score of 10/10, which earned it a “Masterpiece” rating. This makes it one of 33 titles in the entire history of video games to earn that title. Since the game is released to the public on Sept. 1st, I’m probably not going to be able to post as frequently due to me needing to play that game. Also, I’ll be starting this thing called “College” again, which will probably eat up a decent amount of my time. I’ll probably post a review of the game after I’ve played enough of it to form a reasonable opinion to compensate for the lack of activity. After a week or two into college, I’ll also probably draw up a new posting schedule that will mesh better with my class schedule and other responsibilities. Okay, now that the housekeeping stuff is out of the way, it’s time to get serious and talk about Japanese comic books.
Japanese comics, or manga, are comics created in Japan with various genres marketed to different age groups. These comics tell a wide variety of stories and are quite often the source material for any given anime. Modern manga first began to appear in 1945 as a way for Japan to express its unique culture and also reshape its global image after World War Two. It can be distinguished from western comics quite easily, as Manga is typically in black and white and due to Manga being read from right to left.
While I am probably in the minority opinion, I enjoy manga more than anime. This is for a few reasons, some of which are stupid and some of which are totally valid. When I first started reading manga at around age 13 or 14, the internet connection in my house SUUUUUUUUUCKED. Actually it still kind of does, but anyway; it was easier and less time consuming for me to read a work than it was for me to watch its anime adaptation. Manga is also able to generally be more graphic and suffers from less censorship than anime due to manga not being a televised medium. Lastly, manga usually does not suffer from what is commonly referred to as “filler” in the anime industry. “Filler” is the insertion of story arcs or scenes into an anime that did not appear in the original manga. Filler can be added for various reasons, ranging from produces trying to make more money to the anime catching up to the source material in terms of story, but filler almost always contains a story that is not relevant to the series plot and is usually never referenced again in the show.
Now that you know what Manga is and why I like it, here are some great series for new readers to pick up.
Rave Master, also known as RAVE or The Groove Adventure Rave, tells the story of a sixteen year old boy who is chosen by fate to save the world. Along the way he meets an amnesiac girl and a mysterious dog-like creature and together they attempt to fight evil and restore the girl’s memories. If it sounds like a straightforward somewhat clichéd story, that’s because it kind of is.
This is the first series written by the acclaimed manga author Hiro Mashima, who’s better known for his later work Fairy Tail (which you should probably also read). While at its heart RAVE is a story that has been told a thousand times, there are enough twists and surprises to keep a reader entertained though the story’s entirety. RAVE also does a tremendous amount of world building and has some striking character development. This combined with the fact that nearly every character has a delightful 90s punk tone makes everything feel cool and badass.
Seriously, these guys look like Green Day, but with more swords and angst. I love it.
You know how there was a stretch in literature where a ton of authors wrote about vampires and tried to depict the complex situation of living amongst people, but also needing to eat people to survive? Yeah, this author, Sui Ishida, basically said fuck you guys, this is how that story would actually go. The end result of this was the masterful work known as Tokyo Ghoul. This is a story about college student, Ken Kaneki, who one day is attack by and nearly eaten by a ghoul. He avoids death, but has to receive an organ transplant to live. A few days later he discovers that regular food tastes like garbage to him and that the only things he can eat are human flesh and coffee. This story is about him adjusting to living life as a monster, or ghoul.
This is a phenomenal story and probably has some of the best uses of literary devices in all of fiction. Subtle foreshadowing is present all though out the story, some of which does not come to fruition until hundreds of chapters later. Tokyo Ghoul also draws parallels and acknowledges these parallels to other works of horror such as Kafka’s book The Metamorphasis. Most impressively, the entire work is a loose interpretation of the story told in tarot cards. The author will sometimes hide numbers in scenes that show what tarot number a character is associated with or what event in the tarot cards’ story is happening.
This is an exceptional manga that has equal parts psychological thrills as it does action. The author pulls no punches in describing the dark aspects of cannibalization for survival. Tokyo Ghoul also does a great job of showing what life would be like for a person that society thinks of as a monster. This story can be dark and morbid, but that is because it is supposed to be a tragedy.
It’s a beautiful tragedy.
One Punch Man
If you read superhero comics, this series will probably be easy for you to pick up. One Punch Man was created by author One (this is a badass pseudonym) and is equal parts action, satire, comedy, and philosophy. It originally started as a web comic, but became so popular that it has seen a rerelease in publication magazines, with the art now being drawn by Yusuke Murata. This is probably the most beautifully illustrated work on this list.
The story follows a man named Saitama who dreamed of becoming the world’s strongest hero. After three years he achieved his goal. The only problem is that he has become so strong that he can defeat even the strongest of enemies with a single punch. You know how Superman is always mocked because he is supposed to be all powerful, but still winds up getting his ass beat by Batman? Saitama would make both of them look like chumps. The main plot of One Punch Man more or less follows Saitama trying to find meaning in life after achieving his goals.
I would go into more detail describing some of the supporting characters and the overachieving themes of the work, but, honestly, if you aren’t interested in it by now, One Punch Man probably is not for you. I’ll just let the main character sum up who he is and what he’s about.
Mob Psycho 100
This is another work by One (yeah, yeah, I’m a fan), that is also geared toward an adult audience. It should be noted that this work is both written and drawn by One, so expect a vastly different art style than what is in Once Punch Man. However, this series contains just as many psychological musings and examinations of society.
The story of Mob Psycho 100 follows 8th grader Shigeo Kageyama who is nicknamed Mob (which essentially means John Doe in the Japanese context) because he is incredibly bland and unassuming. However, in reality he is an immensely powerful esper, an person capable of an array of paranormal abilities. The reason he is so plain and stoic is because his psychic powers grow more powerful and become harder to control as he gets more emotional. Shigeo has intentionally placed an emotional shackle on himself to protect the people around him, which ironically has caused him to have difficulty forming relationships with others and finding his place in society.
You know how Forrest Gump is more or less a story of an individual being used by those around him? This story is like that, but a LOT cooler. Mob Psycho 100 is filled with compelling characters with interesting world views. While a lot of stuff happens, the story is ultimately about Mob trying to find where he belongs, how to make the most out of his life, and how to handle his extraordinary powers. The story regularly rotates between being funny to thoughtful and insightful, to badass. Meaning that the plot is always moving and is never boring.
That’s it for Manga (And Also Anime) Monday. Thank you very much for reading. There won’t be any posts tomorrow, but you can still be excited for Pop-Culture Wednesday. If you liked this post, go ahead and give it a physical like down below and leave a comment while you’re there. You can also subscribe via email in the right side drop down menu. You can also like and follow the BaddaBing BaddaBlog Facebook page. I’m also on Twitter, where I am hilarious. My handle is @LucasDeRuyter. If any of these series interested you they are readily available online in various places, although I would prefer it if you viewed them through legal channels. Good luck with the work week everybody.