Women creators in manga isn’t as an unusual thing as they are here in the US. Over here, publishers have special events to show that women can create comics, while in Japan no one even bats an eye at the idea. With March being Women’s History month, I thought I would highlight some of the women manga creators who have been influential in the medium in Japan and the US.
This week begins the Chinese New Year. This traditional Chinese holiday is based on a lunar calendar and is associated with an animal in the Chinese Zodiac. This year’s animal is the Tiger. So, I went looking for manga with tigers in them. Surprisingly, I couldn’t find a lot. I extended it to any of the big cats, and that make the list grow some, but it’s really surprising how few manga have tigers in them.
Revenge and redemption seems to be the theme of this sixth volume of Black Jack. Whether it’s a Mob Boss taking revenge on a prideful and corrupt doctor, or a father and son reconciling during a volcanic eruption, Tezuka explores these issues through Black Jack’s dealings with his patients.
By Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: Teen+
Genre: Medical Drama
Buy This Book
Revenge can come in may forms. Whether it’s the traditional “eye for an eye”, or in the name of justice, Black Jack ends up getting involved with people seeking revenge, and the patients often are the true victims. In “Twice Dead”, Black Jack’s skills are sought to help save a boy just so he can be put on trial for murder. “Brachydactyl” has a father trying to get revenge on his wife for cheating on him by denying their son the medical treatment he needs. The ably titled “Revenge” has a Mob Boss punishing a doctor for not letting Black Jack help his son. It’s Black Jack that administers the finale blow in this story. “Terror Virus” has Black Jack and his rival Dr. Kiriko working to save men exposed to a biological weapon. When Black Jack isn’t allowed to finish his work, Kiriko delivers “an eye for an eye” to the men who tried to condemn Black Jack’s patients. While not commenting on whether revenge is right or wrong, Tezuka does an excellent job of eliciting an emotional reaction from the reader.
Through all this darkness of revenge and retribution there is the light of redemption, though endings are more bittersweet. In “Brachydactyl”, while the father thought he wanted revenge, he is given a chance at redemption thanks to an observation by Black Jack. And in “Amidst Fire and Ash”, Black Jack’s resolve helps a father and son find reconciliation and redemption for the father. “A Body Turning To Stone” has strong religious overtones to it, especially at the end. But a father is again giving the chance at redemption with his first born, though the price ends up being higher than he intended. While the redemption of these fathers with their sons is good to see, not all of the endings are uplifting. But there is still a feeling of hope at the end that makes the reader feel that maybe the hardships will be worth it.
Throughout this volume of Black Jack, Tezuka continues his social commentary on the medical community. Perception is shown to be more valued than skill as Black Jack is denied a license to practice, and even jailed and kept there despite the need of his skills. Though one again, he refuses a license on principle, and I can’t say I blame him. There is also a subtle condemnation of experimenting on animals, and not so subtle one of man’s destruction of the environment.
Overall, this is another great collection of stories of the infamous doctor. The diseases and situations Black jack must face continue to entertain as well as make you think. There was only one scene that I found disturbing, during an operation, but is was only for one frame and could passed by quickly. Don’t let the scenes of the operations dissuade you from reading this series. Tezuka’s comment on the human condition far outweighs his portrayal of the human anatomy. Don’t pass this series up. You won’t be disappointed.
Review copy provided by publisher. Image © Vertical Inc.
Cute Pups: Canine Friends and Accessories
By Chie Hayano
Publisher: Vertical Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Even…More…Puppies!!! It’s like “The Littlest Pet Shop” for adults!
Even though by nature I’m a cat person, I can’t resist a puppy. They are just so cute and cuddly! Vertical must know how irresistable puppies are, as they release their second craft book of little dog making: Cute Pups.
September 19 was International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Did you remember to say “Arrrr” a lot and read some pirate manga?
Manga in the Classroom
Patrick Macias, Japanese pop culture aficionado, has posted the audio for a lecture he gave at the California State University at Monterey Bay last week. Called Theoretical Perspectives on Manga, Anime & Otaku, it includes some older material from a speech earlier this year at the Temple University Japan Campus as well as some new material about American fandom. I love it when this kind of material is shared, especially the academic talks. I’ve always been fascinated by the cultural aspects of fandom and I’ll take any opportunity to feed my hunger.
Cute Dogs: Craft your own Pooches
By Chie Hayano
Publisher Vertical, Inc.
Age Rating: All Ages
Vertical Inc is a unique publisher in the manga world. They are a boutique publisher who does more than bring manga over from Japan. They also publish novels from horror to business, Sudoku puzzle books, and coolest of all, craft books. Their newest release is Cute Dogs, which is filled with exactly that; little stuffed dogs that don’t just look cute, but look fun to make.
Cute Dogs is a thin book at just 79 pages, but it’s packed with 16 different dogs you can create on your own. Ranging from the Boston Terrier, Chihuahua, Welsh Corgi, Miniature Dachshund, to the Miniature Schnauzer, you’ll find many of the most popular dog breeds. The first half of the book is filled with pictures of each of the finished pieces, showing them from different angles so you know how they should look. They are all posed with accessories like food bowls, wagons, bowls and baskets. All the dogs have names and little sayings that give them personality. It’s fun just looking at these pictures and reading about each dog. After seeing all the stuffed dogs, we are introduced to the real dogs that worked as models. They all have wonderful personalities too.
The second half of the book gets into the crafty stuff. All the materials needed to make these pooches are pictures and described, as well as all the tools. There is also a basic sewing guide that shows all the stitched needed and how to do them. There are only three, and they are pretty simple. Then it gets into the nitty-gritty of cutting, preparing, and sewing the dogs together. It’s step-by-step, taking you from start to finish through Bob, the Boston Terrier. He’s the template. The rest of the dogs have their own variations, but the construction is the same for all. The directions are clear and concise, with pictures illustrating them, making them easier to understand.
I really enjoyed Cute Dogs. The dogs are cute, and they look to be fairy easy to make. Teens would have no problem making these, and even Tweens, with some supervision could do them! I’m definitely going to try making some of these pooches. Just paging through the book started giving me ideas of what could be done with them. Crafters and dog-lovers alike with love this book. Now, where’s the Cute Cats book?
Review copy provided by publisher.