World Comic Book Review

29th September 2023

In the market for a giant weaponised robot? It pays to buy Japanese.

North Dakota in the United States has legislation which specifically allows flying drones used for policing to be equipped with Tasers, pepper spray and rubber bullets. This is not new thinking. Comic books both in the US and Japan have long considered militarised robots, although ordinarily on a gargantuan scale for visual effect. (For the purposes of this discussion, we exclude “mecha” and other forms of exoskeletons, like “Iron Man”, “Gundam”, and “Neon Genesis Evangelion”).

In US comic books, most robots tend to be opponents to altruistic superheroes. Here is the schematic for a Sentinel, a mutant hunting robot most often seen in Marvel Comic’s “Uncanny X-men” titles:

sentinel drone

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Blade Bunny #1 (review)

Blade Bunny #1 (review)
(Antarctic Press, April 2016 )
Writer: Eric Kimball

“Blade Bunny” #1 is an action-comedy comic published by Antartic Press, serving as a printed and digital compilation of the first few chapters of the webcomic. The story focuses on a deadly female assassin whose most notable characteristics are her childlike innocence juxtaposed with a sadistic sense of humor, exceptional martial arts abilities, and a set of bunny ears and tail (hence the name.)

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Pixelated Images, Obscenity, Japanese Manga, and The Inspiration of Detention

“What is Obscenity?”
(Koyama Press, May 2016)
Writer: Rokudenashiko

We start this article by noting it is not a review: we have not yet received a copy of the graphic novel, “What is Obscenity?” But we look forward to doing that, and in any event the stir surrounding Rokudenashiko and her work is of itself newsworthy.

As we have previously discussed in our article on “Prison School”, comic books in Japan (“manga”) are frequently a creative vehicle for pornography. Article 175 of the Criminal Code of Japan forbids distributing “indecent” materials. The practical consequence of that law is that gentalia is either drawn in an entirely fuzzy or obscured way, or are overlaid by a “mozaiku” (meaning a “mosaic”, or pixelated image).

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The Undead Hunters of Tokyo

Tokyo Ghoul Vol 1
Shueisha Inc (Japanese original) 2011; Viz Media (English translation) June 2015
Writer: Sui Ishida

Review by DG Stewart, 8 January 2016

“Kodokushi” is the Japanese word for “lonely death”: a common enough phenomenon in Japan where haunting alienation from the community is prevalent as a consequence of, amongst other things, Japan’s extended economic stagnation. Many Japanese people, particularly unemployed and middle-aged men, die alone and unnoticed, and it is such an issue that Tokyo’s Shinjuku ward began a lonely-death awareness campaign.

Mr Ishida’s anime comic is concerned not with elderly men dying a lonely death, but with a young, awkward student named Ken Kaneki. Ken attends the imaginary Kamii University, located in Nerima ward in Tokyo. He is hopeless with girls, and hides in the shadow of his good childhood friend, the extroverted Hide. A pretty young woman named Rize slowly becomes interested in Ken, as a consequence of a mutual interest in a sinister book entitled “Egg of the Black Goat”. The two end up walking together down an alley. Rize leans in, apparently nervous, and then abruptly transforms into a ghoul and takes an enormous bite out of Ken’s shoulder and neck. The alley is otherwise empty: Ken’s version of kodokushi will be more horrific than most, but yet not an unexpected thing in Tokyo.

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