Given my love of all things Godzilla and giant monsters in general, I had expected Kaiju No. 8 Volume 1 by Naoya Matsumoto [Viz; $9.99] to ne right up my debris-filled alley. I liked the basic premise of an aging clean-up man seeking to become a member of the kaiju-busting Japan Defense Force, I loved that, in addition to his age, he has the impediment of occasionally turns into a kaiju himself. Yet this first volume didn’t reach my expectations.
Lead/title character Kafka Hibino, a kaiju-corpse cleanup man, is a likeable, relateable protagonist. I freely admit that part of why I relate to him is I’m a 70-year-old writer trying to get back into writing comic books. But I’ve also always loved heroes who seek to go beyond their seeming capabilities to achieve greatness. Sadly, I haven’t warmed up to the other characters.
The storytelling part of the series artwork also fails to interest me. It’s choppy and fails to tell the story clearly. I’m also not impressed by the kaiju designs. A premise this good deserves to be excellent on all levels.
I’m not going to recommend or not recommend Kaiju No. 8. I’m going to give this series a second chance. I’ll let you know how that works out in a future bloggy thing.
Kata Konayama’s Love Me For Who I Am [Seven Seas; $12.99] concludes with its fifth volume. Non-binary high school student Mogumo must confront their parents: the father who pretty much disowned them and their ailing mother. They’re willing to return home to care for their mother, even if that means changing how they present to the world.
From the start, this series has featured characters from all around the LGBTQ+ spectrum and treated them in a respectful manner. There are conflicts between some of them, but they are resolved with love and unity.
Cis-male high school student Tetsu is a role model for acceptance. Though he mistakenly thinks Mogumo is a crossdresser when he first brings them to his family’s maid café, he quickly accepts that they are non-binary and falls for them. Love is love.
Tetsu is there for Mogumo when they confronts their family. I think his presence helps Mogumo’s father slowly begin to accept his child as they are. It is a good start, though there will undoubtedly be ups and downs as the relationship mends.
Love Me For Who I Am isn’t a blockbuster, but it’s an interesting series with meaning for America’s current crisis of anti-gay and, especially, anti-trans legislation. I can only hope that the arc of history continues to turn towards the light and the opportunistic
Republicans behind this hateful legislation are forever consigned to the darkness they deserve.
Love Me For Who I Am is for older teens, age 15 and up.
Rumiko Takahashi is one of my favorite comics creators. I’m a huge fan of her Maison Ikkoku, Ranma 1&2 and more. I wasn’t aware of her Came the Mirror & Other Tales fantasy anthology [Viz Media; $17.99] until recently. I got a copy from my local library system - which is an excellent way to enjoy comics for free and keep from adding to my overwhelming Vast Accumulation of Stuff.
The anthology presents five “intimate magical-realist” stories and a bonus autobiographical story about the creator’s lifelong love of manga and friendship with fellow manga creator Mitsura Adachi. That last one was fun and makes me want to write some comics tales about my own half-century career in comics.
The other tales are more gentle fantasy than horror, though there are some frightening concepts in them. A supernatural mirror that reveals the evil in people. A bitter comics creator who gains the power to curse those he believes have harmed him. A cat possessing a human. An actress in hiding. A plant that creates illusions that can consume a person. Solid storytelling throughout.
Came the Mirror & Other Tales is rated “T+” for teens and older. I recommend to my fellow Takahashi fans.
The latest manga to delight me is the first volume of Sakamoto Days by Yuto Suzuki [Viz Media; $9.99]. Here’s the back cover pitch from that volume:
Taro Sakamoto was once a legendary hit man considered the greatest of all time. Bad guys feared him! Assassins revered him! But then one day he quit, got married, and had a baby. He’s now living the quiet life as the owner of a neighborhood store, but how long can Sakamoto enjoy his days of retirement before his past catches up to him?!
Time has passed peacefully for Sakamoto since he left the underworld. He’s running a neighborhood store with his lovely wife and child and has gotten a bit…out of shape. But one day a figure from his past pays him a visit with an offer he can’t refuse: return to the assassin world or die!
It’s like this series was made for me. Its protagonist is an older man with a loving family. He kind of looks like me, which makes me think about cosplaying him. And he has knack for reforming violent assassins and making them part of his family.
This first volume is hilariously fun and feature outrageous battles in which no gets killed. The art and storytelling are first-rate. Apparently, Yakuza comedies are hot in both manga and anime. I’d be up for an anime series. If they decided to do a live-action series, I’d love to audition for the part of Sakamoto. Yes, that might be culturally insensitive, but take another look at the cover. Get me the apron and the glasses. Uncanny, right?
The manga is rated T+ for older teens, but I’d rate it suitable for younger readers. Especially considering the non-lethal nature of the action sequences.
That’s it for this edition of the bloggy thing. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2022 Tony Isabella