Instant Manga Reviews: Mononokemono, Me and the Devil Blues, Amawresu Kenchan

Getting some stuff out there before I clean it off my desk and shelve it in the black hole known as my room.

Mononokemono, GotsuboxRyuji, vol 1 (2007)

When Ibuki returns to his home town for his grandmother’s funeral, he discovers that he has been chosen as her successor as a mononokemono, a human that mediates between the world of humans and mononoke, mythological Japanese creatures that make great story fodder thanks to their wide variety and volume. Grudgingly forced into the position, he balances the challenges of being a junior high student with his newfound duty of keeping the mononoke in check. While it sounds like a fairly potboiler story, I found myself enjoying Mononokemono quite a bit. The art style stands out most immediately, as it blends quite a bit of sketchy manga shorthand (almost reminding me of Japanese flash anime), used to match its overall light-hearted mood, with some more solid talent, all done in a very limited black and white palette. Gotsubo’s treatment of mononoke is also worth paying attention to if you have any familiarity with that, as he does both modern takes on old creatures, like a mascot character-style nue, while also inventing his own beasts, like the kireru 24-sai, roughly translated as “24-year old flipping out”. It all adds up to a humorous, somewhat strangely attractive volume, and I’ll be going back for more.

Ore to Akuma no Blues (Me and the Devil Blues, Eng version out July 29 by Del Rey), Hiramoto Akira, vol 1 (2005).

Anime and manga have never been the best when it comes to portraying racial and ethnic groups that aren’t, well, Japanese. As a result, I was a little skeptical when I picked up Me and the Devil Blues, but had heard nothing but praise for it, and thankfully I am able to echo that praise. Me and the Devil Blues is a fantastic re-telling of the life of the legendary blues musician who, as said legend has it, sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his blues chops. The Japanese volume one gives us the devil story as well as the foundations of a story about Johnson’s (fictional) adventures with Clyde Barrow. Both the detailed story and art is dark and dense yet also sensitive, forgoing what could be easy exploitation for serious exposition, a breath of fresh air after Bob Makihara and Mr. Popo (I had to do it, sorry). I was very excited when I heard that Del Rey picked this series up, as they continue to do great work for manga over here with their Jump Millions, and I plan on doing everything I can to get my hands on the translated first volume ($20 retail, but it’s the size of two Japanese volumes, I believe) once it finally hits our shores, apparently next week.

Amawres Ken-chan, Wakasugi Kiminori, 2006 (one-shot).

I’m sure many people by now are aware of Wakasugi’s most famous manga, Detroit Metal City, which now has an anime adaptation, a work about hilariously pathetic people doing hilarious and pathetic things in order to not appear pathetic. (hilarity ensues.) Ken-chan is really more in the same vein. Nagano Kenpei is an average loser at his high school until he is taken under the wing of Numata Puchokof, a half-Japanese, half-Russian ex-olympic wrestler who teaches at his school, and joins the wrestling club, which is full of horrible losers like him. The manga follows him and his friends in the wrestling club as they try to be less lame and (very unsuccessfully) get girlfriends. I’ll say this flat out: if you don’t like gross-out humor and gay jokes (read: are over the age of 17), you probably won’t enjoy this very much. DMC is saved by its over-the-top obscenity and metal jokes, while any remote strands of interest here, like the whole wrestling thing, are played, more or less, for one-dimensional jokes. (Here is the joke for wrestling: it is kinda gay! A ha ha ha.) I suppose that there is also an appeal in this manga if you love seeing people be absolutely pathetic and walking failures at life, but really, you can get that for free between television and livejournal.

4 Responses to “Instant Manga Reviews: Mononokemono, Me and the Devil Blues, Amawresu Kenchan”

  1. MangaBlog » Blog Archive » Quick Monday roundup says:

    […] reviews the light novel vol. 4 of Vampire Hunter D: Tale of the Dead Town. Kransom posts some brief manga reviews, including Me and the Devil Blues, at welcome […]

  2. shut says:

    didn’t know akuma was coming out next week

    i already bought up to volume 4 :(

  3. Anonymous says:

    Me and the Devil Blues is Del Rey.

  4. kransom says:

    oops

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