I have to apologize in advance: there will be nothing but crappy photos of manga on these pages for the next couple of months. Sorry. Although life in Japan offers up many delightful treats and adventures, it is, unfortunately, scanner free. Which is made even more unfortunate by the fact that one of the delightful treats Japan has in plenty is manga. So I am reading a ton of great things that I want to write here about (because great things always deserve to be widely read), but the images I can show you from these amazing books are all going to be shot with my tourist snapshot machine or worse, my phone. Please do not judge the works on my refusal to buy a decent camera or learn how to use the one I have. From here on out, images are at best a rough look at the general idea of the overview of what you might find in the pages of the noted manga.
I figured the best way to start off would be with authors whose works I’ve already gushed over in the past. That way I can at least link you to some decent images of their work and you can get a sense of just where the bar is for images while I am across the ocean. (Hint: The bar is low, very low. It is hard to take a picture of the page of a book while you are holding it, trying not to break the spine.)
So: Machiko Kyo! (And I just realized that those images were also not scanned, so uh, sorry?) I seriously do not know why her work is not published in English because it is just so wonderful. Lovely watercolours, wacky storylines, she has everything. Unless you hate watercolours or wackiness, I guess. Then you should probably stay away from this lady. I followed U with great interest when it was running in Erotics f, but living in Canada makes it hard to get every issue of a Japanese manga magazine, so I probably only read half of the serialization. But the bits and pieces that I did get were enough to make me half-squeal when I saw it in book form in the bookstore around the corner from my flat that is normally filled with Shonen Jump style stuff. (They do have a good selection of fiction though, that’s how they keep me coming back.) For one thing, it advertises itself as an “erotic sci-fi horror”. How can you not want to know what that is about? At least to answer the question: is it the sci-fi or the horror that is erotic? (And is either answer to that question okay?)
I read the whole thing and I’m still not sure which was the erotic part of the story. Unless you are turned on by eating tongues. Then I know exactly which part is the big turn-on. (Yeah, there is tongue eating. It is surprisingly not as gross as it sounds. Watercolors make everything more palatable!) The basic idea is this science guy has come up with this cloning technique that involves a tongue and a blob of jelly. He clones himself so he can get some top-secret research done in America, without actually being absent from his lab at some university. Never explained are why he needs to not be absent and why the research is done in America. Nor is any of the cloning technology explained. Machiko just throws it out there and you either suspend ye olde disbelief or you stop reading. Because things get really weird, as you might expect when the basic driving force of the plot is tongues.
I actually really like it when authors don’t try too hard to explain whatever weird technology they have thrown in there. I liked it when Kyo didn’t bother to give us too much of an understanding of the whole time-travelling fridge thing in the last book of hers I read here. And I like it that she just sets a premise and moves from there. We don’t need to know why the tongue works with the jelly blob to create a fully functional human being. Or why the clone returns to a hunk of tongue and a blob after twelve hours. This is the world of the story. Everything Kyo hangs on these facts follows the rules of the world we live in, so it all makes sense even if the foundation is seriously weird.
So the scientist clones his assistant, Yu, who just happens to have a twin sister Ai (conveniently travelling in America) so no suspicions will be aroused if anyone happens to see two Yus running around. Plus, she’ll turn back into goo in twelve hours, so no big. Except! The scientist who clones his assistant is actually the clone of the real scientist and he has learned the trick of not turning to goo in twelve hours. (It involves what look like very large pliers.) He teaches this trick to Yu’s copy and insinuates that the clones are better than the originals and maybe something should be done about that. Evil scientist-clone!
The story is fun and weird, and you never know where it is going to take you. It reads like Kyo herself isn’t sure where things are going to end up, like she just takes whatever turns present themselves to her and fills in the blanks to make that turn make a kind of sense within the context of everything that’s happened up to that point. And I mean that in a positive way. The way the whole thing pushes forward without hesitation is a great match for her free-feeling line work and imprecise watercolor shading and coloring. She should always do erotic sci-fi horror. Maybe with less tongue next time, though. The possibly-erotic-if-you-are-into-tongues scene really squicked me out.