Tag Archives: Manga

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka

The Book of Human Insects by Osamu Tezuka Title: The Book of Human Insects
Author: Osamu Tezuka
Publisher: Vertical
ISBN: 978-1935654773
Genre: Manga, Graphic Novels, Comics
Pages: 368
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 4 Stars

Osamu Tezuka was my introduction to Manga and I will forever be indebted to him for that. I remember the first time I read Tezuka. It was 2007 and the Buddha series had just released. Landmark was the only store that stocked it then and I became a fan. A true blue fan of Mr. Tezuka’s work. Since then, the love has only grown stronger – book by book and will not end anytime soon, because there is so much ground to cover.

Having said that, the book I read this time and absolutely loved was “The Book of Human Insects”. It is about so much that I don’t know where to begin with this review. Toshiko Tomura is a genius. She is everything anyone would want to be – intelligent, famous, a stage actress, a prestigious award winning writer, and also an up and coming architect. She is all this because she has the rare talent of emulating the skill of others.

She is also behind a series of murders – whether she committed them herself or led those people to doesn’t matter, a series of men, blackmail, treachery and loneliness as she climbs the ladder of fame. This in short is this graphic novel. It is edgy, sharp, witty and takes you to the extremes of despair and loneliness, but every turn of the page is worth it.

Now to the writing and the illustrations. The manga as visualized and incepted by Tezuka is beyond brilliant. Tezuka clearly knew what he was doing and this is evident in almost every manga of his. He made me a fan (Oh my God I say this with no reference to the recent movie) for life (even though he sadly isn’t around) and there is so much of him to discover through his works. Thank God for that.

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Death Note – Volume 1 and 2: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Obata

Death Note - Black Edition - Volume 1 - Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata Title: Death Note – Black Edition – Volume 1
Author: Story by Tsugumi Ohba and Art by Takeshi Ohbata
Publisher: Viz Media
ISBN: 9781421539645
Genre: Manga, Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Pages: 400
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

I had heard a lot about “Death Note” from a lot of people and how utterly irresistible this graphic novel is. I waited for a while before picking it up. I also tried to not be too interested in it, given it is a series and once I am hooked, I am so hooked that I would not read anything else. Well I don’t know if I will read the rest of the series, but volume 1 and 2 sure did make an impact on me.

So “Death Note” is written by Tsugumi Ohba and illustrated by Takeshi Obata. “Death Note” is unique. It has the edge of a comic series that makes you want to turn the pages, and before you know it, you are done with one book and another and the entire series.

“Death Note” is about a death notebook that accidentally (or not) falls from the hands of a rogue Shinigami death god, only to be picked up by someone on Earth. Light Yagami is an ace student with a lot of prospects. He chances upon the Death Note, picks it up and it now belongs to him. The thing with the Death Note is that it works like a charm – you write a name in it, along with the cause of death, and the exact time the person is supposed to die and he or she does die, at the very same appointed hour.

Light wants to change the world to make it a better place. The Death God is there with him constantly (as per the condition of who the Death Note belongs to), and he takes no sides. On the other hand, criminals are falling like dead flies. The National Police Agency of Japan and the FBI, including an unknown name L wants to know who is behind the murders. Light is known as Kira. The battle of wits between L and Kira has begun. There is of course a lot more to this book, which I cannot give away but this will suffice for now.

The book is racy for sure. I took some time with it because I loved the art and wanted to soak it all in. Manga has after all always been a weak spot of mine when it comes to graphic novels and comics. The art by Ohbata is stunning in most places. The story was sometimes a drag but when you see it in its entirety then maybe it is well worth the drag. “Death Note” is nothing like what you have read before, simply because of the way the author describes the world we live in. It is bleak and depressing and yet somehow quite hopeful in most parts. A good heady mix to keep the reader going and engaged, for both the literary and not-so literary readers. “Death Note” is sure worth spending your time and brains on. It is different and I know that I will continue with this series and see it through to the end.

Here’s the first episode of the Death Note Anime. I would any day prefer the books.

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Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

Good-Bye by Yoshihiro Tatsumi Title: Good-Bye
Author: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly
ISBN: 978-1897299371
Genre: Graphic Novel, Manga
Pages: 208
Source: Personal Copy
Rating: 5/5

Manga is an art that grows on you. It is also an art form that makes you appreciate the beauty of stillness and subtlety. So when there are graphic novels to be read, there is also Manga which I feel is quite different and a genre of its own than being classified under Graphic Novels. Tatsumi happened to me when I was browsing through Landmark, Bombay, about ten years ago with a very dear friend. That was another book. This time I spotted him at Blossom and could not have been more excited. I knew I had to buy it and I was not wrong about it at all.

“Good-Bye” is a collection of short stories told in Manga. Tatsumi is perhaps one writer that just brings out the best when it comes to Manga, or at least from all that I have read. Tatsumi in this collection portrays a Japanese society – during WWII, in the aftermath of the atomic bomb and post the war.

The stories are about trapped protagonists, who seem to have no choice at all. They are stuck in circumstances that are beyond their control and they have to make sense of the world around them. Right from “Hell” which is about post-Hiroshima attack to “Good-Bye” which is a story of a woman trying to survive after the war, by using her body – the stories are real and laced with pathos and sometimes tragic humour.

What struck me the most was how beautifully Tatsumi managed to bring out the emotions in the entire book. From anger to helplessness to pure love and longing, everything is meticulously laid out for the reader to savour and add in a bit of his or her angst as well. All in all, this book is meant to be relished, page by page, illustration by illustration.

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