January 16, 2010
Go Nagai – First Publishing – 1988 – 1 volume
I actually stared at this for months in a case at work until it dawned on me that, hey, this is one of the only Go Nagai manga in English. It had been clearanced too, so I snapped it up for a dollar. Score.
It’s… pretty awesome. It was apparently created specifically for an American audience, though Go Nagai still did the story and art, and there was English adaptation involved. The incredible thing is that the entire thing is hand-painted. It’s quite good, too. I still don’t like digital coloring, and seeing this (which is, I’m sure, insane to actually pull off), it’s because I want every comic to look like this.
The comic itself is hilarious. It’s clearly the Mazinger story condensed down to 62 pages. That doesn’t make it any less awesome, it just made me want more. The plot seems to be, more or less, the Earth has been wasted through a long series of wars, and the survivors just wage constant war in giant robots. The best robot is Mazinger, a giant robot piloted by Major Kabuto. During a fight, there is an explosion so huge it throws Mazinger through a wormhole, and he winds up in an alternate, fantasy version of Earth where he’s fighting giant lizard-men for a princess with no shirt or pants. After the initial fight, the princess sits down to have a cup of tea with Mazinger, which is bizarre because… for a minute, you think they may have forgotten that Mazinger is a giant robot and the princess is a Zentradi or something. It comes up later though. This is more or less the end of the comic, as Mazinger fights the giant lizard-men again and another wormhole happens. There’s an interesting moral to this and a lot of Gulliver’s Travels allusions throughout. The moral was sensical and unexpected, and it made me like the book even more.
It can be called nothing less than insane as you read through it, and I think setting it across two or three volumes would only make it a little more sane, but that’s why Go Nagai is awesome. I enjoyed it thoroughly, and it’s the first time in a long time I’ve literally been baffled after every couple pages. I loved it. It’s a lot of fun, and has pretty amazing art to boot. There’s not that much to say since it lacks character or plot development, but for what it is, it truly is worth reading to anyone that may be interested in it.
It’s also notable in some sense, since Go Nagai apparently invented robots that you ride in, of which Mazinger is the first. There’s a really nice article in the back about Go Nagai and his career. It made me want Devilman and Cutey Honey even more.
I’m also fond of huge size descrepencies between characters. I wish it came up more often, since it was hilarious here and even funnier in Robotech.