Usamaru Furuya – Viz – 2003 – 2 volumes
The book ends with a conclusion, which I would not have expected from a 2-volume gag comic series. The conclusion is kind of cute, too, and he closes with a pretty amazing 2-page illustration featuring every character from Short Cuts.
Even better, in the afterward he mentions the project started out as a manga series about Leonardo Da Vinci, and he had done a lot of research before his assignment for Young Sunday changed. That is one of the best things I have ever heard.
Volume 2 continues to feature only one-page gag comics about schoolgirls, but this volume is a little lewder than the last. Well, actually, no, the last volume opened with a girl whose father had a penis-head, so I guess volume one is still dirtier. This one had weird gags about… old men that disguised themselves as turtles and hid in schools, continued the thread of applying kogal fads to elderly villages, did weird things with traditional motifs (like old-fashioned coffee shops, et cetera), and had a few running gags, like the girl who talks to inanimate objects and makes it sound like she’s trying to call celebrities with a can of soup.
The parodies of famous anime and manga continue, and this time around we see Star of the Giants, Galaxy Express 999, uh… Joe of Tomorrow, The Little Prince (yeah, not a manga), a couple bizarre cameos by Hideo Azuma (which I would not have caught had I not read Disappearance Diary a couple months ago), another mention of the artist of Heartbroken Angels, a long name-drop that created a bizarre crossover between a couple surrealist artists and Kazuo Umezu and a couple names I didn’t recognize, and a few other things.
Short Cuts is actually so cutting edge that I half-expected it to see into the future and parody Kurosagi Corpse Delivery service. One comic featured an itako and another featured a girl with a hand puppet with a mind of its own. It was kind of weird how close it came.
The comic that made me laugh out loud was one where a girl and her friend played dead in front of a bear, and the friend converted to a corpse because “she was really good at it.” There’s a bunch of good ones, including a little girl that makes her father proud by sharing one of his erotic novels aloud with her grade-school class, several bizarre lapses into the “real life” of Usamaru Furuya, a couple of fantastic double-page illustrations which blew me away with their detail, and a comic where girls get so hot they simply tattoo their school uniforms to their body and go out without clothes… and nobody notices.
Know what you’re getting before you start. It’s a lot like Heartbroken Angels, and if you feel that you can’t overdose on school girls, give it a try. But there are a lot of school girls.
Also, I will buy anything and everything by Usamaru Furuya. The man is amazing. I’m excited about 50 Ways to Save Her coming out from CMX in the spring.
Usamaru Furuya – Viz – 2002 – 2 volumes
This series is composed entirely of one-page gag comics about high school girls. I had read some of these before in Pulp, and I didn’t think they were particularly funny. They are almost insulting given the fact that Furuya’s superior gag comic, Palepoli, appears in a couple other books that came out around the same time, but not as a collected volume. I think Palepoli never appeared as a collected volume because Palepoli is a more conceptual book, and most people probably wouldn’t be entertained at all by it. Short Cuts has a lot of sex jokes and dick jokes, which will always be funny to a broad range of people. The one thing they have in common is that they both have Golgo 13 parodies, but Palepoli has the superior parody, so it wins anyway.
Here’s the thing about Short Cuts: I find myself in a Catch-22-type situation posed by many of the comics in the book. A good example is one where a girl gives her boyfriend chocolate sculpted in the shape of a limp penis. She explains that she cast it from her brother, and asks if he likes it. He says yes to please her, which makes her angry for the obvious reasons. So he says no, and she gets really upset that he didn’t like her gift.
Do I admit that I liked Short Cuts, and have anyone that knows about the book think I am a horrible, depraved pervert? Or do I say that the book was terrible and that there’s no way anyone would like it and make a liar out of myself? Do I like chocolate shaped like genitalia, or do I hate gifts from my significant other? It can only be one or the other.
And when I say it is full of one-page gag comics about school girls, I mean it. It is 120 pages of gag comics about school girls. School girls getting stuck on desert islands with otaku. Scenarios where old men turn into stuffed animals so that it’s less vulgar when they proposition high school girls that want to go out on paid dates. Awesome ones where old men alter their school dress code so that their girls will have to wear shirts with faces painted in blood on them, barbed wire, and metal spikes along with the requisite short skirt. Even the ones starring the artist are about him and school girls. There are a few anime/manga parodies (Rose of Versailles, Golgo 13, Makoto-chan, Doraemon) that cast the characters as school girls. My favorite was the Makoto-chan parody, which was horrible, but I have no doubt accurately reflects exactly what that series is like save for the fact Makoto-chan was a high school girl instead of a grade school boy. I know I will hate that series if I ever read it, but I need to read it anyway. Also, that comic contained the phrase “bye-o-nara,” which made me laugh really hard and is still making me giggle every time I think of it.
There are also some things in here I will never un-see. The comic where the girl takes her bra off to reveal a screaming pair of heads that perform oral sex on a man simultaneously, somehow while continuing to scream, will stay with me for some time.
It’s amazing. Really something special. An acquired taste for sure, though.
Also, somewhat criminally, this series has end notes that rival Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service in awesomeness. I didn’t realize this until I had gotten to the end, which in retrospect probably means I’m more of a geek than I’d like to admit since it didn’t occur to me that there might be a little help needed and not everyone would understand that time-traveling kids crawling out of a desk and thanking Nobita was a Doraemon joke. I just learned that Kaihime Karie is a good example of “Shibuya sound,” something I’ll keep in mind next time I read Detroit Metal City.