Gen 4

October 24, 2011

Shige Nakamura / Yu Suzuki / Gunya Mihara / Arisa Karino – Gen Manga Entertainment – 2011 – 6+ volumes

Because I always like to plug this anthology, remember that this is offered digitally over at Gen Manga. Issue 6 just came out, which means issues 1-3 are now free. Each issue is an anthology-format magazine, with 4-5 different series in each. Give it a try, and remember that each issue is only $2.99 for unlimited access, or go here and get a subscription at $1.99 an issue.

Two good things this issue: There is now a fifth title per issue, and Souls has started a new story arc. The new entry this time around is a short story called Sorako, by Fujimura Takayuki. It’s a nice slice-of-life story about a twentysomething having doubts about her life situation. The plot is minimal, and is mostly about her lost dog, but I think that makes it even a little better. There’s city living commentary, jobless commentary, and a whole lot of ordinary, but it makes for a great read. I think one-shot stories like this suit the format of Gen, and I’m happy to see something like this in its pages.

Souls was my least favorite of the original lineup, so I was quite pleased to see the “storyteller” move on to a new client. He’s not really a storyteller, but the framing device of Souls is of a character that goes around meeting people with supernatural problems, and each story arc is about a different person. Presumably. This time, we are introduced to a male prostitute who is sold secretly from the back door of a brothel. The main character doesn’t appear until the last page, but in the meantime there’s quite an interesting living situation established for the prostitute.

VS. Aliens has been my favorite, and I like it for its abundant strangeness. This time, the plot shifts gears once again when the main character discovers something about the two female characters. Things look gloomy, but luckily it shifts gears once again at the end of the installment. I suspect issue five might be the last installment since it’s not in issue six, and it seems like the story could be wrapped up in one more installment. Then again, this series is so weird that it could change direction once again and just keep going. I’m not sure why I’m so fond of it (admittedly, the characters are a little weak, which can be fatal in a series like this), but I can’t help looking forward to it every time.

Wolf is also quite good, and probably the best series in the magazine. It’s in the middle of getting Okami wound up for his boxing career, and we get to see several successful matches and some additional training. This series has the strongest characters, and it’s easy to wrap my brain around the storyline (a man takes up boxing to try and get back at his deadbeat dad, with a lot of touching interaction with other boxers, trainers, et cetera thrown in for good measure), so it’s also easy to like. It’s a good way to open each anthology, and it’s also the story that benefits the most from the serial format, I think. Each installment reads like a small part of a larger story, where the others benefit more from being a bit baffling. If that makes sense.

Kamen has gotten a little more intense this time around, too. This story still reads like we’re being introduced to something much larger, but at least this time the main character steps in and takes action. I’m looking forward to where this is going.

Check it out, though. Again, I love that this comes out in English, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t read the first few issues if you are at all interested.

This was a review copy provided by the publisher.

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