Saber Tiger

January 26, 2010

Yukinobu Hoshino – Viz – 1991 – 1 volume

Here’s the final title in what I could dig up on the Viz Spectrum line.  Again, the other two were Hotel Harbour View and Shion, and these are thin (~80 pages) but deluxe edition graphic novels, oversized with vinyl dust jackets.  They are all aimed at mature readers (though not “mature” in the same sense that, say, seinen manga is), and all three are worth having, quite frankly, if you can dig them up.

I didn’t expect to like this one as much as Shion, since it was “hard” sci-fi and I’m not particularly a fan.  It was very fascinating though, and I wish both stories in the volume had been made into longer works somehow, or more stories with the same themes could have been compiled.

The first story, the title story, was very short.  It involved the human gene pool drying up in the far future, leading to human extinction.   A group of time travelers go back to the ice age in order to help a larger group of humans survive, thereby making the gene pool deeper and lengthening the history of the human race.  The explanation of time travel, and the repurcussions for the events that occur, are some of the most well-explained I’ve ever seen, which is important when you have a story about time travel since normally the details are usually left open.  There is still one big “yeah, whatever” detail, but at least it was acknowledged.  The time travelers are fighting against saber tigers, and one saber tiger in particular.

Hilariously, I read the 2000 AD series Flesh right after reading this.  Flesh… Flesh is an eerily similar story, and matches this one on points that you will find in no other series.  The themes are the same, as are the bizarre methods for conveying said themes.  But Flesh is also way more extreme, hilarious, and straight-faced than this ever could be.  Flesh is also worth having.

Anyway, the second story is called “The Planet of the Unicorn.”  It’s the longer and better of the two.  The story involves a search party finding a planet exactly like Earth and releasing a group of animals on the surface and observing for five years to see how habitable it is.  But their ship sinks in an accident, and after removing their helmets, they find that there is “rotation noise,” a horrible sound that fills the entire planet and causes dischord in both humans and animals alike.  It’s a truly bizarre story with a lot of twists and turns.  Lots of human conflict, some mythology thrown in, just… strange.  It was a very satisfying read.

Again, it’s a shame that the Spectrum line didn’t do so well, because there really aren’t many stories like these translated in English.  Pick up all three volumes if at all possible.  They are very satisfying reads.