Saturday meander.

*Anticipation Dept: Cromartie High School live-action movie trailer.


Cromartie High School live-action movie trailer.

Actually, I don’t know how excited I am, considering that the two episodes of the anime I saw were pretty weak; the material simply thrives in comics format, and I don‘t think it translates all that well to other media. Still, the trailer works, if only as a delightful sample of how all of this lunacy would play out with real people; maybe watching the feature-length film itself is unnecessary.

*Ed Cunard (of The Low Road fame) is a very nice fellow; I met him today at RIOT and we sat around in the lounge with Jason (RIOT’s proprietor) and chatted a lot. It was a good time, and I discovered that I really enjoy having people call me ‘Jog’ in face-to-face encounters. Good old Internet intruding on the tangible world...

*I’ve been pretty busy getting things together for next week, which is going to be a loud and nasty one. My main recent comics pursuits involve reading the fourth and final volume of the 1980’s Lead Publishing trade-format translation of Golgo 13, subtitled The Ivory Connection (thanks, Ingwit!!), which is completely fucking insane (seriously - it involves psychedelic aphrodisiacs and scary Aryan toddlers getting cleaved with broadswords and Duke completing his mission by dumping an old man out of his wheelchair to his doom), as well as moving through my big stack of $1 back-issues of Pulp, Viz’s now-defunct ‘mature’ ongoing manga anthology.

What’s most capturing my attention in Pulp (aside from how sloppy Ryoichi Ikegami’s art has gotten since Crying Freeman, at least judging judging from 1996-98's Strain) is Benkei in New York, a suite of seven self-contained short stories that ran one per issue, featuring a super-assassin’s journeys through the underworld (it’s very much a Golgo 13 descendant in concept, though I know there were many super-killer antecedents in Japanese film and literature and such). The art is by the ever-unpredictable Jiro Taniguchi, whose solo volume of meditative slice-of-life contemplation, The Walking Man, was released in English by Ponent Mon. He also has completed several works with writer Natsuo Sekigawa, including the classic Noir thingy Hotel Harbor View (1 volume, Viz), and the literary historical sprawl of The Times of Botchan, (the first of 10 volumes is out from Ponent Mon). In addition to that, his art has been spotted in both the Moebius-scripted sci-fi extravaganza Icaro (2 volumes, iBooks) and the more genre-friendly Kan Furuyama-written historical piece Samurai Legend (1 volume, hardcover, CPM). Basically, he’s been all over the place. He’s quite an excellent stylist, his characters often sporting big, broad faces, mouths portrayed as simple curved lines, adding a note of simplicity to the hyper-real visual milieu.

Actually, Benkei’s face is one of the most important elements of the series, his sad eyes filled with death and blood. Most stories end with a shot of the triumphant killer (actually a masterful Japanese artist who can produce flawless forgeries; he’s since become an expat and gone to work for the underworld, or at least that‘s what I can gather having not read the first few chapters) gazing sadly out into space. Not quite the ‘weeping after every kill’ motif of the aforementioned Freeman, but close. Thankfully, writer Jinpachi Mori’s stories keep the wistful regret down to a simmer, an undercurrent, focusing on bleak action and unpleasant deeds, offering Taniguchi’s art plenty of chances to shine. Each chapter is a perfectly-paced little unit; they’re real marvels of compressed storytelling. Lovely, textured action business, deluxe junk food all the way. Viz has compiled it into a single volume, and you should get it.