This new installment on our teen blog includes two great titles from our friends in Japan. First, Erased, or Boku dake ga Inai Machi (The Town Where Only I am Missing, BokuMachi) is the hit new series that just finished on Crunchyroll and other anime outlets. Second, Lone Wolf and Cub Omnibus Volume 11, adds another wonderful samurai epic to the manga shelves at the Hyde Park Branch.
Erased is a mystery-thriller with a scifi base. The hero, Sartoru Fujimuna, discovers he can go back in time whenever he experiences an intense trauma. He is falsely accused of a crime when he is older and gets transported back to his grade school days, shortly before the mysterious disappearance of his classmate, Kayo Hinazuki. The character art work and development is strong and original in this new series. Costumes are realistic yet interesting as you might expect from a present day drama. The animation shows great virtual cinematography at many scene changes and “camera” pans. I remember seeing at least one “zoom and truck” depth effect made famous by Alfred Hitchcock in the movie Vertigo. The technique creates a perspective stretching effect while holding the subject in focus and in mid frame. The director, Tomohiko Itou, also combines vertical panning and rotation of the camera effects on particular scenes, adding to the psychological thrill. And of course, the story features a movie film reel effect that represents Sartoru’s ability to go back in time, changing history and helping his friends. But can he save himself? This series will have you yearning for more after the very first episode. There may be a spinoff, but unlike other famous titles that seem to go on forever, Erased is a “well made play” and the story is woven together tightly in 12 episodes. Some development and suspense do get lost from the manga, but this is a common situation when manga are converted to anime. Here, it is done well and for the usual reasons of time and production effort. The series is really good and I strongly recommend it for anime fans. Watch it in Japanese with English subtitles. It’s good for you to read, and the voice acting spot on! The story just concluded on Crunchyroll and we watched it faithfully at Anime Club here in Hyde Park. You can find it at Crunchyroll, Funimation, or Anime Planet.
Lone Wolf & Cub Omnibus 11 is a steady-paced, suspense-infused, shonen manga. This was the first time I read any of the series and I was greatly impressed. It’s the number one selling graphic novel! The story is by Kazuo Koike and the art is by Goseki Kojima. Translation by Dana Lewis. The artwork features amazing pen and ink brush technique. Pen strokes provide minute detail and brushwork adds great shadow effects, both light and dark. The story follows a young ronin, Ogami Itto with his son Daigoro, and an aged master ninja Yagyu Retsudo. Yagyu is held prisoner by a court poisoner-tester who once saved Daigoro from horrible frostbite when he was a baby. Ogami and Yagyu are sworn enemies and have an outstanding challenge to duel to the death. Great Bushido and Ninjutsu codes of honor run deep in this epic and the contrasts among other characters are stark and varied. The pacing of the story lends to the suspense and gravity of the epic. Finally it culminates in a fantastic series of fireworks signals, dramatic sword play, self sacrifice, and a bold festival procession. There is mild gore in some spots, as might be expected, but the fantastic landscapes, cityscapes and ink washes provide a strong balance of beauty in the story. Weather and night time effects, even illustrated in black and white, enthrall the reader. I highly recommend this title for samurai and shonen manga fans out there. You can request this volume from the BPL in hard copy here or in ebook format here. And this series is set in the western left-to-right format so you don’t even have to read it backwards!
Did you know that in addition to physical books and DVDs, your library card gives you access to anime and graphic novels online? The BPL subscribes to Hoopla, a streaming service that allows you to check out and enjoy the media you love on your computer, tablet or smartphone. You can learn more about the BPL’s digital media collections here.
Want company while you’re watching anime? The Hyde Park Teen Anime Club meets on Thursdays at 2:30 p.m.
*”Reading Backwards, Watching in Japanese” features reviews of anime and manga by John, the Teen Librarian at the Hyde Park Branch, on the second Tuesday of every month.