Mr. Empty: Day 3: My Favorite Mangaka

(Is it actually day 3? No. Mr. Empty don't believe in days.)

Here we go.

My favorite mangaka is Inio Asano, creator of What a Wonderful World and Solanin. Normally I'll be conflicted about things in this mangathon, making tough choices. This one is not tough at all.

Inio Asano is a master of magic realism. Where people point to Gabriel Garcia Marquez, I would look at Asano in exactly the same way. The mixing of a dry, hopeless background of the life of twenty-somethings with the viral, harsh interjections of something fantastic, something surreal...these are the hallmarks of Asano.

What a Wonderful World is a series of interconnected vignettes, almost a story cycle if you will. It's enough to overclock any literature nerd's circuits. It isn't always friendly, more often than not it's a mirror of a very harsh reality...but his treatment is always with such care. You can sense he is always pouring bits of his soul into the work.

I will say this, my favorite mangaka for art style, on the other hand, is probably Kouta Hirano or Eiji Otsuka. Kouta Hirano's characters are sometimes handled with a bit of ham-fistery and not much anatomical correctness; i.e. bizarrely long arms, weird torsos, breasts that vary wildly in size over the course of the series (compare the police-girl's boobs in volume 1 to six or seven volumes later). However, Hirano is a minor deity when it comes to bloody, splashy goodness.

Uh-oh...that's a lot of swords. 

"This gun makes a pretty big hole." <- Alucard's ever-present sense of humor.

If you read Hellsing, you know exactly what I'm talking about. Some of the spreads are so iconic, so memorable. The volume with the hotel fight is transcendental. Alucard rips people to shreds, in literal showers of blood. He throws a dozen bodies out of a window to be impaled on flag poles. The manga goes absolutely bat-shit crazy later on, and you can bet the violence follows right alongside. This is one of the few manga series that actually talks about war, and then comes at you with a full-blown war! It's on a huge scale, thousands of soldiers, bodies everywhere. If you didn't follow it when it was being released, you really missed out. We waited a year, a YEAR, between volumes. There was a sense of fellowship in that suffering. It made us appreciate every panel of the manga when it got there, and the slavish detail of every drop of Nazi blood that was spilled.

Eiji Otsuka, on the other hand, is one of the most anatomically-aware manga artists I can think of. He's the sick mind behind MPD-Psycho and Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service. There is a sense of glee in his violence, and I would defy anyone to find more creative gore than MPD-Psycho's in the manga realm. He is definitely at the top of the game, and I really love the depth of his madness. How can he make a spread of some sad suicide case look so damn pretty? It's pastoral, damn it.

I did say anatomy. Didn't say he grasped the amount of pressure that blood is under in humans. Garden hose!

Look at those guts, and ribs, and bits. Those are probably generally really accurate! They look gross and therefore accurate!


Baron von Chop said...

I'd be interested in hearing more about your thoughts on Hellsing. I read the first few volumes and really liked the look of it. Alucard and Anderson are two of the coolest characters I've seen in manga/anime. At the same time, there's no character in manga/anime I dislike more than Ceres Victoria, and the constant shifting between bloody intensity and silly wackiness threw me off.

You mention that it gets bat-shit crazy later, which I've heard from others as well. Is it crazy in a good way, or does it make you scratch your head and wonder what Hirano was thinking?

Dr. M said...

I want to read this.

And, Baron von Chop, I love Hellsing...good manga/anime!

Alucard takes so much glee in killing, and yet somehow still remains likable and heroic in some way.

Mr. Empty said...

Baron....I'll have to do a review on just Hellsing soon!