Without Dragon Ball you could argue that anime and manga wouldn’t be as popular as they are in the west. It laid the groundwork for a lot of modern action manga. Without it big modern franchises like Naruto, One Piece and My Hero Academia wouldn’t exist. Dragon Ball, a weird make it up as we go along manga defied expectations and evolved with its audience to become a true pop-culture phenomenon. Except unlike most pop culture touchstones Dragon Ball slowly spread across the world from country to country. Years between translations and releases in different territories to the point were you probably knew what the characters looked like before ever seeing one of the anime or manga.
Gotta love that cheesy opening song!
I wish that the mainline X-Men comics still had this level of in your face moralising. Even if it results in a page that is essentially a wall of text!
Jim Zub is a cool guy who makes comics books. He is also a cool guy who now makes comic book related hashtags on Twitter. Earlier this week he came up with #fourcomics that has taken the comics internet by storm.
The premise is simple, you share four comics either from your childhood and/or ones that had a formative impact on your love for comic books. So I did,
- Akira Volume 1
- Astonishing Spider-man #18
- Batman: Hush Volume 1
- Superman Red Son
I would say out of the many, many, many comic books I have read over the years these four books have had the biggest impact on my life. Both as an enthusiast for the art form and my tastes as a fan of fiction.
Attack on Titan: Volume 1 (Hajime Isayama)
Manga on the whole is something that I sadly fell out of love with several years ago. I used to be obsessed with the latest ongoing series coming out of Japan. I was even for a time more into manga than traditional American superhero comics. (Shocking I know!) I was well versed on all things Bleach, Naruto, Lupin III, Dragon Ball, Cowboy Bebop, Love Hina, Ghost in the Shell etc. etc. then one day out of the blue it all just became boring. Naruto got too long in the tooth with its endless padding and Bleach while truly entertaining, just got lost on me. Western comic books were starting their big resurgence that would lead into their current dominance of pop culture and box-office receipts while all the manga I read just seemed like variants on the same few story ideas. (Never ending fight stories, harem love stories, not so mysterious mystery stories, etc. along with yet another re-treading of Evangelion because Gainax love profits!) It was like the floor came out from under it all for me. I still loved the classic manga/anime series and films, Akira, Cowboy Bebop, Robotech/Macross and Ghost in the Shell have such a huge impact on how I see the world and come up with my own stories that I will love them forever. But everything else just felt…stale. Like it was trying to re-hash the glory days and never quite managing it. So I stepped away for a short break with the full intention of jumping back in within a year “full a piss an’ vinegar” and a rediscovered love of the art form.
That was five years ago.
Since then I havve hardly touched a manga volume or anime DVD outside of my collection of older things. Sure I dabbled here and there and re-read Akira for the millionth time every year or so but on the whole I was happy to just leave the new stuff to the legions of anime/manga fans both in Japan and the west. Leave them to their feverish love of various characters and franchises. Their shipping and in-jokes. Their other-ness as a collective.
I was done. I was out and nothing could bring me back in.
Then a few months ago I heard a low quiet rumble, almost a whisper. The kind I had not seen or felt in a long while. The kind that signalled something good was being published in Japan. The kind of rumble that causes western focused comic book websites to acknowledge its existence which is a big deal. (Trust me, it’s a big deal when it happens!) The whisper said, “check out Attack on Titan, it’s really cooooooool…..” to which I shrugged and said, “meh” before carrying on with my life. Then this month in my first Loot Crate (go check them out they are really cool) box I received a copy of the first volume of the Attack on Titan manga. So I figured what the heck and decided to give it a go.
Attack on Titan has everything I love about manga in it and more. So while I may be pretty much four years late to party from when the series originally began publication in Japan, the wait has been worth it. I am now “full a piss an’ vinegar” and have rediscovered love of the art form of Japanese Manga. (I’m still on the fence about the anime side of things but give me time!)
So yeah, here is my review of it.