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review 2017-02-02 14:01
When An Outcast Became a Hero At The Beginning of a Zombie Outbreak!
I am a Hero Omnibus Volume 1 - Kengo Hanzawa

There are so many 'zombie' related novels, comics and even mangas, its unsure which one is really good to pick up. Yes, The Walking Dead is a much favorite comic book series so far with other numerous other zombies that many felt pale to its comparison. Mangas are only a handful of titles that either work or fair well to some readers. It was then I stumble upon a movie trailer of 2016's I Am A Hero that got me curious to pick up this manga title... and boy, Kengo Hanazawa has shown true potential what a storyteller and artist he can be with this title.

 

Let's start off with what makes this different than most zombie titles - Hideo Suzuki is a lowly assistant manga artist for a long time. He's an outcast thirty-five years old and still has no hit on any of his proposal that he was popular to be made into serial in Japan. Daydreamer occasionally that he is not able to see reality of life, he talks to himself most of the time. His girlfriend, on the other hand, used to be a fan of his but he isn't if she still loves him. Slowly as days passes by and always on a deadline, some thing is happening around Hideo that he never notices and thinks its one of his hallucinations... until when some thing freshly dead became a reality in Japan.

 

How much different is this compare to other 'zombie' related theme novels, comics or mangas is this - told in a sequence of a day to day happening, Kengo Hanazawa took realism into manga form using panel by panel story telling. Its not a fast-reading material, I give you that but the artwork gives any reader a step-by-step eye movement following sequence that really works into your pleasure of reading. I was totally into the manga and I am glad that he took his time building up the suspense in a slow-pacing manner. In truth - the real fun begins after 1/2 of the omnibus (which is after the first collected volume one) and where the attack begins. But won't this affect the fun in reading the manga? No. He has his own reasoning why the build up is slow. That build up introduce the characters of who they are, what they are to the protagonist and how this affects his reality issues of life that he can't comprehend. Namely, the wonders of daydreamers depict really well as a character being told almost accurately how shut-ins live their lives. Throw them into a zombie apocalypse and see what they will do. And that's a fun read.

 

The artwork itself is the ugly reality of how Japanese life is. And the details given so meticulous in art-form is a beautiful piece you can feel that Kengo Hanazawa paid a lot of good attention to details needed. Yes, blurred lines are used but the splash pages are some thing to behold here. My following eye-movement is one that dictates which will go first and which is important for the intensity of the action and this works really well. Its an acceptable manga to give what manga readers want to enjoy reading and to admire the artwork as well. Nominated and won with some awards and its still ongoing since its first debut its series in Japan in 2009, I am glad I pick up this title on a whim because of the movie trailer. I am hoping that it does not disappoint as the series continue and since the English language version was released last-year, I can wait a little longer to enjoy reading this at a slow-pacing while I work it up with my other readings. This is one zombie related manga that should be read if you want some thing that build's its suspense at the right timing.

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review 2014-08-04 20:14
Manga Review: The Face Burglar by Junji Ito

The Basics

A collection of horror one-shots. The title story tells of a tragic and dangerous shape-shifter, a stealer of faces.

My Thoughts

As opposed to the previous volume, this was definitely more on track of what I love to see from Ito. In particular, “Falling” captured perfectly that penchant for tragedy that Ito has. His horror becomes more effective not just for the cosmic nature of it in most of what he writes, but for the empathy with the characters. In the case of “Falling”, we are told the story through the eyes of a husband watching his wife suffer from a mysterious illness, and it feels like this is where Ito found the personal story within the horror that made it that much more effective.

I’m also a fan of “Scarecrows”, another horror story that finds a personal, empathic edge that makes it all the sharper. But the star of this collection is definitely “The Hanging Balloons”. The artwork is incredible, which makes the very idea of it, and it’s a very strange idea, truly terrifying.

Ito rarely explains why a thing is happening. Mostly he just presents the events, and no one ever gets an explanation. For me, this makes the whole thing scarier. What’s worse than stumbling blindly into a void? What tickles at our fear centers more than the unknown? But I could see this annoying some readers, so fair warning.

In truth, there isn’t a weak story to be found in this volume, and I highly recommend it.

Final Rating

5/5

 

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review 2014-08-04 19:52
Manga Review: Flesh-Colored Horror by Junji Ito
Flesh-Colored Horror - Junji Ito

The Basics

A collection of horror one-shots. The title story tells of a school teacher dealing with a troubled student. He is aggressive and bullying toward the other children, and something appears to wrong with his skin. As if it’s thinning. Things get a lot more serious when the teacher visits his home…

My Thoughts

For the most part, I enjoyed this collection, though it’s clear this was earlier in Junji Ito’s career. This wasn’t the stage where he was drawing some of the absolutely insane art that you’ll find in Uzumaki or Tomie. Many of these stories seemed downright mundane as far as the art is concerned, compared to what I know he can do, but the storytelling itself was still strong.

Out of the stories here, I thought the title tale, “Flesh-Colored Horror”, was strong. “Dying Young”, which was about a disease that made the homely girls at a local school beautiful before killing them, was another of the more robust stories. In this case, it was an interesting play on the vampire myth, though other readers might think I’m stretching to say that. I felt there were parallels to be made, and I liked the originality of it. I also felt this story was attempting to be a commentary on vanity, how it destroys, and I appreciated that about it.

The weakest of the stories was definitely “Beehive” for me. It was a revenge story incorporating bees, and it just didn’t do anything for me.

Even though this is a somewhat tame collection for my tastes, I think this would be a great place to start for those of you who want to cautiously get into Junji Ito’s work.

Final Rating

4/5

 

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