Writer: Takanori Yasaka
Artist: Takanori Yasaka
Published: Monocle, 2010
I have never read any manga in my entire life. I have only had limited exposure to manga's companion genre of anime as a youngster, watching Sailor Moon and the odd episodes of Pokémon [my best friend made me watch it with him]/Yu-Gi-Oh [the kids I babysat loved it for some reason] and Dragonball Z.
I've always been sort of befuddled by manga/Japanese things in general. Like, why do they always have to feature elaborate morphing/changing sequences? I always wondered what the bad guys did while Sailor Moon was spinning around in her skivvies. Stand around and glance impatiently at a wristwatch? And why do all the Sailor Scouts look white? Aren't they Japanese? And what do Pokémon do inside their Pokéballs? And now high is Goku's power level? And what's up with tentacle porn? Alas, I digress...
Anyway, my friend and former classmate and Charlie Sheen coattail-rider, Jarrett Moffatt, gave me a couple of issues of Kita Koga, a series that comes with his subscription to Monocle magazine [what a pretentious asshole!].
I have perused the two issues and have noted the following:
It's nice of them to put the “quick lesson in manga orientation” at the front/back of the book... you see, like all things Japanese, it is done the opposite of the American way!
The dialogue is printed in a very computer-ish font in ALL CAPS, making it seem like EVERYONE'S YELLING. Hilarious!
The art isn't like the Japanese stuff I am used to [Sailor Moon, Pokémon, etc.]. The people actually look realistic, rather than having massive eyes/heads.
The artwork is very meticulously drawn. Each issue has a great splash page of a super-detailed cargo ship.
Even though Kita Koga is “exclusively penned for Monocle by Takanori Yasaka”, I am curious as to which language is is written in originally [Monocle is a British publication]. Some of the dialogue/exposition seems clumsy in that hilarious lost-in-translation kind of way.
There's a funny/completely unrealistic Caruso moment in the middle of issue 30!
The plot seems to concern a CIA-like organization called “Shinobi” and their efforts to quell an opposing group called [dum dum DUM] “Neo-Shinobi”. I only possess issues 27 and 30, and each is the average 24-page length [no ads], but things seem to progress quite slowly. Could Japanese readers be more patient than their Western counterparts? In issue 27, our protagonists watch a video and visit a dock. Skip ahead to #30, obviously missing some plot, but able to get the gist. Our protags are now aboard the aforementioned cargo ship caught in a storm. They cheat certain death, catch the bad guy and rescue their mentor and everyone lives happily ever after!
This series suffered from being pretty cheesy at times, but it was mostly hilarious, so no big deal.
Overall, it seemed like pretty standard international-secret-agent type of fare. Admittedly, these two comics have not really provided me with a ton of material to work with, review-wise, but they have given me my first taste of the wonderful, weird world of MANGA!