Manga Roundup 04.10

Sarah Boslaugh checks out the fanservice-laden James Bond-meets-Harry Potter Ninja Girls Vol. 1, and digs into the archives for a look at the second volume of Fuyumi Soryo’s sci-fi saga ES: Eternal Sabbath.


Ninja Girls Vol. 1 (Del Rey)
208 pgs., B & W; $10.99
(W & A: Hosana Tanaka)
ES: Eternal Sabbath Vol. 2 (Del Rey)
240 pgs, B & W; $10.95
(W & A: Fuyumi Soryo)
It’s the Sengoku (Warring States) period in Japan and the Katana family has just been wiped out by invaders: the feudal lord committed suicide, the family was slaughtered and their homes and fields have been destroyed. But one survives to tell the tale: 15-year-old Raizo, the long-lost illegitimate son of the family who can be identified by the small horn growing out of his forehead. He tries to keep it hidden under his hair and a bandana, but none too successfully, and as soon as people know who he is they shun him for being a “demon child.”
Raizo’s luck soon turns for the better as a succession of fanservice female ninjas appear from nowhere, each representing a different type of male fantasy. And guess what? Each of these babelicious kunoichi wants only to serve Raizo and restore his family to its former glory. The story is a sort of cross between Harry Potter and James Bond, as if Harry were summoned not to attend Hogwarts but to take charge of Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus and the jumpsuit-clad babes were all hot for scruffy 15-year-old orphans. There’s lots of action and plenty of full-figured female bodies to ogle so this is an enjoyable comic if you go for this type of thing. Like the classic Bond films, Ninja Girls doesn’t take itself too seriously and that’s all to the good. Tanaka’s art is standard shojo style but it’s well done and makes each of the ninjas a distinctive character. Ninja Girls is rated OT (ages 16+) and includes four pages of translation notes.
For something completely different, ES: Eternal Sabbath is a science fiction manga set in a future world where scientists have created genetically-engineered humans with immunity to viruses and extended life spans. Unfortunately, people carrying the ES gene can also control other people’s minds and assume their identities. Add to this the fact that they don’t necessarily have the moral compass of “normal” humans (well, you might not either if you were a lab specimen created and exploited to satisfy someone else’s curiosity and ambition) and you can see that it might be a bad thing if people with the ES gene got loose. The parallels with genetically-engineered crops as well as Dr. Frankenstein and his monster are clear and the most interesting aspect of this series is the way author Fuyumi Soryo develops dramatizes the moral dilemmas which accompany fooling around with the fundamental building blocks of life.
Ryosuke Akiba, a.k.a. Shuro, is a “good” ES person with some sense of justice. Mine Kujo is a neuroscientist and one of the rare individuals whose mind can’t be read by people with the ES gene. She also displays some characteristics of Asperger Syndrome (like missing social cues and persisting in inappropriate behavior in public places) and doesn’t have much of a social life because of this. They team up in vol. 2 with Shinichiro Sakaki, another researcher who is immune to ES mind-manipulation, to try to track down Isaac, an ES clone who was created as a lab specimen but has escaped and is wreaking havoc wherever he goes. Isaac’s name is no accident: he was created to be sacrificed although in this case to the greater good of science, or at least the egos of scientists. Unlike Abraham’s son, however, this Isaac doesn’t like the idea of being a sacrificial lamb and decides to get some of his own back instead. Under the circumstances, who can blame him? Soryo (who also created Mars) illustrates ES in a spare and fairly realistic style which at first glance looks unfinished but turns out to be the perfect choice for presenting this futuristic tale. ES is rated OT for ages 16+ and includes two pages of translation notes and a preview of vol. 3. | Sarah Boslaugh

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