Ceramic Knife Versus Black Steel – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind volume 1 and Kurogane volume 2

Some more manga reviews. Sometime in the near future I’m going to reinvent my manga page since currently it’s a useless piece of shit and I never update it or validate it’s existence.

Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind volume 1 – I’ve only seen the first half of the Nausicaa movie about 3 years back when my Japanese teacher showed it to the class. I’d heard that the manga was a lot longer and better, and when I heard it was Miyazaki himself who drew it, I knew I had to try it out. I won’t be surprised if it’s longer than the movie – I’ve caught up to where I saw in the movie just in volume one of the manga and there’s a bunch more volumes. In any case, it definitely felt like watching a film because there were no chapter breaks, a the story was one continuous happening (making the end of the volume slightly awkward.) In any event, it’s Miyazaki. It’s everything you’d expect. Beautiful art, riveting story, great, memorable characters, a rich world, et cetera. It’s surprisingly political for a Miyazaki thing, which is usually more about whimsical, lighthearted fantasy than serious, dramatic fantasy, but as always, he makes it work, and it’s a damn good read. Volume 2 is already heading my way.

Kurogane volume 2 – A lot of people know Toume Kei for doing Lament of the Lamb, a cult hit with an insanely rabid fanbase. I haven’t yet read Lament of the Lamb, but I always wanted to try a Kei manga, and when I saw Kurogane I was interested – I got my 10-year old brother to start buying the volume and he loves it (what kid wouldn’t love a samurai manga with an adorable hero?). I’m glad I did get him to buy it because it’s the kind of thing that’s worth reading, but not really worth owning. The story is completely generic samurai stuff. The main character is a drifter with incredible skill who gets into all the situations you’d expect out of a season of Rurouni Kenshin. He’s not a big softy like Kenshin – ready to kill and stuff, but usually sides with the good guys. There are a couple twist. First is that at the beginning of the manga, he got killed and a scientist gave him robot parts, so it looks like he’s wearing a really Tezuka-esque mask and he can’t talk. He has a talking sword, though, that pretends to be his voice. This gimmick doesn’t change things much – in the time between reading volumes one and two, I’d completely forgotten that Jintetsu, the main character, couldn’t talk himself until one of the speech bubbles was pointing directly at the blade when he was supposed to be talking. The other twist is that it’s Toume Kei and she has a really original art style.

However, I’m not a huge fan of toume Kei’s art style. It IS unique, which is a good thing, but unique doesn’t always mean the same thing as good. Kei’s character art is the biggest strong point as well as the biggest weakness. Characters are cool looking, but all look the same. Except for some of their special features (pony tail, burns) most of the male characters look the same, and the females just flat-out look alike. At times, it was confusing to figure out if a character was male or female – one who I could have sworn was female started getting referred to as male, and then it turned out it was a girl dressed as a man… must not have been great at it. In addition, the fights are confusing. The scratchy art style makes it hard to tell what’s an arm and what’s a sword, and there aren’t enough pictures in many cases to tell what motion just happened. Often I find myself not knowing who won until they are standing aside, dripping blood. Kei also doesn’t put a whole lot of efforts into backgrounds most of the time, and when she does, it’s just standard samurai fare anyway.

Overall, the manga is okay, good enough to look at, but not something to cherish or remember. I think it would make a much better anime than manga, as long as it doesn’t turn out like the Hitsuji no Uta manga.

One thought on “Ceramic Knife Versus Black Steel – Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind volume 1 and Kurogane volume 2

  1. Finished Nausicaa manga last year and it was awesome. I see a lot of things in his other movies also employed in the storytelling of the manga. Truly satisfying, it’s hard for me not to recommend completing this.

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