GOTH – S. S. Astro – Black Lagoon = Sum Manga I Dun Read

You know how you can tell I’ve got too much fucking free time at school? I read 3 fucking graphic novels within my school day today. THREE! And i’m not one of those fucking crazy people who plows through a graphic novel in 15 minutes – it takes me about 45-minutes on average. I read slow, shut the fuck up. Anyway, I guess it makes the most sense to write about them in the order that I read them so here you go.

S. S. Astro volume 1

user posted image

S.S. Astro is another giant-paged 4-Koma manga released by Yen Press. That enough was reason for me to buy it. This manga by Negi Banno (who gets not even an introduction parapraph anywhere in the book) is about 4 female teachers who start work at a high school. It’s comedy slice of life al-la Hidamari Sketch only a bit more mature. Not that it’s serious or anything, it’s just about adults being adults instead of the usual high school girls being high school girls. This doesn’t make them any less cute and fun though.

S.S. Astro has immediately loveable characters that by the end of the volume had me begging to be able to read more about them (as often happens in these manga). it also solidifies my claim that every slice of life story has at least one lesbian character in it, though this is by far the most blatant one (her character is largely based around it.) The personality traits of the characters are pretty basic, but in a grown up way that makes it interesting in a sort of ‘what if my favorite anime girls grew up?’ sort of way. It’s not the first thing to do that whatsoever, but it’s no less fun to see.

Anyway if you’ve been impressed by the Yen Press 4-koma so far there’s absolutely no reason you won’t love this one. The best part is that unlike hidasketch I haven’t already seen these stories upwards of 3 times and therefor I feel very inclined to reread it. Immediately. I WANT MORE.

Goth started as a novel written by Otsuichi. I learned about Otsuichi from Faust which I promise I’ll start going through soon, and his story F-Sensei’s Pocket, which was great. they didn’t have the Goth novel at the store I went to but they had the manga which is only 1 volume long and therefor totally worth it. Goth is very good. The first chapter kind of feels like going down old roads of mystery/horror anime with characters who were messed up in a very drab way, however by chapter two things become far more interesting. The main draw of Goth, and I’ve heard it’s tenfold so in the novel, is the main character who is twisted but so cool and collected thatĀ  you can’t help but like him. My kind of psycho, you could say. It was also fun how the girl was your total mysterious and gothy girl but there was enough to show that she was not very bright at all and given a very human quality unkown to most mysterious characters.
The manga was rife with great imagery, especially the chapter starters like that above. There were awesome facial expressions, cool poses, some trippiness – all the great things to come of gothic storytelling. The icing on the cake was a riveting knife fight. Andrew Cunningham happened to be talking about the novel just today and says that apparently KyoAni almost did an OVA of Goth. I’d love to see Madhouse or SHAFT do it, the latter preferred because Shinbo is the king of gothic imagery. I will try to get my hands on the novel ASAP because I’d really love to get more into the main character’s mind.
Black Lagoon volume 1
Volume one of black lagoon features what became the first 3 episodes of the anime and the Roberta arc, meaning the u-boat arc was shafted forward in the anime. In addition to that, a lot of things happened faster in the manga, reinforcing my thoughts that everything in the anime could have been done in fewer episodes. If the anime was entirely taken from the manga, it’s easier to see the manga being preferable just because it has such better pacing. Otherwise, the anime was such a straight-up adaption that I don’t have much to say except that the character designs look better in the manga – namely Revy. She has more smoothness about her I guess. I also love how the artwork is rock solid but when fights break out everything goes into huge-outlign giant-text Gurren-lagann style madness.

4 thoughts on “GOTH – S. S. Astro – Black Lagoon = Sum Manga I Dun Read

  1. I find it interesting that you describe the Goth heroine as a person not too bright because I, while it’s been some time since I read the manga, didn’t consider her all that un-bright. Sure, she doesn’t seem to be awesomely brilliant but to me she felt like an average person in terms of intelligence.

    The art and atmosphere in Goth are both mostly well executed but the writing leaves a fair deal to be desired, with tons of plot holes and bad continuation. Seriously, stuff like the main character’s hand fixation and his feeling of needing to put on a smiling, simple face among his peers don’t get a mention after the first chapter. Also, the last story makes very poor use of its narrational quirks that are supposed to lead the reader astray in regard to the guys. I was pretty disappointed at the stories being so badly constructed because Goth could’ve been an incredibly strong manga instead of just having a nice, morbid air and an interesting lead. Lost potential always makes me sad.

    Also, I hated the knife fight and thought it was really out of place with the otherwise so ominously tranquil feel of the manga. The silently threatening ambience was mostly lost on me there as the creators decided to make the thing awesome with a painfully predictable action scene.

  2. Well a lot of the lost potential is what happened from transition out of novel because everyone who’s read the novel notes it’s way-betterness and apparently it’s outright amazing. Hence my want to read.

    As for the knife fight, I mean that is a Goth thing. Everything in this manga positively teems with goth and the characters act exactly like 2 different kinds of goth kids. as a goth kid, I just loved it.

  3. The knife fight’s a goth thing? Okay, that explains. I’m not very familiar with goth-ness so I’m probably missing some of the feel.

    The novel does sound interesting though, maybe I’ll check it out some time since I definitely like the idea and themes of the manga.

    By the way, I read manga slower than you do. :D

  4. I think my thoughts about GOTH are those that Arana had: Interesting premise, pretty poor-execution. I think what got me to check it out initially was knowing that the artist of the NHK manga was working on it. :P

    S.S. Astro is a fun little manga that I don’t mind reading for light entertainment. And it’s fun to see that some actually obvious/explicit lesbian desires in something like that for once.

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