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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
New Smithson! 
7th-Jun-2007 12:15 pm
Still in black and white for now. Special thanks to Leia for additional dialogue.


Speaking of comics inspired by our friends, please do not miss this week's installment of The Chronicles of William Bazillion!

Tonight Andrew and I will be at the Asian Art Museum, running mini-workshops on manga for the big new Osamu Tezuka show. Also in attendance: my good friend Jason Thompson, giving a Powerpoint presentation on manga magazines, and manga historian Fred Schodt, giving guided tours. As we all know by now, Tezuka is both the greatest and the insanest comic-book artist of all time. This should be a fabulous show.

Okay, on to the Overlooked Manga Festival!

As I've sometimes mentioned in the past, the manga industry doesn't have quite as active an "underground" scene as the American comics industry, and only a small amount of underground and alternative manga has been published in English. But we're lucky enough to have a bunch of Junko Mizuno's cute/creepy/sexy/violent/uncategorizable work in translation, so let's look at some of that.

One of Mizuno's first manga, Pure Trance was originally published in Japan as a series of CD booklets for trance music albums, which is about as out-there as manga gets. It's basically a showcase for Mizuno's amazing artwork, which depicts pulpy, over-the-top sex and violence in a hypercute Hello Kitty style. Come on, have you ever seen a more adorable naked-lady chainsaw fight?

I don't think so.

The plot...okay, the plot is on drugs. The story takes place in a worn-out future where humanity lives underground and everything from food to children is artificial. Much of the action takes place in a clinic for women suffering from addiction to artificial food, where the evil Director (who is herself addicted to a supplement called Liquid Apple, causing her to cover herself in syringes like a porcupine) rules with an iron fist.

Got all that? It doesn't matter, because Pure Trance isn't interested in making sense. It just wants to take you on a wild, hallucinatory ride through vistas of hot, tough half-naked women, tiny ineffectual men, polyester dystopias, primeval jungles, gruesome violence, and cute cute cute everything.

Over the course of the story, various nurses, patients, and hangers-on at the clinic confront the Director and/or escape. One nurse manages to make it out to the long-abandoned surface world, where she and a group of rescued children survive off the land. She's pursued by the Director's scar-covered (but sexy) goon Kimiko.

Into the cracks and crevices of this vague plot, Mizuno crams everything she wants to draw: sadistic mad science experiments, women greedily eating everything in sight, bizarre (but cute) animals, fields of bunny-headed flowers, plump robots, creepy clones, death and dismemberment, psychic twins. Everything.

I remember a PULP interview in which Mizuno gushed about her passion for Russ Meyer movies, and that trashy-sexy aesthetic definitely comes through in her work. Plus there's a lot of scenes of scantily-clad women fighting.

In his upcoming book Manga: The Complete Guide, which you will want to run out and buy as soon as humanly possible, Jason Thompson compares Pure Trance to the work of Tezuka. Strange as it seems, I can see where Jason's coming from. The rambling, surreal, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink plot recalls Tezuka's early work in particular, and so does the cute, bold, simplified artwork. It's just that Tezuka chose slightly different subject matter.

As you've no doubt noticed from the pages above, another feature of Pure Trance is the running string of footnote illustrations along the bottom of each page, detailing various ephemera of the story's weird sci-fi world. It's best to read the manga first, then go back and look at all the notes. A few choice examples:

If nothing else, Pure Trance is one of the best-looking manga you're likely to find; there simply is no other artist like Junko Mizuno. And she's totally batshit insane.

Previous Overlooked Manga Festivities:
Please Save My Earth
From Eroica with Love
Even a Monkey Can Draw Manga
Dr. Slump
Your and My Secret
Wild Act
Knights of the Zodiac
The Drifting Classroom
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 1
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 2
OMF Special Event: Manga Editors Recommend Manga, Part 3
OMF Special Event: Great Moments in Manga Baking
Shout Out Loud
Warren Buffett: An Illustrated Biography of the World's Most Successful Investor
Sexy Voice and Robo
OMF Special Event: 2006 Overlooked Manga Update
The Four Immigrants Manga
Gerard and Jacques
Ode To Kirihito
Bringing Home the Sushi
Banana Fish
Skip Beat
OMF Special Event: The Greatest Manga Magazine in American History
Cyborg 009
Anywhere But Here
To Terra
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms
Doing Time
The Walking Man
Sugar Sugar Rune
Japan as Viewed by 17 Creators
Mariko Parade
Golgo 13
Ricca 'tte Kanji!?

7th-Jun-2007 09:31 pm (UTC)
While I haven't read any of Junko Mizuno's manga, I have been a fan of her creepy/cute art for awhile. Looks like I have to get this! Is this manga still in print in the US?
8th-Jun-2007 01:06 am (UTC)
Here's an interview with Junko Mizuno from the BBC's "Japanorama" series if anyone is interested:

8th-Jun-2007 01:54 am (UTC)
I like the flies.
8th-Jun-2007 06:22 pm (UTC)
Good old Junko Mizuno. In the early days of manga in bookstores, I was always having to rescue her fairy tale adaptations from the kid's section. "No, see? Zombies. Lingerie. For the twenty-eighth time, this right here? In the adults' section, a fascinating psychedelic romp. In the kids' section, should it fall into the wrong hands? A LAWSUIT WAITING TO HAPPEN."
8th-Jun-2007 07:15 pm (UTC) - Can anyone help with laptop settings?
How to swith sleep mode off? Does anyone know? thanks

Sometimes I visit [url=http://www.teenopsis.com/100.html]this[/url] site... But not often
8th-Jun-2007 08:11 pm (UTC)
When I was at Dark Horse, I desperately wanted to do this manga. On one of my visits, I presented it to Mike Richardson. He sat behind his desk, flipping through the pages for a few minutes, then handed it back to me. "Never show me this book again," he said.
Ah, well. Not a big surprise.
Mizuno is a friend of my wife, Tomoko, so I've met her a couple of times. The first time was a shock. From reading her work I expected someone pretty outrageous, maybe some sort of hard drinking, hard smoking quasi-punk...and instead I was introduced to this painfully cute, elfin little pixy with the manners of a princess. I later found out she could say some pretty outrageous things in conversation, but it was still a shock.
I think she's a genius and we're so lucky Viz and others have had the guts to release her work over here.
8th-Jun-2007 11:04 pm (UTC)

I'm not sure I have enough Sanity Points for this one...
10th-Jun-2007 02:26 am (UTC)
Sanity Points are an unnecessary drag upon your mind. Be free of them. You'll be so much better off with none.
16th-Jul-2008 04:56 pm (UTC)
I'm not sure you're reading my text correctly. But anyway, one of the points I'm trying to make is that Apple didn't communicate what it was doing with the iTunes update, or why it was doing it, to its users.
10th-Jun-2007 02:24 am (UTC)
I feel so cool. I owned this (as well as Sexy Voice and Robo) before you talked about it. I'm a fan of Junko Mizuno's works in general, really. It resonates with my soul. Seriously. That probably means I had no sanity points to start with.
4th-Jul-2007 12:32 pm (UTC)
man, I know she choose it and everything, but I hated the paper that viz released cinderella on. It made me not pick up her other stuff.
1st-Sep-2008 11:58 pm (UTC)
It's basically an illustrated history of the sexual revolution. On acid. (The bestest ever).
8th-Jun-2010 02:00 am (UTC)
Pure Trance review:

Following the Third World War, humankind left the toxic surface of the Earth and built an underground city to survive. A serious social problem emerged in this new society: hyperorexia, or severe overeating, a side effect of the Pure Trance lifesustaining pill. This dreamy science fiction fantasy — a sexy story of catfights, alien safari adventures, evil experimentation, and a girl who dreams of becoming a pop idol singer—is the longawaited debut graphic novel of famous Japanese manga artist Junko Mizuno. Pure Trance breaks every stereotype of shojo manga (girls' comics).See details and buy at manga comic


Andy Landers


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