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Shaenon K. Garrity
This is where I write stuff.
Old Manga Kicks Your Ass and Steals Your Girlfriend 
5th-Sep-2008 01:40 am
Atagoul
I have here a copy of Kasei Tanken (A Voyage to Mars) by Noboru Ohshiro, and it is totally sweet. Published in 1940, which was, er, not a good time for the Japanese publishing industry, or indeed the Japanese anything, Ohshiro's one-volume opus has survived as one of the classics of early manga. If you were wondering what manga looked like before Tezuka, Kasei Tanken will give you an idea (answer: a lot like early American comic strips). It was one of the first manga to tell a complete self-contained story, one of the first manga with science-fiction themes, and one of the best-drawn manga of its time.

Also, have I mentioned that it's totally sweet and kicks your ass?





Before we go any further, I should note that I can't read Japanese and have no friggin' idea what is going on in this manga. After careful study, I have determined that it is the story of a young boy and his two cartoon animal friends, a dog and a cat. The boy's father is a scientist who works at the local observatory and gets into hair-pulling fights with the other scientists. When the boy stops by one afternoon, the astronomers take him around the observatory, show him space photos (with actual photographs pasted into the artwork), and show off the awesome giant refracting mirror they're building on the roof.



That night, inspired by science, the boy and his animal friends dream about visiting Mars. In this manga, the part of Mars will be played by awesomeness.



A lot of crazy stuff goes down, most of which I can't describe with any accuracy because, again, I have no idea what anyone is saying. The Martians throw a big party for the voyagers and later take them on a tour of the Martian countryside. At this point the visit takes an unsettling turn.



I swore I wouldn't scan any more big two-page spreads, but I have to break that promise to myself because holy crud this is the next thing that happens:



Eventually the voyagers find a hanger full of whimsical spaceships and take off in the most whimsical of them all.



Things go badly, they have to parachute to Earth, but fortunately it's just a dream and the boy wakes up, Little Nemo-style, at the foot of his bed. There's a rather odd epilogue in which the scientist dad makes the boy and the animals put on gas masks and shows them photos of the surface of Mars. I'm sure it all makes sense in translation (actually, I'm not so sure of that), but the visuals are a bit disturbing. I suppose kids all over the world in 1940 were used to authority figures telling them to wear gas masks.



I cannot tell you how much I enjoy looking at this manga. Is it wrong to wish that comics still looked like this? At least sometimes? And the colors are lovely. If I'm feeling generous, next week I'll scan some pages from another Ohshiro manga, either Kisha Ryokou (Train Journey) or this one about a robot factory that I don't know what it's called. I know, I know, I'm a terrible weeaboo.



Comments 
5th-Sep-2008 09:29 am (UTC)
That's awesome and odd and incredibly cool.

I agree about the artwork. I wish we had people doing the 20's-40's styles today. I love the colors and the sceneries from children's book illustrations from that time.
You turned me on to Little Nemo (pointing out the omnibus which I now own) which is just lovely for those reasons alone, not even mentioning the stories.

Thanks for sharing. :)
5th-Sep-2008 04:53 pm (UTC)
The 20s-40s style is the only reason I ever found any enjoyment in Mutts. Unfortunately it's not enough to keep me reading it.
5th-Sep-2008 10:07 am (UTC)
HOly shit, thanks for posting this. Just gorgeous stuff.

wow
5th-Sep-2008 11:03 am (UTC)
Evokes more than a little Winsor McCay, especially pages 68-69.
5th-Sep-2008 11:49 am (UTC)
Wow, that's neat. :]

A lot of the print is different than I'm used to seeing in modern manga. The small "tsu"s aren't small at all in this manga so you just have to know by context when they're supposed to be used in that manner ("atta atta" on pg40 instead of "atsuta atsuta"). I also note that the author uses exclamation points all over the place, but no question marks. Heh!
5th-Sep-2008 04:05 pm (UTC)

And very few rubi characters, especially for a children's comic. Let the little buggers learn to read!
(no subject) - Anonymous - Expand
5th-Sep-2008 11:50 am (UTC)
excellence; I've seen exererpts of this comic before, but never such a generous helping! Thanks.
5th-Sep-2008 11:57 am (UTC)
They were captured by... tomatoes?? This is amazing, thanks for sharing.
5th-Sep-2008 02:51 pm (UTC)
That IS beautiful. Makes me want to seek out more whimsy in modern comics.
5th-Sep-2008 05:47 pm (UTC)
Maybe the gas masks were to simulate the idea that they couldn't breathe on the surface of Mars?
5th-Sep-2008 08:04 pm (UTC)
Hello (^0^)/
I thought this was super neat so I translated it.
If anyone's curious they can read it on mah lj:

http://0x0-kate-0x0.livejournal.com/54955.html#cutid1

8th-Sep-2008 06:10 am (UTC)

Oh, awesome! Thank you!
7th-Sep-2008 10:13 am (UTC)
These are nice! :O
It's pretty awesome knowing what manga used to look like, and I agree, the art is pretty nice!
Thanks for sharing!
8th-Sep-2008 01:19 am (UTC) - Curse you, Shaenon Garrity!
Can you believe that for the past two days, I've been thinking about introducing Ôshiro's pre-war work on my own blog? What kind of serendipity is that? But there's still his other classic to be introduced: Kisha Ryokô ("Train Journey"). I call dibs!
8th-Sep-2008 06:11 am (UTC) - Re: Curse you, Shaenon Garrity!

Okay, but that means I'm doing the one with the robot factory!
9th-Sep-2008 04:04 pm (UTC)
Wow that stuff's really amazing. Thanks for putting this up.

Man, those shots of space have kicked my ass so
hard I'll be explaining to my grandkids why it hurts to sit down.
10th-Sep-2008 01:21 am (UTC)
I got the full-color edition from Shogakukan and it's gorgeous. Comes in a nice case, too, just like the original 1940 edition. But I'm still glad I have the black and white edition, since it includes a talk between Ôshiro, Osamu Tezuka, and Leiji Matsumoto. Both editions include essays about Ôshiro and some info about the writer of the story, Taroh Asahi. The black and white edition, though, includes photos of both, and the contrast is pretty funny. Asahi is a handsome, shaggy-maned, bohemian type, and Ôshiro is a complete geek who looks like he was drawn by Fujiko Fujio. (^_^)
10th-Sep-2008 02:24 am (UTC)

Has anyone ever translated that historic Ohshiro/Tezuka/Matsumoto interview into English? I'm so curious about it.
17th-Jan-2011 04:01 am (UTC) - Аудио-курс от НЛП-Тренера
Anonymous
[url=http://god-n-devil-inc.livejournal.com/13959.html]Дизайн внутренних состояний[/url]
18th-Jan-2011 05:49 am (UTC) - Vintage Manga
Anonymous
god I love vintage manga I need to check this one out kinda reminds me of lost world by tezuka I recently just started a blog dedicated to manga
check it out if you guys are interested
http://vintage-manga.blogspot.com/
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