Ode to Kirihito Review

Title – Ode to Kirihito
Story & Art by – Osamu Tezuka
PublisherVertical, Inc.
Age Rating - 16 +
MSRP – US $14.95, CND $18.95, UK £10.99
AvailabilityBarnes & Noble, Borders, RightStuf, Books-A-Million, Amazon, Amazon CA, Chapters (CA), Amazon UK, & Blackwell’s (UK)

When a patient arrives at M University with a mysterious disease it leaves the staff baffled. What is known about this sickness, dubbed Monmow Disease, is that it transforms a person into a dog-like beast. When Kirihito Osanai is tasked with gathering more information on Monmow Disease he’ll discover some stones are best left unturned.

Ode to Kirihito

Ode to Kirihito is a lot of things; mystery, medical drama, with a bit of horror thrown in and that’s what makes it great. Another thing that makes it so good is the large cast of characters. Sure the main story may be about Kirihito but it’s always fun to see what trouble the other characters are getting into or causing. The only thing that really makes Ode to Kirihito show it’s age (it was published between 1966 and 1967) is its views towards women. This is only in the beginning though, by the middle of volume 1 several strong female characters emerge. All in all Ode to Kirihito is an excellent read.

As far as the art goes in OtK it’s pretty cartoony but this is Osamu Tezuka we’re talking about so that’s no surprise. What really amazes me though is the wide range of expressions each character has in this art style. You can tell when a character is angry, happy, contemplative, or just downright fucking insane. Even those affected with Monmow Disease still show a wide range of emotions and they have the faces of dogs. Another thing I love about the art is the backgrounds. You always know where you are and what’s happening, you’re never left contemplating where the characters are suppose to be. It also doesn’t hurt that some of the backgrounds are beautiful and others pretty trippy.

Without spoiling anything to much I’d also like to talk about some of the characters. As I mentioned earlier there’s quite a few of them but not so many that you lose track of them all. While Kirihito is a good main character my favorite has to be his friend Doctor Urabe. The thing that makes Urabe so fascinating to me is that by many people’s standards he could be considered a horrible human being. That Mr. Tezuka could make a character that you can see both the good and bad in shows just how wonderful of a storyteller he was. Another character I absolutely loved was Sister Helen who proves she has just as many balls as any man.

Ode to Kirihito has a 16 + rating which I think was smart of Vertical. I had originally thought 13 would have been good but when I considered it I realized some of the material in OtK was pretty mature. There are at least 4 accounts of rape, several attempts of rape, exposed breasts, and a few accounts of full on nudity. There’s several violent scenes and a few instances of torture. And while this may not be technically mature material most of the medical jargon went over my head so it probably would a lot of 13 year olds.

Vertical released OtK in two volumes. Volume 1 contains 478 pages where as volume 2 has 350, neither of the volumes have any extras. Both are larger than a regular volume of manga in both height and width. This means if you plan to stack them on top of your other manga they’ll stick out a bit. Best to place them with your other oversized editions or at the very bottom of your shelf so your other volumes sit on top.

Ode to Kirihito 2

If you’re looking for an all around  good manga you can’t go wrong with Ode to Kirihito. While some may not consider it the best of Mr. Tezuka’s works I rate it pretty highly. Just remember that it was originally made between 1966 and 1967 so some of its ideas and treatment of characters may be outdated. If you can look past that very minor flaw you’re in for a hell of a ride.

Gunsmith Cats Revised Edition Review

Title – Gunsmith Cats
Story & Art by - Kenichi Sonoda
PublisherDark Horse
Age Rating – 18 +
MSRP – USA $16.95, CND $21.50, & UK £12.99
AvailabilityBarnes & Noble, Borders, RightStuf, Books-A-MillionAmazon, Amazon CA, Chapters (CA), Amazon UK, & Blackwell’s (UK)

Meet Rally Vincent and May Hopkins, one’s a bad-ass bounty hunter and the other a self-proclaimed “bomb specialist”. Together they run the weapon shop Gunsmith Cats when not in pursuit of their newest bounty. While they always try to take on the least dangerous job they usually get in over their head and have to call in a few friends to help them out.

Let me start off by saying that Gunsmith Cats isn’t a manga that’s going to make you contemplate the meaning of life. What it will do is take you on one hell of a ride and give you a few laughs along the way. I equal Gunsmith Cats to that of a 80s action movie; there’s explosions, boobs, shootouts, and plenty of car chases. Those who are looking for a thought provoking series need not apply, everyone else who just wants to have a good time can sit back and enjoy.

The overall art in Gunsmith Cats is something else. The guns look like their real life counter parts as do the cars. The action sequences are easy to follow and you never feel like you’re missing anything. The environments are nice and you feel like you might have even been to a couple of them. I’m not sure how photo-realistic it is to the Chicago area though as I’ve only been there once as a child. Overall the art is attractive and a pleasure to look at.

My only real complaint is that the character designs seem a bit out of place. As I said earlier the environments look pretty realistic so when you place a character into them the character tends to stand out. For the most part though it’s easy enough to ignore and there were only a few instances where it really bothered me. Overall most of the character designs are beautifully drawn, even the background characters who appear only for a panel or two.

Now let me touch on the mature content for a second. Dark Horse has the series rated at 18+ and it’s hard not to agree with them. There’s full on nudity in every volume and May even pleasures herself for a full two pages in volume 1. It makes sense within the context of the story so it’s not there just to be there. There’s also at least two accounts of shown molestation and several threats of rape. As far as violence goes the series is pretty tame. There’s a few shot off thumbs here and there but nothing to violent. The 18+ rating mostly comes from the sexual content and it’s easy to see why.

In Japan there were originally 8 tankōbon but Dark Horse decided to make it into 4 omnibus volumes with their Revised Edition. These volumes are nothing to scoff at either. Each one contains at least 400+ pages so it makes me wonder just how thick the original Japanese tankōbon were. The thing I really like about these omnibus though is that while they may be thicker than a regular volume of manga they’re not any larger. That means they’ll have no problem sitting on your shelf with your other regular sized manga like Otomen, Gantz, and Bamboo Blade.

As far as extras go they’re pretty scarce. Volume 1 contains two omake (4 panels each), a short interview with Mr. Kenichi Sonoda, and a sketch gallery. Volume 2 only contains two omake (4 panels each). Volume 3 has nothing. Volume 4 on the other hand has the best and in my opinion makes up for lack of extras in the other volumes. After the last chapter in volume 4 you’re told to start from the back of the book and read it American comic style. This very last story is an original by Mr. Sonoda called Riding Bean. It’s basically the original draft of Gunsmith Cats and even though Riding Bean was never finished it’s still a joy to see what was completed.

Now for the one major problem I had with the Revised Edition. In volumes 3 and 4 there are a couple of misplaced words. While it was easy enough to figure out on my own what words were suppose to be where it still bothers the living hell out of me. If this was Viz and Black Lagoon I might let it slide as I’ve come to expect that from them but not Dark Horse. I’ve never encountered a misspelled word or misplaced word in any of my other Dark Horse manga (or comics as far as I can recall) so this really bugs me. I mean this WAS the REVISED Edition, you’d think mistakes like that would be caught. It’s no deal breaker by any means but Jesus Christ does it bother me.

All in all Gunsmith Cats is an excellent seinen manga and anyone looking for something equivalent to an 80s action movie should check it out. While the series is mostly geared towards a male audience I think females could get into it as Rally is a very strong female lead.

Other Crap I Feel Like Mentioning: Each volume contains several stand-alone stories and one major arc. The series isn’t episodic in nature though. The stand-alone stories may not have any bearing on the major arc but they still reference each other and usually happen weeks/months apart from one another. I’d also like to note that while May and several other characters get their own chapters there should be no illusion that this is anyone else’s story but Rally’s. She is the main character of Gunsmith Cats and rightly so. Another thing I’d like to mention is that there are some yuri elements. I don’t think it’s anything that will make yuri fans jump for joy but they are there.

*Original review was posted on Japanator.