Review: Boku-tachi ga Yarimashita, by Muneyuki Kaneshiro

Four stars.

The title of this manga series translates to “We Did It.” It follows a group of three hapless highschoolers who happen to attend a high school right across the one that houses the worst youth gang in town. Students from the first high school are routinely tormented by thugs, but weak as they are, they have no choice but to stew in their rage and frustration.

These highschoolers are forced for whatever reason to spend most of their afternoons doing after-school activities, which in their case translates to playing around in a shipping-container-like space on the roof. They are always joined by a graduated older student that although he has been warned by teachers to stay away from the school, he doesn’t have anything else going on. Because he happens to be rich thanks to his absent father, and eager to buy friendships through spending that money, the main trio of highschoolers enjoy fucking around doing more or less expensive activities that this paisen (how they call him; a looser way of saying senpai) bankrolls.

One afternoon, as the protagonist and one of his friends are leaving the school, his pal (who ends up becoming the most obnoxious character in the story), shouts at the thugs gathered outside the opposite high school that they should all die. This guy tried to make sure that he didn’t shout loud enough, but unfortunately for every main character, some of the worst thugs were hanging out close by, behind the duo.

Later, these gang members attempt to kidnap the protagonist for being associated with his friend, but he gets saved by his romantic interest. The thugs do manage to kidnap the guy who wished them to die. They bring him to their hideout, and force him under threat of torture to fight another hapless student they had kidnapped. In the end they beat the protagonist’s friend unconscious, then send him back to his friends in a cardboard box.

The main group, including the rich graduated guy who buys their friendship, is infuriated. But the rich guy has a plan to get back at the high school across the street and its delinquent students: he has procured some explosives that are bound to give them a good scare. At night, clad in animal masks, they break into the opposite school and plant the explosives.

On the next school day, the main group gathers on the roof as they set up the detonators. The thugs that assailed them, as well as a couple hundred of other students, are present as our guys cheerfully blow up the explosives.

Turns out that detonating explosives in a school has concerning consequences for our main characters: one of the explosives blows up the propane tanks, and they witness how ten students or so burn to death. Others are injured to extents that will ruin their lives.

Their stunt got recorded. Some of their teachers and people in their life suspect them. They point fingers their way. The leader of those thugs survived despite his injuries, and is looking to murder the main guys. After their graduated benefactor gets arrested and charged with mass murder, the trio of high schoolers decides to flee. What follows is an anxiety-inducing tale in which the main trio’s friendship will get tested, and they’ll learn to navigate a hostile world that will force them to make some troublesome concessions to survive.

It’s a well-plotted story with plenty of twists and turns, and that in general reminded me of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment: the four characters involved are eaten up to different extents by guilt due to the crime they committed. The protagonist wonders if he has any right to be happy when he was responsible for ruining so many people’s lives. A moment summarizes this grim manga for me: when a person stalks the protagonist to murder him, the protagonist is overjoyed that someone is about to free him from the guilt and the regret; he gets on his knees, rips open his shirt, and begs the would-be murderer to stab his heart. The would-be murdered gets freaked out and runs away.

My favorite character ended up being the rich older guy. He’s the ugly sort without prospects other than being rich because his absent father keeps sending him money. One of the most interesting sequences of the story involved this guy trying to track down his father to figure out if the old man loved him, with devastating results for his sanity.

Most of the first act of this story annoyed me. The author was trying to set up the main group as carefree, spending their time in silly activities that pictured them as empty-headed idiots. It was mostly done to sell as believable that they wouldn’t contemplate the consequences of planting explosives in a high school, but until then they annoyed me enough that I considered dropping the story. However, it became a compelling tale worth the effort.

Review: Yogen no Nayuta, by Tatsuki Fujimoto

Tatsuki Fujimoto, chainsaw dude and master of levitation, who got banned from Twitter recently for impersonating his little sister, has become my fourth horseman of the Apocalypse after Inio Asano (Oyasumi Punpun, Solanin), Shūzō Oshimi (The Flowers of Evil, Inside Mari, Happiness, Blood on the Tracks), and Minoru Furuya (Buko to Issho, Wanitokagegisu, Himizu, Ciguatera, Saltiness). I loved Fujimoto’s Chainsaw Man and I’m having a blast with the anime adaptation, but I don’t dare to get into his Fire Punch yet, so I’m going through his one-shots.

So yes, this Yogen no Nayuta is one of his short stories. In an alternate Earth where magic is real but not particularly powerful, some prophecy prophesized that a horned baby would be born and she would be the harbinger of the end of the world. This Nayuta girl is born with horns, which rip her mother apart on the way out. Her remaining family are aware of the prophecy. Her father gets killed shortly after for being responsible for this abomination, so only Nayuta’s brother remains to take care of her. Although her brother suspects that she may indeed bring forth the Apocalypse, because she keeps murdering animals for no apparent reason and her attempts at verbal communication are solely composed of ominous words, he’s her big brother, damn it, so he’ll take care of his precious imouto.

If this one-shot is making any point at all, it may be that even if you were born to bring forth the Apocalypse, as long as someone loves you enough, perhaps you’ll be able to channel your homicidal instincts into some activities that don’t involve mass murder. I suppose that’s as good a point as any other.

Curiously, Fujimoto reused this Nayuta girl, but hornless, in Chainsaw Man, although I can’t say in which way because it would be a massive spoiler.

Four stars for this one.

Random AI-generated images #16


Two neural networks, one of them trained on anime-like images, work tirelessly to spread their madness to the ends of the earth. This is the latest batch of about a hundred of such AI-generated pictures.

You can check out so far twenty-eight other entries featuring generated images through this link.

Sunglasses mafia
Nietzsche
The cooler Nietzsche
Horrifying anime-like depictions of Nietzsche
Eren Yeager cosplaying as Nietzsche
Erwin danchou
A lion’s heart
Shinzou wo sasageyo

Review: Boku to Issho, by Minoru Furuya

“Whether you’re an idiot who’s watching or an idiot who’s dancing, if you’re really an idiot, you might as well dance.”

Throughout my reading of Minoru Furuya’s Saltiness, Ciguatera, Himizu, and Wanitokagegisu (the links go to my reviews of those titles), this author became my third favorite mangaka after Inio Asano (mainly because of Oyasumi Punpun and Solanin; unfortunately the guy seems to have lost his drive since) and Shūzō Oshimi.

Furuya’s stuff tends to be similar: character-driven tales of outcasts forced to deal with bad luck and troublesome compulsions. Plenty of weird sexual stuff. Although the characters endure harrowing experiences that would have traumatized most people to the extent of ruining their lives, Furuya’s characters get used to trauma. However, the commitments between the characters tend to be equally temporary. His stories rarely include neat resolutions: unless the character in question dies, the issues that person had been struggling with throughout the story are likely to continue beyond the conclusion. The author also has a fantastic sense of the absurdity of life, so his plot points and character interactions are often unpredictable and hilarious.

This manga series I’m reviewing was made in the late nineties. A different beast to his later works, Boku to Issho is an extremely caricaturesque comedy slice-of-life. While the extreme behaviors of the characters put me off initially, as well as the author’s talent to depict ugly faces, Furuya ended up turning the caricaturesque nature of this story into an art form. It became one of the funniest series I’ve read in a long time.

The story follows two brothers (about fifteen and twelve respectively) in awful circumstances: their mother just died, and their violent stepfather booted them out. They find themselves homeless, penniless, with no talents that they can put to use. The big brother acts as a father figure to his younger sibling, but he’s lazy and delusional: although he believes that he’ll become a pro baseball player the moment he applies himself to it, he’s mainly focused in protecting his ego from the damage that testing his delusions in the real world would cause.

They quickly meet one of the other main characters of this tale: a glue-huffing orphan who makes a living by theft and petty grifting.

Later on they also get together with a pretty boy runaway teen. After the glue-huffing guy steals a cellphone, they start selling their services as gigolos. Their naïveté quickly clashes with the real world when one of their first customers turns out to be a young woman with a penchant for toy-assisted domination.

Most of the characters we meet struggle at least with their self-esteem, but often with poverty, and in some cases with compulsions and fetishes. They are rarely sure of their place in life and where they’ll be in a few years.

As mentioned, I’ve been exposed to plenty of Furuya’s works, so I already expected this story to “just end”. The author attempts some circularity, which mostly serves as the thematic point that not much in our lives gets resolved, and we’re left to figure out how to keep going.

Another winner by Minoru Furuya, as far as I’m concerned.

Review: My Broken Mariko, by Waka Hirako

Four and a half stars for the titular story, three and a half for the other one.

When I bother to read fiction, I usually look for well-constructed mirrors. In the titular story from this manga, because it features two, the protagonist is a high-strung failed adult with a dead-end job that pays her rent but otherwise just grates on her nerves. On the very first page of that story we learn that her best friend, only friend, the titular Mariko, has committed suicide.

Along the way we learn that Mariko was as broken as they come, and little of her true nature had a chance to come through given that she suffered a childhood, up to her twenties, full of physical and sexual abuse at the hands of her father. The only person Mariko approached for help was the protagonist, who in school was already a delinquent from a broken home.

Ever since they met, the protagonist had always been heartbroken because she couldn’t find a way to save Mariko both from her father and then from herself. Now that she won’t be able to help her anymore in life, she decides to grab a knife and visit Mariko’s father to steal her best friend’s ashes.

I won’t go into further details about the plot of a one-shot, but I loved the realistic way the author treated someone as damaged as Mariko, as well as her relation with the protagonist. Mariko knew she was broken, and even after she became an adult she searched for man after man who would mistreat her and hurt her, because she couldn’t relate on a deeper level with people in any other way.

But this titular girl wasn’t innocent either: she monopolized the protagonist’s life and attentions by guilting her into not interacting with other people and particularly not getting a boyfriend, because that would mean that Mariko would lose her chance to be saved, even though she knew from the beginning that she was doomed. That dynamic continued until a week or so before the titular character killed herself, so most of the reasons for the protagonist’s isolation and her unhappiness are related to having been tied down, and dragged to the depths of despair, by someone who had no means and no intentions of getting better.

The protagonist deals not only with the grief of losing her best friend whom the protagonist had tried to save since her school days, but also with the anger and remorse caused by the fact that the person to whom she had dedicated her life chose to abandon her. So we have a fucked up, failed adult for a protagonist, who also has a huge savior complex, and an impact character (the most influential character for the protagonist in a narrative) who is doomed from the beginning. I’m not surprised about the comparisons with Inio Asano’s “Oyasumi Punpun”, which remains my favorite manga series.

As if the story of this one-shot manga didn’t attract me enough, I found its artistic style tremendously compelling, over the top but in a way that emphasized the characters’ emotions perfectly. The depiction of both the shit they go through as well as how they react to it is more raw, and real, than in most manga, which I’m all for.

I didn’t rate it a five because it left me wanting to know more about and spend way more time with the protagonist. I thought there was far more to develop about her.

The second story takes place in the United States near the border with Mexico, and it reminded me a lot of “No Country For Old Men”. I won’t say anything else about that story except that it was a bit more on the nose than I would have liked, but I still enjoyed it a lot.

I want to read more stuff by this author, but apparently he or she has released nothing else. If this is really this person’s first manga, I look forward to that successful career.

Review: My Dearest Self With Malice Aforethought, by Hajime Inoryu

Our protagonist is a college-age kid devoted to man’s one duty: that of sticking his penis in as many wet holes as possible. He’s been wholly unsuccessful so far. From that introduction, the story could have gone in plenty of directions, but I wouldn’t have guessed that the guy is the son of Japan’s most famous serial killer from the last fifteen or twenty years, and that he has dissociative identity disorder. Looking back at the first couple of chapters, they are incongruous with what’s to come.

We find out that something is wrong with the guy’s brain as soon as he does: he wakes up in bed next to a pretty stranger, a female classmate from college. He has no clue how he started dating her, but she seems quite taken with whoever was commanding the protagonist’s brain until then. This alternate version of the guy is also violent and much bolder. In any case, the guy is happy enough to let this sudden girlfriend of his believe that she’s dating the other version of himself.

However, the protagonist’s missing part isn’t satisfied with a hot girlfriend: he’s also hanging out with members of the worst gang around, one that runs whores and kills people. They idolize the aforementioned serial killer to the extent that they welcomed the protagonist, the serial killer’s son, with open arms.

One person realizes that the protagonist is struggling with some ghastly mental issue: an aloof young woman who attends the same college. She has been following the protagonist around and has learned to identify when the personality switches have taken place. Soon enough we find out that she has a personal connection with one of the victims of the serial killer.

A woman gets murdered in what seems like a copycat case of the serial killer’s modus operandi, and the protagonist finds himself in possession of that woman’s cut-off ear. So is his alternate personality following on his father’s footsteps, or has someone framed him? The clues lead him to the nasty gang that has welcomed him. Helped by the weird girl from before, the protagonist will try to figure out if he’s innocent or if he’s truly the devil’s spawn, as he’s been called since he was a child.

This quickly turns into a brutal, disturbing tale. At first it reminded me of the most hardcore parts of Minoru Furuya’s mangas (a hapless underdog who ends up involved in a life-or-death situation with sociopathic elements of the Japanese underworld), except that this story lacks any humor. However, after a turning point in the story that abandons plenty of the set up elements that came beforehand, the tale turns into a thriller in which anyone could betray the protagonist at any point, and everybody has a secret to hide.

The drawings are detailed and uncompromising. This is one of those iceberg stories in which the author has plotted carefully every character’s actions and deceptions. Unfortunately, he resorts to some clichés, and he also pulls his punches a couple of times.

The moment that bothered me the most happened early on in the story, but it announced that some more bullshit was coming down the road: at one point the protagonist finds himself in the club that the gang owns. He’s prodded into showing his inborn skills as a torturer with a tied-up guy that the gang intended to kill. The protagonist ends up giving a speech, the details of which I’ve forgotten (he said that torturing a random guy was beneath him, or something). His audience, a bunch of hardened criminals who idolize a serial killer, just go along with his excuse, and even end up freeing that man. The author had done a great job setting up those guys as extremely dangerous until that point. As far as I’m concerned, one of the worst things you can do as a writer is building up some symbol as something significant only to end up tearing it down out of convenience.

Later on we get a few clichéd moments that we’ve seen a thousand times: the author makes us believe that a character has shot someone in the head, but that character actually shot into the floor deliberately; X gets shot in the chest at point-blank range by people who could have easily shot X in the head, but X survives because of a bulletproof vest; a murderous bad guy gets knocked unconscious, but instead of finishing him, they good guys walk away, and the bad guy gets back up shortly after; etc.

Although I’m quite sure that dissociative identity disorder doesn’t work that way, I found the story quite interesting. You usually don’t get these kinds of thrillers in manga format.

Review: RaW Hero, by Akira Hiramoto

I found out about this series when it showed up in the books list of someone I’m stalking on Goodreads. If I had paid attention to its terrible rating on the site, I would have missed a gem. This author’s absurd, perverted humor is right up my alley. I don’t know why I pay attention to ratings; how often do I agree with the majority on anything?

The story follows a bespectacled pretty boy in his early twenties. His parents died some time ago. He found himself responsible for taking care of his younger brother, who may be in high school, and of his other much younger brother, who’s a kid. He has promised to them that he’s going to get a great job that will pay well enough that they’ll live in a highrise building instead of in their current hovel. His brothers dream of eating foods that most others take for granted. Anyway, no matter how many interviews our protagonist goes to, he remains unemployed.

One day he’s on a train heading to another interview, but he notices that some guy wearing a suit is fingering a young woman. The protagonist’s sense of justice doesn’t allow him to let this pass, and he chooses to miss his interview and instead confront the molester. It turns out that the guy and the young woman were engaging in consensual mutual perversion. However, the older guy is impressed by the protagonist’s earnestness and sense of justice, and he reveals that he’s one of the big shots at the intelligence department of the country.

This version of Japan includes superpowered heroes as well as people that have undergone operations to become half-beast freaks. The older guy offers our protagonist a job as a spy: he’ll have to infiltrate a small-time group of troublemakers who bother the government by spray painting, giving away leaflets and in general being annoying. For the most part, the government seems to want to make an example out of this group. However, its leader is a dangerous woman who goes by the stupid name of Jelly E. Fish.

The protagonist’s employer is a volatile pervert severely lacking in common sense. Instead of giving his employee the suitcase with the instructions and professional-looking clothes that the protagonist should rely on to infiltrate the group, the older man gives him the wrong suitcase, that contains the skimpy costume that he intended his preferred escort to wear. The protagonist considers this a fucked up test that he has no choice but to pass in order to provide for his family. After a disastrous interview that involved receiving a facial from a half-elephant’s trunk, he becomes a member of one of the propaganda wings of this shady organization.

What follows is an insane ride in which the protagonist has to pass for a woman, avoid getting found out as a spy, and resist the sexual attentions of both men and women. We meet through him an aspiring manga author in her late twenties who also lost her parents at an early age, who grew up with her grandparents in the deep country and now feels uneasy in society, and who has coped by producing romantic mangas that she aspires to publish. I found her the most relatable person in this story, the rock that provided the protagonist with a solid goal for which to endure his otherwise deranged existence.

Our guy is having a hard time: his life is becoming increasingly demented, and he needs to assert his strength and get taken seriously as a woman in the shady organization. Soon enough he finds himself crossdressing in public for no reason. He’s losing the sense of his own identity, and at times he ceases to give a shit about anything.

The protagonist comes across the second most memorable secondary character of this tale: a hellishly sexy cosplayer and yandere who is also his neighbor. She immediately finds out that the protagonist is crossdressing; added to the guy’s delicate genitals with which she quickly comes in contact, she becomes infatuated with our protagonist. She’s also the kind that casually resorts to blackmail.

The plot is tight, the interactions between the characters are compelling and often hilarious, the women are gorgeous (half of the time, even our crossdressing protagonist), the series features lots of retarded crotch shots (even of our crossdressing protagonist), some dialogue bubbles come out of crotches.

My only issue with this story is that the author dropped the ball with that ending. I won’t go into spoilers, but the protagonist and his romantic interest should have gotten a final scene, one notorious character survived when they should have ended up as dead as they come, and one of the most compelling characters disappeared as if the author forgot that they existed. Otherwise, if you are as much of a pervert as I am and you want to have a good time, I recommend this series.

Review: GIGANT, by Hiroya Oku

This is a loose review of the entire series.

The main character of this tale (I wouldn’t dare call him the protagonist) is a sixteen-year-old high schooler that loves Western movies, that aspires to become a film director, and that is obsessed with a twenty-four-year-old half-Japanese, pink-haired, heavy-breasted porn actress who goes by a stupid artist name.

One day as he’s walking around in Tokyo, he comes across posted notices on which someone indicates that the porn actress lives nearby, which could lead a malicious person to harass her. The high schooler tears down the notices. The porn actress casually witnesses him doing so, and they strike up a friendship. Our main character can hardly wait to experience this gorgeous porn actress’ talents on his own flesh and dick, but she intends to put him in the friend zone. Besides, she has a boyfriend: an unstable gambler who beats her up when he remembers that other guys are fucking his girl. After they break up, our high-schooler main character and this big-breasted porn actress end up dating. Some people may have a problem with the fact that she’s twenty-four years old and he’s in high school, but the situation is far worse, because our main character is a toddler; the motherfucker threw a tantrum at a restaurant, bawling and all, until she agreed to date him. I have no clue what the author intended with that moment, but if he wanted the audience to lose all respect for the supposed main character, he achieved it.

Anyway, they work well as a couple: she’s motherly and loves to be needed, and he wants to screw as much as possible the most alluring woman to whom he has access.

Soon enough the tale delves into sci-fi: some weird guy is running around in his underwear while going on about some nonsensical stuff. Somehow he ends up getting struck by a truck. As he dies, he bequeaths to the porn actress a strange device that gets attached to her wrist, and she’s unable to remove it. Once the weird guy dies, he becomes a plush toy.

Our lovely porn actress figures out that the device allows her to become gigantic at will. At around the same time, a website named “Enjoy the End” grows popular: it lets users vote for what strange event they want to happen, and the most popular one becomes reality no matter how absurd: people start witnessing dragons and UFOs, and gigantic monsters descend from the sky to wreak havoc on Tokyo. The users of the website rejoice at the destruction that these manifestations are causing on the capital; most of the users seem to reside in the countryside. When they end up voting for a skyscraper-tall monster to reduce the population of Tokyo to one million, our porn actress decides to become the protagonist of this tale by turning gigantic and fighting the menace while naked (because the process of turning monstrously huge destroys her clothes, as well as anything else she happened to be in).

The story follows how Japanese society, then the rest of the world, reacts to the heroic deeds and growing cult status of the unlikely heroine who keeps exposing her monster-sized tits and genitals, and although the series becomes increasingly more ridiculous and absurd, this porn actress turned Godzilla-murderer remains brave and good-natured to an extent that warmed my black heart.

I don’t know if I can honestly recommend this series. I loved the graphic depictions of the big-boobed heroine, as well as how often she showed up naked. The fights are compellingly choreographed. This author has featured aliens in the three stories of his of which I’m aware: “Gantz” (I gave up halfway through when he killed off a main character, and I wasn’t enjoying it enough) and “Inuyashiki” (I appreciated the anime adaptation as well as its bold, violent nature, particularly the gun fingaz stuff). I wouldn’t be surprised if the author himself was an alien; he writes his human characters as if he’s only ever watched people from afar. However, I was most impressed with the quality of the drawings, which resemble renders based on photographs or 3D models, as well as with how balls-to-the-wall bonkers the whole thing is; I gotta admire the author for that. The two highlights that come to mind are the whole prolonged sequence involving a gargantuan Satan, and the two gigantic depictions of Socrates and Plato, who speak like teenage “Call of Duty” fanatics.

I had a good ol’ time reading this series. To be fair, I’d have a good time with pretty much anything that involves huge, meaty tits, so make of this review what you will.

Review: Wanitokagegisu, by Minoru Furuya

The title apparently translates to “Stomiiformes”, which is, according to Google, “an order of deep-sea ray-finned fishes”. This is the fourth series I’ve read of this author, after “Saltiness”“Ciguatera” and “Himizu”. Furuya has become my third favorite author after Shūzō Oshimi and Inio Asano, and this series is my third most favorite of his.

The tale follows a thirty-two-year-old ugly loner who has been working the night shift as a security guard at a supermarket for seven years. A single event defined his youth: during a class in which the students were ordered to hold hands, everybody made a point of avoiding to hold the protagonist’s. Afterward the teacher berated his classmates for being so hurtful, but some girls rebelled and yelled that they didn’t want to hold his hand because he was gross and creepy. As soon as the protagonist became an adult, he went out of his way to avoid people and live as quietly as possible. However, we are introduced to him the moment he fears that he’s missing out, that he’s letting his life pass by. He has made a habit of going to the roof of the building at which he works, getting undressed to his underwear and running laps, but that night, as his anxiety grows, he makes a childish wish to the universe: for someone to become his friend.

Recently he had noticed that someone was spying on him from the shadows of a nearby apartment building as the protagonist ran laps on the roof. On top of that, some sneaky bastard starts leaving notes to him that state that the protagonist is about to go crazy and die before the end of the year. So far the only positive development in his life is that he meets his next door neighbor, who is a beautiful, tall, big-breasted young woman who aspires to become a published writer.

This story contains all the elements of a classic Minoru Furuya tale: an outcast protagonist who has trouble relating to people properly and who experiences intrusive thoughts; some of such thoughts are incarnated into creatures (humans and wild animals in this series, otherworldly “demons” in the other stories); silly humor; unpredictable behaviors; hardcore sequences that should have traumatized the involved characters but that end up having few lasting consequences; secondary characters that impact the protagonist as they play their role, but that then disappear forever; and the sense that by opening yourself up to others or even interacting with them, you are courting disaster.

Through the protagonist we meet a homeless gambler who’s running from the Yakuza; a wired young man who is in love with (and stalks) a dangerous woman; a pea-brained, big-dicked security guard who dreams of becoming rich and popular; a sociopathic hikikomori who murdered his depressive, alcoholic father; a possibly schizoid security guard who has never opened up to others and that if he does he risks finding out the extent of how fucked up he is; a gang of thugs who steal cars; an aging pleasure seeker who’s looking for a way to break up with her murderous Yakuza lover, etc. In the middle of it all, our unfortunate protagonist attempts in his fumbling way to improve other people’s circumstances, even to his detriment.

Most fiction writers, men and women, tend to dump plenty of their own flaws into their protagonists, then they also create romantic interests for those protagonists that in real life wouldn’t even deign to look at them. It rarely bothers me; after all, real life is shit and we ought to escape from it as often as possible. However, I had a especially hard time believing that a beautiful, tall, big-breasted aspiring writer would be interested in this story’s protagonist, who is ugly, unkempt, lacks any interesting hobbies or talents, has few social skills, works a dead-end job, and has never even kissed a girl. I did, however, like the character of that aspiring writer (who does very little actual writing in the story) although I couldn’t believe in most of her motivations. Her relationship with the protagonist becomes the spine of this story right up to the end, so if you can’t buy into it, you may have an issue with this series.

I have come to this story after I finished reading Furuya’s “Himizu”, a mostly serious work in which the author seemed like he was restraining himself from breaking into silliness. I much prefer the demented interactions between his characters that somewhat often end up involving sexual references and/or exhibitionism.

I’ve felt a kinship with this author ever since I started reading “Saltiness”, that remains my favorite series of his. In this story I’m reviewing, the author comments through his protagonist that he feels that his brain lacks something that would allow him to relate to other human beings as it seemingly comes easily to most other people, so naturally I suspect that he may also be autistic and in addition have OCD due to how often he depicts intrusive thoughts in his protagonists, who are often arguing with mental ghosts. So if you want to experience what a nightmare existing in such brains can be, I guess you could do much worse than going through this author’s works.

Review: Himizu, by Minoru Furuya

Minoru Furuya has become my third most favorite manga author after Shūzō Oshimi and Inio Asano, thanks to his series ‘Saltiness’ and ‘Ciguatera’. His stories follow underdogs whose mental peculiarities (OCD and autism are the most likely culprits for me) and shitty luck prevent them from realistically aspiring to anything better than an average life. The author consistently represents, in the three series of his that I’ve read, intrusive thoughts as strange, sometimes demonic entities that stalk the protagonist; I ended up doing the same thing for a novel of mine even before I knew about Furuya’s works, so this must be a result of how certain types of brains operate.

Anyway, the protagonist of this bleak series (by far the most humorless of the three) lives at a shack that also functions as a boat shop. It belongs to his father, but the old man bailed on his family to become a drunkard and a gambler. Now his teenage son has to run the business, because his mother is focused on finding a new husband.

The protagonist is fed up with life from the moment we are introduced to him. As he mentions a few times throughout the story, he knows he came from garbage and that he’s little more than a defective idiot. He tries to regulate his thoughts and actions so he won’t stray from the path that may lead him to live a regular, mediocre life, and he holds a grudge towards anyone who dares to pursue lofty dreams, as he believes that those people are delusional and blind to the fact that they are doomed to fall. He wishes to struggle and perform some grandiose good deed that would justify his existence, but he fears that as a broken person coming from a ruinous family, his destiny has already been decided.

One day his mother elopes with her new lover, never to be seen again. Our protagonist, deprived of parental support, decides to quit going to school and just runs his father’s boat shop. Soon enough, though, he comes to learn through a couple of Yakuza types that visit the boat shop that his father’s debts may become the protagonist’s responsibility as well.

As interesting characters other than the main guy we have the following: the protagonist’s only friend, an ugly, short, nearly toothless kleptomaniac who nevertheless isn’t as cursed as the protagonist because he doesn’t have the same perennially bleak outlook on life; an aspiring manga author who works as a counterbalance to the protagonist with his determined work ethic and confidence in his talent; and a reserved but tough female classmate of the protagonist who is attracted to him for some reason, and who wants to improve his miserable life.

This author’s characters, in the three series I’ve read of his, can often surprise you with their unpredictability. Some writers warn against using “and then” plot points; they suggest that every plot point must be a “but” or “therefore” regarding one or more plot points that came before. However, this author includes some sequences or scenes that in many stories would have long-lasting repercussions or be pivotal to the development of the plot, but in these stories life just goes on, or the important people fail to ever find out that the event happened. To put an extreme example, in one of the three series (won’t say in which), some secondary characters rape one of the main characters, but none of the main characters, including the victim, ever find out about it. On the topic of rape, there’s plenty of strange and/or sudden sexual stuff going on in this author’s works, even as mild as a character suddenly pulling his or her pants down, or fingering someone else. The violence included can often be equally sudden.

They made a live-action version of this story. Here’s the trailer. I haven’t watched the movie yet; apparently the director intended to follow the manga faithfully until the whole tsunami and nuclear disaster of 2011 happened, so they included that in to offer some commentary and a more hopeful message than what this series supports. So far I can tell they made at least one change I consider questionable: in the manga the protagonist’s father was constantly in a drunken daze, but he was never overtly cruel nor dismissive towards his son; the protagonist despised his father because he abandoned his family, and after that point there was nothing the old man could have done to improve their relationship.

It’s a shame that I have already read the three series generally considered this author’s best.