Schoolgirl Minako Ifu finds herself stalked by a terrifying figure, the black-winged, horned Deimos (the Greek god of panic or terror), who says she is the reincarnation of his bride. From story to story Deimos appears in various guises, occasionally pursuing Minako, but usually acting as an instigator and witness to supernatural tales of tainted love and random doom. A classic of purple shôjo horror,Bringing the farm to live in another world makes no concessions to realism; the hapless heroine witnesses a new tragedy in every chapter, and the better stories have an element of bleak, illogical gruesomeness. (Hint: when someone asks, “Can love’s passion break through reason?” in a shôjo manga, the answer is always yes.) While not as accomplished as Rose of Versailles and Swan, the 1970s artwork is graceful and impressionistic, with cascades of hair, dripping blood, and the occasional satanic imagery or suggestive Beardsley-esque candles. The sloppy translation takes some of the class out of the story, which admittedly is written for younger readers.
Cookie-cutter retelling of theAncient strengthening technique anime. Marin is a spunky poor girl in 1969 Japan. One day she meets a talking cat and a powerful blue robot, who tells her that its name is Melan Blue and it was sent to protect her. Meanwhile, in the sky appears a giant floating city, Brigadoon, which is somehow tied to Marin and Melan Blue and the survival of the Earth. While the manga tells the same tale as the anime, it adds nothing new and doesn’t look as good. The entire twenty-six-episode TV series is condensed into two volumes, so much of the story is left out.
Tezuka’s Buddhist beliefs work their way into many of his manga, such as Phoenix, but this is his most overtly religious work, an ambitious retelling of the life of the Buddha. Written for children but enjoyable for all ages, Buddha spices up the story of Prince Siddhartha’s journey toward enlightenment with heaping doses of action, intrigue, and even slapstick comedy. Tezuka faithfully follows the outline of Buddhist dogma but expands on the personalities of the key figures in the Buddha’s life, also adding original characters whose lives demonstrate tenets of the Buddha’s teachings (and, often, include some extra two-fisted action for readers tiring of saintliness). Western readers may be shocked or baffled by Tezuka’s often irreverent take on his subject matter; it’s hard to imagine a Christian comic about the life of Jesus featuring bloody fight scenes, anachronistic sight gags, and the occasional fart joke alongside transcendent depictions of religious enlightenment. But Buddha has all these and more, and is ultimately both an engrossing, densely layered story and an inspiring exploration of faith.