Mangaka: Sayaka Yamazaki (art), Yasutaka Tsutsui (story)
Review Status: Complete (4 Volumes/4 Volumes)
Licensed: No. It was formerly licensed by Tokyopop.
Art: This is an older title, but for 90′s art, it’s fairly typical. Since it’s not shoujo, it (thankfully) lacks all the shoujo sparkles and overly-large eyes, which is nice.
Summary: Nanase, a beautiful young telepath, returns to her hometown to settle down and lead a quiet life. However, her unique abilities make that impossible–even in the most remote location. Then she meets Norio, an abused little boy with extraordinary powers of his own. Nanase takes him under her wing, and from there they wander…two outsiders traveling from one strange encounter to another. (Tokyopop)
Review: Superpowers probably wouldn’t be that much fun. X-Men has illustrated this often by having their kids come from families who rejected them, couldn’t understand them, and Telepathic Wanderers takes it into consideration when it throws the characters into a story where there is no beloved professor to save them and bring them to the academy. Every psychic must fend for himself in the world, trying to keep others from discovering their abilities, running from the darkness in others.Nanase, a telepath, has never been happy in life. Her gift makes her miserable, since she always has to be on the run to hide her gift. A fateful train ride means she manages to make connections with others like her – different powers, same issues – and thus begins a story of how they live their lives on the run, using their powers to survive some pretty terrible scenarios. There’s always a question of whether they will be discovered, what could happen if they’re discovered, and how they can make a living without exposing themselves.
This could have been a really, really fascinating series with that premise, but a red herring of a detective who might happen to believe in ESP leads to a storyline where they’re being hunted by those who hate ESPers. It all goes downhill from there, and while I can’t spoil things too much, I was not impressed by the blunt, abrupt ending. There’s no real conclusion to this except pain and defeat. I’m trying to decide whether that was the original intent or whether it was because it was cancelled (a la Dragon Head) and the mangaka just decided to wing it.
Either way, that makes this a bit of a shame. I do genuinely like these characters – we are definitely given time with them to enjoy them for who they are (the mains, at least) – and most of the situations felt realistic and definitely were a quandary to get out of. The plot failed them pretty hard.
Recommended: 18+. This is pretty heavy stuff. People die – often – and some rather brutally. There is some heavy sexual references and scenes where you do see a nude female body.
Overall rating: 6/10. I liked it enough, but that ending was completely depressing and nihilistic.
Mangaka: Junji Ito
Review Status: Incomplete (1 Volume/2 Volumes)
Licensed: Yes, this is licensed by Viz in the US.
Art: Junji Ito’s art has never been particularly pretty, and this still has the rought real-ness that marks his works, like a darker and slightly off Satoshi Kon.
Summary: A strange stench is invading Japan, and strange creatures emerge from the sea with it. Can Tadashi and his girlfriend escape?
Review: As a semi-horror fan, I’ve been catching up on Junji Ito’s works for a while. He’s normally pretty solid, with interesting symbolic psychological stories within his works (Uzumaki has a few chapters that are very relatable to life experiences, Tomie is a great one for that) and a strong sense of body horror that is quite similar to normal horror films.
Gyo falls apart a bit on this, with being a more direct horror story. Tadashi and his girlfriend are away on vacation, and the girlfriend – with a sensitive sense of smell – detects something absolutely horrific lurking around the house. To their horror it’s a fish with legs, and one that doesn’t seem to stop moving or coming after them no matter what they do to it.
After that it’s a straight-up attempt to get away from them, and failing miserably at it. It tries for a two pronged approach on why it should be scary. The first is that it’s dealing with sea creatures. Admittedly, I don’t like fish very much. I’m afraid of live ones. But at the same time…it’s fish. The most heart-pounding scenes had sharks lumbering after the mains, and the first fish they encountered. Everything else seemed a little silly. The second is on why the fish have legs. That’s where chemical testing and unregulated scientific experiments gone wild should be bringing up fear. In some ways it does, but at the same time it’s more frustrating because “How Stupid Could They Be”. Assuming something was totally destroyed when X happened it is a common horror trope and one that I’m very much over.
So the horror is rather unimpressive. But what about the rest of it? It’s hard to feel a whole lot of sympathy for anyone except Tadashi. His girlfriend is kinda crazy and doesn’t comprehend for two seconds how nuts she sounds and is acting. His uncle? I WANT to like him, but by the end of the volume he’d hit pretty high on the mad scientist/idiot scale. It was an incredible turnaround from the first impression I had of him, and one that I was very regretful of.
When all is said and done, I can’t say much of this is bad – just generic. It wants to be scary but ends up failing like a Sci-Fi Channel movie.
Recommended: 18+. Junji Ito’s works are always on the grosser side, and this is no exception, with plenty of desiccated corpses and rotting flesh.
Overall Rating: 5/10. It has its moments, but really doesn’t stand out as anything special.