Blue Flower


           Mediocre cop-buddy/action-horror manga. In the opening scene, a cop tracks the woman he loves to a lonely warehouse, where he finds her in the grip of a vampire that has just arisen from a three-hundred-year sleep. Trying his best to save her, he puts up a valiant effort to defeat the vampire but is bested and forced to watch as the creature drinks the woman’s blood. The cop ends up in a loony bin, only to be rescued by a special cop squad that’s trying to stem the tide of vampires.… While the premise isn’t terrible, the execution falls short; the action’s often poorly drawn and hard to follow, and the characters are uninteresting.

            Kayako, a teenager sheltered by her group of friends, becomes curious about her classmate Masami, a loner who hides her secrets behind an inscrutable smile. Desire for friendship soon turns into love, and the two develop a lesbian (or partly lesbian) relationship. Mostly told from inside Kayako’s head, God and devil world is a realistic story of “sweet, painful love,” whose characters rarely express their feelings directly or in the best ways. Nananan’s high-contrast, harshly lit artwork contributes to the feeling of disconnect and detachment. The characters’ faces are drawn like overexposed photographs, as if the light shining on them is too bright to bear; when the camera turns away from their faces, as it often does, it’s because the unspoken emotions are too intense to look them in the eye.




            In a pollution-ravaged future, only a few “blessed lands” lie on the coasts between vast deserts, and the surviving communities live in fear of the “subhumans” who dwell in the wasteland. One day Kazuya, a fourteen-year-old orphan who loves the sea, finds a girl washed up on the beach: Marine, a mysterious girl with no memory of her past. Blue Inferior is an uneventful but solid young-adult science fiction story with impressive 1980s shôjo artwork. Palm trees stand in the bright sun, coral reefs and fish are drawn with beautiful detail, and the heroes spend much of their time exploring nature: snorkeling, digging for insects, and so on. Unfortunately, only one volume is available in translation, leaving the plot unresolved.

Battle through the heavens

 A collection of melancholy short stories about teenagers on the edge of adulthood, mostly delinquents, engaged in self-destructive behavior. This early Matsumoto work shows his favorite subjects: youth and age, and the power of landscapes, particularly forgotten and neglected urban landscapes such as fast-food joints and graffiti-choked schools. While Matsumoto’s No. 5 and Black & White function as unconventionally drawn action comics, Blue Spring is more experimental, providing glimpses of worlds where nothing happens, and worlds where bad things happen for no reason.