By Shannon H.
There is a small but strong wave of darkly satisfying manga this week. In particular, the long-awaited second volume of March Story, a lovely horror manhwa with the most elegant gothic drawings to be seen in a good while. Also worth noting is the newest Vampire Hunter D novel (Volume 16), which begins the first half of a tale in which D takes on a legion of vampiric alien creatures. Like the other D novels, this chilling addition to the saga has been translated with a care for good prose, and features spot illustrations by renowned Japanese artist Yoshitaka Amano. If just the opportunity to immerse yourself in the Vampire Hunter D realm wasn’t enough of a draw, I can promise you that Amano’s distinctive blend of traditional and modern Japanese visual aesthetics is more than enough reason to check it out. Amano is, without a doubt, not just a significant contributor to manga and video games, but to the greater world of fine arts at large.
But the most interesting manga to land at Forbidden Planet in the past week has proven too popular to even hang around long enough for me to rave about it. That would be Sacred, an OEL (original English language) manga drawn and distributed by local NYC artist Lizbeth Jimenez. Some of you may already Internet stalk her via her deviantART account, SiSero, and if not, you probably should. In particular, her coloured illustrations are incredible, with a delicate, doll-like quality purveying her lush marker work. Sacred is the tale of two buddies, Cecero and Sheko, both students of magic in the mystic realm of Grandome. The most either has to deal with is the plethora of girls chasing after Sheko, magical shenanigans, and the addictiveness of dirty magazines; until the morning Cecero is attacked, setting off a chain of events that will change their lives forever. Volume 1 is a sort of prologue that shows us just this, while Volume 2 jumps into the meat of the plot. Jimenez has expressed that while she tends to prefer more traditional shonen and mecha genres, she hopes to express exactly what it is about fantasy storytelling that she takes a shine to through Sacred. Hopefully you will be able to share in that sentiment when you read her work! There’s a great mix of wonderful art, darkness, humour, and plot; so there’s sure to be something for everyone! OEL is a significant phenomenon to take note of, another indicator that manga has grown into more of a style and genre than simply a tradition of Japan, and Sacred is a shining example of that. Though the process of getting comics published in the States differs greatly from that of Japan, artists such as Jimenez demonstrate how merely having the drive and patience to create manga is half the battle. Oh Jeez, when did this turn into a summary of Bakuman!? (Psst, new volume of that, too: read it!)