Aug 12, 2016
I can't tell whether Suehiro Maruo is simply very confident in his means and purpose of storytelling, or whether he's really somewhat ill at heart.
The stories in this collection, depending on whether you could classify them as individual or as one larger narrative, are made up of things that most people don't like. I wondered what cave men might have thought had I shown them Paranoia star. Well, to begin with, most of these pictures would be far too alien to resonate with them, however, I believe that the graphic scenes of violence which are especially prominent in the later parts of the book
might be universal to everyone, no matter the sensibilities and time period. And, if they were to occur in reality as they do in this book, human life would not be the only one to be profoundly disturbed by it. Now, to tell you some of what the book is physically concerned with, it seems there is very little. Thematically, it is either mostly comprised of human darkness and horrific fantasy, or too obscure for our generation or foreign culture, and perhaps its significance went over my head. It isn't uncommon that fleeting or lingering emotions become the sole or most prominent subject of art in Japan. You will often see poems and short films that have no ulterior purpose but to remind you of a certain sensation or atmosphere.
In the earlier stories, people desire to become machines and those who are already machine-like do not relish it. Many of the later stories have to do with world war II. If you are more culturally educated than I am, then, perhaps you will gain something significant out of these. If not, you might be left feeling down and somewhat angry, but mostly confused, much like war itself. That isn't to say that all the stories are equally dreary and confusing. One of the later stories, Genpin, is perhaps my favorite out of the collection. It is by far easier to follow and more solid than many of the other stories in the collection, and I would definitely consider it worth reading, partly for its length (Which is very short.)
I also liked the first story (Chinese Moonspeak?) and the first Electric Ant. The art, which I haven't nearly given enough credit so far, is amazing. It's despicable, and conveys that perfectly.
My final word is that there is no goodness in these stories. If you do not mind that, or are already accustomed to Suehiro Maruo, then you might find these demented fantasies appealing. That is my final warning, and my recommendation.
One of the stories (planet of the japs, a nightmare about the war) has been printed in English in the Underground Comics Japan anthology, which is now very cheap and out of print. For the rest of the collection, you will have to look for online translations, like I did.
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