This is a collection of one-shots from Dowman Sayman. It contains short stories about serial killers finding love, historical figures brought back from the dead, a clever take on the the September 11th attack, yaoi fan-girl ghosts making suggestions to the men she watches, and everything in between.
I was lying on my Sofa scrolling through my laptop, when my single and unmistakable one true love peeked over and looked at what I was reading.
“What’s this?” she asked.
“It’s a manga called Nickelodeon,” I said, “And it has nothing at all to do with the channel. It’s a series of flash-fiction style stories, each with a weird premise, a ton of pop culture references and otaku jokes, and usually ending with a poignant conclusion.”
“I hate manga” she told me. I don’t know why she told me that, but it may have been to hurt me.
My unrequited love was a doppleganger of my real sister,
who, although looked the same, was significantly worse off in attitude and demeanor, and that was why my real sister was not my unrequited love.
“How long are you going to stay here?” I asked her.
“Until she wakes up. I exist as long as she’s asleep. This is because she hates herself secretly, and thus I am everything that she wants to be.”
Since she was about to leave anyway, I asked her “Do you love me?”
“No, I don’t.” She replied. Her answer was curt and to the point, which indicated that she had absolutely no interest in me.
“You’re strong, exciting, and full of energy.” I told her. “You should stay longer.”
“You’re missing out on the real thing.” She replied, and then the last shone through the window and she exploding into dust like the remnants of an Expecto Patronum.
Yawning, my real sister came down the staircase.
“Morning.” I said.
She didn’t say anything. She was shy and never spoke up, and that meant I had to protect her a lot, and I always used to get beaten up for her in the past, and I think that made me resent her.
Anyway, I went back to reading my manga, because I spent the whole night talking to my unrequited love. But as I turned away, I noticed my sister was smiling.
I think that I’ve been seeing ghosts floating around. It’s not a Sixth Sense kinda thing because these aren’t those extremely terrifying ghosts like the boy with the bloody hole in his head; that sort of thing never appears because those ghosts just don’t exist. A ghost, in my mind, is the ghost that everyone has. Pieces of extra memories that somehow fade away in a moment of lost concentration turn into floaty bits of mind rubble that seem to form a ring, like Saturn, around the heads of my classmates.
There are some bits of lost words. These are the words that enter your mind in a single moment like those phrases you capture due to some kind of involuntary eavesdropping or because your attention is slowly drifting away as the teacher’s lecture becomes a drone. The bits of formula that don’t stick in your memory just die away.
Sometimes a spare action or two gets forgotten. You suddenly feel the need to do something of marginal importance but it gets buried under a torrent of other impulses. Those too become the ghosts that I see.
But it was really irritating because I was trying to read this Manga called Nickelodeon under the table, and all these worries and whatnot were getting in the way of my eyes. Some of these stories were really witty, even though they weren’t anything as idea-driven as the short stories of Borges (and yet one of the stories makes a reference to him). Yet I just couldn’t concentrate because of all the stuff getting in my way.
One of the ghosts was ‘the act of covering your nose with a piece of tissue before sneezing’. It flitted around my head and made me feel like blowing a huge one out myself. When I searched through my pockets I couldn’t find any! I was making that twitching eye feeling that you get when you feel the first part of it coming in, and I could tell my face was looking weird.
Suddenly, what floated in front of me was ‘the act of giving someone who looks like she’s about to sneeze and can’t find any tissue paper, a piece of tissue paper’. It was from the guy sitting next to me who, I realized, had been glancing my way quite a bit.
I tapped him on the shoulder, and pointed to my nose, because I knew that if I said anything my nose might have exploded off. He looked completely embarrassed and confused, but he did it anyway.
After blowing a huge chunk into the paper and going to the dustbin to throw it away, I went back to my seat. Suddenly, ‘the act of following up on a conversation with an interesting person’ floated in front of my view.
I turned to him again. Suddenly it didn’t seem so bad.
“Hey, you ever read this manga called Nickelodeon before?”
The meeting room was bustling with conversation, because the people there were excited.
“This is clearly the next big new thing!” one of the corporate heads shouted!
“It’s the next revolutionary step after the creation of Periscope!” Another one hooted.
Sayman Dowman, the revolutionary creator of this new product, the Nickelodeon Bubble Hat, stood proudly in front of the table, and slowly went through the slides detailing the item.
“Yes, what we see here is not just live-streamed video, but live-streamed imagination! And furthermore, live-streamed directly from your Oculus-AugReal Glasses! Our chief project supervisor, Katy Bigeson, has been key in the completion of Project Strange Days since I came up with its conception.”
He indicated to the current slide, which was a picture of an ordinary person wearing the Bubble Hat, leaving behind a trail of ‘comic bubbles’ detailing what was going on in her mind.
“This, especially, is our proudest innovation! To create a proper digitized and perusable format to ensure quick and easy access for anyone linked up into the ‘Dream-Space’. After all, everyone can’t be thinking of great thoughts all at once, and the mind also flits from here to there in a state of deranged excitement most of the time. And so, as you can see here, the larger bubbles indicate what we call ‘core-dreams’, whereas the lesser bubbles at the side are ‘lesser-dreams’. What the hat does is that it determines the size of the bubbles based on the level of neural excitement that’s exhibited inside the brain, through constant scanning. Generally our studies show that a person as creative as Shakespeare, for example, coming up with Hamlet, would be experiencing enormously higher neural excitement, than if he were coming up with something like one of his sonnets! Essentially the hat categorizes, for you and everyone else, your ‘best works’ folio!”
The clapping spread around the room. Sayman grinned at Katy, who was standing next to him, and was also his fiancée. He imagined all the future possibilities of cohesively linking up his sex-life with instant feedback access to both of their sexual imaginations (because he came up with loads of Hentai in his head), to essentially create intercourse that was simultaneously physical and mental. He began the last part of his presentation:
“I think the imagination is the greatest gift ever given to humanity. My whole aim is to harness that power into clear cut crystal gems. The stuff of life is in these small perfect moments of imaginative clarity, when your mind frees itself from all bounds and reaches a higher state of laughter and brightness. This is the first step of the revolution that is happening inside our very heads….”
The sudden sniper shot came straight through, splattering his brains against the wall. Katy screamed, and everyone in the meeting room ran around like scared rabbits, but they realized the door was completely locked.
Far far away, hired by a rival corporation, the sniper was loading up on his ammo for the next shot.
Behind him was the project head of Project Abstraction, Shintaro Kago. He was on a phone call with his boss:
“Yep, that’s right, it’s all taken care off. Even though they finished their version faster than us. Hah, let’s see whether they can continue with its release with their whole team wiped out.”
The call ended and he went back to look across to the other building, where the blood and carnage was.
“Pitiful, just pitiful. Don’t they know that he who shall control and master dreams, is fated to be the largest pervert?”
MOOD: A veritable thought-particle collider of a series.
It’s hard to describe what makes Nickelodeon great. People have compared it to the works of novelist Haruki Murakami, to anime the like of Lain, Penguindrum, or Kyousougiga, ad infinitum; none of this really fits the manga.
It could be chalked up to its way of approaching fantastical and absurd concepts with a mundanity one would see in a realistic manga and a warmth one would see in a slice of life work. Yes, it’s weird, but it doesn’t point itself out; instead, it lets you discover its weirdness on your own.
Perhaps it’s the brevity of its chapters -
each chapter is about 6 or 7 pages long, but in those pages ideas are explored to extremes in ways full series haven’t tackled the same concepts. Its flash fiction stylings create a structure that is never boring nor rushed.
More likely, however, is how well it manages to channel the spirit of its namesake media format, the nickelodeon. Although the manga is very inclusive (tackling a multitude of LGBT themes in its 39 chapter run), it relies on weird, new ideas, shock value, and occasionally erotic content to recreate the sheer fascination of an emerging medium. This and its brief lengths (as mentioned before) really do make it feel like you’ve walked inside a seemingly magical box and been shown things that you’ve never experienced the likes of before.
The stories run a broad range of genres, tones, and styles. There are stories ranging from conversations about buckets to a woman who eats her lovers to a story about a girl born on the day of the Columbine attack. In this, it tackles themes of unrequited love, manipulative lovers, sister interactions, determination, and a slew of other thinking pieces on human life.
The art is entirely unique in its field, sporting a pop art/saturday cartoon inspired aesthetic, with solid but disarrayed lines, exaggerated features, sharp angles, intentionally stretched proportions, and vivid shading. It’s not entirely describable, but it’s utterly gorgeous to look at.
If there’s anything to take issue with, it’s that the series will perhaps leave you feeling unfulfilled. There was much more of it planned, but when the magazine it ran in tragically closed up shop, mangaka Dowman Sayman was forced to bring a sudden end to the series, leaving threads of worldbuilding and plot hanging in an emotionally dissatisfying fashion. Despite this, the first and last chapters still manage to serve as great bookends to the series for anyone unaware of the corporate politics behind the ending.
FINAL VERDICT: With its tales of conjoined twins, buckets, vore, unrequited love, hypnotism, space, pop culture references, and much more, Nickelodeon’s pace, boldness, and intrigue will leave you blown away and needing more.
Wow... Now that is what I call some real wtf material.
Highschool girls making out with tigers, a badmington/monster hunter club, having a ladder on the 2nd floor of a building equals the answer to the universe, genetically modified komainu stew, limbs flying left and right (and sometimes on your own accord), Duskin Hoffman, facehuggers from Aliens, happy tree friends?!
Illogical, incomprehensible, plain gibberish. This manga makes absolutely no sense whatsoever... And that's why I loved it!
Nickelodeon is basically a collection of short one-shots (7 pages each) from Dowman Sayman, a specialist in the domain of mindfuck. Dowman's Nickelodeon will have you laughing at the stuff that
usually gives you the creeps. Make you smile at morbidity. Move you at the sight of those very cute and somewhat cliched romantic scenes, and then break all the rules with some crazy turn of events and leave you with a blank look on your face wondering what in the world just happened. And yes, in only 7 pages.
Horror, gore, psychological, mystery, supernatural, comedy, romance, ecchi, seinen, thriller, drama, parody, and a few more genres, all thrown in the blender, result in Nickelodeon. That manga is so abnormal, who knows what kind of reaction one's supposed to have when reading. Expect blank faces and WTFs.
Dowman Sayman and his pet project Nickelodeon (named after the short-lived early 20th century nickle theatre project) display a world very much different than ours - limbs are lost at leisure, animals may roam and commute through zoos as they please, and youkai have peacefully immigrated to our world. At it's core this is a story of innocent love overtoned with the supernatural. Each story is presented in an artstyle reminiscent of The Nightmare Before Christmas mixed with Mike Mignola .
This manga dabbles in a little bit of everything from self aware Pokemon parodies to tales of strange animals in the middle of their
own forest . The most interesting thing is its ability to baffle the reader with every story. I spent a good amount of time scratching my head at the stories and wondering what the point of it all was before coming to a revelation about its central reccuring theme that connects all the stories -loss.hair, love, limbs and stuffing are amongst the things all neatly ripped from the characters grasp.
Nickelodeon seems to not want to leave us at all fulfilled with anything, but always thirsty for what comes next similar to the cheap nickle theatres the stories namesake comes from . The stories are all fairly short, none surpassing ten pages each seems to build up a repoire with the reader only to pull the wool over our eyes at each curtain raising with bittersweet glee.