Nawoki Karasawa is one of the longer-active and more prestigious names in the typically small time, lesser-known world of gag manga. In a genre where art skill is second to just about everything else, Karasawa's dialogue is hilariously sharp and witty.
A gag parody of Shinji Mizushima's immortal "Mangaka Zankoku Monogatari" (Karasawa's title only differs by adding "cho" [super] to "zankoku"), a manga about the dreams, ambitions and suffering of a group of bright young mangaka, Karasawa brilliantly takes the piss out of just about everything involved with being a mangaka. It's lewd, raunchy, endlessly cynical and laugh-out-loud funny.
Sometimes there is just a manga series that needs to be read by everyone regardless of quality or more importantly, regardless whether you are into manga in the first place.
Like an essay written by a famous philosopher, Super Cruel and Terrible Tales of Mangaka is one of those that deserves to be in some form of Manga Hall of Fame must read category because from my knowledge it is the only completely translated in English manga that talks about the mangaka side of manga as of my writing this review. (At least based on the last few days of OneManga's manga listing)
The only two other
manga I know of is the prequel to this series which the author reveals at the end but to my knowledge I can't find any scanlation of it and the other series is Bakuman which I'm currently reading but as far as I know it isn't completely translated yet plus there's more of a bishounen feel to the latter while Super Cruel is not afraid at all to include such subjects as ugly characters, perversion, unlikeable characters and all things related more to gag humor than stereotypical manga design.
...and yet it's able to couple this with the type of heart warming conclusions that I even dare say you could replace all the famous classical fairy tales (Disney or Grimm version it doesn't matter) and replace their prestige to each chapter of Super Cruel and the world would be a much better place for kids to grow up in. Truly, each moral tale of Super Cruel is way up there in life lessons and far outgrows the mangaka theme it claims to be about in it's premise.
If there is one downside is that in any type of works especially hyped up ones, it tends to feel like a fad you're parent is into and starts to become uncool. Super Cruel isn't that popular at least not on the level of a Bleach, Naruto or One Piece but I could imagine if it ever were more praised, most of the artwork criticisms and the over-focusness of certain names and directions in each episodes would start to decay it's quality. (Much in the same way the over-exposure of most fairy tales have degraded the morality of the lessons to the point that they become obvious "boring" tales.)
Since Super Cruel is enough of a niche series, the above worry is irrelevant except I kind of do want it to be more famous and I kind of hope more people review this and raise this series' popularity which is why I'm sharing this review even though there is already a reviewer who rated the series highly and the series isn't that obscure in Google searches and it's also included in one Amazon review of a different but similarly themed book which is how I discovered this series..
...but with sites like OneManga shutting down, it is going to be much harder searching for these jewels unless you're highly connected to an otaku community (which I wasn't) so this is one of those series where I'm very conscious of my review for fear that instead of making you want to check out this series, I end up overhyping the whole thing and in turn you become disappointed and no longer feel this is a series worth sharing at all.
I guess what I mean by all of the above is that there are some series on par with The Dark Knight for Hollywood movies that a lot of people would want to share with their buddies and then there are series that are just on par with Citizen Kane that it's one of those movies that "has" to be on top not because it's always going to be entertaining to all generations of movie watchers but because the substance, the subject matter, the presentation, the detail --- it's like a historical book that just shouldn't be covered up especially since a manga series tends to have less respect than a philosopher's book on Project Gutenberg. This is just the type of series that needs this exposure so if after checking the manga and you found my 10 review to be overrated, I hope you replace this with a 1 or a 2 or an 8...whatever number that will make you enjoy the seiries because I think this series is too important to be overshadowed by more "entertaining" series and I feel all people around the world deserves the chance to know about this series so that at least those who can be best inspired by this series may at least hopefully find the incentive to search for this once these "instant previewable easy to skim" Manga sites are taken down and the only way to preview a book is to buy it or download it via some other illegal manner because again, regardless of how redundant this point is, I really feel this series has to be exposed more especially in this juncture of time. The view in this series is too under-represented right now especially outside the non-otaku community that until this series is more exposed this is one of those important series (not just for manga but for all of literature) that this needs to keep getting a 10 until the lessons of these stories start to feel second nature to most of the world.
What really goes on in the mind of mangaka when they draw manga? That is the premise of Super Cruel and Terrible Tales of Mangaka, Terrible Tales for short.
This manga doesn't follow a specific plotline, but rather an episodic, short stories that detail what goes on in the lives of mangaka. The chapters really dffer from a mangaka that just had a baby to the terrible, and dark lives of horror mangaka. It seems that there might be some actual truth behind this joke and does a good job of causing you to cut some slack on the mangaka for not doing a good job
on a certain manga. Despite being a gag comic, it does a good job of using a different style that seems linear, but breaks in the middle to tell you what's going on. This is helpful since there are sudden time skips that need warning.There is also an issue with enjoyment. Certain chapters just aren't funny or become repetitive with certain gags (i.e. Stalking, assholeness, etc).
I have to say that this isn't for kids or anyone that can't take jokes. There are some scenes that contain nudity and at points spouse abuse. So if you can't stand to see a woman get hit without getting angry, maybe not for you.. The last chapters are pretty real and give all people who dream of being mangaka a wakeup call. I really enjoyed the last chapters feel and somewhat surrealness. The main problem with this manga is if you haven't dabbled in the most genres of manga you won't get the jokes. Certain jokes revolve around certain manga like Beserk and ecchi manga, at some points Mazinger. If you don't know your manga, it may be difficult to follow.
When you talk about gekiga-like manga or gag manga, art skill isn't a must. The art style has a very "what the hell" attitude and can be either a brilliant masterpiece, or a grotesque pile of crap. There are some crude scenes but from the cover alone you should be able to tell whether you will actually enjoy the manga. The facial designs are quite basic and look like a third grader made the screentones and shading, but a funny third grader. All in all, not that bad a job, but if it wasn't a gekiga it would be in trouble.
There is no certain set of characters, but a series of episodic mangaka that are editors, ero-mangaka, horror mangaka, etc. Most characters tend to be one sided and stereotypical, but there is some truth to it. It makes you think, "What was this guy thinking when he made the boobs so big"? and such. Most, if not all the characters are assholes and get portrayed as antisocial pricks who despise their careers or people are full of themselves.
All in all, this manga is not for everyone, especially if you've succumb to moe and cutesy manga. This is a recommendation to everyone, but if you're a fan of dramatic picture and gag manga that make you go "WTF?" then this is the manga for you. Make sure you read up on your manga before you read this.