I like horror manga; I generally always do. So it should come as no surprise that I avidly read works by Itou Junji and Kazuo Umezu (the latter of which I will be focusing on), two well-known masters at the horror genre. Works such as Orochi (by Kazuo Umezu) may have an “out-there” kind of premise but the way it seems so natural and tangibly believable is what really scares us. I mean, if the characters act in a similar way we would in a situation (and things go horribly wrong) then we can’t help but feel vulnerable to that fact. The reality of the ... horror genre is this: generally, the more realistic it can be, the scarier. The Drifting Classroom (aka. Hyouryuu Kyoushitsu) is often Well does this necessarily make it a “masterpiece”? That certainly depends.
What is The Drifting Classroom? Other than being called the manga version of Lord Of The Flies (which I can wholeheartedly agree with) it’s an older manga created in 1972, was awarded the 20th General Shogakukan Award, and was serialized for two years before coming to a fairly unsatisfying end. It chronicles the life and adventures of an entire school that has been transported into the far, far future; a future where there is no vegetation, nor water...just sand. One student in particular, Sho Takamatsu, is who the manga focuses on, and the entire story is presented through his point of view. He is a sixth grade student and a fairly unreliable narrator (seeing as he rapidly changes personas; mature leader to a crying boy), and thus, this means this manga is presented through the eyes of a flawed child. Other characters in this manga include Saki, the “wife” of Sho (confusing, I understand, but I don’t know how to phrase this better; you will see what I mean later on in the manga) who is very conservative in her role, but is also a very strong girl, and Yuu, who is Sho’s adoptive “child” who has almost nothing to do with the main plot other than inconvenience Sho. There are several other minor characters (such as Otomo and Nishi), and there are many that opposes “Ralph’s” (Lord Of The Flies, again) or Sho’s authority, but events like that come and go for plot convince with different characters at different times. Overall, characterization was flimsy, for the most part (like most horror mangas), but I was surprisingly impressed with Saki’s character as a 6th grade mother figure in rough times. Setting, on the other hand, has an original premise with endless possibilities. What you don’t expect to happen in a barren world of sand DOES happen without much consequence because of the lack of things other than the school.
It’s said that The Drifting Classroom is a collection of things that scared Kazuo Umezu as a child. Whether or not this is actually true, I can agree with the statement that, yes, (because it is a shounen) it is filled with things that make boys scared. Giant centipedes, bleak darkness, aliens and mummies. If I was a kid I know I’d be scared shitless. But I’m not a kid, which then brings me to my next point: the story doesn't necessarily work well as a horror. Bottom line: it’s not realistic. Rather, it’s quite absurd and has zero logic concerning the nature of the setting and such. I’m not even sure to classify this as a “horror” even though there is blood and gore. It’s simply not that scary (and I’m really easy to scare!). I think a better classification of this manga should be adventure, thriller, and gore maybe because, although the horror genre has those within them generally, this manga does not instill terror or fear in the reader.
But that certainly doesn't mean it’s no good. In fact, I had so much fun reading this manga. Every so often when something different happened I turned my laptop screen around and showed my dad (who thought it was rather amusing I was reading something like this) the giant centipede or whatever new problem that arose. It takes a bit to get into, but sooner than you can even realize you’ll be on the last volume in no time. Yes it’s absurd, yes there is no logic in it, but it’s very creative and very unexpected. I mean, someone has to have a really special kind of thinking to make all of these plot twists interesting (keep in mind there’s only an elementary school and an unlimited amount of sand!). This is the 1970’s: it’s where all tropes and cliches are so raw and original because they haven’t been done before. Just turn off your brain for a bit because lots of things don’t make sense, but it’s OK because it’s fun either way.
Despite whatever criticisms I had with the unreasonable nature, it is good. Because it is told through the eyes of a child, it has the right to be irrational and a bit over the top. The elements in this story is the fears of child, and because of this, Sho and the rest of the students are able to survive and cope with this situation because of their imagination. But the manga’s final fault lies in the initial premise: how did the school get transported into the future, and why? How far into the future are they? Well the subways still work so that could give us a rough estimate I suppose. But what happened to make the Earth so sandy without vegetation? And why are there no humans in the future; what disaster happened to make it that way? None of these questions will be answered in the manga (and to top it all off you’ll get the most unsatisfying conclusion) so if you’re solely interested in the answers to those questions then I don’t think you should even start. Would I recommend it? Sure, I guess, if you’re looking for something interesting that I just described in the last three paragraphs. But otherwise, I’d tuck the title in the back of your head for some other night because this definitely shouldn't be at the top of your ‘plan to read’ list. It’s good, yes, but that’s just it. There are plenty of other great titles out there for you to enjoy. The Drifting Classroom gets a 7/10 from me.
(Oh yeah. And the art screams 70’s. That is all.)
Aug 10, 2013
I like horror manga; I generally always do. So it should come as no surprise that I avidly read works by Itou Junji and Kazuo Umezu (the latter of which I will be focusing on), two well-known masters at the horror genre. Works such as Orochi (by Kazuo Umezu) may have an “out-there” kind of premise but the way it seems so natural and tangibly believable is what really scares us. I mean, if the characters act in a similar way we would in a situation (and things go horribly wrong) then we can’t help but feel vulnerable to that fact. The reality of the ...
Feb 17, 2013
During the Vietnam War in 1973, an American solider goes insane and starts gunning down his allies and friends. After killing off a majority, we see that he has gained a form of dementia, and keeps repeating one line, over and over: “banana fish”. This manga was created by Akimi Yoshida (who also made Kisshō Tennyo) back in 1985, and it's the most manly shoujo to date. In fact, Frederik Schodt, popular translator (whose works include Phoenix, and Rose Of Versailles) remarks that it's “...one of the few girls' manga [a]...male adult could admit to reading without blushing.” The series, Banana Fish –which ran until ...
Jan 19, 2013
I had originally planned to review this manga once it was over (which would’ve been in a a couple of volumes), but I re-decided because of the relatively small fan-base Gakuen Alice has conjured up in the past few years. I feel as if I should step in and give this manga some recognition it deserves. But first (before I get into the details), imagine that you’re a kid again. Except that in this new childhood, you’re given super powers (called "alices"), money, toys, and guess what? You never have to see your parents. It does sound enticing, let’s be honest, and even more so ...
Dec 28, 2012
“In my first time listening...it struck me in the depths of my heart. And it instantly, completely, captured my soul.”
I’m sitting here, writing a review for this manga I just so happened to stumble upon (and actually surprised by the quality of it too). Piano No Mori, aka. The Perfect World Of Kai, is like a painting; beautifully raw, and yet, framed by some crude, seriously harsh reality. Looking back on the story, I don’t think it could be explained any other way.
The story is set in a rural town somewhere in the late 90’s. We’ve got this one boy who is, maybe not “rich”, ...
Dec 24, 2012
Nearly 40 years ago, the manga industry changed when a bunch of women known as the Forty-Niners (or the Year 24 Group) practically revolutionized shoujo manga. The works of these women incorporated many different sub-genres (including the first BL) and are now considered epic classics. The most famous of them was Hagio Moto, who is one of the most adored and admired mangaka of all time.
They Were 11 was created in 1975, and is Hagio's longer one-shots. It's technically labeled 'shoujo', but this manga shows how much they really revolutionized the genre, and why the Year 24 Group is well-known for creating those classics. They ...
Dec 15, 2012
Wana is a normal girl, with a normal job, who has a fairly normal (but bland) love life. In fact, her love life consists of a mere crush who comes to her work every so often to order a hamburger with no onions. It isn’t until she’s hit by a truck that she’s able to talk with him. Suddenly, the blank tarot card she drew the week before makes sense; there is “no future”. She’s almost dead on impact.
Then Wana wakes up.
Vampire Girl (aka. Omae Ga Sekai O Kowashitai Nara, aka. If You Wanna Break This World, but henceforth known as Vampire Girl) is often ...
Dec 8, 2012
Sakamichi No Apollon (also known as Kids On The Slope) is a josei manga which can get some catchy jazz song in your head, and manage to keep it there all day. At first, you'd catch yourself tapping your fingers or toes to some melody, and after some time, you just can't stop. The musical style of jazz is off-beat, nonrhythmic, and often improvises the melodies. It's very different, but often in a good way.
That definition also best describes Sakamichi No Apollon.
As the winner of the 57th Shogakukan Manga Award for General Manga, I don't think you could really expect anything sub-par. Kaoru, a stotic, ...
Nov 23, 2012
Seyoung is easy on the eyes, but she isn’t a knockout. She’s logical, but she doesn’t always get the best grades. And she’s skilled, but not overly talented. Seyoung is a person, to say so in the least, but throughout the series it becomes clear that she never wants the word “normal” in front of it. If there is a future that cannot be known, how could you say an individual is “normal”? If there are endless amounts of possibilities and futures in this world, then how do you know you wouldn’t be “different”? In the eyes of Seyoung, an existentialism-angsty teenager, she faces the ...
Nov 6, 2012
“The history of mankind has been one of wars. Race, religion, philosophy --the causes are untold. The combatants have their own justifications, but on occasion, some create a volatile situation that threatens to destroy the world. Ultimate Blue. An organization shrouded in complete secrecy. Also known as ‘the other United Nations’. Nobody knows where it was created. Nobody knows where it is based. The blue of the seas. The blue of the skies. The blue of the Earth. The last line of defense against chaos.”
Oh yes, Musashi #9. One of the few reverse gender-role mangas actually done right. Yes, it is indeed a shoujo --despite ...
Oct 14, 2012
Note: At the time of my initial review, there was about 11 chapters released. I understand that MUCH has changed within that time, and I have made necessary adjustments. I hope that this review is much more faithful and reflects what Ran To Haiiro No Sekai has become.
Ran To Haiiro No Sekai is hands down probably the best manga in a long, long time. If that's all you needed to hear, then close MAL and go read it.
I think this is a little redundant to say (as the title translates to Ran and the Ashen World), but this is a story about Ran. It is ...