The Skull Man #2, ToykoPop Manga
by Kazuhiko Shimamoto & Shotaro Ishinomori
I’m going to make this one short and sweet. I’m sick, and I’ve taken a sleeping pill. In case you were interested.
The Skull Man struck me as a fortuitous find for two reasons: (1.) the skull motif is Halloweenish enough to fit this month’s theme, and (2.) I’m always interested in reading more manga, if only to see if I can find a story I can understand. Unfortunately, The Skull Man didn’t cut it. Originally published in Japan in 1998, this issue’s text is interpreted by Ray Yoshimoto, and although I haven’t read the original material, I can only assume that Yoshimoto’s take was a transliteration, or a word-for-word recount of the original narrative. The syntax is simplistic and sloppy, and the story is difficult to follow. From what I’ve gather, the Skull Man is at odds with the Spider Man (not that Spider-Man) over some disk of information that may explain the Skull Man’s mysterious origins. This issue barely conveyed this concept, let alone made advances in the story. Then again, maybe it’s just a cultural thing.
I might have postulated this before, but the idea is worth mentioning again: manga is very in with the kids right now. I’m wondering if they understand and appreciate more so than I can because they’ve begun reading it at an earlier age. Just as it’s easier for younger people to learn a foreign language, perhaps children can better interpret a foreign visual or graphic format, as well. I know it’s Pulitzer week for the sciences. Somebody get on the study, quick.
Speaking of visuals, some of these pages are just plain stunning. The artist’s wide, establishing shots are intricate yet easy on the eye, without overwhelming detail but enough to establish a solid setting and mood. I particularly enjoyed the sequence that took place at the Korean BBQ, where two investigators’ dialogue was interspersed with images of beef sizzling on the grill. Interesting illustrative technique, and characteristic of manga, from what little I’ve read. The Skull Man may be a warrior of the living dead, but his comic book keeps the traditions of his genre alive and well.
Not a bad review considering I’m under the influence of a sleep-inducer. Time for my skull to hit the pillow.