MANGA: Search and Destroy Ch. 02
By Atsushi Kaneko
Hello everyone, welcome to chapter two of Atsushi Kaneko’s Search and Destroy, based on Dororo by Osamu Tezuka. This week’s chapter is paywalled for paid subscribers to MSX: Mangasplaining Extra. You can catch up with chapter one here and see the index for all of our manga series’ here. If you just want this week’s chapter of Search and Destroy and to skip the essay below, scroll down to the title.
Christopher here, and longtime readers will know that before each chapter we usually write a little something about the work we’re serializing. This week I was going to mention a little bit about how I discovered Kaneko-sensei’s work, but then a pretty big announcement hit today and that derailed my plans a little bit.
Scholastic Debuts Kid-Friendly Manga Line With A Reimagined Classic. That’s right, Sam Sattin and Gurihiru’s reimagining of Osamu Tezuka’s Unico was announced to be going to Scholastic today. We’ve written about this Unico project and the history of Unico, and even interviewed Sam Sattin for a “Mangasplaining Listen to Me” segment here, so we’re all pretty excited about this news.
We are, also, publishing a project, that you’re about to read, that features a contemporary creator reimagining the work of Tezuka for a new generation! Though, ours is a bit more violent. Just a bit. And we’re not the only ones either. UDON Entertainment announced the publication of Kenny Ruiz’s Team Phoenix for November, and Magnetic Press just completed a successful Kickstarter for their collection of the European stories from Tezucomi, the Japanese anthology of international creators adapting Tezuka’s works.
Most of these projects came about due to the Japanese anthology Tezucomi, which was spearheaded and edited by Frenchman-in-Japan Frederic Toutlemonde. Fred has been publishing beautiful editions some of the great French Bande Desinee in Japanese through his company Euromanga for the past decade... The cultural communication cuts both ways, eh? Fred worked with Tezuka Productions and Micro Magazine to create a space for these stories to be published, and invited an incredibly talented array of creators to reimagine these classic Tezuka stories. Some stayed pretty close to the originals, some went pretty far into new territories, but in the end it’s an interesting project that spawned some very good comics, Search and Destroy included.
(It’s worth noting that Unico wasn’t part of the Tezucomi project, it’s an entirely stand-alone reimagining from a few years later that was conceived of and activated directly by the people making that book—Deb goes into that in her article and interview.)
It’s a little funny, when I first started working to bring Search and Destroy to English, there weren’t any Tezuka properties on the market. We’d stopped getting any new Tezuka in English for reasons that are a bit complicated to go into here, and the Tezucomi material had been largely passed over by English publishers. The French knew what was up though, Search and Destroy did well in French, as did several other collections of related material. And seemingly-out-of-nowhere, Kodansha up and published Tezuka’s original manga Bomba last summer.
I realize in a North American marketplace that is chock-full of ‘reimaginings’ of classic characters by contemporary creators, this act of adapting Tezuka’s manga for new generations of readers probably feels de rigeur, but I can say that it’s a heck of a lot less common in Japan. The few times that it happens, like say Naoki Urasawa reimagining the World’s Strongest Robot storyline from Astro Boy as the series Pluto, it becomes something of an event. We talked about that, too.
Moreover, creators like Urasawa-sensei, and Kaneko-sensei for that matter, have pretty healthy careers and have been making really excellent work, personal and idisyncratic—Playing in a sandbox with Tezuka’s toys for a year or two is a fun adventure but not a lifelong commitment. It seems… healthier? To me? Than the comic book industry I grew up in, but I can understand why opinions might differ. Probably a longer essay there, once more of these works are in English and there’s more to discuss.
All of that said, we’re happy for the entire Unico team, Sam, Gurihiru, Scholastic, and all of the folks involved who made this happen. This is going to be a big deal, I think, because the industry really does need more manga for kids. And I hope that the attention that the Unico project brings manages to send a little attention back towards projects like Team Phoenix, Tezucomi, and of course, Search and Destroy.
Search and Destroy - Chapter 02
By Atsushi Kaneko, based on the story by Osamu Tezuka
Translated by Ben Applegate. Lettered by Phil Christie.
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