My long time readers know how enthusiastic I am about the upcoming cartoon based on Sean Bishop’s The Freeloader. After all, I’ve written about the comic on four occasions (The Freeloader to be Animated, A Little Review of The Freeloader, Retractio Tabulae Proximae, My First Foray into a Con) and mentioned its creator on one other occasion. For my hard work, Sean Bishop and his writer, Clover SH, have decided to make me administrator of the comic’s Facebook page. I encourage anyone who has an interest in American cartoons–particularly cartoons influenced by anime–to like the page and take a look at some of his fine artwork.
Well, tabula is the closest Latin word I can think of for “post.” Also, before anyone thinks I’m about to do something as horrible as take back all I said in praise of The Freeloader, let me note here that retractio means “reconsideration” rather than the English word it most nearly relates to: “retraction.” St. Augustine, for example, was famous for writing multas retractiones, both during and especially near the end of his life. That most humble of Church Fathers had a great desire for the exact truth as well as a thorough knowledge of human ignorance and errancy. However, I wonder how many people read his retractiones, which must make his other writings that much more clear?
What I need to reconsider is my error in not including an important figure in the development of The Freeloader. If you guessed the writer, you’d be right. Writers are the most ignored people in Hollywood, but is it not deplorable that a fellow writer should be guilty of the same fault? For shame! A most literate young woman by the name of Clover SH is responsible for putting The Freeloader into cohesive form. Sean Bishop actually asked me to place her name in the article, but it slipped my mind as I delved into the possibilities of the series. Having read the treatment of the first episode and other documents, Mr. Bishop is most fortunate in having Clover SH on his team. Good luck to the both of them!
Well, the happiest result of me visiting the Baltimore Comic Convention was to learn about Sean Bishop’s The Freeloader comic, which I have since reviewed here. We struck up an internet friendship, and I have been learning of Sean Bishop’s adventures and efforts to publish The Freeloader ever since. With eager ears, I learned that he pursued his dream to the Golden State, where he met many people in the animation industry.
But, why I am speaking of the animation industry? After all, Mr. Bishop is a comic artist. The reason lies in that he is trying to make his comic into a cartoon, which pleases me to no end. Modern American cartoons have rather paled in comparison to those of the good old days and now are relegated to the extremes of children’s cartoons and the vulgar fare intended to adults. The sole exception to this recently has been Avatar and The Legend of Korra–both profoundly influenced by Japanese animation and wonderful examples of the potential for American cartoons to be great again. Mr. Bishop is well versed enough in American comics and cartoons as well as anime to create a truly unique story featuring the best of both animation cultures, and his comic, as well as the information Mr. Bishop has shared with me, gives every indication that it shall.
For example, sarcasm is rampant in American cartoons, which is funny on occasion, but tends to sicken the viewer when used with much frequency. Avatar stands as an example of a cartoon which was sincere in its aims and eschewed overdoing the sarcasm. The Freeloader‘s humor more relies on slapstick (tsukkomi and boke, actually), and one sees that same sense of sincerity found in anime. The plot concerns a rather screwy kid trying to make a living as a bounty hunter. He captures a woman named Aegea for breaking curfew, who turns out to have a criminal record worth a $50,000 bounty. The officer in charge gives her the option to work off the bounty by helping Freeloader, Aegea’s nickname for her new cheapskate partner, in hunting criminals. Unfortunately, Freeloader’s methods anger the powerful, and he soon gets into trouble with both sides of the law.
This will make for a great story. I can hardly contain myself as I wait for a studio to announce that it has accepted his story. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted when it happens! For now, here is a link to the author’s website: http://freeloader4hire.blogspot.com/p/legend-of-freeloader.html.
The extent to which the Samurai Deeeper Kyo manga has captivated me is well known to my dear readers from my last article on the subject. I must say that no manga ending in recent memory has quite satisfied me as much for all the time and effort that went into reading it–I’ll likely take up this 308 chapter manga again! Unlike so many series, one can see that the author had a clear ending in mind. This prevented the series from wandering due to a lack of focus prevalent in so many manga. (One Piece, Bleach, Naruto, I’m pointing at you!) The ending in particular, for all its catering to the fans, possessed many interesting themes running through it: so much so, that I doubt having completely understood it.
Anyway, let me begin my only slighly spoilerific discussion of the manga–with the exception of the last paragraph, anyway, which contains the biggest spoiler in the work. One of the most interesting facets of the manga is the clever use of Christian imagery–the cross in particular. The use of such symbols tends to make the Christian otaku/anime junkie (whichever you prefer) a little nervous considering the Japanese inclination to scatter random Christian symbols throughout their works. However, one perceives a purpose to the use of this symbol throughout SDK. The fanservice and downright roguish characters rather obscure this, but one see how the themes of love, self-sacrifice, and suffering out of love run through this manga–more so as one approaches the end. (This is not apparent in the anime and must be considered the reason for its lackluster performance.) I almost wish to label Demon Eyes Kyo a Christ figure, but his lack of decency causes me to hesitate–someone else may make the connection if they like. Interestingly, this manga is one of those which refuses to paint black black or white white: one must carefully consider the person or matter at hand before labeling anything.
The ways Kyo approximates Christ lies in his strong loyalty toward his “servants.” Kyo himself tends to take up the lion’s share of combat unless one of his friends absolutely insists or he finds himself too weak for fighting. At which point, he refuses to lend his companion a helping hand–no matter how poorly the fight turns out for that guy. In order to refer this quality to Christ, let us remind ourselves that, although we cannot do anything without God’s grace, He sometimes wishes us to triumph in situations where He appears absent and in agonies which require all our effort–though, it is not really we who conquer, but Christ in us. This affords an opportunity for growth–if Christ pulled us out of all our difficulties by overwhelming force, we could neither develop the virtues of fortitude, faith, hope, and love, nor nor understand how weak we are in ourselves.
Then, one is struck by how much mercy and compassion the protagonists show toward their fallen foes: by the end, only one enemy, who appears to lack any kind of empathy or compassion, is willfully killed–nevermind, one other person of a similar caste met the same fate. Often, our heroes will mourn over the deaths of certain foes or convert their foes into allies in their quest to bring down the infamous Mibu clan–thus, showing the triumph of charity and a good-will.
The main villain, the Aka no Ou or Crimson King, is deluded rather than truly evil. He wishes to create a paradise free from suffering through the means of a violent conflict. But suffering, at least in the current version of reality, is inseparable from love. On the more humanist side, Schopenhauer claimed that compassion derives from us suffering and therefore being able to understand the sufferings of others. And indeed, people who have kept themselves from suffering are often those least able to empathize with others. Our Lord, the Man of Sorrows, revealed the fullness of his love during His Sacred Passion. We even see an essential transformation in Kyo: as the manga progresses and Kyo suffers more with the other characters, his love increases toward them, and he risks himself more for them.
But, the very end contains a striking symbol of love (the whopping spoiler to which I refer): the treasure which the Mibu had been closely guarding was the Crimson King’s heart, which he had removed from his body. Kyo’s final victory over the Crimson King convinced the king to place his heart back in his chest. Not only is his treasure a heart, but it has a cross engraved upon it. This displays the truth that some things cannot be understood save through the heart, especially a heart that has suffered. So, the Crimson King is persuaded to abandon his idea of a painless Utopia, since a Utopia as he envisions would be a loveless place–perhaps, even because people would not be able to suffer. And the cross upon the Crimson King’s heart cannot but recall the Sorrowful and Sacred Heart of Jesus, which comprehends all things.
So, do you know of any Christ figure in anime or any anime which uses Christian figures well, my dear readers?
So, here are just some initial impression of a few manga. I would be able to go deeper into Samurai Deeper Kyo, having read around 26 volumes of it, were it not for the fact that I read this manga on and off. Whenever the volume of work increases or I get distracted by other series, this often gets pushed to the side. I’m not precisely sure why, it’s an extraordinarily well done. Perhaps my scruples about fanservice get in the way, which I’m happy to report has been greatly toned down at the point I’ve presently reached. How well all the other elements work in the manga indicates that it doesn’t really need it, which the mangaka, Akimine Kamijyo, seems to have realized by now.
First, let’s take Fairy Tail. Most people consider this one of the best manga currently out, but I find it too lighthearted. (I know, this is coming from a guy who enjoyed Slayers, Ruin Explorers, and Those Who Hunt Elves.) The problem is probably in my mood rather than in the work itself. Otherwise, the characters are very enjoyable–even if on the goofy side and not terribly complex. It kind of felt like reading One Piece, even though I found the characters in Fairy Tail more enjoyable. In any case, I’ve decided not to pursue this manga further.
Dusk Maiden of Amnesia (a.k.a. Tasogare Otome x Amunejia) has a rather interesting style of art, and one can tell that the mangaka desires to investigate the depths of the human psyche. Both of these things work in its favor; however, the characters don’t interest me too much. The boy with the capacity to see ghosts is rather bland. The ghost whom he sees, a high school aged young girl, shows the quality of being deeply pained but outwardly bubbly, a kind of character type which I’m usually drawn to. But, she’s not interesting enough to make me desire to read more. For an alternate opinion concerning the anime version, please see Marlin-sama’s excellent article.
Some of you may have seen the animated version of Samurai Deeper Kyo, which is rather mediocre. Conversely, the manga does not have annoying monsters called Kenyou and excels the anime in practically every level–except for the level of fanservice. By its deficiency, the anime is better in this regard.
The most striking feature of this manga is the terrible pride most of the characters possess. The all desire to be the strongest and look down upon any weakness. At the same time, many of them conceal a soft side which reveals itself when they show compassion to certain people–opponents even in some cases. Kyo seems to be the most hard-bitten of them all, but even he has a profound respect for others’ pride and a great fondness for Yuya, the bounty hunter who initially tries to bring him in. Then, one tosses in the original plot and spectacular, cerebral, and gut-wrenching duels in order to make this a true classic.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it, dear readers? Classwork and all the activities which happen at my university have kept me away from writing for a while, but take solace that you are not the only ones with whom I’ve lost touch: my family rarely hears from me, my friends from college never do, and one of my pet cats still looks longingly out of the window as it awaits my return. But, this article will at least reach those who are in the first two groups–my cat will have to wait until I visit home next weekend.
As some of you may have noticed, the artist whose comic I marked at the Baltimore Comic Con, Sean Bishop, commented on my article and kindly offered to give me a free signed edition of his work. (I tell you, as surreal as it was for him to see his work blogged about, it was even more so to see one of my writings produce an effect in the physical world.) His generosity even extended to him sending two posters–one in color and the other in black and white–of his Rurouni Kenshin drawing, which may be seen in the prior blog post. Both of these are exquisite to behold; though, I find myself gravitating to the one in black and white, which no doubt shows to how full an extent I have immersed myself in Japanese culture. As I promised him, here’s a little review of his work.
The story concerns a criminal with a $50,000 dollar bounty on her head, who finds herself forced to cooperate with a lowly bounty hunter in order to work off her debt to society. This female misfit, named Ms. Aegea (An interesting name. Make me wonder whether I’m supposed to compare the character to Queen Aegea of the Amazons or King Aegeus of the Athenians–but that’s just my classical mind at work), was captured by the bounty hunter for staying in a park past curfew–this bounty hunter had no idea of the bounty. Judging from the scenes which show them working together, the two make a great pair. We’ve yet to learn the bounty hunter’s proper name. Since he makes Ms. Aegea pay for everything, she just calls him “freeloader.” The bounty hunter pair, in which we have one rather gung-ho character and another who is laid back, reminds me of Black Cat. I’m expecting some interesting things from the story. I’m especially curious what the freeloader’s background is, which will probably be revealed along with his name.
This style of drawing seems to be a pleasant mixture of the kind found in Japanese-style manga and American Sunday Comics. This allows the characters to be very expressive, increasing certain scenes’ comedic impact. However, one does wish that the backgrounds held more detail, but the characters draw in the reader’s attention sufficiently to render this defect negligible.
Yet, this comic book has one flaw which makes me almost prompts me to break out into Juvenalian indignation. That Mr. Bishop realizes also it makes my complaint more justified: he committed the great and nearly unforgivable sin of making this comic too brief. I want to know what happens next! In particular, the final scene abruptly ends with a dark figure bombing a mailing facility as the freeloader says “That guy just…jaywalked across the street!” The desire to know how this scene continues practically makes the reader want to scream!
So, Mr. Bishop is writing a wonderful comic, which I encourage everyone to either buy or eagerly wait for its page length to increase before getting it.