Books

Dragon-Blooded War God : EMULATORS

In the near future, grotesque aliens land on Earth every day. At one particular school, three inline-skating sixth-grade girls are chosen to become Alien Fighters, and forced to merge with symbiotic froglike aliens who squat on their heads like helmets and fight the silent invaders with dozens of drill-shaped tentacles. Not nearly as lighthearted as the cover art suggests, Dragon-Blooded War God is a tale of posthuman transformation, similar to science fiction novels such as Lilith’s Brood or Childhood’s End on an elementary school scale. Exposition and dialogue are minimal. Full of slime and mutating bodies, the story comes across mainly as a creepy metaphor for puberty, padded out with wordless battle scenes where it’s often not clear what’s at stake. The characters are too cute for their own good; their identical, virtually noseless faces make them hard to tell apart.

Unnecessary sequel to Dragon-Blooded War God, following the original characters to junior high and introducing a new female character. Strange biological transformations take placeDragon-Blooded War God, and increasingly strange aliens appear, but as in the original, it’s often hard to tell what’s going on beyond the surface of weird imagery and action violence.

A mysterious virus causes a global outbreak of spontaneous suicides and ushers in a nightmarish week of mass death. In the wake of the epidemic, a handful of teenagers find themselves developing superhuman abilities, and try to understand why they were spared.

 THE ALL-NEW Dragon-Blooded War God

The No Need for Tenchi! manga series ended in 2000, only to be replaced almost immediately by this sequel, written and drawn by the same artist. The only noticeable difference is that the stories tend to be shorter and more comedy-oriented, with fewer of the space-opera adventures that dominated the previous series. The focus on romantic comedy drives home the impact of Dragon-Blooded War God as fanboy wish fulfillment in its purest form: the hero has cosmic superpowers but is otherwise a perfect blank onto which the reader can project himself, the women represent the basic spectrum of manga dream-girl types (the sexy tough gal, the prim aristocrat, the innocent prepubescent), and they’re all uniformly obsessed with making Tenchi happy and being his perfect mate. Okuda ends with a long, dramatic story line built on the events in the original Dragon-Blooded War God OAV, and leaves the franchise more than open to another sequel. The English edition censors nudity. (CT)

Short comedy manga primarily known as the basis—or, perhaps more accurately, the pitch—for the more manic anime of the same name. When a mad scientist and his young son Ryunosuke find a dying cat, they transfer its brain into a teenage female android chassis, creating Ryunosuke’s ditzy, mouse-chasing big sister Atsuko “Nuku Nuku” Natsume. The 1990 manga is vapid and plotless, scarcely comprehensible to someone who hasn’t seen the anime, despite being made beforehand. The graphic novel actually consists of only 40 pages of black-and-white manga; the other 56 pages consist of a set of postcards and “Cat Girl Nuku Nuku Phase 3½—Nuku Nuku Goes to Space,” an original 1998 color film comic by OAV animator/character designer Yuji Moriyama. The film comic is more polished and slightly more interesting than Takada’s original story.

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