Anime World Order Show # 86e – ROW ROW ROW, FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY

Suffering a broken back for disrespecting THE LEGEND caused this review to be delayed, but here now is Daryl’s review of Swallowing The Earth by Osamu Tezuka.

The audio levels on this one might be a little low. Hmm, this is actually the last part of Show 86. We forgot to record a closing! Whoops!

Other stuff going on: Daryl’s a guest on the latest episode of the Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast talking about Face/Off, starring the delightful Nicolas Cage. He’s also posted two new articles on the website for Otaku USA Magazine: one on the incredibly insane manga series Hana no Keiji by Tetsuo Hara of Fist of the North Star fame, and one on the theatrical film Crayon Shin-chan: The Adult Empire Strikes Back, as mentioned by TV’s Matt Alt during our decade in review. Go check them out, assuming you didn’t do so right as they were posted!

10 thoughts on “Anime World Order Show # 86e – ROW ROW ROW, FIGHT THE PATRIARCHY

  1. Wow.

    Hilarious.

    One episode being split into 5 parts and fudged into separate releases lol.
    (sarcasm OFF)Thanks for the episode ;D

  2. “[Reviews saying this] is a bad comic book.”

    Well, it’s more like it might have been praised better when it first came out, but now it’s dated horribly; sort of like the original Producers and Lenny Bruce. In fact it’s so dated that they still go by the gold standard which we dropped when Nixon became President, the act of which Ron Paul blames for all our current problems today. Anyway, Schodt notes that Tezuka did occasionally “update” his manga, but I guess he’d have to re-write the entire plot to make it seem more “current”.

    “racial elements”

    From what I heard, this content was actually considered controversial enough for activist groups in Japan to demand a ban 20 years later. Personally, I remember e-mailing Schodt and commenting that Tezuka’s depiction of black people was sort of like a Bakshi toon without the irony. Though I guess after Tropic Thunder, Jazz Singer on DVD, and Sam Jackson playin’ a wigger on Boondocks, maybe the manga isn’t so shocking nowadays. Surprised you haven’t commented on that “Fagin” character, though.

    As for how it compares to Apollo’s Song, it’s not really as engaging and powerful.

  3. I was one of those people that ordered this manga about three months before it came out on Amazon and I had to wait about two weeks after its publishing date for Amazon to send it to me. The introduction was fascinating and it did help me to enjoy the manga more than I would of just reading without extra information. I must admit I thought that the main character reminded me of Fred Flintstone with a drinking problem. He was goofy and said things that an eight year old would say but in a grown man’s body.

    The extra side stories were interesting but I think that they did not help with the flow of the manga. It just felt like a detour to the story telling aspect and I was wondering the whole time “When are the main characters going to come into these stories?” Like Daryl said this was Tezuka’s first long story format so he needed to add more stuff in it.

    Overall I would say that this is an interesting story but not one that will convert anyone to read more of Tezuka’s work. I am wondering why DMP did choose this story and not something like Princess Knight. Maybe this one was cheap or someone at DMP is a huge fan of Swallowing the Earth.

  4. At the risk of sounding like some grouchy contrarian, I’m officially tired of Tezuka.

    Ode to Kirihito and MW are nowhere near the “sophisticated game-changers that stand the test of time” I was led to believe they were, but that’s not my main problem.

    I want to see more seinen and gekiga get published, and every time I hear about some random thing Tezuka crapped out getting licensed in the US, I can’t help but feel like it’s taking a spot that I’d much rather go to something more underrepresented in the rapidly shrinking pool of licensed manga.

    We all KNOW that the reason Swallowing the Earth was licensed was because it was a good business decision, not because anyone felt passionate about sharing it with the world, don’t we? It is a self-contained volume, so it’s cheaper to license. It has Tezuka’s name on it, so it will get automatic respect from comic book readers and manga bloggers alike. But it’s not really doing anything for manga fandom as a whole, and will probably do nothing to bring in new manga fans.

    • If you want to see more seinen stuff get published, support SigIkki and that company publishing Tatsumi’s stuff, Drawn & Quarterly. Anyway, while I admit Kirihito suffers from being a product of its time, MW having two gay characters in the fucking 70s as leads in any medium was innovative, when they were just coming out back then. Swallowing the Earth, OTOH, is probably far from being a money-maker, and is more about keeping DMP’s presence in book stores because its yaoi sales may have peaked.

      • A cursory glance at ComiPress’ translation of “Manga Zombie” makes it very clear that homosexual protagonists were quite prevalent in the era of gekiga. People have it instilled in their minds that “Tezuka did everything first” because it makes good ad copy, but I’d bet that Tezuka was nowhere close to being the first person to implement that “innovation” (the impact of which I would strongly contest because the characters are more gross caricature than anything). Unfortunately, I can’t compare actual publication dates of different gekiga starring homosexual protagonists because English information on manga from that time period is scarce. Strongly doubt Tezuka was the first, though.

    • I would have to agree in a way. Tezuka was more about quantity than quality. His children’s fare like Princess Knight is better than Ode to Kirihito, to be honest.

      I would have to disagree on MW though. I found it to be his best work because of how much beating around the bush he did.

  5. Daryl, let’s not forget the most important title to appear in Big Comic–Golgo 13! Kaiji Kawaguchi’s Eagle: The Making of an Asian-American President was in there, too.

    I do argue that “seinen” is such a broad term that it isn’t really as useful as it should be (you don’t market to 20 year-old men the way you do to 40 year-old men, and that’s just as true in Japan as here). That’s why I prefer to use “sarariman” to describe the demographic of a magazine like Big Comic (or Morning, although they seem to skew younger).

    • I think MORNING definitely skews younger, though I haven’t been keeping up with their fare lately except for the excellent GIANT KILLING, which… what, Mike Toole likes soccer manga?! No way!

      I do find it interesting that Daryl sums up the reaction to SWALLOWING THE EARTH as lots of folks going “hmmmm, it’s actual BAD Tezuka manga finally getting released in English.” In my opinion, by far his weakest work released in the west is not SWALLOWING or any of Vertical’s releases– it’s METROPOLIS! I thought it was really uninspired and unengaging, and am frankly a bit surprised that Rintaro was able to get such an interesting film out of such a dour source.

      I do wish that the complete METROPOLIS was available, though– I’m told that all of Tezuka’s old SF trilogy (along with LOST WORLD and the rather excellent NEXT WORLD) was originally significantly longer, but the editor excised several pages from each book for one of the reprints, and Tezuka never managed to restore the series to its original condition. We’ll never know what was in that stuff!

      • I admit I thought the Metropolis manga was kind of one-note, too, which is why I wonder why Rintaro was willing to defy Tezuka to animate it. It’s clearly just one of those titles he just drew for a living before he became established. And frankly, if it weren’t for the movie, I’d rather see what was the fuss about over New Treasure Island. But it’s still more interesting than Swallowing the Earth, which seems to embody the worst examples of Tezuka tone shifts. [I.E. one minute dark and then the next cheerful.]

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