Seriously, this week, I’m going to try and see if I can not review anything with schoolgirls. Just to see if it’s even possible.
As with my re-watch of Silent Mobius anime, Vol. 1, I have been re-reading the manga for several reasons; in order to write the “Worldshaking” Fanfic Contest winner’s fanfic, and also, because it is, quite genuinely an excellent series. Translated ages and ages ago in 2001 by James D. Hudnall & Matt Thorn, I think this series stands up strongly to most, if not all, of what’s being translated these days. The translation itself is strong – really strong. And this was never an easy series to translate. Of course, all the honorifics are lost. Shame.
The timeline on the manga differs slightly from the anime, but in general it’s all the same story. The manga begins with the AMP team already assembled and we learn through flashbacks and or current storylines about the various team members’ pasts. I think it’s a bit more effective than the anime’s straight chronological order and in particular, I think Katsumi comes off as a stronger person for it. As that is crucial to the storyline, I’m on the side of the manga over the anime on this.
The Lucifer Hawks are much more complexly drawn creatures than they are in the anime; the art is heavy on black line and shadow and in some cases, they are very hard to see clearly …something else I think works in the manga’s favor.
There’s a nice blend of physical action, guns, chases, all set against the dystopian future where both technology and magic work, with a frisson of horror that we’re just not getting these days in our stories. Add to this a cast of genuinely three-dimensional, competent adult men and women who have jobs, but also time for real, and adult, emotions and what you get is a top-notch manga for grown-ups. No little-girl faces on adult bodies – while there is service, it’s much more “I like to look at beatiful women naked” (or, as Kyanite points out, in uniform) rather than today’s “I like to sneak peeks at little girls’ underwear” variety of service that makes my skin crawl so. SO much less vile.
As far as yuri goes, in the first six volumes of the manga, there is minimal to none. As I said in the anime review, despite fanon, Katsumi and Kiddy are both refreshingly straight, and their relationships are really pretty uncomplicated and realistic for any manga. ^_^ Ralph and Kiddy remain a particularly favorite couple of mine. If this manga was being drawn now, there’s just about no way they’d have gotten together – it would be all pointless unresolved sexual tension and Ralph “accidentally” getting panty shots and nose bleeds….
I know that at least a few fans see some kind of sexual tension between Rally and her evil sister Rosa, while I maintain that Rally is totally gay (using only my gaydar and my unflappable belief that lesbian manga characters are, in fact, cooler, better looking and more competent than the other characters around them. ^_^) Although it is never, ever, stated or implied, I also remain convinced that Mana and Rally were lovers before Mana got married (to the world’s biggest loser…by which I mean the biggest loser in *their* world.)
In short, if you are a grownup, and like series written for grown-ups, there’s a good chance that you’ll like Silent Mobius. That having been said, this *is* a dystopian sci-fantasy (“speculative fiction” as they say these days) world and there is a great deal of violence with some serious death scenes – with no impossible, unbelievable resurrections to take the edge off. People who die stay dead. On the other hand, this isn’t misery for misery’s sake either and there are various lights at the end of various tunnels, all of which make the Silent Mobius series well worth reading (or re-reading, as the case may be.)
Art – 8
Story – 8
Characters – 7
Yuri – 1
Service – There is service, but there’s very little loser-ness to it. Nothing wrong with enjoying attractive men and women’s bodies. Let’s call it a 3.
Overall – 8
If you, like me, long for a story NOT about children and NOT about school or teen angst, with competent, beautiful adult women (in uniform!), then old-school Silent Mobius will feel like a refreshing change of pace.