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AX. Vol. one : alternative manga
Wilson, Sean Michael
Adult Fiction AX

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From Publishers' Weekly:

In the introduction, manga and comics expert Paul Gravett calls the stories in AX "manga taken off its leash." And he's largely right. Within the pages of this greatly anticipated manga anthology are some of the most imaginative, lush, grotesque, and ridiculous comics to come out of Japan. There is a vast array of both art and narrative, ranging from the plot-heavy, detailed "Rooftop Elegy," about a salaryman-cum-hit man, to "The Neighbor," an abstract but aggressive and combative look at neighborly love. AX includes gekiga godfather Yoshihiro Tatsumi (A Drifting Life) and heta-uma (bad-good) zombie humorist Yusaku Hanakuma (Tokyo Zombie) as well as the otherworldly storytelling of precision manga craftsman Kazuichi Hanawa (Doing Time). Neither commercial nor conformist, some shorts are at times absent of story, acting as scenes or commentary. In Einosuke's "Home Drama: The Sugawara Family," a father tries engaging his family in conversation over a dinner of soba noodles, a task against which the lush, visceral, and fully absorbing activity of eating wins. AX is a daunting size, but not impenetrable. (In the event of feeling overwhelmed, start in the middle.) It's an incredible selection and sampling of manga made in Japan without commercial intervention. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Since 1998, Japan's AX magazine has published an impressive range of underground and sometimes disquieting manga. For the uninitiated, this fantastic collection features eye-opening work by 33 representative artists. As author Paul Gravett notes in his introduction, the ubiquity of comics in Japan--and some might now say the United States--presents a challenge. How "alternative" can comics possibly be if the medium permeates pop culture so completely? The diversity of art, themes, and realities compiled by Wilson (The Story of Lee) responds with a resounding, very. Standouts include Katsuo Kawai's spare breakup story, "Push Pin Woman"; Toranosuke Shimada's fictionalized account of imperialism, motorcycles, and Nazis in Brazil, "Enrique Kobayashi's Eldorado"; Shigeyuki Fukumitsu's "The Song of Mr. H." concerning a salaryman's self-redemption; and many, many more. Verdict "There is still a need for freedom, for a platform for nonconformist, subversive, even transgressive manga," Gravett declares. AX provides just such a home for the perverse and the profound. Libraries committed to sophisticated comics collections and to adventurous (mature) readers must buy this volume and those that follow.--John Gehner, Urbana Free Lib., IL (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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