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Sesho's Anime And Manga Reviews

Oct 4, 2008

Manga Review of Arm of Kannon Volume 2 by Masakazu Yamaguchi. Translated by Takae Brewer. Adapted by Jordan Capell. Originally published in Japan by Gentosha. Published in US by Tokyopop, $9.99, Rated Mature 18+.

Mao and Maya have escaped from the clutches of the Garama Industries facility and are hiding in the nearby forest. Unfortunately for them, Garama has been doing all kinds of weird genetic experiments on animals and humans for years and some of these mutated lifeforms are crawling around the surrounding woods. The siblings have a lot of people looking for them. First, there is the swordsman from Isurugi Temple, who tried unsuccessfully to prevent the Arm of Kannon from taking over Mao in Volume 1. It is not known whether he can exorcise the evil from Mao or whether it is now his intent to kill the host body. Garama has called on a group known as Manma, who are imbued with supernatural powers no normal human can hope to defeat...oh, and did I mention that the members of Manma are almost evil incarnate? How evil, you ask? Well, in one scene, they force a husband to watch his wife being raped and then killed. What makes it even worse is that it's his decapitated head watching it all, somehow kept alive with black magic. Another group interested in catching up to Mao, who appear to be on the side of good, is C.I.R.O., or the Cabinet Information Research Office. They work for the government and have been taking an increasing interest in Garama activities. They have special powers as well, but based more on sci-fi than magic. Of course, with all these various factions vying to catch Mao, conflict is sure to ensue, and does.

The thing I like about Arm of Kannon is its logical realism that follows comic book cartoon violence and good versus evil to its appropriate end. What I mean is that the "bad guys" do really bad, really evil things and don't just seem like glamorized versions of Dr. Evil. No matter what the Joker does in a Batman comic, it is still sanitized for a young audience. Even the worst comic book villain hardly ever comes close to real monsters like Adolf Hitler or even the fictionalized evils of a writer like Stephen King. But the fact that Yamaguchi is writing for a mature audience allows him to portray some very vile acts and imagery that make you feel horror, an emotion that most writers, artists, and filmmakers, have lost touch with. And the crazy thing is that he does this in the midst of a shonen like battle atmosphere. The art has a creepy 1980s style to it combined with the slightly enlongated designs of CLAMP with a dark and strongly erotic tone. Yes, this title is about sex and action and violence, both graphic and more subtle. So if any one of those things frightens you, stay away. This is definitely not a series you want lying around on shelves that kids can reach.

My Grade: A+

Listen to my podcast review of Volume 1: