Anime for Comics Fans; Comics for Anime Fans: Beauty and Literature
Welcome to the second article in our series, where American animation and comics and fans of Japanese anime and manga can connect with each other through pairs of titles that share tone, themes or character types in common.
Today’s pairing is about series that have been influenced by classic works of fine arts and literature, but with orginal twists.
BEAUTY AND LITERATURE
Anime directed by Mahiro Maeda, produced by Gonzo studios
Manga written by Mahiro Maeda, illustrated by Yura Arikawa
This is a fantastical re-telling of the classic novel, The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas, set in a space-faring future with some supernatural elements. Unlike the original novel, which was told from the point of view of the eponymous count, this story is told from the perspective of Albert, a young man who meets the Count at the beginning of the story and eventually discovers they have a disturbing connection. The anime also has a very different ending from the book – so don’t use this as a substitute for reading the book if it’s assigned to you for a class.
The 2004 anime’s most striking features are its lush and unique visuals. Instead of flat planes of color, the figures are depicted with textures and patterns that can delight – or boggle – the eyes. The Comic Con panelists said you can turn off the sound and just gaze in amazement at the characters’ costumes, some of which were created by real-life fashion designer Anna Sui. The series received critical acclaim as well — in 2006, Theron Martin of Anime News Network named Gankutsuou the best series of the year.
There is a manga adaptation of the anime currently being released, but for the full effect of the visuals you should go for the DVDs.
|Availability||Current Numbers||English-Language publisher|
26 episodes, concluded
3 volumes of manga adaptation of anime
2 of 3 volumes released so far
6 DVDs originally released from Geneon, which recently went out of business (but you may still be able to find it. Boxed set available.)
FUNimation has picked up the license and is re-releasing them this year.
English-Language comic: THE SANDMAN
Written by Neil Gaiman
Illustrated by Various Artists
Set in a variety of places and times, though anchored mostly in our here and now, The Sandman follows the exploits of powerful, immortal beings known as the Endless and their relationships with humans. The comic series consists of a number of different story arcs with extremely varied artistic styles and elements. The stories can be gothic or macabre, humorous or picaresque. They pull in elements of history and mythology ranging far and wide, from Greek myths to Arabian Nights to African folk tales.
Like Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman is an extremely prominent comic book creator – and also British. The Sandman, which originally ran from 1989-1996, is his seminal work. It has won numerous awards and critical acclaim; one issue (#19, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”) was the first comic book to garner a World Fantasy Award in 1991. You may have also heard Gaiman’s name associated with some recent films – he wrote the stories for Stardust (2007) and this year’s Coraline (both of which are available prose books as well as in graphic novel form). If you liked them, Sandman will likely appeal to you. Do note that the earlier issues of the comic have occasional macabre and horror elements with some disturbing imagery. If this is problem for you, you may want to start with the third paperback collection, Dream Country, which features “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and other self-contained stories you can sample.
Basically, though, if you have been avoiding Western comics because you’re not into superheroes – read this.
Originally ran as 75-issue monthly series.
10 volumes of Trade Paperbacks or
Mini-series and related stories, most of them available in trade paperback, also feature Sandman characters, including, notably:
Comic book series by other writers that featured characters from The Sandman also collected in trade paperback collections:
COMMON ELEMENTS TO BOTH ANIME/MANGA AND COMIC SERIES:
- Inspiration drawn from classic literature
- Beautiful art and visual styles
- Sophisticated storytelling
- Enigmatic protagonists interacting with more ordinary people
- Sense of mystery and supernatural