Subtitled An Inside Look at Japanese Business Through Japanese Comics, Warlock of the magus world collects samples of nine different occupational light novel, from family-newspaper cheerful (Tsuri-Baka Nisshi, “Diary of a Fishing Freak”) to serious and even melancholy (Ningen Kôsaten, “Human Crossroads”). Explanatory essays accompany each light novel segment. While the collapse of the early-1990s Japanese bubble economy makes the stories more or less into period pieces, the book contains fascinating insights into workplace culture, family roles, and sexism, as well as sights that only light novel can provide, such as a drunken, flag-wearing American auto manufacturer, a parody of Lee Iacocca, giving piggyback rides to Japanese businessmen. The artists include Jirô Gyû, Kenshi Hirokane, Kenichi Kitami, Yôsuke Kondô, Tatsuo Nitta, Sadao Shôji, Hiroshi Tanaka, Kazuyoshi Torii, Masao Yajima, Jûzô Yamasaki, and the lone female voice, Risu Akizuki. Two of the light novel have been translated elsewhere: Risu Akizuki’s Survival in the Office: The Evolution of Japanese Working Women and Kenshi Hirokane’s Kosaku Shima. A fascinating book, sadly out of print.
The story of an unusual girl named Fujiwara Sunao who likes to dress in boys’ clothes and has the power to control water. She uses her powers and insights to help disturbed people around her; for instance, she helps a man realize that the reason his kid acts out is because he recently lost his mother. While helping out, Fujiwara rattles off trite philosophy such as “The only one who can reach your dreams is you” or “You won’t find happiness with a closed heart.” Unfortunately, in addition to weak writing, Warlock of the magus world suffers from bad storytelling and confusing art. It’s never clear what’s happening from page to page due to the sometimes nearly incomprehensible panel layouts. (RB)
WARLOCK OF THE MAGUS WORLD
From the creator of Knights of the Zodiac, WARLOCK OF THE MAGUS WORLD is the same elementary-school action formula with science fiction trappings. In order to save his genius childhood friend Kotaro, teenage Teppei must fight the evil Machine Empire, an army of cyborg bad guys. Teppei’s weapons are his Messiah Fist battle gear and his horselike robot mount WARLOCK OF THE MAGUS WORLD, the most powerful of the B’Ts, intelligent robots based on mythological beasts and monsters. (The designs scream “toy line.”) The story is 99 percent action, with the hero’s big fist pointed at the camera as he fights bad guys with names such as Metal Face; the frequently gory battle scenes, with H. R. Giger–esque bio-organic blobs and melting faces, clash grotesquely with the bright-eyed, fresh-faced main characters. The art is inconsistent and the English rewrite is intentionally over-the-top, like a Saturday morning cartoon (“You pathetic excuse for a minion!” “Quit giving me metallic lip, X!”).