Sneeze: Naoki Urasawa Story Collection
1 journaler for this copy...
"Throw To The Moon", in which a kid has an encounter with a scruffy and enigmatic self-declared psychic, and has a future that kinda-sorta supports the predictions.
"It's a Beautiful Day" takes an anecdote told to Urasawa by his friend Kenji Endo, the Japanese folksinger who inspired the character of the same name in 20th Century Boys. The anecdote itself is unexpected and charming, an odd little side adventure for a small, as-yet-not-famous group. [This one has an extremely poignant note at the end, describing how it came about; sadly, Urasawa only completed the manga after Enken's death.]
"Kaiju Kingdom": this one's my favorite in the collection, a really lovely affectionate parody of kaiju stories and kaiju fandom, with some drama and pathos along the way. A French guy who's an admitted kaiju otaku (and who resembles "Comic Book Guy" from "The Simpsons" quite a bit) has finally managed a trip to Japan, where his dream is to see an actual kaiju in the flesh. Before the reader has time to wonder how deluded he is, it turns out that there really are kaiju and they really do focus their attacks on Tokyo - leading to a thriving industry in tours to the damaged areas, sightings of incoming kaiju, and the sale of kaiju scales (most of which are fakes, of course). Our hero wanders into restricted areas, learns a heavily-guarded secret about the reasons behind the regular appearance of the kaiju - and falls in love with the beautiful scientist who's trying to find ways to stop the depradations. I can't say more without spoiling it, but the conclusion is unexpected, over-the-top, and quite sweet.
"Solo Mission" is the last story, and is a very entertaining nod to pulp SF tales, with the futuristic hero being interrupted during some private time with his wife. She objects to his new mission - to the "demonic death-death hell planet"! - and they bicker over his job, the mortgage, and the kid's school fees while he dons his superhero outfit and prepares to set out. Does he face terrible threats on the demonic death-death hell planet? Why yes, he does - with a nifty little twist...
Then there's "The Old Guys", about aging musicians on the road; "Henry and Charles," very much an homage to American cartoons, where two mice conspire to filch some cake from under the nose of a sleeping cat; and "Musica Nostra," which includes travel notes to a Los Angeles music festival, and some amusing speculation as to why rock musicians make those bizarre faces!
There are end-notes describing the inspirations for the tales and the author's thoughts about them. All in all a really great collection!
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