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FAUST Volume 1

March 29, 2009

Something new today (which will hopefully be a more common feature): light novels/Japanese fiction! : D
And ok, so I lied, I posted before Thursday/Friday. xD I had time this weekend, so I decided to finally finish FAUST volume 1 and post about it.

According to its Wikipedia article, FAUST is, “A literary magazine published irregularly by Kodansha since 2003. Self-described as a “Fighting illustory magazine.” Faust features young writers and pop, entertaining styles derived from light novels.” Del Rey, through their joint efforts with Kodansha has brought it over to America, and they did a fantastic job! I’m absolutely getting the second volume, which comes out this June! But more on the fantastic job Del Rey did after the cut! : D

Beware, this is a HUGE post. :3

By: FAUST Editors
Published by: Del Rey (Faust Imprint)
Summary: A stunning new collection of fiction inspired by the fantastic world of manga–and featuring artwork by the best in the business, including NISIOISIN, Otsuichi, CLAMP, Kouhei Kadono, and many more! Plus more illustrated stories, columns, interviews, and bonus features galore! (from Del Rey)

For the purposes of reviewing this anthology, I’m going to separate things into categories, with bolded subheadings.

Overall Volume
Like I said before, Del Rey did a fantastic job with this. You can tell they really want to push the novel aspect of Japanese pop culture. It’s put together well and they explain so much in the stories that could potentially be lost with footnotes, which is great! As long as Del Rey continues with things like this, they’ll be tied with Viz for my favorite manga/light novel publisher (Tokyopop lost long ago when they started putting out a bunch of crap, and Seven Seas lost all potential when they failed to put out the third and last Pita Ten novel, and put the whole light novel line on hiatus).
Not to mention the gorgeous cover, which was apparently done by artist take specially for this American edition of FAUST! : D
One could argue that this whole volume is a glorification of NISIOISIN, and well, they wouldn’t really be wrong per-say, but who cares, it’s NISIOISIN?? (lol, excuse my fangirl moment)
The first part of the anthology (which is itself a “mook” or magazine+book, put more simply a magazine that’s bound as a book) is made of fiction and essays from different Japanese authors, the second is made up of manga, which Del Rey decided to use fantastic paper for! Three of the four manga are in full color on high-gloss paper, which makes the colors pop even more. They are then repeated on regular paper, not in color, which is kind of neat too. The final story was obviously not originally in color, and so is not in color here, but it’s Yun Kouga, so the art is still fantastic, but again, more on that later in the post.

It’s only a page, but I though it was a really nice touch for there to be something from the editor of the original Japanese version of the anthology. He seems so sincerely excited that the work is being published in the US, that you can’t help but be a little bit more excited about reading the rest of the works.

Part One: Fiction and Essays

xxxHOLiC: ANOTHERHOLiC (excerpt)
original story and illustrations by: CLAMP
It may be just an excerpt from a whole novel, but damn if that that matters! NISIOISIN is one of my favorite Japanese authors, granted I’ve only read a handful, but of those, NISIOISIN takes the cake. The only one who can hold a candle to him is Noriko Ogiwara, the author of Dragon Sword and Wind Child (available from Viz), and that’s only because she’s  not a light novelist, but a true novelist (and a damn good one at that, I would recommend Dragon Sword and Wind Child to any fantasy enthusiast whether they like animanga or not).
Honestly, I haven’t read a lot of the xxxHOLiC manga, but from what I have read and the few episodes of the anime I’ve seen, I can tell that NISIOISIN has recreated CLAMP’s world almost perfectly. It’s not easy to recreate an established world by another creator. There are plenty of bad examples of how to recreate a world, like the FLCL manga for example, and only a few good examples, the FLCL novels are fantastic where the manga fails utterly. NISIOISIN was able to take CLAMP’s fantastic world and make it believable even without their gorgeous artwork, which is a fantastic achievement, and I love him all the more for it. I’m definitely going to get the novel, so I read the rest of the story, even though it seemed fairly self-contained as an excerpt.
Works by NISIOISIN published in the US: Zaregoto 1: Kubikiri Cycle, Zaregoto 2: Kubishime Romanticist, Death Note: Another Note, xxxHOLiC: Another HOLiC

Outlandos d’Amour
by: Kouhei Kadono
illustrations by: Ueda Hajime
Hmm…what to say about this one? It is really quite strange, and yet at the same time is incredibly intriguing; I had a hard time putting it down (I only did so because my stomach was growling, lol). There were so many layers to the story, at first when the scene switched I was slightly confused, but at once was able to figure out what had happened, but with more questions. Ueda Hajime’s drawings are…strange…to say the least. Honestly, they all looked basically the same to me.
On a random note, there was mention of the main character’s wife’s “poker face” which immediately made me listen to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face,” lol. :]
In this volume of FAUST, Del Rey claims to be publishing Kadono’s The Case of the Dragonslayer in spring 2009, but as far as I can tell, it’s been pushed back to at least June 2010. Also from Kadono are the Boogiepop novels, published in the US by Seven Seas.

Drill Hole in My Brain
story and illustrations by: Otaro Maijo
“Which made me a walking…snatch. By this point, my mental image of Makoto Muraki, boy savior of the world, was a junior high eighth-grade upside-down cunt. I rose from my seat with my glowing white flower clitoris exposed and got off the Shinkansen, bathing everone in the light of my beautiful clitoris.”
Um, yeah. That about describes this story. It is one of the weirdest (not to mention the most sexual) stories I’ve ever read. It was good,  but freakishly strange…I was very much left with a wtf feeling.

F-Sensei’s Pocket
by: Otsuichi
illustrations by: Takeshi Obata
This story was fantastic! I did notice a typo, but I think it was the first one in the whole volume, so I’m not really going to complain. The story revolves around a pair of girls who find Doraemon‘s 4th Dimensional Pocket and the troubles that eventually causes. It was a nice change of pace from some of the other stories that were decidely more dark; this story is just kind of feel-good, if that makes sense. It broke the 4th wall multiple times, which I found highly amusing, especially, “Just like the meat on a bone primitive people always eat in manga, they were fantasy glasses, comically deformed. And Takeshi Obata’s got to draw them for the illustrations, poor thing.” 
Speaking of Takeshi Obata, I love his artwork! : D There really aren’t too many illustrations in the story, but those that are there are fantastic.
On a random note, Viz is publishing Otsuichi’s Zoo this September. Tokyopop has already published Calling You and GOTH.

The Garden of Sinners: A View from Above (excerpt)
by: Kinoku Nasu
illustrations by: Takashi Takeuchi (TYPE-MOON)
Hm. This was certainly an interesting story. I’m still not quite sure what happened, actually. But considering this was only the first of 7 chapters, that probably has something to do with that. I did like it, even though I was left rather confused.
The story, as far as I can tell, is about the supernatural causes of the apparent suicides of 7 (8?) girls and the few people who are out to stop another one from happening. I followed the story until I got to the end, I was a little confused by the last section. According to Del Rey, an anime movie is going to be produced for each of the 7 chapters of the series, so maybe if I can see those I’ll be less confused.
Del Rey claims in the intro to this excerpt that they’ll be publishing both volumes of The Garden of Sinners starting this year, but I can’t find any more info on them. It looks as though they’ve been delayed or possibly cancelled.

H People: An Evolving World
by: Kozy Watanabe
illustrations by: TAGRO
A curious rendition of life from a hikikomori’s perspective. Not as humorous as the later Tatsuhiko Takimori’s Guru Guru Counseling Session, but still interesting.

Yabai de Show
by: Ryusei Seiryoin
Definitely the shortest prose piece (at only 2 pages of full text), there is nothing really note-worthy about it, but it’s interesting nonetheless.  It’s basically a conversation between two men about a picture (an actual photo that is shown in the volume) and how “bad” it is (bad in both the slang and normal sense).

Yûya Satô’s Counseling Session
by: Yûya Satô
illustrations by: Icco Sasai
An interesting spin on an advice column, it would seem here the author is asking for advice from the readers. Well to be truthful, he’s just spouting random amusing things in your face about his life; not in an annoying way, but actually in a very amusing way that made me laugh a lot while reading this. Again, not very long (but much longer than Yabai de Show), but still worth the time.

Tatsuhiko Takimoto’s Guru Guru Counseling Session
by: Tatsuhiko Takimoto
illustrations by: Chizu Hashii
Basically a conversation between the speaker and a figment of his imagination, this story covers the complexities of being a hikikomori and does so in great humor. I really enjoyed reading it, and the last line, “Pick yourself up and go out and find your destiny.” is great advice for anyone! Plus the art for this is by the Blood+ character designer, which makes it automatic win in my book. :]

Approaching Twenty Years of Otaku
story and illustrations by: Kaichiroō Morikawa
An interesting and short (4 pages) exposé on the word otaku and what it means in Japanese culture.

The Garden of Sinners: An Interview with Kinoku Nasu and Takashi Takeuchi
interview by: Katsushi Ota
LMAO! They mention Team America: World Police!
But really, this was super interesting! I love reading interviews with authors to see how they interpret the stories they’ve written, or in this case, the back-story to the story. It was also really interesting that the interviewer, who happens to be the Editor-in-chief of the original Japanese FAUST, was so interested in the story himself. He was actually the main reason the story is available from Kodansha. They also talk about how it’s going to published in English and they all seemed rather interested to see how people would interpret the story. : D

From Japan to the World, From the World to Japan
by: Yukari Shiina
ramblings: A very interesting article on the idea that Japan should be importing/licensing more outside comics. Shiina also claims that countries importing/licensing Japanese manga should start publishing more of their own style of comics/manga as that will improve the quality of the work. Here I’m very much going to have to disagree with her, based on Tokyopop…the only good thing they published from America was Dramacon (which is really quite good; the author’s newest work [Nightschool] is running in Yen Press now).

Part Two: Manga

by: take
As I mentioned before, this is fully in color, and it’s gorgeous!  Other than on the first page of the story, there are no words, so the pictures have to do all the talking, and they don’t just speak, they shout! The artist, take (yes with all lower-case letters), started as the artist for NISIOSIN’s Zaregoto series (also from Del Rey on their FAUST imprint) and has since branched out (including the cover of this volume of FAUST). His artwork is gorgeous and amazing, I kind of wish he had his own manga series, or at least would work with an author for a serial, so we could get more of his work. The story is about a boy who finds a mermaid, but since it’s so short, that’s all I can really say without ruining it, and it’s so cute, I really don’t want to do that.

Nikko Dance Party
This time, the artist/author is Taiwanese, which is an interesting change of pace. :] Again, this story is in full color and not very long. Honestly I didn’t particularly get the story in this one, but it’s so gorgeous I really can’t care. As they say in the author’s “about” section, he really is the “magician of light.”

Maple Tree Viewing
by: Moheji Yamasaki
This is definitely the most morbid of the four manga, but still gorgeous in its full-color glossy glory. The text in the story is apparently drawn from ancient Japanese poetry, which made it rather hard to translate, but Del Rey did a great job of making it understandable. The only thing I really don’t like about what Del Rey did here is that they didn’t get rid of the original Japanese text and instead put the English text randomly in the panels. It really doesn’t work and detracts from the art; I was rather dissapointed.

After School: 7th Class
story by: NISIOISIN
art by: Yun Kouga
This collaboration is fantastic! I’d never really seen any of Yun Kouga’s art, though I’d certainly heard of her. Now I’m rather curious about her other works, because her work is amazing! The main female, Snowdrop Buck Pinpointmind (what a name, eh???), is absolutely stunning and getting a real moe response from me! The other main character, Zail Fan Cidick (another novel name, isn’t it? :3 ), is not particularly striking, but in no way ugly, and is just as interesting a character as Snowdrop. Basically, Kouga’s art and NISIOISIN’s storytelling mesh perfectly into a fantastic one-shot.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 30, 2009 9:44 am

    lol this posts reminds me that I should definitely get around to finishing this volume… I only read F-sensei’s Pocket, lol. And it’ll probably be my favourite of all stories. (pretentious as this sounds since I haven’t actually read the others.) It’s just, it’s got DORAEMON. MY CHILDHOOD, REVISIONED WITH OBATA TAKESHI ART. *___________* The whole time I was reading that short story, I was giggling to myself in glee and childhood happy-land. >D

  2. March 30, 2009 3:05 pm

    I think Outlandos d’Amour and the HOLiC preview were my favorites, with F-Sensei’s Pocket being right next to them. : D

    I’ve never read/seen Doraemon, but I know who/what Doraemon is, so I just kind of imagined. But I still really enjoyed it, since Otsuichi did such a fantastic job! And of course Takeshi Obata’s art!! It’s glorious! You should check out Bakuman, if you haven’t already!

    You should definitely finish FAUST! :]

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