old mangas

2 Oct 2008 08:28 pm
salinea: (Default)
Back home from my parents'. New year feasting went well. There were some interesting discussions.

While at was at my parents', I took advantage of my old library to re-read two manga series : Please Save My Earth and RG Veda.

Please Save My Earth is a late 80's shoujo manga involving a cast of seven high school characters realising that they are all the reincarnation of a group of aliens who used to study the Earth from a post of observation set on the moon. The past lives set of characters have convoluted and passionate relationships involving triangles, rivalry-friendship and one-sided loves which the real time sets of characters struggle with as they progressively remember them (if you think being a teenager wasn't confusing enough by itself, try being a young guy whose past lives was a woman who was in love with the guy whose current life is your male best friend) ; and to complicate matters one of them is reincarnated in a much younger 8 year boy, Ring, who seems to have a plot involving using the Tokyo Tower (what else? :) to contact the observation base still existing on the moon, and blackmailing/threatening/manipulating various people in order to do so.
PSME mostly focus on people's relationships, with a great flair for both the (melo)dramatic, the subtle and the heartbreaking. It's also got Psi-powers-based fighting scenes; volumes-spanning flashbacks, and a plot which ends up not being much at the end.
It's an old school manga, and it's got quite the silly idiosyncrasies. Our main female character, Alice, whom I adore nonetheless, is sadly not very proactive on the plot. And there's a face-palming inducing rape story which makes me ashamed of enjoying the male character involved anyway. The art hasn't always aged well (to say the least), and some cultural references haven't either (random saint seya references FTW!); and there's this hilarious use of dinosaurs as a motif... At the same time it manages juggling with an impressively large cast of characters (both lives of characters + secondary characters they interact with + other people getting involved in Ring's plot) and two timelines quite dexterously and continues being riveting and intense through a relatively (for a shoujo) long run of 21 volumes. I'm particularly fond of the characterisation - especially Alice and Ring and their past lives; but many other characters like Haruhiko, Tamura, Mikuro, Issei...
PSME was one of the first epic contemporary fantasy shoujo series I read some ten years ago along with Ayashi no Ceres and Basara, and one of my favourite ones. Upon re-read, despite all the silliness and idiosyncrasies; it still rings emotionally true to me, pushing the right buttons, and being a good story overall.

RG Veda is CLAMP's first professional manga, featuring a Hindu mythology inspired fantasy world where the rule of the Heaven has been overturned when Taishaku-Ten murdered the Emperor and the warrior god Ashura-Ou some 300 years ago; and where a prophecy about the being the destroyer of Heavens spurs Yasha-Ou, a young guardian god to find and protect Ashura, the child of Ashura-Ou, and revolt against Taishaku-Ten. Progressively, and in accordance with that prophecy, he is joined by several other gods who have their own reason to fight Taishaku-Ten.
RV Vega shows its age in its style of lavish, baroque, kinda of over the top art; yet i cannot help but find it gorgeous. The characters are very intriguing, likeable and amusing - I think they don't have quite the finesse or depth of characterisation that other CLAMP works show; but are still very appealing nevertheless. Thematically and relationship-wise this is definitely CLAMP's testing ground, showing their much-loved themes of fate, duality, the ties between people, eros/thanatos and strength. It is very much a tragedy, saved from melodrama only by the cheerfulness and grace typical of CLAMP characters. In terms of pacing it is slightly uneven, with several chapters without very much happening to Yasha, Ashura and co.
RG Veda is a manga I like comparing to X, for obviously thematic parallels : they're both tales of the prophecy of a world ending, except one's set in our modern world and the other in a fantasy world. The characters of Yasha and Ashura always reminded me a lot of Fuuma and Kamui; to which I sometimes like adding a parallel between Arashi and Karura. Upon reread, I was also struck with some parallels with latter arcs of Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicles, and not only the parts about Fay and Ceres.
RG Veda was the first CLAMP I read which I really fell in love with - I had read several manga by them before (suki dakara suki, wish, 20 masks please, Magic Knight Rayearth and of course Card Captor Sakura), by impressions ranged from "meh" to "cute but not entrancing"; so along with Tokyo Babylon and X which I read a couple of months after RG Veda, it's one of the work responsible for my fangirlism of CLAMP overall. Upon reread I find it more uneven, but I still love it, and find myself extremely amused, especially at characters like Kendappa, or the villains like Shashi and Taishaku-Ten (Shashi is hilarious because she's so unredeemable, ruthlessly, unabashedly evil and power hungry and i guess the fact that she's easy on the eyes also help). Kujaku's still my favourite character, utterly adorable and cheerfully/teasingly mysterious, and the one I find the most heartbreaking. Kendappa/Souma's love story is still my favourite couple (they're also, sadly, CLAMP's only two sided femslash romance featured as prominently and as canonically). Ashura himself is adorable, and so is Yasha when he interacts with Ashura.

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