Sunday, 22 February 2015

An apocalyptic angel epidemic in Satoshi Kon and Mamorou Oshii's Seraphim [preview]

March will see the release of 2 books I'm really looking forward to (and the two first entries on my 'most anticipated of 2015' list): Last Man and Seraphim. Comic releases, as you know, are a bit all over the place, and I was thrilled to see copies of the former in the comic book store last Thursday. First Second have published it in a really nice size -6 x 8 1/2- same dimensions as Paul Pope's Battling Boy, but keep in mind that this is a shounen manga style series, so that's actually a slightly larger format than typical. I haven't read it yet, but honestly, seeing it in the shop and flicking through it- it just looks so, so good, a lot of fun.

Meanwhile, it does so happen that comic book stores will get in books earlier than actually projected via release dates- I know mine is slated to have Satoshi Kon's and Mamorou Oshii's Seraphim in this week. Lon has a string of posthumous books due for publication this year: there was Opus in January, Seraphim now, Dream Fossil: The Complete Stories of Satoshi Kon from Vertical in May, and an art book, Art of Satohsi Kon, also due from Dark Horse in August. I seem to think there may be one more I'm missing, but perhaps not. Seraphim, or Seraphim: 266613336 Wings to use its fill title, was penned by Ghost in the Shell director, Mamoru Oshii and illustrated by Kon, was originally (I believe) serialised in Tokuma Shoten's Animage magazine from 1995-96, and then collected in a complete, single volume edition in 2010. This is it's first English language translation. Set in a future Earth plagued by "tenshi-byō" (angel disease), a pandemic that induces apocalyptic visions in the afflicted, even as it ossifies their bodies into dead, seraphic forms. A young girl named Sera, and three men embark on a journey to solve the mystery of the strange fatal illness which is decimating the population. 

It's a strange hook to have, but as much I like Kon's Otomo-esqe art, I'm also intrigued by the angel angle here (also presuming at some point we get to see some angels from some excerpts I've seen whilst researching), the idea of these immensely powerful beings and the various interpretations you could have of them- I always liked the physical representation of Michael and the way he was depicted in Mike Carey and Peter Gross' Lucifer series initially-  he had the whole standard white, flowing blonde hair, blue eyes thing going on, but seeing him as this massive, vast being chained up deep below in a subterranean dungeon was pretty impactful. I liked Duma too, but that was more a personality appreciation: he never spoke and he still managed to be a boss. It reminds me of the mythology of mermaids, and how they're always depicted as female and relatively human sized: top half woman, bottom half fish tail, and I wish people played around with that portrayal more. Strangely enough, I think one of the first books I read in which a mermaid was represented as more beast-like and being huge in size was Satoshi Kon's Tropic of the Sea.

To get back on track, and address the purpose of the article in the very last line by which the reader's lost  interest, here's a 9-page preview from Seraphim (in shops February 25th):

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