The influential sci-fi manga Silent Möbius is back in a new edition from UDON Entertainment, featuring “a new UDON translation, the restoration of the traditional right-to-left reading format, as well as new scans of every page taken directly from the original artwork.” UDON also plans to release a one-volume prequel and two volumes of short stories.
So, how does this refurbished classic hold up?
By Kia AsamiyaUDON Entertainment, 200 pp.Rating: Older Teen (16+)
In the year 2026, humanity is threatened by Lucifer Hawks, a race of other-dimensional monsters that now inhabits Earth. To combat this menace, the Attacked Mystification Police Department (or AMP) was created and is staffed by a team of capable women with a variety of skills, including a priestess, a psychic, a mechanic, a witch, and a cyborg. Against a backdrop of a polluted and ravaged Tokyo, they respond to the scene of Lucifer Hawk attacks and have jurisdiction anywhere they please.
The first chapter in this volume is the longest, introducing the characters and their world. The hotshot of AMP is Katsumi Liqueur, the daughter of a renowned magician, and when she is targeted by a Lucifer Hawk to be its next host, the rest of the team comes to her rescue. It’s an effective introduction, and also sets up what I assume will be the central mystery of the series: exactly what kind of involvement did Katsumi’s father have with the Lucifer Hawks?
Each of the two subsequent chapters focuses on a different member of AMP. Chapter two features Nami, the priestess who must prove her worthiness as heir to a powerful spiritual family by single-handedly battling a bunch of monsters, and chapter three stars Kiddy, the extremely strong team member who has unfinished business with a serial killer who dismembers his victims with wire. I actually begrudge the opening chapter some of its length, because just when Kiddy’s story is getting really interesting, it’s “to be continued.”
So far, the plot is definitely intriguing; somehow the experience of reading the manga felt like I was watching a fansubbed OVA from the ’90s, which is actually a compliment. UDON’s new edition features a nice color illustration gallery in the front of the volume and the sound effects are translated, with the original katakana sometimes left intact, sometimes not. The translation reads smoothly, but one thing I did notice is the tendency of characters to say “grr” a lot. It doesn’t happen on every page or anything, but it’s often enough to be noticeable. Here are a few examples, presented in ascending order of intensity.
Kiddy: “Now beat it, and don’t ever show your face around here again!!”Random Dude: “Grr”
A Lucifer Hawk: *is menacing*Katsumi, injured: “Grrrrrr”
Chief: “No, Kiddy! Don’t use the graviton. You would be risking Katsumi’s life.”Kiddy: “Grrr!!”
And my personal favorite:
A Lucifer Hawk: “That is why I have taken her… and her blood.”Kiddy: “Grr!!”Chief: “Grr!!”
Asamiya’s art boasts detailed backgrounds, something I’m always a big fan of, and effectively uses repeated panels of the endless acid rain falling upon Tokyo’s ruined skyscrapers to create atmosphere. I like the way Ken Haley phrased it in his Manga Recon review:
“Visually the book looks a bit dated but I didn’t find that to be a bad thing. The hair, costumes, and depiction of the city definitely hearken back to the cyberpunk cityscapes of ’80s and ’90s pop culture, with huge glistening towers of steel and glass and crumbling sections of the city that are all but abandoned and forgotten.”
Because AMP is an all-female team and this is a shounen manga, it’d be asking too much to expect that there be no fan service at all, but the depictions of characters in their underwear or undergoing nude cleansing rituals are few and far between and are in no way trashy or detrimental to the story as a whole.
Ultimately, I had a good time reading Silent Möbius. Its cliffhanger ending ensures that I will be reading volume two and probably more besides.
Volume one of Silent Möbius: Complete Edition is available now.
Review copy provided by the publisher.