"Cloverfield" Manga Offers More Clues, Questions

Anticipation has reached monstrous levels for "Cloverfield," the new film debuting this Friday from producer J.J. Abrams ("Star Trek," "Lost") that, based on the advertising material seen thus far, appears to feature a giant monster wreaking havoc in the Big Apple, in the grand tradition of classic monster movies like "Godzilla."

The viral marketing campaign for the film includes numerous websites and blogs, each giving only the smallest clues as to the secrets of the film. Now, CBR has found another piece of the puzzle of "Cloverfield" -- a tie-in manga (click on Open to begin reading).

As seen in the "Cloverfield" trailers, a character called Rob is set to leave New York City for a new job in Tokyo, and is celebrating his departure with friends when the "Cloverfield" monster first attacks.  In a blog posting, Rob revealed he'd be working for Slusho! Brand "happy drink." It's later revealed on Rob's blog that Slusho is owned by Tagruato, a giant oil conglomerate.  What connection Tagruato has to the giant monster or the attack on New York City is unknown and likely to be revealed in the film, but it was the Tagruato brand-name and logo that caught our eye.

After consulting with Cloverfield experts, we soon found ourselves navigating the website of Kadokawa --a major manga publisher in Japan, known for books like "Sgt. Frog," "X/1999," "Cowboy Bebop" and others, as well as the leading manga magazine "Newtype"-- where we discovered a manga featuring a boat with the Tagruato logo plastered on the side. This certainly piqued our interest, but as we here at CBR don't speak or read Japanese, we enlisted the aid of some people who do, Audrey Shiomi and Justin Clemons, who helped decipher the 22-page comic.

According to the Kadokawa website, the "Cloverfield" comic is an online exclusive, and it may be a Japan-exclusive as well.  Details aren't completely clear, but here is what we know: 

The credits page of the comic includes the following….

Produced by JJ Abrams, Bryan Burk; Story Editor: David Baronoff; Writers David Baronoff, Matthew Pitts, Nicole Phillips; Story by David Baronoff, Matthew Pitts, Nicole Phillips

Baronoff is credited on Internet Movie Database as the writer of "Cloverfield."  The illustrator of the "Cloverfield" manga is Yoshiki Togawa, who when Googled did not generate any hits.

The manga, called Cloverfield: Kishin, appears to be the first of a four part-series, the first chapter of which went online January 11, with the second chapter expected sometime in February. 

The comic opens with the caption, What was the reason I was born? We then see a teenage boy identified as Aiba getting beaten up in a public restroom. One of the bullies tells Aiba not to touch him, What if I get sick from you? A teen girl comes to his rescue just as some kind of disaster alarm sounds. A voice on a public address system indicates the alarm was just a drill, which prompts the bullies to return to tormenting Aiba.

We're then introduced to a character who works on a ship owned by Tagruato. This character shows other members of the crew pictures of his pregnant wife on his cell phone, and says he's eager to finish the voyage so he can return to his wife and unborn child.

The story then turns back to Aiba, who has been locked in a storage room or possibly a tsunami bunker. In the closet, Aiba takes out a picture of his mother, prompting a flashback in which we learn the kid's had a history of being bullied, with young boys telling him that his mother was strange. In the flashback, Aiba's mother tells him that she doesn't care what anyone thinks of her as long as her son believes in her. We then learn his mother died and that Aiba wished he'd died with her.  In the flashback he is called "Kishin," which we believe is Aiba's first name. 

It's the final page of this first chapter that is the real eye-catcher, depicting some sort of giant beast chained beneath a tarp and being dragged by the Tagruato boat. The beast appears to be emerging from the water as Kishin continues his meltdown in the locked room.

Essentially, there is some kind of connection implied between Kishin, his mother and the beast.

How this exactly connects to the "Cloverfield" movie is unclear.  Is this a prequel?  A continuation of the film?  Some other side-story that fleshes out the Tagruato story?  Those questions remain unanswered at the moment.

If you'd like to help translate the comic panel-by-panel and help non-Japanese readers understand what's happening, please drop CBR an email.

Now discuss this story in CBR's TV/Film forum.

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