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Wild Adapter, vol. 4 (Kazuya Minekura)

I guess Wild Adapter is right on schedule for a manga series ... vol. 4 is about when both Saiyuki and Samurai Deeper Kyo really got going.

When Kubota is running an errand for the Chinese herb doctor, Kou, he ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and is taken into police custody on suspicion of involvement in a grave crime with some peripheral connection to the Wild Adapter drug situation. Meanwhile, Tokito, whom Kubota had warned away from their apartment, is roaming homeless, desperately searching for clues about what happened to his only friend. While Kubota maintains a stubborn silence, Tokito manages to force himself to seek help from Kou and from reporter Takizawa Ryouji, as well as from a mysterious young woman with a long-ago connection to Kubota.

The overall plot of the series isn't any more coherent at this point, but the relationships are starting to gel. Kou and Takizawa both seem to be emerging as proper parts of an ensemble cast, and Kubo and Tokito's partnership is becoming both stronger and more clear. There are some very affecting scenes in this one, especially near the end.


Wild Adapter, vol. 4 (review)

Anna is rather nice as a character, but I can't tell whether she's actually going to become part of the ensemble cast or is being set up for a tragic end. I like her reactions to Tokito. In fact, many of the interactions in this volume are beautifully realistic in the telegraphic brevity of what's spoken, and the way a good deal of the communication is by nonverbal means: gestures, glances, body posture. I also loved Tokito's bold declaration of what he and Kubo mean to each other: " Kubo-chan belongs to Kubo-chan. But everything that belongs to Kubo-chan also belongs to me."

I like Kou and Taki more each time I see them. I hope I'm right, that they're becoming proper characters - we'll know if and when they start having scenes on their own, I suppose. Taki has some Gojyo in him, in his kindness and generosity, and in his social skills. I love when he comforts Tokito: "Do you really think Kubochi would kick you out for no reason?" and Tokito says "You're actually a good person," and Taki goes "Heh. What the hell's that supposed to mean?" Kou is starting to show some subtle emotion behind his impassive exterior - the way he's staring down at the counter as he says to Tokito "He's a very loyal man, our Kubota," silently shrieks "Guilt!" to me.

And the scene near the end really gets me, where the newly-released Kubota's reaction to Tokito's excited relief is simply to lean his head on his friend's shoulder - not holding him with his arms, nothing so blatant. It's as though he's finally able to give in to all the weariness and misery that he's accumulated during his several days of imprisonment, and just can't stand upright anymore now that Tokito's there to catch him when he falls.

The little afterward was kind of a shocker ... it looked really sweet until the last three frames.

Question for sanada: Takizawa uses the same kind of goofy nicknames that Makino in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service uses - Kubochi for Kubota, just like Numacchi for Numata. In Japanese, does he use Japanese teenager slang, like I think you once told me Gojyo does?

• Oyceter's writeup of this


( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
Mar. 5th, 2008 03:58 am (UTC)
"Takizawa uses the same kind of goofy nicknames that Makino in Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service uses - Kubochi for Kubota, just like Numacchi for Numata. In Japanese, does he use Japanese teenager slang, like I think you once told me Gojyo does?"

Not Sanada(obviously), but I see a lot of characters do that...to serious, high strung characters to tease them. I think it's cutesy nicknames to pester someone you like(friendship, romantically, whatever..)

(I, ah, could just be very bored at work and leaving an inane comment to avoid insanity...)

Edited at 2008-03-05 04:00 am (UTC)
Mar. 5th, 2008 04:24 am (UTC)

Yeah, but I'm actually asking a more picky question than that ... she was telling me some fascinating things about how exactly each of the characters talk (only Hakkai speaks proper educated Japanese, for example), and I was wondering whether Takizawa's speech patterns were like Gojyo's at all, beyond what was likely to show up in translation.

Mar. 5th, 2008 04:25 am (UTC)
And this is why we wish all US manga publishers followed Del Rey's example.
Mar. 5th, 2008 03:22 pm (UTC)
Hrm, I think the only Del Rey title I have right now is the first book of Le Chevalier d'Eon, although I'll definitely be picking up Mushi-shi sooner or later...I take it they're pretty good about including cultural/linguistic notes?

Dark Horse has been pretty good about that from what I've seen, at least in their Kazuo Koike historical series. Now if only they'd stop flipping the art...
Mar. 5th, 2008 03:38 pm (UTC)
I think the only book DH still flips is Blade of the Immortal.

And yeah, Del Rey is pretty good on the cultural notes. (And you should also read xXxHolic)
Mar. 5th, 2008 06:57 pm (UTC)
Del Rey
ES (Eternal Sabbath) is is a fantastic, complex psychological sf thriller about a woman scientist and creepy genetically engineered psychics. I highly recommend it, along with Mushishi.

Xxxholic and Tsubasa are also excellent if you can get past the slow starts (first two volumes for the former, first... er... nine for the latter). And I recently reviewed and recced Pumpkin Scissors.
Mar. 6th, 2008 06:44 pm (UTC)
Re: Del Rey

I'll have to remember ES next time I'm looking for a new series to start!

Mar. 6th, 2008 05:51 pm (UTC)

The cultural notes in xxxHolic and Mushishi are both very good, but they are mostly about the legends or customs, and very little (if anything) about the nuances of the original Japanese language used in the manga, aside from some general notes about honorifics etc.

Mar. 6th, 2008 03:59 am (UTC)

Hmm? Del Ray has some good cultural notes, but not so much this kind of thing. In fact, even the notes for Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service, which are the most detailed I've seen, don't seem to get down to that level.

Mar. 5th, 2008 06:47 am (UTC)
Ha! I'd be interested to hear what other people say about that myself. Haven't read WA in Japanese but when I try to read Saiyuki raw, Gojyo's talk is all over the place with his na and nee and yos, yet Hakkai is easy to translate with his nice polite Japanese. I've heard tell of past discussions about this-- do you happen to know where anyone might have meta'ed about it, publicly? :)
Mar. 6th, 2008 03:08 pm (UTC)

I could wear that I saw some discussion of it online here at LJ, but I'm not finding much. There's this statement from rachelmanija in coffeeandink's LJ, part of a general discussion about interpreting manga:

Also, in a lot of manga with big ensemble casts (which is a lot of manga) a lot of the characters will use the same forms, like in Saiyuki, if I recall correctly, you always know when Hakkai's speaking because he's the only one who uses "boku." Theoretically, that only helps with Hakkai-and-someone-else, but in fact Saiyuki is a bad example because those guys all have really distinct speech patterns.

And oyceter discussed the Gaiden characters' speech.

Those are indeed the folks whom I would expect to be writing on the topic, but that's all I could find. I actually dug up my e-mail from sanada last night, but it was getting too late for me to write coherently (witness the fact that I sent the paragraph where she talks about the topic to my account here ... but it's not in my e-mail this morning. Wonder who got it?). At least now I know when we were discussing this (almost exactly a year ago, when I was first reading Saiyuki - it was my second manga ever!).

Mar. 6th, 2008 08:12 pm (UTC)
Ahhh, thank you so much! I appreciate you digging around for me. :) The Gaiden one was fascinating in particular-- Yeah, it seems in Gaiden (I've only got one volume purchased in Japanese) they talk very the same as they do in Saiyuki, and I thought they'd be more cultured, being gods and all. :)
Mar. 6th, 2008 10:47 pm (UTC)

Ah, here we go! It had a naughty word in it, so the spam filter nabbed it!

What sanada told me back last year was:

Gojyo is so funny in Japanese! He talks in the same casual, masculine speech that someone like Yuan would ... but he tends to use the latest slang (like a high school girl ...) which irritates Sanzo. It's even more of a running gag in the anime, where Gojyo sometimes uses "yabe" (meaning "bad") to mean "good." And sometimes the crazy stuff he comes up with when arguing with Goku is total nonsense. He also tends to use "cho" as an intensifier, like when he's talking about Chin Yisou and says "choooo kirai" which is like "I hate that guy sooooo much" and Sanzo says "cho" sounds girly and he should use "daikirai", which is more like "I fucking hate that guy." But Gojyo keeps using trendy-sounding intensifiers like "cho" and "zenzen" anyway, like some teenage airhead ... .

(Yuan is a character from Samurai Deeper Kyo (in this picture, he's the guy with the white hair and the blindfold), which was my first manga, and how I met sanada, who was doing fan translations of the Japanese issues. He's a very tough, athletic martial artist with some scary mystical abilities, and is one of the bad guys, at least for the moment ... .)

Mar. 6th, 2008 11:13 pm (UTC)
Bwah! And of course Gojyo would never dream of amping up that sort of affectation just because it pisses Sanzo off... *giggles*

You can see the "yabe" bit in action in this Urasai clip from Reload: Urasai 3: Harumaki.
Mar. 7th, 2008 12:36 am (UTC)
Ahhh exactly! Thank you so much for sharing that. I'd wondered about his speech patterns, if he was just drawing out all his vowels like a drawl or if it was colloquial or what.

And that's funny, my Japanese teacher corrected me in class the other night when I used "zenzen" (never, not at all) in a sentence; she said it needed to be softened. (I had tried to say "I never go to Starbucks.")

Y'know, SDK is one of those things I keep thinking I should check out. Looks cool, anyway, especially in that pic!

Mar. 7th, 2008 06:00 pm (UTC)

SDK is a very shounen manga - for example, there are swordfights that go on for multiple issues, with large chunks of the landscape being apparently irretrievably devastated as a result (telophase was wondering how, since everyone says that Kyo just isn't as powerful as he was four years ago, why all of Japan didn't turn into scorched barren earth four years ago). But there's also a beautifully complicated plot that takes ages to unfold, and if the level of character angst isn't quite on the Saiyuki level, it's still a lot more intense than what's suffered by characters in, say, Bleach.

The mangaka, Akimine Kamijyo, does lovely color artwork - meganbmoore has a gallery of scans of covers and pages from calendars and so on. Her black-and-white work is kind of busy and crowded - I'm used to it, but looking back, it's amazing that I took to manga so well with this as my first series! (The example is from the Japanese edition of vol. 21 ... the two antagonists are Shinrei - long tabard and black gloves and Hotaru - jam-length pants and short kimono jacket ... and there's nothing much else I can say about the scene that wouldn't be a spoiler - oh, Hotaru is also the other guy in that pic I showed you for Yuan.)

The first couple of volumes of SDK are utter drek. rachelmanija has done the world a great service by summarizing them, so you can skip right to vol. 3, which starts out just as badly but improves considerably by the end. (That post at rachel's also has some good general discussion about the series.)

And now I'll stop fan-girling about SDK, unless there's something else you want to know!

Mar. 7th, 2008 06:46 pm (UTC)
Hey, thanks again! I added the summary to the memories so if I pick it up I can start with the good stuff (can always go back and buy them if I end up feeling completist about it). Pretty pictures, but they all look so angry. ;) O'course, angry characters aren't bad, else I wouldn't like WK or Saiyuki.

Talk about busy manga; someone just sent me Rurouni Kenshin #1 (I'd only seen the anime) and the artwork is heavy compared to some of the more recent stuff I've seen.
Mar. 7th, 2008 06:56 pm (UTC)
If you want busy-and-cluttered, I've seen very few manga that come close to the insane level of fussily busy, detailed backgrounds Geof Darrow is prone to...
Mar. 7th, 2008 07:00 pm (UTC)
What did he do-- Did he do Animal Man for a while? Or was it something more indie? Shoot, I used to work in a comic store, I feel so out-of-it.
Mar. 8th, 2008 12:24 am (UTC)
Mostly Dark Horse and indie stuff except for some Vertigo cover work. His highest profile books were probably the ones with Frank Miller, Hard Boiled and Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot; he's also done cover art for titles like Concrete and Transmetropolitan, and he's real tight with crime writer Andrew Vachss, did cover art and a lot of interior work for Vachss' Hard Looks and Another Chance to Get It Right. He also did design work for the Matrix films, which are full of more of that OCD-cluttered-gritty Darrow aesthetic.

There's some samples of his stuff here, see if the style looks familiar; that just barely hints at how busy his panels can get at his craziest. Hard Boiled probably is the most extreme case I've seen, though I haven't really followed all of his titles. If you read Transmet, Darick Robertson's cluttered streetscapes on that book are the one other thing I can think of in Western comics that compares to Darrow for insanely busy panels.
Mar. 8th, 2008 12:38 am (UTC)
Ahhh! Concrete and Big Guy and Rusty-- that's what I was thinking of! I have those somewhere on my bookshelves at home. Thank you. :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 02:54 pm (UTC)

Yeah, someone else (meganbmoore?) was recommending Rurouni to me. I have what I admit is a totally silly grudge against it because some people assumed that SDK was a ripoff of it merely because (a) it featured samurai and (b) a main character has a cross-shaped scar.

Well, with most of the SDK guys, it's like the high school sports team pictures: the guys wanna look tough, so - no smiles! (This despite the fact that SDK has an older cast than most: Onime-no-Kyo is 27, I think, and Yukimura and Bontenmaru are in their upper 30s.) But Sanada Yukimura will never let you down for a smile: party animal mode, dreaming up mischief mode, flirting with Kyo mode (and overjoyed mode in my icon).

Mar. 11th, 2008 03:20 pm (UTC)
dreaming up mischief mode -- that one is stunningly beautiful! I love the colors, the lines. Sigh. What lovely art.

And the cast is that much older, you say? Then I'll definitely have to check it out. So much anime/manga I read the backs of at the store begins with, "15-year-old high school student (insert name here) is surprised to find out..." It's hard for me to identify sometimes. I love Ranma 1/2 but that has nostalgia value (plus it's freakin' funny).

And those grudges-- ha, we all get them! Hell, I do. And my roommate swears she's open-minded and but I know she hates Cowboy Bebop only because I forced her to watch an episode just to see how derivative one of her favorite shows (Firefly, a decent show in its own right) was of CB. Heh heh. She did have to admit the similarities. :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 03:55 pm (UTC)

The SDK cast has a wide range of ages ... you start out with Yuya (blond girl in the picture you liked, which is from the cover of the artbook, and in this icon), who is only 16, and Kyoushirou, who is 20 or so. But other characters range up into their 30s, like the two I mentioned and Fubuki and Hishigi, who are in the same sort of "noble enemy" category as the Kougaigi tachi in Saiyuki (although Fubuki is very scary - rather like GK, except that you don't have the feeling that he's completely morally bankrupt).

(And then there's Sarutobi Sasuke, who's only 12. But Kamijyo is pretty good at making him un-cute - Yukimura's the only who keeps insisting he is cute.)

Mar. 7th, 2008 12:42 am (UTC)
Also, this page isn't strictly focused on Saiyuki, but it nonetheless gives many examples of the guys' use of pronouns and honorifics, with explanations of just how formal-to-casual or polite-to-rude their speech patterns are.
Mar. 7th, 2008 12:55 am (UTC)
That's a nice layout-- thanks for the link! Although I'd understood that anta was more of a girly thing to say-- guess not! :)
Mar. 7th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Maybe you were thinking of the non-contraction "anata" form instead? Shortened to "anta" all the references I've seen claim it's a unisex form and casual to the point of being potentially rude; where the full form "anata" is the usual female "you", or the formal-and-polite male "you"...so that might seem a bit girly by association since it's used by women all the time, and isn't one of the strictly male pronouns...
Mar. 7th, 2008 05:13 am (UTC)
Naw, I guess I'd just seen "anta" as a casual version used by a female before, and it stuck in my brain that way. :)
Mar. 11th, 2008 03:23 pm (UTC)
You're absolutely right, the guys do use "anta" in the books (she said after a re-read). I was probably thinking of the shortened "ashita." That's the girly way of referring to oneself, isn't it?
Mar. 7th, 2008 05:09 pm (UTC)

>> nice layout <<

Methinks somebody actually writes HTML code and isn't afraid of the ROWSPAN attribute for table cells ...

Using rowspan=3!
(row-1, cell-1)
(row-1, cell-2) (row-1, cell-3)
(row-2, cell-2) (row-2, cell-3)
(row-3, cell-2) (row-3, cell-3)


Mar. 7th, 2008 05:16 pm (UTC)

You realize that now I actually have to take that page and go through ranith's writeup on the mahjong game, which has the transliterated Japanese, and observe who uses what when, don't you?

SDK actually has, as an extra in one of the tankoubon volumes, a lovely little table in English that, similarly, shows what each character of the main calls him/herself and the others - a mixture of pronouns and names, with or without honorifics. Kyo of course uses ore and possibly ore-sama - the Egnlish same "me-sama" - because he's just that much of an egotistical badass. And I was thrilled when I figured out, looking at a scan of one of the original Japanese pages, that when the English translations have him saying "You bastard!" (which is pretty often ...), he's saying Temee!

Mar. 7th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC)
Gojyo of course also uses ore-sama at times, which made me giggle to see that Toki does it too; I need to sit down and watch some of the Executive Committee anime to see if the high-school version of Toki is just as conceited, or if it's only WA-Toki doing that...
Mar. 7th, 2008 06:03 pm (UTC)

(Just looking at my typos in that last post - OMG, I need to get more sleep!)

I'm really confused about why Tokito would do that - he doesn't know who he is or anything, and he seems really lost a good deal of the time.

Mar. 7th, 2008 06:24 pm (UTC)
I can kind of see it, actually -- for all that he's so lost in ways, he's very very brusque and the use of ore-sama wouldn't feel so out of place with the rather aggressive verbal posturing he tends to do. He's lost, but like the sort of stray pup that growls and hackles at you, not the kind that cringes and whines. (As for Executive Committee, that's just...odd. Have you seen it at all? It's the one where versions of Toki and Kubo are the cocky, idolized BMOC student council types...)
Mar. 11th, 2008 07:21 pm (UTC)

I think sanada must have explained about Executive Committee, because I've definitely heard about that. I think when I was looking online for more Saiyuki art, I found pix from that and from Bus Gamer, and asked what they were from.

Yeah, I guess in that context I can see Tokito saying that. Like with his answer to Anna about his relationship to Kubota - maybe he used it (or whatever the proper grammatical equivalent was) then. The mystery of who he is vaguely reminds me of the question of where Onime-no-Kyo came from in SDK ... which is, BTW, never completely solved.

Mar. 7th, 2008 06:06 pm (UTC)

(Oh - btw - check out the story "A Novel Distraction" that was just posted to the Saiyuki comm ... remember what we were speculating about Gojyo's daytime TV habits? That story fits right in!)

Mar. 5th, 2008 03:16 pm (UTC)
I have heard folks mentioning that WA in general is full of yakuza slang (surprise surprise), and that Sekiya Jun in particular uses campy, feminized onee kotoba speech patterns...need to go reread his bits as I can't remember if the camp came through in English! But I'd love to know more about how the leads here are speaking, particularly Kubo and whether his word use is more Hakkai-formal or Sanzo-rough...
Mar. 5th, 2008 06:38 am (UTC)
Oh, cool, so WA #4 does pick up? I was wondering, because I read 1-3 and was a little "eh" at the end of them, and felt a little guilty for it. I'm not sure I like Kubota, though he's intriguing at least, and Tokito I can hardly figure out either. (I was a good girl and didn't read your spoilers, but would probably go ahead and give it a further try myself if consensus is it's good.)
Mar. 6th, 2008 02:26 pm (UTC)

It certainly picks up emotionally, which is one of the keys to making Cho-neechan happy. It's true that Tokito and Kubota are enigmas, but I think this volume helps explain something of how they tick, and we also get some more of Kubota's background.

I can certainly remember being somewhat bemused by Saiyuki until the Hakkai angst-fest started with the Chin Yisou arc. I think WA is unfolding gradually in a similar way. She seems to like to present her characters' situations before she gets to their motivations, histories, and internal processes.

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