Blade of the Immortal has always looked too violent for me, so I’ve never looked into it — though I can appreciate the artistic talent of the creator.
Ohikkoshi, published by Dark Horse, is a collection of three comic short stories set in the contemporary world. The title story is about a collection of college-age ne’er do-wells drinking, forming bands, encountering Italian assassins, and missing connections when it comes to love.
Ohikkoshi’s concerts come complete with absurdist lyrics (one song, “Banana Spirit” is either a wonderfully absurd pun, or a mistake in translation for “Banana Split”) — probably the former, because a few pages before one of the characters is drunkenly musing about misheard oddities of the English language. Nothing happens. People live their lives, have little joys and little disappointments. I’d happily follow a series about the crew of nebbishes that populate Ohikkoshi.
The second major story, Luncheon of Tears Diary, is the story of a young manga-ka who makes the mistake of taking the advice of her lecherous editor. The resulting changes in her popular series drive away her existing fans without attracting the fans the changes were aimed at. Her popularity plummets, and her series is cancelled. Despondent, unemployed, she has a series of increasingly over-the-top misadventures, alternating between higher peaks and deeper lows, until she finally returns to manga, capturing her experiences in a prize-winning manga series.
The final story, Kyoto super barhopping journal — bloodbath at Midorogaike tells of a tour of Kyoto, guided by natives with a taste for good bars and haunted locations.
The comedy comes from good dialogue — one character is fond of teasing jokes (and good at them), violations of the fourth wall (at one point a manga editor tosses a manuscript aside saying, “It stinks — those historical samurai mangaka just can’t do comedy”).
Sometimes it’s nice to read manga that’s not about chuunibyou teens and their super-powered adventures. Reading this, it makes me wish Dark Horse would pick up Kei Toume’s Sing Yesterday for Me.