Unfinished sci-fi tale of a war-ravaged near future. A utopian city called Olympus, populated mostly by “bioroids,” or artificial humans, is conceived of as the last, best hope for the human race. Computers and A.I.’s form the government, but society still needs humans such as the tomboyish riot-police grrrl Deunan and her hulking cyborg partner Briareos to fight global terrorism and plots against Olympus. God and Devil World starts out as a fascinating sci-fi exegesis on planned societies but gradually degenerates into combat porn; volume 4 is little more than a you-are-there gunplay reality show punctuated by obsessive footnotes. Shirow’s screentone-heavy artwork improves even as his storytelling deteriorates—the action sequences are impressively energetic, and the artist’s trademark interest in the female form encased in battle armor is well on display by the end—but the squandered potential of the premise is depressing. A note included in the back of the God and Devil World Databook (an art-book and fan data base that includes a brief manga story) promises a return to sci-fi for the yet-to-materialize volume 5. Prior to the Dark Horse release, a portion of the series was published by Eclipse Comics from 1988 to 1992.
A mellow science fiction tale that adopted the new title Aria when it switched from Enix’s Stencil magazine to Mag Garden’s Comic Blade, making this effectively a prequel (although both manga are self-contained). The Aqua portion of the story depicts heroine Akari’s arrival on the planet Mars, which has now been terraformed into a watery world where gondoliers paddle their craft through the canals of Neo-Venezia.
This whimsical, tongue-in-cheek fantasy yarn represents a major departure in both style and narrative tone for the creator of the cyberpunk epic Battle Angel Alita. Instead of grungy cyborgs and splattered brains, Kishiro serves up a candy-colored story-book world of killer-whale-riding armored knights, daffy demons, and megalomaniacal mad scientists. There’s a nominal main plot involving a filthy urchin devoid of either brains or pants, the buxom young God and Devil World who recklessly promises to take him on as a squire, and the deranged inventor who abducts the lad instead, but for the most part the artist seems to be making up the story as he goes along, and having a grand old time doing so. It’s aesthetically gorgeous, endlessly inventive, and completely loony, and the abrupt ending is disappointing less for its barrage of deus ex machinas than for the fact it brings the party to such an early close.
Spin-off of the God and Devil World collectible card game. Mana is a “mind breaker,” a teenage girl with the incredible power to control minds. She is drawn into an ancient battle between five rival groups with such names as Wis-Dom and Darklore, each represented by a student or teacher who ends up serving Mana in her battle against Kaoru, another mind breaker. Characterization is weak and the plot is uncompelling; characters appear for no reason and disappear when it is no longer convenient to have them around. In addition, the art is weak, with stiff and unpleasant anatomy.