Greetings! My name is Joe, and I to am a writer for Fracture Comics.
Like Chris, I have a love of movies, anime, and all things comics. That includes Manga! So let’s talk about Black Magic (1983) by Shirow Masamune, or as I like to call him Masamune sama.
Now, I’m sure many of you are familiar with Ghost in the Shell; Masamune’s most famous work to date. However he has authored other manga as well. These titles include Appleseed (1985), Dominion (1986), Orion (1991), and of course Black Magic (1983). Masamune is known for exploring themes such as politics, cloning, militarization, and philosophy through man vs. machine, or more accurately technology. An industry professional since the early 80’s Masamune has been an influential force in the science fiction genre across multiple mediums.
Black Magic was released in 1983 and was Masamune’s first published work. It features a civilization on Venus governed by a computer that happens to have artificial beings that help execute its will, appropriately called “Executors”. Sound familiar? It should. If you are familiar with Appleseed this sounds just like Gaia and the Bioroids. Needless to say, more Appleseed concepts appear in the manga as well.
What I found to be most interesting about this book was the fact that it wasn’t a traditional narrative. There were essentially three different stories that all happened to take place in the same world. An anthology if you will. The location and the appearance of the main character Duna Typhon were all that united the stories. While having a larger role in the first and third stories, Typhon amounts to an extended cameo in the second, much like Spiderman in Captain America Civil War. Surprisingly this doesn’t take away from the plot. In fact, I enjoyed the second storyline the most. Instead of focusing on Typhon we follow a military unit as they try to capture a killer android while protecting Venusian civilians in the process. Pretty cool stuff. This section was also the longest chapter in the book. Which explains why it was adapted into the 1987 OVA Black Magic M-66.
Overall I enjoyed Black Magic for what it was: An early exploration of Masamune’s ideas and concepts that he would later explore in future, more polished works. Black Magic is no Ghost in the Shell or Appleseed but everyone has to start somewhere!