Good-bye Geist

Creator: Ryo Hanada
Publisher: Gen Manga
ISBN: 9781939012012
Released: October 2012
Original run: 2011-2012

Ryo Hanada’s Good-bye Geist is the fourth manga tankōbon to be released by Gen Manga. It collects the entire story of Good-bye Geist which was initially published in volumes six through eleven of the Gen monthly manga magazine between 2011 and 2012. The collected volume of Good-bye Geist was released in 2012. I had followed Good-bye Geist as it was being serialized and was delighted when Gen Manga offered me a copy of the collected volume for review. Prior to reading Good-bye Geist, I was not familiar with Ryo Hanada or any of Hanada’s work. However, this shouldn’t be too much of a surprise—Gen Manga specializes in finding amateur, underground, and independently created manga to publish in both Japanese and English. Good-bye Geist is one of the first of these stories from Gen to be completed and collected in its entirety.

Seven years ago a series of animal killings ended tragically after a student was stabbed at a local high school. When another series of killings surrounded by circumstances bizarrely similar to the first occurs, the students and staff of Senkan High School are understandably worried. They’re concerned that once again the perpetrator’s actions may escalate from killing small animals to severely injuring, maybe even killing, another person. Somehow, Yuki Okazaki becomes embroiled in the incident, but the killings aren’t the only things she has to be nervous about. College entrance exams are coming up soon, for one. She has also been repeatedly molested on the train during her commute to school and a fellow schoolmate, Sousuke Matsubara, has been secretly recording her with his cell phone. Yuki turns to her friends and a teacher for help, but the results of doing so are somewhat unexpected.

What I find the most compelling in Good-bye Geist is the development of the relationship between Matsubara and Yuki. Matsubara is extremely awkward socially; he makes other people feel uncomfortable and they are hesitant to approach him. At the beginning of the manga, Matsubara gives off a creepy vibe—he is recording Yuki without her consent after all. But Yuki is also carefully watching Matsubara. She doesn’t write him off immediately and even reaches out to him. The act of looking, watching, and observing is very important in Good-bye Geist. This is particularly significant for Matsubara who has a difficult time making direct eye contact to being with. Hanada emphasizes eyes and gaze in the artwork. Many panels rely on the characters’ glances to convey meaning.

Good-bye Geist has a marvelously ominous atmosphere to it. The storytelling is somewhat fragmented and Hanada employs flashbacks and flashforwards rather liberally. At times the ambiguity caused by this is an effective narrative technique, but at other times it makes the plot unnecessarily difficult to follow. The climax and final conflict in particularly seem messy and even a little forced. This is unfortunate as so much of Good-bye Geist develops organically. Who the culprit behind the killings is, although revealed, isn’t explicitly stated or shown which may be confusing for readers who haven’t picked up on all of the hints. And I’ll admit that I’m still unclear of the significance and implications of a few of the scenes included. But even considering some of the difficulties with the storytelling, overall I really enjoyed Good-bye Geist. I’d certainly be interested in reading more of Hanada’s work.

Thank you to Gen Manga for providing a copy of Good-bye Geist for review.


Creator: Shige Nakamura
Publisher: Gen Manga
ISBN: 9780985064426
Released: July 2012

Although I have a keen interest in the martial and fighting arts, for some reason boxing has never really been my thing. So, I was a little surprised when Shige Nakamura’s boxing manga Wolf quickly became one of my favorite stories to be included in Gen Manga’s monthly independent manga anthology. Wolf was initially published in the first ten issues of Gen between 2011 and 2012. Gen Manga subsequently released the entire story, including the epilogue “The Wolf Who Came Home” (which didn’t appear in serialization), in 2012. However, Nakamura had been working on Wolf for several years before its official publication. Wolf is the third collected volume that Gen has released, following VS Aliens and the first volume of Kamen. But, it was the manga from Gen that I was most excited to see collected and released in print. I was very happy that Wolf was published in a single volume, giving readers the chance to enjoy nearly five hundred pages of story in one shot.

Twelve years ago, Kengo Kurozaki abandoned his wife and child in Hokkaido in order to pursue a career in boxing. His wife Yuki has forgiven him and still loves her husband. His son, however, still holds a grudge. Naoto Okami has travelled alone to Tokyo in search of his father and revenge only to find Kurozaki has become the head coach at Hirahara Gym. There Okami discovers an opportunity to not only fight with his father, but to do it on Kurozaki’s own turf—the boxing ring. Okami is quickly accepted by the other members of the gym and almost immediately begins training as a sanctioned boxer. He exhibits a great deal of potential and natural talent, not to mention one of the strongest right straight punches anyone has seen. But one exceptional skill won’t be able to carry Okami all the way to a championship match. If he wants to take down and show up his father in the ring as a boxer, claiming the championship title for himself, Okami must be prepared to make the needed sacrifices.

Nakamura’s art is a little rough in spots, but the fights tend to be well-done, quickly paced, and dynamic. The physical development and weight change brought about by Okami’s training can also be seen. Backgrounds are kept fairly simple and are often nearly non-existent. Although slightly disorienting, it does emphasize the importance of the characters and what they are going through. As the protagonist, Okami is the mostly full-realized character in Wolf; his outlook is the one that develops the most as the story progresses. In the beginning he is a very brash, rough, violent, and angry young man. He never entirely loses those characteristics, frequently lashing out at those who would try to help him, but he slowly is able to come to terms with his father and their broken relationship. Boxing at first was merely a way for Okami to seek revenge, but it ends up becoming an important outlet for him for many other reasons. Eventually, he comes to love and enjoy the sport on its own merits.

Although it may not be particularly original, Wolf is a solid sports drama. The characters’ relationships and personal struggles are just as important as the boxing, training, and fights. Nakamura is able to balance those two elements of the story; they enhance and play off of each other nicely. Occasionally the story was in danger of becoming overly sentimental, but Nakamura never quite crosses that line. I was happy to see that Shota, a secondary character introduced early on in the manga and one of Okami’s first true friends, continued to make appearances throughout Wolf. I was also very glad that the collected edition of Wolf included “The Wolf Who Came Home.” Although not entirely necessary to provide closure to the story, it does tie everything together better, including the opening sequence which is largely ignored for most of the main story. Wolf may not be the flashiest or most polished manga, but it is a very satisfying read. I enjoyed Wolf immensely.