Lost World Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 01, 2003
Translated by:Kumar Sivasubramanian
What They Say
From the creator of Astro Boy comes Lost World, the first of Osamu Tezuka's cycle of groundbreaking science-fiction graphic novels - including Metropolis and Future World - published in the late 1940s and early 1950s. When a rogue planet approaches Earth, a team of scientists voyages to the world and discovers a land out the ancient past - a planet populated by dinosaurs! But a group of crooks has stowed away aboard the spacecraft, and the scientists must fight for survival against both mobsters and monsters! A dazzling work of imagination - and guest-starring some friends you may recognize from Astro Boy - Lost World is timeless graphic fiction from one of the medium's true masters, available for the first time in an English-language edition.
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Lost World begins on a tragedy, when the scientist Dr. Jagata is murdered and a precious stone hidden in his fake eye is stolen. Shunasaku Ban, better known as Mr. Mustachio, investigates. Jagata was holding the gem for Dr. Kenichi Shikishima, a boy genius scientist who has been surgically altering the brains of animals to make them human in nature. Kenichi explains that the stone was from the rogue planet Mamango, which was split off from Earch early in the planet's history. It now travels an elliptical arc that brings it past earth every 5 million years. There is a 10 million yen prize for whoever makes the most important discovery concerning Mamango. A few days earlier, seven meteorites fell to Earth, and Kenichi discovered a small stone at the core of each impact spot. When a low current is run through all the stones at once. tremendous power is created. Since the stones came from Mamango, the prize money is his as soon as he presents his findings. However, someone sent a message to him claiming they were going to steal the stones, and now the people who were protecting the stone fragments for him are being killed and the stones stolen.
An imposter disguised as Mustachio lures him out of the house so that he can get the rest of the stones from Kenichi. The plan works, but Mustachio and the imposter grapple with each other. The imposter is rescued by his compatriots, but Mustachio discovers a secret passage and enters the underground chambers of the Mamango Secret Society. He's discovered by the criminals attempting to steal the stones and imprisoned, but he's rescued by Mimio, a rabbit with human intelligence from Kenichi's lab. He attempts to steal back the stones taken from Kenichi, but is instead captured. It's now Mustachio's turn to rescue Mimio, and they return to Kenichi's lab.
While recovering from his many injuries, Mustachio meets Dr. Makeru Butamo. He's a scientist at Kenichi's lab, but his specialty is plants. He's attempting to create human-like creatures from his plants.
With the planet Mamango quickly approaching it's closest point to Earth, Kenichi decides to send a rocket ship to the mysterious planet for more of the stones. Kenichi, Mustachio, Mimio, Butamo and several others, including a couple of girls made from Butamo's intelligent plant life, board the ship and head into space. Unfortunately for them, so have the criminals. After an attempt to take over the ship, they land on Mamango, where they discover it's the age of dinosaurs. With a gang of crooks to deal with, dinosaurs and a budding relationship with one of the plant girls, Kenichi is finding his work is cut out for him.
This is one of the very earliest graphic novels written in Japan. Osamu Tezuka, the "god of manga" first wrote an early version of "Lost World" in the early 1940s when still in high school. After several revisions, a finished story was finally published in 1948, and was an immediate success. His humanistic idealism and sense of fairness are leavened by a great sense of humor, which he never loses sight of. His style is already well in place, with round figures, short stumpy legs and visual gags a-plenty. Many characters that would be a part of his permanent rogues galley are already in place, from Mr. Mustachio to Kenichi to Acetylene Lamp.
Surprisingly for a title created by Studio Proteus for Dark Horse Comics, there are a few typos, grammatical mistakes and even some transposed dialogue in word balloons. It's not rampant by any means, but considering Studio Proteus's sterling reputation for producing the highest quality manga in the industry, it is rather out of character. The art reproduction is excellent, especially considering the age of the material they were working with. Interestingly, the art we see was actually traced with a water-based pen by a different artist to create the zinc plates necessary to print the stories back in the day. Since the two halves of the book were traced by different artists, there is a small but noticeable difference in the art style between them. In the front of the book is a standard note to readers that Dark Horse has included with all their Tezuka titles, explaining the cultural differences between Japan of 50 years ago and today which resulted in Tezuka creating character designs that would be considered highly offensive today. There is also a two-page afterward from Tezuka himself where he talks about the history of the book and the changes he had to make to get it published.
Viewed as an historical artifact of manga publishing from half a century ago, Lost World is significant. Viewed as a book to read for enjoyment, it stands up well, with a combination of campy future-retro, and Tezuka's great love of mankind and the people who work, strive and often sacrifice to make the world a better place. Even at $18 for a what is commonly a $10-sized book, it's strongly recommended.
Mania Grade: A
Art Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: All
Released By: Dark Horse
Orientation: Right to Left