Cyborg 009 Vol. #01 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Art Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Text/Translatin Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Released By: TOKYOPOP
  • MSRP: 9.99
  • Pages: 200
  • ISBN: 1-59182-676-4
  • Size: B6
  • Orientation: Right to Left

Cyborg 009 Vol. #01

By Mike Dungan     June 05, 2004
Release Date: October 01, 2003

Cyborg 009 Vol.#01

Creative Talent
Writer/Artist:Shotaro Ishinomori
Translated by:Bryan Masumoto
Adapted by:

What They Say
The World at the brink of self-annihilation. The nuclear age has brought with it the arms race, whihc has led to the advent of weapons powerful enough to destroy the planet several times over. Unwilling to take the plunge into armageddon, the world powers, in league with a group known only as the Black Ghost, have developed super soldiers knows as the Cyborgs. Designed to fight the wars of the world... But out in space. Unfortunately, the Black Ghost didn't askt he Cyborgs how the felt about their role in this new world order.

This classic work from manga legend Shotaro Ishinomori (Masked Rider) is not only a thrilling tale of cold war tensions, but it also helped defined the genre of Super Team stories such as Battle of the Planets, Voltron and the Power Rangers.

The Review
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
In the prologue, we're introduced to the Black Ghost, a mysterious person who is helping the world's miltary-industrial complex to maintain it's high cold-war profits. The next step is to take the tensions to outer space, where cyborgs will fight on behalf of humanity.

The cyborgs test subjects are taken from all over the world. 001 is a Russian baby genetically engineered by his father to be a super-genius. 002 is an American delinquent plucked right out of West Side Story. 003 is a beautiful young French woman who's brother is a pilot in the French Air Force. 004 is an East German whose wife was killed when they tried to escape to the west. 005 is a stoic American native from the southwest who's become disaffected with his life and tribe. 006 is a bumbling, dirt-poor Chinese farmer. 007 is a drunken former vaudeville actor from England. 008 is an African who barely escapes from slavers only to be captured by agents of the Black Ghost. The hero of our story is 009, a half-Japanese teen who is just out of an orphange and headed to jail. His mixed blood heritage has caused him to be shunned by most people and has led him to a life of petty crime. The agents of the Black Ghost show up in time to get him out of a sticky situation and offer him the chance for a new life.

What they don't mention is that this new life means becoming a cyborg. All the various cyborgs have special powers, but 009 is the one with all of the powers that the other cyborgs have individually. Strength, flight, super-hearing, shapeshifting and more are all at his disposal. The cyborgs all rebel and take one of the scientists hostage. The scientist is actually on their side, and his "capture" was a part of the plan. The Black Ghost launches everything he has at the fleeing cyborgs. They are too powerful an enemy, and too valuable a source of income for him to let go free. What follows are a long series of battles on land, air and in the sea. The book ends with the cyborgs having secretly commandeered one of the subs that was sent against the, and piloting it back to the Black Ghost's base to launch and attack against him.

Shotaro Ishinomori is a important and influential mangaka who worked from the early '50s to his death in the '90s. To see a great little story about him by manga legend Osamu Tezuka, see Astroboy #15 from Dark Horse. Cyborg 009 was a ground breaking manga for it's day, with it's multi-cultural cast, open disapproval of the tacit racism that was part of everyday life in the '60s, and a strong anti-war message.

Ishinomori, who worked as an assistant to Tezuka in the '50s, shows he, like many mangaka of the time, was deeply influenced by Tezuka. The humor that shows up in odd places, such as the French pilot's almost Keystone Kops-like efforts to save his sister from kidnappers, or the West Side Story references when 002 is tricked into becoming a cyborg.

Ishinomori works with a 12 panel grid of 3 columns and 4 rows. He will stretch panels to be two high or two wide or some other combination, but it's always clearly based on the 12 panel grid. Character designs are charicatures of the people he's depicting. The African character would be considered highly offensive in this day and age. In fact, Tokyopop addressed this in the book's introduction. The introduction is not credited, but the book is edited by Luis Reyes.

The cover is a variation of the 12 panel page, with large blocks of orange, yellow and red, and 009 seemingly jumping out of a panel. The back cover is mostly text, with a thin panel of Black Ghost aircraft taken from inside the book. The word "vintage" is added to the spine, and the Tokyopop logo has been distressed to reflect the vintage theme.

Like all Tokyopop "100% Authentic" books, pages read right to left and no sound effects are translated. The only extra is the introduction which attempts to place the story in the context of the times. The printing is so-so. Only one shade of screentoning appears to have been used, but when large images have it, it can look blocky in places. In addition, many pages look pale.
It's good to see more older manga titles coming over to the US, especially when they're both as entertaining and significant as Cyborg 009. Recommended.


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