Recommendations From Heaven (or Hell)
The only thing that will get me to study for finals is divine intervention!! But how does divine intervention work anyway, assuming that God is real? Why doesn’t He come down and help us when we’re in need? I probably shouldn’t be asking these questions since this is an aniblog and not a theological/anti-religious site (we’re cool with everyone!), but the best thing about manga is that it can explore the possibilities or themes of a darker, more cynical view of the world, regardless of whether you believe an all-powerful God exists or not. God does, in a way, exist in the following three manga, but that doesn’t mean He’s there to answer your prayers.
Premise: Demons exist and their power is beyond what humans can fathom. In fact they are so strong that humans do not stand a chance against them in a fight. The only thing strong enough to defeat a demon is another demon and it is trough this logic that Ryo Asuka hatches the plan to have his good-hearted friend Akira Fudo possessed by a demon. If a person is of pure of heart then he might be able to control the demon that posses him and thereby acquire power equal to a demon. After raising some hell in a club the plan works and Akira is possessed by the powerful demon known as Amon. Now Akira is mankind’s sole champion of justice against the hidden demon menace that has plagued humanity since the dawn of time. (Source: ANN)
What is interesting about Devilman is that although there are demons, “devilmen,” angels, and even Satan himself, God doesn’t show up at all. Even after the world goes to shit (and boy, does it really get screwed over), God never intervenes, despite existing in the Devilman/Go Nagai (Devilman Lady, Violence Jack) universe. In fact, one could even say that everything that occurs is God’s fault. Devilman features a horridly imbalanced world with more evil than good as everything boils down to one giant massacre. Even with its goofy yet iconic Go Nagai artwork (the facial expressions are the BEST) and sporadic humor, this manga is filled to the brim with lewd content, hideously designed demons, and senseless killing.
No one is safe from this ultra-violence… EVEN BABIES. And yet somehow this grotesque work still manages to be a powerful love story–it’s a love forbidden by God himself. Seriously, God is one judgmental omnipotent being in this series. Who is to say which is right and wrong? The humans, the devilmen, the demons? Because, although Akira is our protagonist, he is definitely not a “champion of justice.”
If you found Devilman enjoyable, which is expected because it’s awesome, then be sure to check out the other Devilman-related works, there are two drawn by different mangaka (aka better artwork LOL), Neo Devilman and Amon. I highly recommend the OVAs as well! If you can’t stand the wonky artwork, then skip to the OVAs (but not the anime series…). They strongly depict the gruesomeness that is Devilman in a much cleaner style. As an example, here is a .gif of Devilman ripping off a demon chick’s boobs off and eating them.
Premise: In his short career as a manga artist, Inio Asano has tackled various formats and genres–short existential vignettes, twentysomething dramas, mind-bending psycho-horror–with a delicate emotional touch and a willingness to break stodgy storytelling rules. While his body of work is not yet large enough to suffer legitimate accusations of repetition, he nonetheless announced before his latest story that he wanted to “start fresh.”
The result of this rebirth is the comedy Goodnight Punpun. Asano’s latent, surreal sense of humor, which percolated beneath the surface of his more serious works, is released to its full potential, transforming what is–on the surface–a classic bildungsroman in wild and unpredictable ways. Witness the titular Punpun (pronounced “poon-poon”), who is depicted as a tiny, caricatured bird in an otherwise normal human setting. The extreme depictions of his overactive imagination are matched at each step by even more bizarre characters. (Source: Mangascreener)
Dear God, dear God, tinkle-tinkle hoy! This is a coming-of-age story where we follow Punpun through his childhood, adolescence, and precarious young adulthood in the most absurd, touching, depressing way possible. With a mix of surrealism and realism, the world of Oyasumi Punpun is a fantastically bizarre depiction of the harsh realities of our world, inhabited by unstable adults and vulnerable yet idiotically selfish children and nonsensical gods. Sounds just about right, right? Well, Punpun’s world is x1000 weirder but the fundamentals are pretty much spot-on, don’t you think?
Our protagonist Punpun, who starts off as a preciously naive and innocent little boy and grows into a rather aimless but perceptive adult, has a lot of questions and prayers for God, but sadly, God doesn’t exactly answer any of these concerns. Yeah, Kami-sama pops in here and there, but what does He do? He gives a little hope, a bit of bullying and patronizing, crappy advice, and… well, that’s it. Also, there’s even a God of Poop who is more helpful than Punpun’s God. GOOD VIBRATIONS !
As the “premise” says, Asano Inio has a lot of great work – What a Wonderful World, Nijigahara Holograph, Solanin, etc. Oyasumi Punpun is another top-notched page turner in his small collection of deeply impacting stories with a beautifully bizarre narrative and artistic style. This manga is NSFW (slightly pornographic) and painfully relatable to us downtrodden folk.
Premise: What if Jesus and Buddha were living on Earth in modern times?
What if they shared an apartment in Japan?
Saint Young Men is a humorous manga about the daily lives of Jesus and Buddha, with each chapter focusing on some element of modern life, such as Disneyland, rush hour on the train, Christmas, the public pool, carnivals, and more.
If you guys read these in order then you might be feeling a little down, so hopefully this help you laugh it off! Saint Oniisan/Saint Young Men is absolutely hilarious; those of you who are Arakawa Under the Bridge fans will love this, since it’s by the same mangaka. Buddha & Jesus are my broTP now LOL. But seriously, this is hilarious and not offensive at all. In fact, as a religious person myself, I find the biblical and Bhuddist references very funny (the Judas & stigmata jokes are my favorite, heh heh).
The best part about Saint Oniisan, besides its jokes, is that Jesus and Buddha are (in addition to divine beings) very human. Personality-wise, at least. They both have their own quirks and personalities! Jesus is pretty similar to me because he just loves impulsively buying useless junk! Buddha is his foil in that he is the more responsible and modest of the two, and often has to care tare of Jesus. Together, they are a very cute and hilarious duo trying to live in Japan with a limited budget—wait, limited budget?! Isn’t one the Son of God, the other the Enlightened?! Apparently being the main icons of their respective religions doesn’t pay well, despite being treated like billionaire’s sons by angels, animals, and monks. Jesus, can’t your Dad help pay the rent or something?!
As a gag manga there’s no serious plot or storyline other than Jesus & Buddha being bros and discovering the wonders of Nippon, but the gags and the novelty of having Jesus & Buddha as the main characters are what makes this manga awesome! I wish it could be published in America, but the mangaka said she was afraid of our overly religious folk suing her. I don’t blame her… p(´⌒｀｡q)
I hope those of you who haven’t tried these out yet will love them. Tell me what you guys think after you’ve given them a try!