Birth ( BIRTH)
• Masakazu Yamaguchi
• Tokyo-pop (2004–ongoing)
• Gentosha (Comic Birz, 2001–2003)
• Science Fiction, Action, Horror
• 18+ (language, graphic violence, explicit nudity, sex)
Mao, a girlish teenager with an unhealthily close relationship to his sister, becomes the unwilling human host of the so-called Arm of the Buddhist Goddess Kannon, an H. R. Giger–esque artifact that fuses with his body and gives him unbelievable, horrible, omnipotent powers. One of the most graphically violent sci-fi horror manga, Arm of Kannon achieves almost Toshio Maeda–esque levels of gore and perversity, with rape and dismemberment on almost every page, often happening to the same person. The plot is little more than an excuse to draw a bunch of monsters and weird bad-ass characters: cyborgs, shady military types, monks, and the polymorphous, godlike Arm, which causes writhing snakes and lions and tentacles to pour out of Mao’s possessed body. As if the story wasn’t confusing enough, volumes 5–7 suddenly switch to what is apparently a parallel-universe story line in which the Arm is the “Angel Fist” and the Holy Grail is involved; then volumes 8–9 go back in time to medieval Japan, where samurai fight over the Arm’s powers. As a story, it’s completely frustrating and arbitrary, although it’s intermittently entertaining for the detailed, Grand Guignol artwork: eye-shadow-wearing bishônen, hideous wrinkled creeps, and slimy blobs covered with hundreds of mouths and eyeballs.