CYBORG 009 Manga

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Shotaro Ishinomori

• Tokyopop (2003–2005)

• various magazines (1964–1998)

• Science Fiction, Action

• 13+ (language, violence)

Shotaro Ishinomori’s most famous manga, Cyborg 009 is classic pulp sci-fi for children, a rock-’em-sock-’em action comic with an antiwar message. The Black Ghost, a secret organization of war profiteers, kidnaps people from around the globe to use as guinea pigs for a cyborg army. But the nine cyborgs rebel against their masters and use their superpowers to fight for peace, vowing, “We are all humans and brothers.” (The Native American and African cyborgs are drawn in a stereotypical style, but the story’s antiprejudice message is sincere.) The sketchy old-school art shows the strong cyborg_009influence of Osamu Tezuka. Bold shapes zip across the page; the heroes rush from one action scene to another, jumping onto planes in midflight, fighting giant robots and robot spiders, breaking into
secret bases, casually outracing bullet trains. Countless battles are fought on easy-to-draw rocks above crashing seas, countless pages are filled with falling rubble and explosions. Unlike the episodic adventures of Astro Boy, Cyborg 009 tells an ongoing story, but it was serialized in several different magazines and has its mood swings and disjointed moments. In one sequence the narrator reflects on Hiroshima and humanity’s warlike nature; then the heroes go to Vietnam; then, a few volumes later, they’re fighting beast-men in an underground empire. The English edition has a satisfying ending, perhaps the best point at which to stop the series; Ishinomori intended to stop the series with volume 10 in 1966, but it was resumed due to reader demand and was still being produced at the time of Ishinomori’s death. (The portions published in English were originally printed in Shônen Gahosha’s Weekly Shônen King and Kodansha’s Weekly Shônen Magazine.)

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