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Kaneko Atsushi's BAMBi!


Kaneko Atsushi (a.k.a Atsushi Kaneko in the US) is a manga god in my eyes. Born in 1966 and working in comics since the late 80s, I first heard about him around 5 years ago, and for the past 12 months I'm managed to track down all of his available works, most notably [SOIL] and [BAMBi].

The former is still being serialized in the monthly [Comic Beam], while [BAMBi] graduated from those pages into 7 collections. Those compendiums were a bolt from the entire rainbow for me, with hyper-kinetic art and heaping handfuls of gallows humor, mass inventiveness of plot, and the kinetic energy of rendering that vibrates off of the page in a symphony of something special.

A brief synopsis that really doesn't get to the meat of the matter is that BAMBi is a young girl with pink hair and a pink gun. She's follows the Old Guy Path, so to speak, and is on a mission to steal and transport a young boy. However, she has to steal him from the Gabba King, a bloodthirsty Fat Elvis pop star type that literally knocks the girls dead.

She gets the boy relatively easily, but the road back home is hell. Every assassin out there has contracted to kill her and return the child that she named Pampi. So, almost every chapter has her chased by a killer, or killing a killer, or finding out her limitations and then promptly ignoring them.

BAMBi

Too much popular culture is quoted and twisted through the six volumes, and some things are quite obvious (Pe-san, the Grateful Dead bear turned children's host, or the ending fight at the Theme Park island of Destinyland) while others are quite subtle, and used to remarkable effect.

You have the boy that BAMBi saves at the beginning, and who pursues her throughout the book, both due to a unspoken admiration and his desire for riches (he plays off Gabba King's entourage, and tells them he will bring them BAMBi, even though no one else can).

You have the triplet female terrors that are the Roach, Fly, & Mouse, who are sexy even with their missing ears, eyes or arm. They were raised by the same small Anarchist group that BAMBi hails from, and have ties to Gabba King's puppetmaster. Much of the last half of the work is about their attempts to kill BAMBi, and destroy whatever remains of their past.

Finally, you have BAMBi herself, who kills without conscience, knows no God and has no destiny, other than protecting Pampi and destroying all who get in her way.

There's so much I'm not telling you about, but that's mostly to not spoil all of the surprises. Thankfully, the first [BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] volume in the US by Digital Manga Publishing will be released shortly. I was so terribly excited to find this out, that I immediately contacted DMP to see what the deal is. The plan is to release the first volume sometime around 7.2005 for $12.95 (208 pages, ISBN: 1569709416), with as close a presentation to the original work as possible. It's already listed on Amazon.com, check under Atsushi Kaneko. Volume two should follow in 10.2005.

SOIL

[SOIL], his most recent work, details the investigation into the disappearance and possible death of a seemingly model family. Strange occurrences begin to happen, like the sudden appearance of large mounds of salt both in the missing family's house, and at other public locations. Eventually, one learns that conspiracies, both human and natural, are most definitely afoot.

I recommend [SOIL] for fans of "realistic" SF/horror, and for those who don't mind that it's all in Japanese, and unavailable into English. Check it out if you can, if for no other shallow reason than to admire the pretty pictures, and then pray for translation.

Kaneko Atsushi's other manga collections are fun anthologies, usually oriented around a theme. For the most part, they represent his earlier work prior to [BAMBi], usually in various comics magazines. He focuses on crime, SF and horror stories, and his style changes noticeably over the years, from a more thin and angular stroke to his current bold and detailed attack. A few characters from these tales appear in his latest projects like [SOIL], so a careful reading of his body of work is quite rewarding.

Finally, his [Odd Jobs - Art Works Of Atsushi Kaneko] is an oversized art book representing all of the titles listed below, plus various CD jackets, posters, and sundry amazingness. Most of it is in full color, along with an extensive (Japanese Only) interview in the back, that I'm sure reveals much about his art and general character. When I have more time I'll plow through it, and some other Japanese-only websites, to offer more biographicaldetail here.

If you're interested in buying Kaneko Atsushi manga now, then by all means check out this Amazon.co.jp page. They deliver to the US if you manage to sign up for an account. Oh, and if you want a complete collection, try to track down this limited Medicom BAMBi and PAMPi toy, one of my prized possessions. There are also two CD's of BAMBi inspired music, [Bad Tracks For BAMBi] with Kaneko Atsushi covers, that you can also find with not that much effort.

Look for this page to expand exponentially over the next few months - I'm aiming for the best English-language Kaneko Atsushi resource possible.

[BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] Volume 2 out 2.2006 in US

After an amazing delay, Amazon has shipped [BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] Volume 2 to me, and other people in the US. I just received mine, and odds are you'll see it in stores and such soon, if not already.

If memory serves from the Japanese release, Volume 2 is action packed, yet somewhat transitional. To me, the story really doesn't hit its stride until Volume 3 (introducing Nao) and Volume 4 (the terror triplets, Roach, Fly and Mouse), so hang in there.

[SOIL] Volume 3 Out 9.30.2005

SOIL 2

[SOIL] Volume 3
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-2451-9
9.30.2005

As expected, the next volume of [SOIL] is due out any day now. Mine is already on preorder - so why isn't yours? Yes, 100% Japanese through and through, but so worth the effort.

[BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] out 8.3.2005 in US

After 2 months of delay, [BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] is finally out in the US. Released today, I saw a few copies at my local comic book store, and picked up one to browse. Sure, I already "read" the series in Japanese, but I only understood 70%, and have anxiously been awaiting a translation.

It looked good, and the presentation was very authentic, down to the regulation manga dust jacket and crimson ink. It's not as grand as the original release, but close enough. Thanks go out to Digital Manga Publishing for the fine job.

I highly recommend that you check out this series, particularly after a few more volumes are released, when the story really picks up. You can't find it in stock at Amazon.com yet (where I've preordered it ages ago), but a trip to your local book store might prove rewarding. It's 18+, so bring an ID, fake mustache, and the like.

Is [SOIL] over yet? [Comic Beam] Cover for 6.2005 Issue

Comic Beam 6.2005

I'm not lucky enough to receive [Comic Beam] each month, but it appears that [SOIL] may have ended its serialization with the 6.2005 issue, pictured to the right. The search engine for that manga zasshi's website doesn't mention [SOIL] in the subsequent issues, at least to my semi-understanding eyes.

Maybe he's taking some time off. Or, perhaps that means the 3rd [SOIL] collection will be coming out in a few months, with more segments to follow. One can only hope, or someone out there can provide confirmation - is [SOIL] still being serialized?

Sketch for [SOIL] 2

Update: It turns out that [SOIL] is still being serialized. I directly contacted Enterbrain, the publisher of Kaneko Atsushi's works. He took a few months off from [SOIL], to direct a movie. I'm not sure what that new project is called, but I'll find out. I know he worked on [Space Police] last year, providing the visual design.

The serialization of [SOIL] will now continue, and 3-4 more collected volumes are planned, depending on the ultimate length of the series.

Volume 3 of [SOIL] is due out in Japan at the end of September, and you know I'll preorder it as soon as it is solicited. It should be published in [Comic Beam] for the next few years, at least, and hopefully I'll find a supplier of that monthly magazine soon, so I won't have to wait for the collections.

kaneko atsushi

bambi

BAMBi 1

[BAMBi] Volume 1
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0122-5
4.9.1997

BAMBi 2

[BAMBi] Volume 2
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0123-3
11.5.1998

BAMBi 3

[BAMBi] Volume 3
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0124-1
9.6.1999

BAMBi 4

[BAMBi] Volume 4
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0125-X
3.8.2000

BAMBi 5

[BAMBi] Volume 5
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0282-5
1.4.2001

BAMBi 6

[BAMBi] Volume 6
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0587-5
10.5.2001

BAMBi Alternative

[BAMBi Alternative]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-1013-5
10.9.2002

bambi and her pink gun

BAMBi 1

[BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] Volume 1
Digital Manga Publishing
ISBN 1569709416
8.2005

BAMBi 2

[BAMBi And Her Pink Gun] Volume 2
Digital Manga Publishing
ISBN 1569709408
2.2006

B.Q.

B.Q. The Fly Book

[B.Q. The Fly Book]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0185-3
12.4.1998

B.Q. The Mouse Book

[B.Q. The Mouse Book]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0186-1
12.4.1998

B.Q. Outtakes The Roach Book

[B.Q. Outtakes The Roach Book]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0264-7
3.29.1999

soil

SOIL 1

[SOIL] Volume 1
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-1713-X
2.12.2004

SOIL 2

[SOIL] Volume 2
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-1980-9
9.10.2004

SOIL 2

[SOIL] Volume 3
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-2451-9
9.30.2005

other titles

ATOMIC?

[ATOMIC?]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0588-3
10.5.2001

Hunky X Punky

[Hunky X Punky]
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-1714-8
2.12.2004

Odd Jobs - Art Works Of Atsushi Kaneko

[Odd Jobs - Art Works Of Atsushi Kaneko] JM
Beam Comix, Enterbrain
ISBN 4-7577-0939-0
9.11.2002

R

[R]
Shodensha
ISBN 4-396-76186-4
7.30.1998

bambi music

Bad Tracks For Bambi

[Shot The Pink Gun: Bad Tracks For BAMBi]
UK Project Records
UKCD-1086
9.22.1999

Bad Tracks For Bambi 2

[One Shot One Kill: Bad Tracks For BAMBi 2]
UK Project Records
UKCD-1096
12.7.2001

Shot The Pink Gun

[Shot The Pink Gun] (Analog - Vinyl)
UK Project Records
UKSG-1092
10.27.2000