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Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Vol. 1- Activation Hardcover – March 26, 2013
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"It’s a good book. Very good, actually. Very good war comics, requiring no prior experience with anime or mecha or Gundam – just a well-made, old-fashioned war comic, full of thrills and spills and lucky breaks and narrow escapes and preening villains you’ll love to hate and pigheaded heroes you may hate to love, and expert drawings by a master craftsman, and hard, sturdy violence." - Joe McCulloch, The Comics Journal
"It's not often that I bother taking up space just to discuss the presentation of a book, but this is certainly one of Vertical's finest releases. Both the graphic and actual material design of the cover is special, and the interior is of a much higher quality than your average manga. This especially holds true throughout the healthy handful of color sections, which look absolutely gorgeous on the glossy paper stock...The whole package is an absolute must for fans of Gundam, but I'd say there's plenty to enjoy in this nearly 450-page monster for anyone remotely interested in mech action and sci-fi storytelling." - Otaku USA
"This is the root of all the tropes and themes of Gundam but with a loving layer of refinement that cleans up a lot of the rough edges of the original...It many ways this is the clearest vision of the original story and a great place to start as well as revisit." - Reverse Thieves
"From the painted opening prologue, the storytelling is of an incredibly high standard, with Yasuhiko’s touch servicing action scenes especially well. Visual highlights abound... It’s a dazzling, action packed ride, and I’d recommend it highly." - Anime UK News
About the Author
Hokkaido native Yoshikazu Yasuhiko (1947-) is a Japanese animator and manga artist. His career as a character designer has spanned over four decades, creating famed characters for such anime as Super Atragon, Brace Raideen, and the widely known Mobile Suit Gundam. Considered a pivotal player in mecha and sci-fi anime, Yasuhiko's characters, stories and illustrations are unmistakable in their style and serve as timeless examples as pioneers of manga and animation in Japan.
Yasuhiko began his career as an animator in Osama Tezuka's Mushi Productions, and later on decided to go freelance to work for a number of animation productions for both film and television. In the late 70's, Yasuhiko would turn his attention to the world of comics, as he has since penned nearly two dozen titles since.
In 1981 he was awarded the Nebula Award by the Japanese Sci-Fi Association.
In 1990 his work Namuji won the Japan Comic Artist Association Grand Prize
And in 2000 he took the Japan Media Arts Award for Best Comic with his title A Revolutionary Dog.
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So, the Origin returns in America. Before, it was released by Viz comics in a soft-cover form but here we have a more traditional manga form with a beautiful, sewn-binding hardcover format. It collects the story from the beginning to the Earth entry operation and includes the full color pages as well as all the black and white material. Essays from various writers like Ryusuke Hikawa and Shinichiro Inoue are also at the end. The book basically covers the first two volumes and the writing here is obviously very well done and the translations, although not perfect (and contain a spelling error or two), work well and are fairly easy to read while trying to conform to the original Japanese speech bubbles. The art here is beautiful and especially takes its full form when in the nice, brush-stroked, warm colors. Seeing the Prototype Gundam emerge from a cloud of dust and obliterate a Zaku or seeing the White Base crew freaking out over one of the Zakus going three times the speed of the others just gives goosebumps and brings a feeling that even the original anime didn't quite invoke. This is truly a book to behold and while it'll look nice with your mangas, (just a couple inches bigger in dimensions) it is still above and beyond the rest of the US Gundam manga releases and, if you're a fan, definitely one to own.
Where do I start?
If you are familiar with Mobile Suit Gundam Universal Century you'll appreciate this as a masterful retelling of the Origin story of one of the greatest science fiction sagas of all time. As is mentioned in the introductory essay (there are three), there is a lot of subtle world-building detail to be found in this story, a maturation of the story into what it always had the potential to be. The dialog is crisp and powerful in its delivery, and full of emotion. The artwork is incredible, better than either the TV show or the films. Some of it is in color (the cover image is actually from one of the color panels inside the book), and the color sections are absolutely astounding in their quality. The blacks are deep and fully saturated, and the paper is a brilliant high-quality white semi-gloss. If you're used to manga then you know what to expect as far as details that represent motion, sound, emotion, etc. Words simply cannot convey what an incredible step-up this manga is from "ordinary" manga.
Judge a Book by it's Cover
For once you CAN judge a book by its cover. When I saw this book in the store, with it's thick waxy hardcover, I was drawn to it like a moth to a flame. It's GORGEOUS. It's not a cheap glossy cover like you're used to or a cheap paperback. This is archival quality paper inside, not cheap newsprint. That would be great if the content was okay, but...
A Giant Among Classics
This manga is fantastic. It stands as a work of art alongside the greatest graphic novels and comics of all-time. You'll want to own every one of them and display them on your bookshelf alongside your Complete Calvin and Hobbes and most treasured trade hardbacks of great comic stories. I haven't been so starstruck since the first volume of Queen Emeraldas and Zita the Spacegirl for sheer nostalgic wish-fulfillment that makes me feel like a five-year-old taking his first glimpse at his dad's comics from his locked desk drawer.
THIS is the reason why I watch anime. THIS is the reason why I read manga. If you miss out on this, you are missing out on one of the greatest works of art ever created. Yoshikazu Yasuhiko is a grand master and this is one of the greatest graphic novel/comic/manga creations of all time.
If you love Gundam, if you love Manga, if you love ART, buy this now and read it immediately. If you've a shred of appreciation for the greatest heights of the Manga Art Form, you will treasure it forever.