What Did I Learn?
This week’s review is on a manga graphic novel that I traded away in my youth and recently reacquired; Grey by Yoshihisa Tagami. Specifically, it is entitled Grey Perfect Collection Volume 1.
Grey lives in a world where “little mama” computers control slum towns and dangle the offer of living as citizens IF they earn enough credits. Of course, the only way they can earn enough credits for that is go out on patrol and fight other towns. Grey is called Grey Death by many because he is often the sole survivor of his missions. When I first read this, I missed some key hints about what the computer controls and this story is really caused by what the computers control and failed to control. Grey joined the Troopers when his lady love died on a Trooper patrol mission. Now, Grey’s Trooper friend Red turned up missing and Grey decides to go looking for him. What he finds both confirms and turns everything I just told you on its head.
This graphic novel has some neat visual tricks in it. It is drawn in black and white with slight variation in the linework and some spot blacks for contrast. Most pages have 4 to 6 panels with location changes, scene changes and some action scenes being half pages or more. Flashback panels are drawn with curved corners which is a subtle but effective clue. It is one of those manga that uses big eyes, the occasional grey tone and some motion lines (but only for the action scenes.) There are no narration boxes and almost all of the text is lettered in one size and style. Yelling is shown in spiking balloons and stressed words are bolded slightly. And then the futuristic vehicles have some semi-awkward designs with lots of detail and any architectural details are well done with good perspective.
The overall affect of all this is this grainy, messy, realistic world full of few options, the horrors of war and bleak hope.
My original copy had a grey toned cover which represents what the book is all about. The copy I just picked up has a green cover with Grey and fellow Trooper Nova watercolored in green military gear. In my head, I would have imagined everything being tan – probably due to the black and white nature of the art. Had the uniforms been toned, I would have imagined green more, I suppose.
What Did I Learn?
Not all comics have to be over the top in all aspects. Those desperate actions that Grey takes outshine the world he finds himself in. Grey is a deeper, more somber work that you might enjoy reading – but be aware there are a handful of adult spots.