The World is Mine
A manga review
by McCamy Taylor
The World is Mine, a science fiction/horror series by ARAI Hideki is one of those orphan titles that does not have an English language publisher. Non-Japanese speaking Americans who have been reading about the adventures of the crazed killers Mon and Toshi have had to rely upon the hard work of fans who translate the comic themselves. The translations are superimposed back on the original manga, and the result is referred to as a scanlation. Note that almost every Japanese comic title which is currently popular in the United States was introduced to American audiences through the work of fans who produce these scanlations and distribute them, free of charge, to other fans of manga. The list includes Naruto, Bleach, Beserk, Hellsingamong many, many others.
Until recently, I would have said that The World is Minewould never find an American publisher. When your heroes are a couple of guys whose idea of a good time is meeting new people and killing them in new ways, you know you are not in Kansas anymore. The most enigmatic of the pair, Mon, is a feral man, ruled by his passions. Despite his slack lipped, constantly scowling expression, he displays a cunning and charisma that attracts people, drawing them into his world in which limits are for breaking and everything is free for the taking. For those familiar with the Monkey God legend in Japan (a source for several manga/anime projects such as Dragonballand Saiyuki, Mon bears a number of features that make him resemble Monkey or Seiten Taisen, the Great Sage Under Heaven, as he is also called. In the Chinese legends, Monkey is a rival to the other gods in strength, but he is so chaotic and dangerous that he has to be subdued, confined and, eventually, enlightened by a Buddhist monk before he can safely co-exist with the rest of creation.
Mon’s partners on his wild killing spree through Japan are Toshi and Maria. Toshi, a typical boy next door at first glance, is an expert in explosives and computers. He has two loves in life -- Mon and blowing things up. The second partner, picked up as the story progresses, Maria is a sweet girl who detests violence but who finds herself drawn to Mon anyway. The two side kicks are like oil and water, with Maria attempting to civilize Mon and Toshi trying to turn him into the world’s most infamous serial killer. The only thing the pair have in common is Mon wants them both around -- and what Mon wants, he gets, even if it means having to warn Toshi at the end of a gun, not to kill Maria.
If this were all there were to The World is Mine, it would be just another Bonnie and Clyde story. However, just as Toshi-Mon, as the pair are known, begin to unleash their wave of violence on the terrified Japanese public, a monster appears. A real monster. Think Godzilla with fur. Dubbed the Higumadon, the beast appears to be a bear, only much, much larger. And as the story progresses, it continues to grow until it is big enough to smash buildings, flatten people and destroy small cities -- and give Mon a taste of his own medicine as it teaches him (finally) the meaning of fear.
Though the public is terrified of the Higumadon, there is also a media circus quality to the way that Japan’s leaders respond to the crisis. As one politician boasts, the world’s first monster has appeared and he is Japanese. The prime minister, who appears to have some psychological problems of his own, sees the beast -- and the serial killers -- as opportunities rather than problems.
The paths of Toshi-Mon and the Higumadon intersect at several points in the first half of the series, with some surprising results. However, a prediction about the end of the world which Toshi made on the internet before the arrival of the Higumadon seems likely to bring the two together in the public mind -- and elevate Toshi-Mon to cult status.
Now that violent projects like Gantzand MPD Psychoare being published in the U.S., there is more hope for The World is Mine. The series is 14 volumes long. Eight volumes have been translated so far. Some American publishers like to wait until a series has a hard core following in the U.S. before they license it. (Emmaa long, Victorian romance, was licensed just as scanlators began working on the final volume.) With an American fan base in place, there is less risk for U.S. publishers, and they can spend less on promotion.
So, the more people who read The World is Mineonline now, the more likely it is that the author’s work will get published in this country. Be warned, though. This story is not for the squeamish. If you enjoy modern horror films, like The Devil’s Rejectsand horror writing that is heavy on the gore, this series will not phase you. If Hitchcock’s The Birdsis too much for you, do not bother with Toshi-Mon.
Regarding scanlations. Never, ever pay for them. The only reason they are being done is because no one will publish the work in the U.S., but that does not give anyone else a right to make money from the author’s work. Also, if you like The World is Mineand you decide to keep reading it, it is considered polite to buy the American version -- if it ever comes out.
© 2009 McCamy Taylor
Bio: McCamy Taylor is an Aphelion veteran, author of many stories and novellas here and elsewhere, and the current Serials and Novellas Editor. This is the third in a series of manga reviews she has written for Aphelion.
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