Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Drifting Classroom, v.1

by Kazuo Umezu
Published in the U.S. by Viz

Slugline: An entire school full of kids is transported to an alien world. No warning, no preparation, no idea where they are.

The Drifting Classroom was created in the mid-70s, so the first thing a manga fan will notice is that the artwork isn't what they are used to. But if you like horror that does not rely on splatter to scare you, I encourage you to give this a try.

Like Battle Royale (or Lord of the Flies,) Classroom puts ordinary kids in grim survival situations and then spins out gruesomely realistic stories. The first volume of Classroom sets up the regrets of our hero and the initial freakout as the kids (and teachers) start to realize they aren't in Japan anymore. And who wouldn't freak, honestly? These are ordinary school kids, not ninja masters or supermecha pilots. Their screaming and crying (and the ones trying to bolt for home) set what is sure to be a gruesome stage with few survivors.

Kazuo Umezu has been a prolific manga creator of many horror (and science fiction, such as the adapation of Ultraman, and romance as well) titles from the 1950s straight through the 90s. If you are at all interested in what came before Sailor Moon, Voltron, or even Gatchaman, Umezu is worth looking for. I'm giving this series a preemptive "Classic" tag because of its author and his tremendous influence.

Drifting Classroom is also available from Right Stuf, Intl., an online retailer specializing in anime and manga.

- Miranda

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