Sunday, January 8, 2017


The past three years I spent January and/or February on GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN, a manga adaptation of the original MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM saga. I figure I'll stick with the tradition again this year, too. As I've said before, I haven't read a ton of manga, but there are a few series I've looked at over the years that I really like. One of these is BIG O.

Conceived as a multimedia franchise in Japan back in 1999, BIG O was, first and foremost, an anime series. It was quickly adapted into English and thrown onto Cartoon Network's Toonami block, where it was advertised as the spiritual successor to BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. (Indeed, B:TAS' Toonami tagline had been "good guys wear black" and when BIG O premiered, its tagline was "good guys still wear black.")

In all honesty, aside from the fact that it was produced by Sunrise, one of the better animation houses to work on BATMAN, BIG O had very little in common with that earlier series other than the main character having a cool car and a faithful butler. But it was a really fun, stylish show that won me over in very quick order. I watched the show on TV and I even bought the DVDs to support it that way as well. And when Viz brought the manga to American shores circa 1999, I read it first in monthly comic book format and eventually picked it up again years later when they released the full run in a series of six trade paperbacks (in proper manga-size dimensions).

I really enjoyed the manga; it followed the same general storyline as the TV series, but took its own path to get there, sort of like an alternate telling of the same story. And, unlike the anime, which ended after thirteen episodes on a cliffhanger, the manga had a proper ending (an ending which, I believe, holds up far better than the conclusion the TV series eventually received when it returned in 2003 for a second season).

For the next six weeks, we'll look at the BIG O manga. I plan to cover all six volumes of Viz's American release*, to see just how well it holds up and, ultimately whether I prefer it over the TV show. I recall the series, which I've watched multiple times, quite well, but I have few memories of the manga so I look forward to refreshing them.

It's showtime!

* Note that when BIG O's second season appeared in 2003, there were two more manga volumes produced -- but they've never, so far as I can find, been translated into English, either officially or by fans. So this isn't the complete BIG O manga experience, but it will be the full run as originally published alongside the first season of the TV show.

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