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Apocalypse Meow Vol. 1
Distributor ADV Manga
Author/Artist Motofumi Kobayashi
It is very unnecessary to explain why this one caught my eye - Seriously, you walk into a comic store and holy crap there's a rabbit with an M16! Then you read the title and figure "Apocalypse Meow? Is this some kinda p!ss take?" Then you flick through and you're like "wooow...this is serious!"
By now you're wondering "What the hell is this actually about?" Well, brace yourself - Its Vietnam with cats (Vietnamese) and rabbits (Americans). At first you may feel a little disgusted "Look they're mocking the Vietnam war!" Nothing could be further from the truth, possibly to its downfall. You see, it is a very, very serious book with no jokes about the war (war: 1961-1975, official American involvement: 1965-1973). However, whereas most Vietnam movies are pretty liberal and are strongly against the war, this novel seems pretty apolitical and, if anything, not de-moting American involvement (being the commie scumbag that I am I had to pick up on this). It seems a little one sided and all the VC/NVA (Vietcong/Northern Vietnamese Army) are portrayed as mean, nasty, bullies.
Enough of the politics - if you don't think too hard its an interesting and different graphic novel, the likes of which we see rarely. Its a little short (I have all the graphic novels and the first two could have been stuffed into one without many problems) but encompasses the first few missions of three rabbits (the "heroes" you might call them). The art isn't outstanding but competent, the story telling is a little convoluted and confusing and the enemies lack much depth but it is surprisingly loveable. It is interspersed with little details on tactics in the war, the weaponry and more and has plenty of extras at the end.
However, throughout the volume are few major plot arcs and not very much on the de-humanization of war. Its hard not to compare it to the great Vietnam movies like Platoon and Apocalypse Now which are far more engrossing and original. In the end what we're left with is a pretty good manga, not an amazing masterpiece on the level of Adolf or Barefoot Gen, however its fun, interesting, intelligent, informative and a little bit out of the usual.
Note: This may immediately look like something along the lines of Maus but don't be fooled! This is a relatively straight forward action manga beyond the characters.
Fun and engaging but not as controversial as the other great war manga.