This week I have a manga review for you of a title I picked up at Kumoricon. It’s an older manga title, back when they were publishing them in the US like comic books, flipped and in smaller chunks, instead of the larger Tankobon volumes. This one is an early space opera title put out in the US by Viz when they were just getting started.
Title: Justy #1-9 (Originally published as Cosmo Police Justy)
Written and Illustrated by Tsugo Okazaki
Translated by Satoru Fujiii and Dave Smeds
English Lettering and Art Touch-Up by David Cody Weiss
English Edition Published on December 6th, 1988 through April 4th, 1989 by Viz Comics in 9 bi-weekly comics.
Currently out-of-print, and the licence may have lapsed.
Justy Kaizard is a Esper cop with the space police, tasked with tracking down and either killing or disabling rogue and criminal Espers. Justy himself is very powerful, such that he’s forced to wear a psychic damper to avoid accidental damage to the enviroment. The English edition containes 4 stories. One where Justy tracks down a Rogue Esper space pirate and is forced to kill him in front of his daughter, who then develops her own powerful psychic powers, spontaniously ages herself to an adult physical (but not mental) age, and hunts down Justy. The second is Justy’s origin story, where he’s found in the wilds of a colony world as a child. The 3rd is an hostage rescue where Justy’s partner and his love interest (two different people) are kidnapped by a group of space pirates and held hostage. The 4th involves an entity known as “The Blue Witch” created by a mad scientist to feed of the mental energies of Espers.
The High Point
The art style is pretty good, and while the series takes the usal liberties that anime takes with psychics at the time (a sort of Jean Grey view of psychic power), it’s not more over the top than I’ve seen elsewhere, and its rules are internally consistant – all psychics have simlar powers, it’s just that Justy’s more powerful than most psychics in the setting.
The Low Point
I’m not too fond with how Justy’s love interest is treated in the hostage storyline. It’s not quite a woman in refrigerators moment (she’s nearly raped) but I felt it was a little unnecessary, particularly for a Shonen series.
There’s blood, but not particularly any nudity. There’s also some alcohol consumption.
Originality: Space cops are nothing new, and Japan was certainly no stranger to the Lensmen series, and the treatment of psychic powers isn’t anything new either, particularly. 3 out of 6.
Artwork: The artwork is generally pretty good, both in the spaceship design and the character design. The action is okay, with psychic attacks taking the place of gunfights (though there are some) or hand to hand combat, which leaves the fight scenes seeming a little, but not totally, detached. 4 out of 6.
Story: This is only a chunk of the Justy manga, and not the conclusion either – just an early portion. Consequently, there isn’t particularly any feeling of conclusion of the story. We get a bit of it because of how the Blue Witch chapter ends, but otherwise not much. This isn’t the writers fault, this is Viz’s fault for not bringing it all over. That said, if Viz was going to re-release it with the complete story, unflipped, and possibly re-translated, I’d definitely read it. 4 out of 6.
Characterization: Justy gets the most characterization, with Astaris (the woman whose father Justy kills, and Justy ends up raising) coming in a close 2nd. That said, it’s a short series, and they certainly had more time to flesh out the characters in the longer Japanese version, and we just don’t get that here. Yes, 9 issues is no excuse for poor characterization – shorter series have gotten more. However, Justy isn’t actually a shorter series, it’s a much longer series, so consequently the writer has more time to stretch out the characterization. It’s just that we got a small portion of the longer series. Still, as a portion goes, it’s not filling. 4 out of 6.
Emotional Response: I did get some emotional reponse from the episodes we got, and I wanted to keep reading, which is certainly a point in its favor. 4 out of 6.
Flow: The comic is flipped, but they did a decent job of flipping the comic so it reads left to right, considering that they had to do it by hand. It helps that the original art layout also flowed pretty well. 5 out of 6.
Overall: As I mentioned under Emotional Response – this is only a small portion of a larger series, and it’s a good appetiser, but I wouldn’t call it a meal. 4 out of 6.
In total, Justy gets 28 out of 42.