As we all know, anime don't just materialize out of thin air but instead are created by little gnomes out of lead and feathers... or is that babies? Well anyway, one of these gnomes is a Japanese man by the name of Masami Yuuki. In the past two years, I've become more familiar with his manga works and have grown to love his style and humor. One thing I immediately notice about Yuuki's work is the overabundance of oddball characters. These wackos are especially prominent in Super Man R and Patlabor. One of his earlier works, Super Man R stars the robot R (the 28th), a fast and powerful machine lacking deeply in common sense. The story is set around the Photoclub and some high school that R begins to attend in his junior year. His inventor, a man with the worst memory possible and a huge ego, created R after his own son was hit by a bus. His son lived, however, and so R basically runs amok. He can only eat rice, which he cooks in a rice cooker that he always seems to have and that he plugs into himself. In Patlabor, which you (the newsletter reader) are probably familiar with, the lunacy is also very apparent. Goto is quiet and superintelligent with an evil sense of humor, Noa is a labor otaku far past obsession, Ohta is so trigger-happy, and the maintenance squad spends more time fishing and creating gas-heated tubs than working.
For a Japanese-language failure like myself, one of the best points of his manga are the sight gags and unexpected twists. Comic manga often rely on puns or culture humor that are difficult for us American chumps to understand, and after a lengthy explanation, they aren't really funny anymore. Stuff like the giant heads or R's inventor or the mistaken identities and dream weirdness in Grooming Up. Yes, Grooming Up follows Shunpei as he works on a horse-breeding farm. Much to Yuuki's credit, he can draw horses extraordinarily well. Lillian, our resident manga expert (She reads them to me, and my advice to you if you're an anime fan and cannot read Japanese is, start dating someone who can!), tells me that horse drawing is terribly difficult and that only one other manga artist can really do it besides Yuuki, but not as cutely. I especially enjoy Grooming Up for the interactions between the main character and the family that owns the farm. During the first volume, he meets the four daughters one at a time, but as a reader, you don't know how many there are. Also, it isn't until the fourth volume that you meet one of the daughters' fraternal twin brother.
Well, it's time to stop rambling, but before I forget, Assemble Insert was also by Masami Yuuki, and in it they reference Super Man R, which was promised to be animated for a long time and finally (last year or something) was done, so maybe we'll get our hands on it. Until then, go to Chinatown and get yourself some Grooming Up manga!