Lyn Jensen's Blog: Manga, Music, and Politics

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Location: Anaheim, California, United States

Regular contributor ("Carson City Limits" and other content) for Random Lengths (circulation 56,000) in San Pedro, CA, 2001-present. Manga reviewer: LA Alternative (circulation 150,000), 2005-2006. Some manga reviews also ran in NY Press around this time. Entertainment reporting: Music Connection (circulation 75,000), 1983-1906. Travel writing: Oakland Tribune (1998) and Life After 50 (2006). Other bylines: Goldmine, Star Hits, Los Angeles Reader, Los Angeles Times, Long Beach Press Telegram, Blade, BAM, Daily Breeze, LA Weekly. Specializations include community news reporting, writing reviews (book, theater, concert, film, music), copywriting, resumes, editing, travel writing, publicity, screenwriting, lecturing, and content development. Education: B. A. Theater Arts, UCLA. Post-grad work, Education, Chapman University.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Manga Review: Aegis

Aegis by Jinha Yoo (six printed vols. Netcomics 2001-2005)

Schoolboys who are also warriors and warriors who are also schoolboys are the central characters in Aegis, one of many Korean manga ( or manwha in Korean) that the Korean-American publisher Netcomics made available to the English-language market in the early twentieth century. The innocent-looking schoolboy depicted on the cover of Aegis vol. 1 is Jino, while his "brother" (as in, like a brother) Izare wears a military uniform along with the flowing locks of a legendary warrior. The marketing campaign compared the manga to Lord of the Flies, perhaps because both works deal with schoolboys in a savage social environment that's rapidly breaking down.
Since Aegis deals partly with attraction--or at least affection--between the leading males, yaoi (aka shonen ai) fans may be expecting boy-boy action, but what readers get is six volumes of violent sci-fi warfare in which Jino and Izare live with only the distant memories of the brotherly affection they once shared before the brutality of war tore them apart.
Any male-male sexual implications are subjugated to the theme that war destroys the innocent, where any trace of tenderness runs contrary to survival. The convoluted plot flashes forward and back over ten years or more, between Korea, America, the Middle East, and outer space, from the time Jino and Izare are two very young orphans, kidnapped and forced to become child soldiers, until long after they've survived all manner of abuse and savagery, and matured into elite officers embroiled in some space-age invasion. Jino flees rather than serve, passing himself off as a mild-mannered Korean-American schoolboy on earth. Izare, who's still the age of a schoolboy, fights the interstellar conflict aboard dangerous space stations, but his motives are all about protecting his missing friend--maybe.
That's where we are in vol. 1, and that's still where we are in vol. 6, as sub-plots come and go and characters--and whole cities and whole space stations--get bumped off. Supposedly the premise is that one day Jino and Izare will be reunited--but after six volumes' worth of plot twists and still no resolution looming, we can't even be sure of that.
At least in the available English-language edition, the series and story remain unfinished, meaning fans will never learn the ultimate fate of Jino and Izare amid all the other tragedies anyway. Netcomics published print editions of the first six volumes between 2001 and 2005. The Korean-American publisher made the seventh, eighth, and part of a ninth volume available online--but the latest posting is dated 2009.
The site lists Jinha Yoo as the same artist for Aegis and another Netcomics title, Totally Captivated but that information appears to be inaccurate. The Totally Captivated artist has a slightly different name, Hajin Yoo, and the art for the two series doesn't look similar.
Anime News Network lists vols. 7 and 8 with 2008 publishing dates, but the print versions apparently never saw retail, at least not for any English-language editions. Whether the series is still being published in South Korea, or is concluded, or was discontinued without reaching a conclusion, is information beyond the reach of a simple Google search.