I recently had the opportunity to read through a few issues of the classic Manga series “Patalliro!”, created by Mineo Maya (魔夜峰央) and published by Hakusensha (白泉社). The experience was both delightful and challenging.
One single book contains a few mini-episodes which cross over into many genres including science fiction, fantasy, romance, horror, and spy, with frequent comedic elements throughout. The jokes are quite frequent and quite extreme. Take for example one scene where a character all of a sudden has an axle jabbed into his head, or is being hung in the background. There are also many references to pop culture, and for someone living out of Japan these can be pretty hard to follow, unless you spend a great amount of time thoroughly researching each reference.
Though targeted for a younger audience, the Japanese is quite challenging with some political/governmental terms, slang, and dialects. Furigana is used almost everywhere which helps, but the raw amount of dialogue is pretty massive in some stories and looking up words frequently can be a burden.
If this were a new series that just came out in the bookstores I’d be somewhat impressed, but what makes this series amazing is that it’s been around since 1978, and the issues I read were from 1982-1983. Whats more, Patalliro! is still in production as of now (2014), and holds the record for the second longest running Shojo (少女）manga series in history.
The character designs and general art isn’t too impressive, but I’m not sure if any other series in the early 80s was any better. My biggest problem with Patalliro! is the many gender-crossing characters, such that you can’t tell if it’s a guy or a girl (for example Bancoran). But after all, this is manga which targets a young female audience, and in Japan feminine male characters are pretty typical if not expected of much of Shojo manga.
As I read through parts of Patalliro!, I had flashbacks to some of the great anime moments from 1990 to around 2005, in terms of both crazy comedy and ultra seriousness. I’m no manga historian, but I’m fairly certain that this was one of the first series that really established modern-day manga and anime, and it’s influence is still felt in works produced today.
After reading issues 10 and 16, I decided to stop since it was too hard to follow the story after missing so many episodes in between. I’m hoping to pick the first 5 or 10 books somewhere cheap, like Book Off .