I can’t think of two titles featuring men that are more opposite in character than Absolute Boyfriend and Golgo 13, so of course I’ll review them at the same time.
Absolute Boyfriend by Yuu Watase (amazon)
I’m guaranteed to like any series by Yuu Watase, so I was happy to read the first collection of the new series being serialized in Shojo Beat. Riiko is home alone, as her parents have gone abroad to work. There seems to be an epidemic of lone high school students in her apartement building, as her next door neighbor and friend since childhood Soshi and his little brother also have absent parents. Soshi checks on Riiko from time to time, bringing her food and tidying up her apartment. She’s oblivious to the idea that Soshi may have feelings for her. Their usual interaction goes something like this – he teases her for her inability to get a boyfriend and she punches him in the face.
Riiko’s latest cruch rejects her, and she’s feeling as if she’s destined to die alone. She spots an odd cellphone in the park and picks it up. It rings, and she agrees to deliver it to its owner at a nearby cafe. The owner of the cellphone is Gaku Namikiru, an oddly-dressed salesman for a mail order business called Kronos Heaven. He offers Riiko some of his products as a reward for bringing his cellphone back, but she refuses, saying she only wants a boyfriend. He leaves her with a CD rom that takes her to a web site where she can order a boy for a three day trial period. Riiko doesn’t take the process very seriously, so she orders a cute boy with a random selecton of personality options.
The next day after school Riiko is surprised to see a giant cardboard box waiting for her. When she opens it, a naked boy falls out. He can cuddle, cook, defend her in a fight, and in many ways he seems to be the perfect boyfriend. Absolute Boyfriend is Yuu Watase in full comedy mode. While some of her other books deal with darker themes, this series one is light, fluffy, and totally frivolous.
Golgo 13: Supergun (amazon)
Golgo 13 is the ultimate assassin, a mysterious man with hundreds of alternate identities. The series ran from 1968-2003 in Japan. There’s no way someone would be able to sustain a sequential translation of Golgo 13 from start to finish, so Viz is picking selected stories for their English language edition. The first volume of Viz’s signature line edition of Golgo 13 features a story called “The Gun at Am Shara” which is set in the early 1990s. UN Weapons inspectors see something fishy going on in Iraq. A fanatical ballistics scientist has allied himself with Saddam Hussein. Someone’s building a giant gun hidden in a dam? Who’re you gonna call? Golgo 13! Golgo 13 never fails when he accepts a contract. Golgo 13 might be Japanese or half-Japanese, but nobody knows! He sometimes poses as a journalist. He doesn’t talk much. When he is at his most expressive, he says stuff like this, “………”
I think that the key to Golgo 13’s long-running appeal is the way he functions as a walking symbol. He’s so blank, and so mysterious that a reader is free to imagine almost any sort of backstory or motivation for him. One volume of Golgo 13 was enough for me, but I think the series would appeal to people who like spy novels or movies. It is nice that Viz is reprinting some older manga.
I saw the link to this on the message boards at Anime News Network, if you want even more proof at how the Tokyopop RSOM entry Samurai Zombie ripped off Blade of the Immortal, look at this image.