Anime Meta-Review


Gon manga


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Title Info

  • seen: 1
  • type: graphic novel
  • grade: watchable
  • source: Mandarin
  • made: 1992
  • Review created: Mon Jul 16 17:25:11 EST 2001
  • mod: none

This manga wins, without any doubt, the award for "easiest manga to translate into English". Not only are the stories universal but the dialogue is rather there isn't any. Yep, this is a weird, but interesting, little manga. Note that this review is from the Mandarin (United Kingdom publisher?) graphic novel.


In the deep wilds of the world there are places where humans simply aren't relevant. This is the domain of animals, a timeless place where animals do what animals do. Following their instincts, natures and appetites in a balanced network of dependencies. Sure, a part of this involves eating each other, but that's just the natural order of things.

And then in steps the main characters of this story. Imagine a 2 foot high deformed Tyrannosaurus Rex. Although while small he's got all the power, and attitude, of his much larger cousins. His appetites are every bit as immense as his power, and his respect for the natural order of things, or even what is physically possible, is minimal. We get to watch as he inserts himself into the natural order and forces things to work the way he wants.


One of the few things he can't do is talk, and as a result there is no dialogue in the entire book. This must have made translation just a little bit easier. And the animals, since Gon doesn't seem to be restricted to any one geographic locale, are fairly universal so there's nothing particularly `Japanese' about the whole thing. There also doesn't seem to be any sign of other dinosaurs, or people, to give a strong sense of when to the stories.

However the book is not without story and character. Gon is clearly intelligent and his posture and gaze can be surprisingly expressive. He's not just an animal. In a similar way the other animals, while drawn in a very naturalistic fashion, still manage to express emotion. It's actually fairly skilled in a way, to see fear in the eyes of a grizzly that's crossed Gon, aggravation in a lion being used as a mount or satisfaction when things turn out right. The way in which the various animals act, and emote, also goes quite some way to giving them a sense of personality.

The stories themselves are quite simple but full of action. The general thread being Gon sharing, or interfering, with the life of another animal. Thus he learns to fly with eagles, experiences cold with penguins, terrorises predators, out-builds beavers and out hunts lions. It's also worth noting that while Gon is definitely carnivorous (indeed well outside what his stature would suggest) there are also some co-operative stories. For example he defends the eagle chicks and works with the penguins to defeat a hunter.

As to whether it's any, that's a hard one. It's certainly entertaining enough to read, but it reads through very quickly. It also seems that the lack of story might mean the stories start feeling a little `samey'. While the value of re-reading is open to question. If you've got the book in front of you go for it, but as a manga worth buying it's harder to recommend. Certainly it's novel, and skilled, but is that reason enough? I imagine as an occasional story in an anthology, which is probably how it was presented in Japan, it works better than as a graphic novel.

Of course if you like ink drawing, especially of animals, it becomes a much more certain thing. The art in the book is good, detailed and shows clear evidence of having done lots of life drawing from real animals. The detail is excellent and the appearance of the `real' animal does not need to be sacrificed to give it expression and emotion. Likewise some of the action is pretty cool. Gon's almost super-powered and the sight of a 2 foot high miniature T. Rex throwing a grizzly bear around manages to be both impressive and quite humorous. And even the action is drawn very well, the sense of motion is impressive and some of the frames could easily pass as artworks. Should you buy this novel you'll certainly get your money's worth in the effort the artist put into the graphics.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:18 WST 2009