Last month I finished a Sci-Fi manga that I've been labouring tirelessly for 2 years now.
The genre of the manga is fairly broad. I personally would categorise it as:
'Scientific speculation fantasy slice of Life speculation adventure drama comedy seinen shonen josei shoujo manga about an utopian dystopian historical eastern society.'
First of apologies if I sound like I'm self-advertising. This is why I'm hesitant in naming my manga. Infact if I was to go hard-line in coercing people to purchase it, it would be equivalent to prostitution of my soul since this is a work of art and it has been my passion project for the longest time.
To introduce it, I like to say what makes it unique and different and also describe the creative process that went into it. In essence there's a distinction between art and the run of the mill entertainment media. I like to think I approached the medium of manga from a unique angle, that I offered something different as a western creator.
The theme which I set out to originally explore was the 'ennui' that comes with extended lifespans in the future. To categorise the genre into a condensed tag, I would call it: Sci-Fi Historic Speculative fiction. A similar work that almost fits this is Aria. I say almost here because Science Fiction Historic speculation is something I primarily focused on, not so much in Kozue Amano's wonderful work. My manga looks upon how individuals from a far future looks back upon the past while exploring a recreated construct of Kyoto. Like Neo-Venezia, the city my story takes place in what I named as Neo-Kiyoto. I'm not a heavy reader of manga, I'm a heavy reader of sci-fi. Concepts from Dune, Ender's Game and mostly Hyperion were heavy influencers in forming the world and terms that's in the story.
Just to prove that I'm not making up a manga that only exists in my head, here's a random page that stands on its own:
Readers, you may find that it is actually light and comedic compared to what I am leading some of you to believe. It is a slice of life manga. A SOL that I attempt to comment heavily on life and also on how we live our lives.
I stop for now my dear readers. If you wish to listen no further to my dissections of my creation, I do not blame you as Severian from the Torturer's Guild does not. It is no easy read (to listen to the ramblings of an egoist).
Rather than talk about the subject matter and plot (There's no overall grand stretching plot really), I will dissect my own work by breaking down and analysing the themes of the story. So in this 'New Earth', we have artificial occupants and lifeforms that inhabit this recreated imitation of 'Old Earth'. One of the themes here is authenticity versus imitation. The world in the story is an imitation. The whole world is said to be a recreation of ancient Earth having terraformed it with its iconic landmarks and cities. Of which era of ancient Earth, it is not said. The lifeforms are also created to look the same as the humans once existed on Earth. The protagonist himself is a recreation of a human and mentions how he cares about what is authentic while the outer world tourists are shown to accept it without too much fickleness. Is this a state akin to having an inferiority complex for the protagonist? Possibly, since the protagonist shows a dislike of the inhabitants of this world muttering snide remarks under his breath. The protagonist himself is an unique oddity to this world, being an earlier 'human' prototype before being discarded for an improved 'human' model.
As grand and mighty I'm building this seemingly epic tale, to read this much in this Slice of Life story depends on the devotion of the reader. Conversations happens in a down to Earth fashion with hard Sci-Fi language thrown in from time to time. In fact, if the reader ignores chapter 1 (Sci-fi elements are shown), the 2nd chapter (no bizarre futuristic tech appears for a long period that would out itself as a different Earth) would seem like 2 delirious people talking about insane non-existent technology in gobble gook while walking through a society no different than our own present in the year of our Lord, 2020AD.
Again, I pause for the time being as it is no easy read to listen to such dense dissertations of a strange world.
The society itself is a world filled with a sort of A.I. Hivemind where all the inhabitants are connected like one single organism in some form. This is an extreme take on the the most collectivist culture of them all, Japan's culture. This is why I chose to describe the world as an utopian dystopian. It is perfect in practice to the inhabitants but to outsiders, it can appear to be a terrible world. Brave New World explores this theme excellently. The savage cannot adapt to the perfect world he finds himself in. It speaks of the idea in which a perfect society may appear perfect to one but flawed to another, to an alien. Readers may argue how the world in Brave New World is as ideal as human society can be or not. In no way can a savage possibly understand perfection when he finds himself fundamentally rejecting that society and chooses to impose his own idea of what is a perfect society accompanied with his own sense of morals. The MC (protagonist) in the story is more understanding. He is what I term, an educated savage. The idea in my story yet again explores this sort of world with a similar protagonist in conflict with the world, or does it? Here in the story, it can be seen to argue that only a hivemind of intelligence can be the only option to form an utopian world. As long as individuals exist in odds to each other, the world cannot be perfect to both.
The idea of authenticity in this story parallels to an age old philosophical question, the Ship of Theseus. In the story, It is mentioned that the imitations (recreated relics of Old Earth) of the planet has been refurbished again and again. Eventually like the ship of Theseus, it has all its components replaced. It can be seen in this manga that whether or not the entity has experienced and lived through the ages as the original had does not matter. What matters is if the person knows if it's an imitation or not. It therefore parallels the age old proverb, 'beauty is in the eye of the beholder'. Sentimental value itself comes from within and is not naturally intrinsic to the object. A perfectly created imitation I argue, is the same as the authentic entity. To these characters, the ship of Theseus is nothing but the identity created from the observer. How authentic it is to them is what they know of it. It runs similar to the philosophical quote from Descartes on existence and identity,"I think, therefore I am", but instead to the observers of the subject.
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