Black Magic
Author:
Masamune Shirow
Genre:
Fantasy/Sci-Fi
Grade
C+

Black Magic is considered the first major work by the famous Manga author Masamune Shirow (Ghost in the Shell, Orion). Published in 1983 by Manga Research Group Atlas, this series shows first hints of ideas and concepts that Shirow would later develop in his other series. Black Magic is about the Venusian society who create artificial life and Bioroids (artificial humanoids) to govern them and make their life easier. When a conspiracy by the Bioroids to commit genocide on the humans is revealed, Duna Typhon and her allies work to reveal the conspiracy and put an end to it.

One of the most interesting ideas about Black Magic is that it doesn't exist in Earth's far future, but well in it's past. Small shifts in the story explain how Venus was populated and looked to colonize Earth, but the destruction of a scientific project caused the demise of the dinosaur life there and made the planet uninhabitable. Black Magic, while still early in Shirow's career shows his strong ability to introduce deeply conceived scientific and moral issues into the plot and history of his stories.

Artistically, this volume is not as well detailed and consistent as his later works, but considering it's age, that's forgivable. A lot of items and scenes in the story are instantly recognizable to those who have read Appleseed and Ghost in the Shell. Black Magic is still more detailed and well-fleshed out that some current works by other artists.

The story is told in segments that often don't seem to fit together, but in the end seem to be connected by the underlying conflict between Typhon and the conspiracy. Because of this, most of the story seems very disjointed. While each piece is well-told unto it's own, I think the whole suffers just slightly from this.

If you enjoy Masamune Shirow or well-thought-out manga, this is a good volume to get. It's broken-up story telling might not fit well for those who enjoy a straightforward tale with a grand finish.

- - Kinderfeld

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