COVID the 19th—The First: Ogiue Maniax Status Update for June 2023

So it finally happened: I got my first case of COVID-19. I’ve been isolating, but I’ve also finally started testing negative, so I think I’m over the hump.

I already announced it on Twittter, but anyone who attended Anime Central 2023 should probably get themselves tested if they haven’t already. While I was masked for pretty much the entire time, I most likely had COVID-19 during the entire event, and it’’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to the coronavirus.

While it might be too late for anyone who’s first reading about my COVID-19 case here, I still wanted to talk about it in this status update for a couple reasons. First, well, this is technically the “status of Ogiue Maniax.” Second, many people are afraid to admit they got COVID, worried that they might be looked upon negatively if they say anything, or feel a sense of guilt about how they put themselves and/or others in danger. But I think the more we publicly talk about it, the more we can reduce the stigma without downplaying the ongoing severity of the pandemic (it’s not just “the flu.”)

Thank you to my Patreon subscribers, who allow me to continue to indulge in this hobby of mine:


Ko Ransom

Diogo Prado



Sue Hopkins fans:


Philippe Nguyen

Hato Kenjirou fans:


Yajima Mirei fans:


Blog highlights from May:

I Finished Reading the Saint Seiya Manga

A nonstop rollercoaster of thrills, chills, and people throwing their bodies at perilous situations to protect their loved ones.

Oshi no Ko vs. Getter Robo: A Hot-Blooded Killer Combo

It’s like my fandom has gone full circle thanks to this meme.

La+ Darknesss, VTuber Birthdays, and the Ultimate Kayfabe

A look at the pecularity of the VTuber Birthday (and an excuse to celebrate La+ again!)

Kio Shimoku

Kio’s got some more good stuff.


While Anime Central wasn’t ideal due to my condition, I did manage to conduct some interviews, and I think they all turned out well. Expect to start seeing them soon!

Kio Shimoku Twitter Highlights May 2023

Kio Shimoku goes back to fulfill one of his old unfinished projects in this month’s tweets.

Replying to manga creator Kusada (who just got done selling at the doujin event Comitia), Kio mentions that he’s also hesitant about posting URLs to his 18+ doujinshi on Twitter for fear of being shadowbanned.

Kio has decided to undertake a rather massive personal project. Back in 2010, Kio sold at Comiket a very rough manuscript of a genderswapped Episode I parody called Sister Wars. Now, he’s turning the entire thing into a fully illustrated doujinshi. (Note that I will be making a separate post about this at some point.)

One person shows a Sister Wars drawing Kio did, to which he replies, “Oh…? Did I draw that…?”

Another person talks about wanting to own Sister Wars, but Kio says that if it’s something where money needs to get involved, then it’ll cause issues, so his intent is to keep it free and online-only.

Kio says the whole thing is 350 pages, but it’s someone he always wanted to do, and he feels that it’ll be a waste if he doesn’t use the free time he has now to work on it. He put a lot of thought into it beyond the genderswap aspect too.

When asked if there will be a female Jar Jar, Kio replies that the Gungans have been cut entirely.

Another commenter recalls there being no Jar Jar, to which Kio responds that other characters from Episode II were also cut, as they seemed to mainly be there originally to just make things more confusing.

Kio realizes a line during the theme song for the variety show/special series How Do You Like Wednesday? comes from a spoof drama they did called Shikoku R-14. Kio originally thought it may have been unused footage.

Finishing the drawings of the Kujibiki Unbalance dating visual novel, here are Koyuki and Chihiro routes as reviewed by Kohsaka and Ohno, respectively.

Some old Genshiken-related drawings. Kio couldn’t remember when it was or what it was used for other than being part of some multi-creator piece, but a fan points out that it was part of an Afternoon 20th Anniversary illustration, as seen on the above library card.

And a Genshiken drawing used for a calendar.

High-quality version of the cover illustration for Genshiken Volume 5.

A fan comments that they remember not being able to read the doujinshi the Genshiken club made, to which Kio responds that most people couldn’t [because it was heavily mosaic’d as part of the joke].

One commenter says that Genshiken is the reason they decided to first attend Comiket, with Kio going “Hoho!”

A Genshiken drawing used for the cover of a 2004 issue of Monthly Afternoon with Saki helping to zip up Ohno’s Kuradoberi Jam cosplay, and Ogiue staring awkwardly in the background. Kio also responds positively to people talking about how great Ogiue is in this image, even saying that Ogiue looks like she’s seeing cosplay for the first time. He recalls wanting to draw a scene that doesn’t happen in the actual manga.

I actually found my old instructions for the Kotobukiya Ogiue figure, as well as the glasses for her, all of which I had thought I lost! Kio retweeted it.

“For those feeling that Sunday afternoon ennui.”

Kio saw the 2022 movie Bullet Train. Even though the depiction of Japan is not at all genuine, he was entertained nevertheless. In fact, he even liked the scene in the quiet car. He really wishes he saw the movie in the theater like he had originally planned.

Shocked to discover there’s gonna be a Bullet Train 2.

Kio bought Go Go! Ghostbusters Club by Kusada, and mentions wanting to see more of the assistant and wanting to find out why the club president would start a Ghostbusters Club when they’re afraid of ghosts. Kusada thanks Kio as well. (Note that Kio often retweets Kusada, which is not fully reflected in these tweet summary collections.)

“The train has air conditioning.”

Kio saw The Super Mario Bros. Movie, and thought it was great.

He also saw the movie Psycho-Pass: Providence. Though he didn’t remember a lot of what had happened prior, he felt this was a must-watch.

Kio watches and reacts to the DVD for the How Do You Like Wednesday? special, How Do You Like Japanese History If We Only Travel by Late-Night Bus for Three Nights Straight

(Without context, I can’t really properly summarize the reactions so I will leave it like this.)

Kio read Love Comedy Experiments Manga by Shima Toki and really liked the part where they have to stop right before climax (sundome). Shima thanks Kio as well. (Shima is another author who often gets retweeted by Kio; both them and Kusada all do manga for Rakuen, the magazine that runs Spotted Flower.)

Star Wars model kits.

Showing the Padawan hair braid.

While trying to figure out how to fix the warping in this kit part, Kio receives various pieces of advice ranging from pliers to dryers.

Kio answering a fan’s questions in English. No need for me to summarize!

I think this is Kio struggling with a model kit?

The art for a Genshiken DVD box set.

Kio building a 1/144 Gundam Aerial model kit. He added a bit of weathering effects to the paint job. It also felt like a long while since Kio worked on a Gundam kit.

Starting up on two more The Five Star Stories kits.

Social Connection and Nostalgia for Web 1.0

I have a somewhat rose-colored view of an internet from long ago, and based on my observations on social media, I’m not alone. Increasingly, I see among those who surfed the superhighway a desire to return to a still-connected but far less prominently “public” presence. There’s no doubt a heavy element of nostalgia, but I also think there’s another major factor: a longing for a time when you could feel comfortable baring your insides, both the beautiful and ugly parts, without risking attack en masse.

The internet has thrived as a way to help people feel less alone without great risk to themselves. Whether it’s a political belief, favorite book, or even a sexual fetish, thinking you’re the only person in the world who’s into something can be an incredibly isolating experience. Are you “normal?” If not, are there at least others who can relate to you?

Now, especially as an entire generation has grown up being encouraged (or even forced) to make their online presence and extension of their offline identity, it’s not surprising that people would become afraid to share themselves. In a recent interview, game creator Sakurai Masahiro (of Smash Bros. and Kirby fame) said something related to this, which was summarized by a translator as follows:

“Sakurai talks about how he feels like today’s culture is too combative & people are quick to tear down things they don’t like in bad faith, and that the people putting things out into the world are vulnerable whereas the critics aren’t; he has little faith that things will change.”

I think it captures the environment well, along with the fear it creates.

Trying to find out if there were others like you carried a risk in the past too, of course. I’m under no illusions that those days weren’t filled with trolls or mean-spirited assholes eager to tear people down, but compared to today, the potential damage to the self feels less severe. Or at least, it would be localized.

There’s an anime called Jormungand about a mercenary team led by an arms dealer. In the final episode [Spoiler Warning], the main characters essentially cripple the ability to wage war from the other side of the world, though more regional conflicts are still very possible. In other words, while they can never truly stop war, they at least wanted to slow its spread. I think the desire to return to an era of web rings, bulletin boards, and extremely unpolished personal sites comes from a similar sentiment. Call it harm reduction, perhaps.

La+ Darknesss, VTuber Birthdays, and the Ultimate Kayfabe

May 25, is the birthday of VTuber La+ Darknesss, and that means a variety of ways to mark the occasion, as per usual. There are the special streams, the general well wishes from fans and peers alike, and of course, the merch. As La+ is one of my absolute favorites (and her group holoX just a generally great Hololive generation), I (and my wallet) will also be partaking in the celebration. But one thing I find so funny about VTuber birthdays is that they’re the ultimate kayfabe—a crucial area where everyone suspends their disbelief.

Nearly all virtual youtubers have two important dates to celebrate every year: their debut anniversaries and their birthdays. The former are near-immutable facts; they did their first YouTube streams on X Day, and that remains into perpetuity (unless a re-debut is somehow given precedent). The latter are completely arbitrary. 

VTuber birthdays aren’t based on when their designs are first created or when they’re first hired—that’s an unknown and (presumably) long process. It’s clearly never the same as the actual person’s birthday—that’d just invite trouble by accidentally leaking personal info. Instead, the VTuber birthday is this made-up thing that gives an excuse to put the spotlight on an individual streamer while they get to promote their projects and new goods for fans to purchase. Everyone plays along as if this is the real deal.

It’s actually great. 

I feel like everyone is on the same page in this situation, because what it really does is focus all the love and attention onto a particular period of time, giving meaning to the actions of the VTubers and their followers alike. It’s also the only part of a VTuber’s lore that holds firm no matter what. Character personalities can change. VTubers can play into their original lore or abandon most of it to be something closer to who they are behind the screen. Fans can popularize theories, and the performers themselves can choose whether to incorporate aspects of it. Entire designs can even change significantly. However, the birthday remains.

So Happy Birthday, La+ Darknesss! It’s going to be great getting to see you get all the attention you’ve earned. It’s good to see you bounce back from COVID as well (ironic that I say this while just getting my own first bout of COVID.)

An important final note: La+ has mentioned that she’s recovering from a stress fracture due to COVID-19, so there might not be a concert stream. In the meantime, two different delayed birthday concerts are happening this week: One is for the original Hololive, Tokino Sora, on May 26 (her birthday is May 15). The other is for 1st-Generation member Aki Rosenthal on May 27 (whose original concert in February had to be postponed due to some unknown difficulties). So while we might not get to see the Founder’s sweet dance moves again, we do get to see two of the best performers around.

Evil Doppelgängers in Anime and Manga (or Lack Thereof)

The evil doppelgänger is a classic trope of fiction. I’m drawn to simple stories in this space, ones that revel in what makes these counterparts nefarious, and how this inevitably leads to cool battles where the original and the double are evenly matched. Oddly, though, I find that this trope isn’t terribly common in anime and manga.

While TVTropes is not the be-all end-all of how to understand fiction, it’s notable that the anime and manga sections for “Evil Doppelgänger” and “Mirror Universe” are barely populated. The Evil Knockoff has more entries, though they are typically not long-term characters. Goku Black is one such knockoff, as he‘s more of an imposter in the vein of the Fake Ultraman and the Fake Kamen Rider, as explained by Toriyama Akira himself. The Precure franchise has seen a number of examples, but they usually last for only a little while—a standalone movie (Yes! Pretty Cure 5, see image above), a couple episodes (Smile Precure), and only rarely as a recurring villain (Dark Precure in Heartcatch Precure!) Often, if they have any enduring popularity, it’s because their designs have an inherent appeal as the “bad versions.”

Contrast that with superhero stories where the trope is downright ubiquitous. For example, the Crime Syndicate from DC Comics has taken various forms, but they all amount to the same thing: crime-committing counterparts to the Justice League, who come from an alternate universe, and whose differences with the heroes range from interesting to hilarious. For example, the original incarnation of the evil Superman—known as Ultraman—gained new superpowers whenever exposed to kryptonite. Owlman is Batman except his origins usually involve being a relative of Bruce Wayne who had to kill someone in cold blood. When I think about how different creators can interpret what it means to be the mirror version of an existing character, it makes me appreciate their imaginations. Sometimes, it’s Spock with a goatee, or the way Nega Duck prefers scheming and explosives to theatrics and Gas Guns.

I think the difference might have to do with the fact that superhero comics have historically been some combination of “goes on forever” + “willing to bring back villains who will come and go.” Even in the longest-running anime and manga that would potentially have evil clones in the first place, they usually don’t go beyond a single arc. I have to wonder if such characters might be less appealing to creators and consumers of anime and manga alike because they’re not working off the succinct characterizations that have classically defined superheroes. 

Or even if the heroes do have “dark opposites,” they’re usually characters unto themselves, like how Gaara parallels Naruto by having a similar yet more cruel past, or how Shigaraki in My Hero Academia is like the evil version of a superhero nerd to contrast with Deku. The fact that literal superhero-themed anime and manga don’t feature such characters feels significant. Why is there no One Kick Man or Lion and Hare?

Instead, where the doppelgängers seem to thrive is in the world of video games, to the point that trying to count them is pointless. Whether it’s Dark Link in the Zelda, Dark Harrier in Space Harrier 2, or Dark Samus in Metroid, the notion of having to fight an opponent with all your skills provides a nice thematic challenge—especially in the endgame. Perhaps their lack of story is a bit more forgiving there because the primary focus isn’t narrative but gameplay.

Naturally, it’s not like a story needs evil doppelgangers to be good or fun. That said, what I find interesting is that for all the diversity of tropes and stories that manga and anime contain, somehow this is the one that isn’t so common. In the meantime, I can appreciate where such villains show up.

The Roles of “Characters” in Mecha Anime

Sometimes, you’ll see a wild claim about mecha anime, like “Gurren-Lagann was the first giant robot series to be about characters instead of the robots,” and it inevitably results in a backlash—in this case, the counterargument that all giant robot shows are about characters. Whether the initial statement is made in jest or as a genuinely ignorant take by someone with only surface-level knowledge of mecha, it reflects certain assumptions about what the genre is like.

I got to thinking about the notion that giant robot anime are about characters because it’s both true and an oversimplification. Moreover, the extent to which the giant robots truly “matter,” as in they’re inexorable from the world being portrayed and can’t be substituted with some other form of weaponry, varies tremendously. But regardless of the true “necessity” of either characters or robots, I feel there is more to it than just one side mattering more than the other. Then a thought occurred to me, and I have a kind of nascent “universal theory of giant robot anime”:

Giant robot anime are about characters, but more specifically, the main character reflects some vital or fundamental aspect of the world and story around them. The giant robot, in turn, is reflective of the connection between the hero and that aspect.

If it seems nebulous, that’s because it is. I’m thinking less about trying to justify every mecha anime and more about how the giant robots end up being the avatar through which so many of these protagonists interact with their environment and their histories, and thus reveal more about the anime themselves. There’s also no denying the close ties between giant robots and merchandising, but this also ebbs and flows over the decades.

So let’s start with some of the big ones. 

Tetsujin 28 is about Shoutarou trying to make a difference in a post-WWII environment by being a boy detective who fights crime. Tetsujin 28 the robot was created to fight the Allies, but is now being used for an alternate purpose: as a guardian of peace instead of a weapon of war. 

Mazinger Z draws a direct lineage to this sort of thinking. While the power fantasy and toyetic appeal of the robot itself is undeniable, Kouji is presented with a question about human potential from the very beginning: If you had great power, would you be a god or a devil? The robot Mazinger Z is Kouji’s way of making a difference, and he chooses to use it as a protective guardian.

Mobile Suit Gundam, the first “real robot” anime that emphasized the robots as weapons of war over superhero-like entities, is about its hero Amuro’s repeated exposure to the trauma of war. It’s through the Gundam that he experiences physical and emotional scars alike, and the very fact that his piloting experience molds him into a capable soldier also contributes to the overall “horror of war” message that girders Gundam and its many sequels.

Superdimensional Fortress Macross has three main components: romance, music, and robot battles. Here, the titular robot is literally a flying city traveling through space, and it functions as both an urban cosmopolitan center and a massive superweapon. In other words, it is the very space in which all three pieces of Macross take place.

Neon Genesis Evangelion centers around Shinji and his fear of human connection, be it with his family, his peers, his friends, or anyone else. It is the anime of extreme introspection. Not only is the EVA-01 the means by which he tries (and fails) to find self-worth, but the EVA itself is revealed to house the soul of his dead mother. He is contained in a womb-like structure inside of his giant mom.

Tengen Toppa Gurren-Lagann is about Simon and the limitless potential of humanity to overcome all obstacles slowly but surely—and ultimately whether there should be limits on that power. Gurren-Lagann manifests this through numerous transformations fueled by human spirit that bring on exponential power growth.

The above examples are all heavy hitters, but what I also want to emphasize is that this applies to “lesser” titles as well.

Brave Police J-Decker is maybe the most on-the-nose example of the relationship between a boy and his giant robot, as the story is about how Yuuta’s friendship with the giant police robot Deckard is what teaches the latter to develop true emotions and a proper sense of justice and humanity. 

Shinkon Gattai Godannar is about the relationship between Gou and Anna as husband and wife and how their love affects both their personal and professional lives as co-pilots. Godannar Twin Drive is literally a combination of both robots.

Robotics;Notes focuses on Kaito and his relationship with Akiho’s giant robot club, and the blurring of augmented reality with actual reality. The creation of the Guntsuku-1 is basically an untenable goal that, through the events of the series, becomes effectively “real” through how Kaito and Akiho view and utilize it.

Trider G7 is about Watta, who’s both a little kid and the CEO of his own company, utilizing both the image of Japanese corporate culture of the early 1980s and the classic child desire of wanting to do what the adults do. The Trider G7 robot literally flies out of a playground, and has tons of cool and wacky weapons, but the fact that it’s Watta’s robot and the main way he gets his job done means it’s the conduit through which that “grown-up” fantasy takes place. 

Shinkansen Henkei Robo Shinkalion the Animation is literally a commercial for bullet train toys that are, in turn, advertising for the Shinkansen trains in Japan. Its main character, Hayato, is basically a Shinkansen fanatic who sees them as not only the coolest things ever but as reflecting a philosophy of unwavering service to the people of Japan. The Shinkalion robots, by extension, portray a more action-packed version of this concept.

Giant robot anime embody many values, from crass commercialism to dreams of being brave and strong, from anti-war sentiments to deep looks inward at the psychological scars of society. The mecha themselves are often not “characters” in and of themselves (with a number of notable exceptions), but they are symbolic of how the protagonists of these stories relate to what they experience. The hurdle for those who think that these anime are “more about robots” is that this particular way of communicating the characters’ stories requires an acceptance of giant robots as a storytelling device.

Ogiue Maniax at Anime Central 2023

This is just a short post to say that I will be attending my very first Anime Central this May 19–21! Motivated by my wish to see Kubo “Koizumi Hanayo” Yurika, I have decided to dip my toes into the Chicago area.

I am doing zero panels, and will be attending them instead. I’ll also be trying to conduct interviews with guests. I hope to have a good time regardless—and I plan to make that happen even if the con doesn’t go as planned by scarfing down many hot dogs and Italian beef sandwiches.

To all those attending, stay safe! COVID is definitely still a thing, and I encourage everyone to wear good-quality masks. You will most likely not see me without one.

The 2023 Writers’ Strike vs. AI: Fighting Creative Bankruptcy

Even the most uncreative, awful stories are better than a world where AI scripts are the default.

The Writers Guild of America officially declared a strike recently—their first in 15 years. The Writer’s Strike of 2007 incidentally also began the very same month as Ogiue Maniax, so while this blog isn’t directly related to their cause, I feel a kind of connection to them. This is a form of writing, after all, even if it isn’t the kind that gets made into TV shows or movies on Netflix. 

I’m in full support of this strike, but one thing I want to focus on is their preemptive motive to restrict the use and crediting of AI software like ChatGPT, and to emphasize that all writers need to be human. The worry, as far as I can tell, is that studios and media companies will try to use AI to churn out basic scripts and then have the writers clean them up for less pay than they’d normally get. In the highly capitalist United States of America, we’re accustomed to seeing cost-cutting measures that punish the workers and reward the executives, so this would hardly be a surprising development.

My stance on this particular issue is that the writers are justified in their concern and are totally in the right. I’m not inherently against AI providing some form of entertainment. I spent many years enjoying the hell out of VGCW, which basically pit AI wrestlers against one another in a video game and then wrote a story around it. However, that pretty much amounts to using AI as an improvisational prompt not unlike Who’s Line Is It, Anyway?, and the majority of the creative output comes from actual people.

The human connection to writing is paramount, and I think this is something that should concern all writers and fans of media regardless of skill, ethics, or political beliefs. Someone could make the most derivative and poorly written story, and that would still be preferable to an AI script precisely because it is someone’s work that they put out through their own effort, even if it’s “bad.” I occasionally see arguments that using AI can stick it to the liberal Hollywood media or whatever. However, it’s a mistake to think this would only affect people on one side of the political spectrum. This will bite people in the ass regardless of their beliefs—no one wants to have their work trivialized.

The thing I find most insidious about the push for using AI for writing and other areas is that the assumption of cost-cutting implies the notion that writers, artists, etc. are somehow paid too much. Creative fields are notoriously unstable, and acting as if they’re the biggest cost sink is either disingenuous or horrendously shortsighted. I hope the strikers win this one, and that we have a media landscape where writers can feel like they are both fairly compensated and not treated like nannies for AI chat programs.

Oshi no Ko vs. Getter Robo: A Hot-Blooded Killer Combo

Sometimes it takes a meme to put a giant robot anime in the minds of the people. Hot on the heels of “Is this a pigeon?” comes the Perfect and Ultimate Getter mashup. 

For those who don’t quite get the joke, this is a mashup of the anime opening themes for 2023’s [Oshi no Ko] and 2000’s Shin Getter Robo vs. Neo Getter Robo. The two songs, “IDOL” and “STORM,” share a similar build-up during their respective choruses that makes one transition into the other almost seamlessly, with only a tweek to the tempo being necessary.

As a fan of both (the latter of which I watched during my formative years as an otaku), it makes me happy to see these two shows and their respective theme songs getting love. More than that, it made me think about a few things. 

First, I’m actually kind of surprised that so many people have a fondness for Shin vs. Neo. I know Getter Robo is just part of the bedrock of anime and the mecha genre, but I had always assumed Shin vs. Neo was just known in the little corner of the fandom I had occupied. Glad to see people have a sense of nostalgia for it, though that does make me feel old.

Second, if this is how newer anime fans discover Shin vs. Neo, then so be it. I hope they enjoy seeing a shirtless man beat a dinosaur soldier into submission, in addition to all the robot action. At the very least, the fact that this joke incorporates more footage of the anime means it’s able to show itself off better than Fighbird and the aforementioned pigeon meme.

Third, it’s a bittersweet reminder that one of the singers of “STORM,” Mizuki Ichiro, passed away earlier this year. IAs one of the elder statesmen of anime music, he might have very well leaned into this, and we might have legitimately gotten a cover of this. At the very least, Kageyama Hironobu and the rest of JAM Project are all around, and they are definitely game to perform memes (see their cover of “Okkusenman.”)

I think what I ultimately really like about Getter no Ko is that it showcases both series well. Their original content doesn’t get lost in layers of obfuscation, and I hope anime fans are able to experience and appreciate both.

I Finished Reading the Saint Seiya Manga

Five teenage boys all clad in extremely ornate, shining armor, joining fists while shouting, "Time to unite our lives and cosmos, and strike at Hades!!"

I can finally say that I am hip to the trends of 20th-Century South American anime and manga fandom, as well as other fandoms worldwide. I have continued my reading of the original Saint Seiya all the way to the end, and I now know who the characters are, where their appeal lies, and what makes the series so memorable. At least, I think I do.

Saint Seiya (also known as Knights of the Zodiac) is a 1980s Shounen Jump manga about Seiya, a teen orphan who earns the power of a mystical armor called the Bronze Pegasus Cloth in order to find his missing sister. However, taking this path results in him having to fight rival Saints, before eventually teaming up with them to take on greater threats—including the forces of Greek gods. The series takes a while to find its footing, but once it all coalesces, the result is a work full of passionate pretty boys with intense camaraderie whose many battles take readers through a roller coaster of emotions as one shocking development leads continuously to the next.

It’s very clear to me that the series plays things by ear rather than possessing a more concrete long-term plan. Many seemingly important plot points fall by the wayside, as if the author, Kurumada Masami, wasn’t always sure what Saint Seiya should be. It takes a circuitous path to becoming the tales of Athena’s Saints protecting the Earth, and even after that, many arcs conclude feeling like they might be the last. Characters frequently come back to life or have their armor seemingly irreparably broken only to be restored in some never-before-seen way. According to George Horvath, a big Kurumada fan, the author actually let the readers decide who would join the team, and the series does really feel like it was built in part off fan input in a manner similar to pro wrestling.

But what carries the manga through is just the sheer spectacle and excitement built around its core cast, the Bronze Saint, all of whom have very distinct personalities and appeal. Pegasus Seiya is brave and clever, as is befitting a shounen protagonist. Dragon Shiryu is wise and righteous like a kung fu master. Cygnus Hyoga is cool yet fierce. Andromeda Shun is gentle and compassionate. Phoenix Ikki is headstrong and stoic, his sparse appearances akin to a much less merciless and infinitely more effective Tuxedo Mask who throws traumatic hallucinations instead of roses. Every time one of them gets to shine, their most prominent qualities are on full display and add to the drama of the moment.

One thing that increasingly stood out to me is how every character is extremely willing to sacrifice themselves for others. Again and again, warriors both major and minor try to throw their bodies into the jaws of doom to help save the day. At one point, in what’s called the Poseidon Arc, a critical moment goes from Seiya willing to attack in a way that could cost him his life; to the female character Eagle Marin using her body to shield Seiya; to Seiya trying to shield Marin instead; to Shiryu shielding both; to Shiryu, Hyoga, and Shun forming a wall. It’s a whole lot of wreckless selflessness.

Saint Seiya is the origin of the once-notable “boys in armor” genre, but its reach extends beyond that immediate purview of Samurai Troopers and Brave Command Dagwon. The series is known for being huge with BL fans in the 1980s, and was a major force in the doujinshi scene at that time. It really is no wonder, what with all these fit-looking guys with expressive eyes acting passionate and emotional as they get bloodied and bruised in combat. Without even knowing beforehand, Shun and Shiryu would seem incredibly popular in this regard, the former with his soft and feminine aura, and the latter with his sharp features and long black hair. I don’t know for sure how aware Kurumada was about this fandom, but there are multiple times where Saint Seiya seems to try to get more hetero (are those sparks flying between Seiya and Athena???)—though it always ends up receding into the distance. Call it a template for future works in shounen.

Famously, the manga artist group CLAMP got their start drawing Saint Seiya BL doujinshi. When I think about that fact, I feel like I can tell that the CLAMP aesthetic owes itself in some part to the look of Saint Seiya. Especially in something like RG Veda, the handsome and beautiful characters, the detailed yet confusing full-page attacks, and the general atmosphere evoke the struggles of Seiya and his allies to a certain degree. 

Speaking of art style, I know that there is some debate among the fandom about Kurumada’s art style, which tends to be less conventional than the anime adaptation’s character designs. I can see why this divide exists, but I think there’s a certain charm to the manga’s look—an extension of its overall nonstop intensity. Even if the characters’ faces look kind of lopsided, it still carries an energy befitting Saint Seiya.

Although it rushes to wrap up a few dangling plot threads, Saint Seiya ends pretty decisively, making the reading experience satisfying overall. As is the case when I check out big titles from the past, it’s both entertaining and helps give me greater context for both manga history and manga fandom. As both a standalone work and a series that would inspire so much, it stands the test of time.