Review

by Mike Crandol, Oct 5th 2002

Silent Mobius Vol. 8

(manga)

Synopsis:
Silent Mobius GN 8
A half-year has past since a powerful supernatural explosion consumed the home of Katsumi Liqueur. Her friends in the AMP fear the worst, but no one could imagine just how grim the situation is about to become. Out of the blue Katsumi returns to Tokyo as a disciple of Ganossa, vowing to kill her former comrades and deliver the earth into the hands of Nemesis. To make matters worse, the police have disbanded the AMP. As Rally tries to salvage the situation in Tokyo, Mana dispatches Kiddy and Nami to Hong Kong on a top-secret mission that may be the only hope for defeating mankind's greatest threat: its former champion, Katsumi Liqueur.
Review:
One of the things I love about Silent Möbius is that the hero turns unspeakably evil for a good portion of the story. I'm not talking about a grumpy attitude or a reluctant allegiance with the Bad Guys…. the once-noble Katsumi Liqueur becomes wholly and completely evil in the best Darth Vader tradition. After years of developing her into a three-dimensional, involving heroine, author Kia Asamiya pulls the rug out from under his readers when Katsumi returns from a six-month imprisonment in Nemesis warped, twisted, and hunting down her former friends in the AMP. It's the worst kind of tragedy that can befall a character, and there's something morbidly fascinating about it.

Silent Möbius Vol. 8 's dark events pick up from the previous installment's cliffhanger ending, itself a nightmarish tale that saw Nemesis's chief human agent Ganossa pulling the old “give-in-to-your-hatred” routine on Katsumi by systematically destroying her life. It apparently worked, as her old personality appears to have been completely deprogrammed in her months of captivity. She shows not the least bit of remorse for her evil actions, taking a sadistic delight in torturing her closest friends. Bits of her old abrasive sense of humor remain, but here it takes on a sinister new edge. While the narrative hints that Katsumi may not be acting of her own free will her transformation is nonetheless one of the most disturbing and compelling visions of evil manga has ever seen: that of Absolute Corruption.

It makes for such great reading because Katsumi's relationships with her former friends and allies had been so well established in the Silent Möbius books leading up to this installment. Asamiya doesn't have to explain how the rest of the AMP feel about Katsumi's fall from grace, regular readers will already know. From the moment Katsumi makes her dark intentions clear the book becomes a nonstop page-turner. A whirlwind of emotions are present in this volume, and every appearance by Katsumi is an effective mixture of horror and tragedy. This is all demonstrated in an excellent sequence in which Katsumi attacks a lone Lebia, who refuses to defend herself against her old friend; Katsumi repays her in kind by slicing her up But Good. Will her friends find a way to change her back to her old self, and more importantly, will they live long enough to do it? As usual, Asamiya is very slow to tip his hand.

There is little straightforward exposition in Silent Möbius, Asamiya preferring to throw his readers right into the thick of the action. But throughout the fabric of the narrative are carefully woven strands of backstory and history, so that as one reads they are gradually able to form a picture of the whole. Though never explicitly spelled out for the reader, the story of the never-seen Gigelf Liqueur as well as much of the history and motivations of the Lucifer Hawks, Ganossa, and the Cheyenne sisters are cleverly buried within what appears on the surface to be a rather simplistic action manga. The backstory was told in a more traditional way in Asamiya's manga prequel Möbius Klein, but it is to the author's immense credit that one does not need to read that work to discern the complex events that set the stage for the action in Silent Möbius.

This clever means of storytelling leaves Asamiya free to devote much of each volume of the series to showing off his exciting and detailed artwork. Though scenes in which Rosa and Katsumi wage psychic warfare can be hard to follow with all of their huge energy blasts, Asamiya is unquestionably one of the most accomplished manga artists around. Silent Möbius is a masterpiece of cinematic staging and Asamiya makes great use of dramatic multi-layered shading a lesser artist wouldn't take the time to bother with. He is also able to wrench an incredible amount of emotion from his drawings….one can almost feel the evil emanating from Katsumi's malevolent, teeth-gnashing smile. This book is simply a joy to look at. Combined with the extraordinary world-building and the urgency of narrative, it makes Silent Möbius one of best manga of the past decade.

During its original publication in Japan Silent Möbius was one of the most popular manga around, and helped make Kia Asamiya a giant in the field. For some reason it has never caught on in quite the same way in America. This may have to do with its unimpressive anime adaptations. What's hot on the US anime scene usually determines what's hot on the US manga scene. Still, the Silent Möbius comics have a small but strong following in America, and with this latest and darkest installment of the AMP's adventures Asamiya shows us why. It's simply one of the best manga series out there today.
Grade:
Production Info:
Overall : A
Story : A
Art : A+

+ beautiful artwork tells a deceptively complex tale, Evil Katsumi is too cool
busy battle scenes can sometimes be difficult to follow

Story & Art:Kia Asamiya

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Silent Möbius (manga)

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