Gunsmith cathouse

Gunsmith Cats Burst Vol. 2 arrived yesterday, wrapped in what might be the most embarrassing cover I have ever owned. Guess I won’t be reading this one on the bus.

Or around other humans, ever. But I would like to commend Dark Horse for summing up everything wrong with manga through a single, pedophile-friendly upskirt drawing!

And what is wrong? Well, let’s begin with Dark Horse, the publisher that decided to go with an explicit-at-first-glance upskirt image of an underaged-at-first-glance girl on the cover of a book sold without a brown wrapper. Quality decision-making, there. Honestly, though, this actually isn’t so much a lapse in good taste as it is a lapse in backbone; after all, this image was featured on the cover of the original Japanese Burst Vol. 2 as well, and god knows that America’s whiny, obnoxious fanboys would write to Congress boycott Dark Horse forever whine endlessly on every anime message board on the Internet if the company dared to impose its own better judgment over the clearly infallible superiority of the Japanese creator’s tastes. (That’s “Sonoda-sama” to you, you unworthy chump.)

Yeah, far more contempt should be directed at the stupid, mewling fans who insist on literal localization, regardless of intent. Or social mores. Or common sense. Or even quality.

Of course, none of this would have happened without Kenichi Sonoda — “icky undertones” is his middle name. I mean, the guy has genuine talent, having designed some of the most iconic animated characters ever, including the Knights Sabers. But when you stop and look beyond the “cool comic about chicks who fight crime by driving and shooting” surface of Gunsmith Cats, it’s kinda shameless in being fantasy wish fulfillment for a very specific breed of Japanese nerd, the same set that Masamune Shirow caters to. (And belongs to, one suspects.) Witness the plight of this strain of otaku! Guns are outlawed in Japan, American muscle cars are prohibitively expensive, and for some reason girls don’t want to spend their time with someone who drops three months’ salary in Akihabara to buy life-sized action figures. The solution to this crisis? Comics like this. Comics where the only thing rendered with as much loving detail as the guns and the cars is the lingerie.

Then again, maybe it’s all just my own stupid fault. I should have known better than to buy Gunsmith Cats. I admire Sonoda’s art, which still demonstrates a strong ’80s ethos. He came into his own in a time when precise draftsmanship, obsessive detail and dynamic composition were more important than raw energy, giving his work a solidity lacking in most modern manga. Plus, the series’ focus on crime-fighting action in a Chicago setting is fairly unique in manga. I can overlook a lot of issues for great art and a fun story. But this may have been the pantyline that broke the camel’s back for me, since it made me really stop and think about the subtext of the manga. And you know, maybe I could live without a series where one of the leads ran away from home at age 13 to live in sin with a dude more than twice her age before becoming a call girl in Chinatown and taking growth-suppressing herbs to stunt her growth so her pedophiliac boyfriend wouldn’t lose interest in her.

Or is that just my old-fashioned side coming through? Anyway, uh, anyone wanna buy some graphic novels? Read once, like-new condition….

37 thoughts on “Gunsmith cathouse

  1. Does it make me gay or just a total nerd that my first reaction wasn’t “ZOMG PANTIES!!!” but “is she using that one handgun from Resident Evil 4?? The Red 9, I think…??”

  2. I mostly enjoyed Kenichi Sonoda’s Gunsmith cats; for all the panty shots, the man draws a DAMN good action scene, whether it be people shooting the crap out of each other, or the many many beautiful car chase scenes.

    Plus the man gave us Bean Bandit, and Riding Bean is AWESOME. He takes a car to the face!

    – Eddie

  3. Kenichi Sonada should be in prison. The sexual elements of Gunsmith Cats aren’t just “Heh, underage panty shots… Cultural relativity?” The manga downright promotes and celebrates pedophilia. I wish his works were edited into books I could read and keep in my house without being monitored by the FBI.

    The weird thing about all this depravity is that Gunsmith Cats isn’t a behind-the-counter smut rag; it’s a mainstream manga. Perhaps the art form has grown up, leaving Sonada behind?

  4. Hey, for whatever reason, your site is saying I’m logged in as some “bobservo” character, who is probably not nearly as jaded as I am.

    Mister Parish, I have said before that I consider you the hero of a movement of geeks that as of yet does not exist. But your social responsibility and good upbringing are beginning to disturb me. Much like how televangelists get caught in bedrooms with men, I’m worried that you coming out as a figure collector who rails against objectification of women, and manga reader who complains about panty shots, is your way of hinting that you actually enjoyed Xenogears, and that there’s a webshrine to Xenosaga on this very site.

    Besides you are making the rest of us look like greasy dirtbags. We suffer enough actually being greasy dirtbags, you know? Thanks for rubbing it in, man.

  5. Not really bob. It’s not the hugest part of the manga industry, but fanservice of both questionable and less questionable natures is a part of the biz. Cultural relativity is pretty BS in this as well, since Japan has been working on getting child porn laws passed for a while now.

    Basically it boils down to economics. If people like his material they’ll buy it, and he’ll keep making it. So, if you aren’t a lolipedo-fin, don’t buy loli and pedo stuff. All there is to it.

    That said, I do really like BG Crisis and Cannon God Exxaxxion to a lesser extent. The man is a great artist and great with action, but, yeah, he is excessive in the already stated areas.

  6. Mightyblue – My point was that Gunsmith Cats goes beyond your “typical fanservice” and into “amber alert” regions. While the cover makes it obvious that fan service exists in the manga, it’s not clear how far Sonoda goes until you actually read the book. I remember buying a bunch of the manga at one of my first cons, and being absolutely disgusted when I read it back at the hotel room. It was on eBay a few days later.

    In case anyone is wondering if I’m exaggerating things, I tried to describe one of the more disgusting pedo scenes as gingerly as possible in a response, but the blogging software wouldn’t even let me post it.

    I guess I’m just sick of anime/manga fans giving pedo stuff a pass, and I’m glad Jeremy is calling out these things for what they are. I probably wouldn’t be as upset if Gunsmith Cats was marketed as a “dirty” book.

  7. I agree. Stuff like this is what gives anime and manga it’s pedophilic reputation.

    How many times, when sharing anime/manga with friends, have you had to put in that little disclaimer about “japanese culture”? When “japanese culture” almost always means some kind of graphic sexualization of underage girls?

  8. TOLLMASTER, don’t blame me just ’cause you’re human dirt. Honestly, kids these days.

  9. Uh… I didn’t think the Japanese even drew characters with vaginas. Is this something that happened recently? All the anime I’ve ever seen stars females with Barbie doll anatomies… you know, improbable nipple-free breasts and blank pelvises.

    In any case, this is kind of strange. The age of consent is a lot lower in Japan, but Dark Horse should have had the discretion to properly localize it for other territories with different standards. Sure, the Lewis Lanes out there would complain about it, but the backlash is going to be a whole lot more intense if a politician or news analyst gets their hands on this comic. The last thing we need is MORE fearmongering sleaze from Nancy Grace and Bill O’Reilly.


  10. I don’t get it. In spite of Hard Candy, Lolita and Larry Clark’s oeuvre, or some of the material in Sin City and Kill Bill, no one calls indie films jerk-off fodder for potential child rapists. So why do the Japanese have to hold a higher standard than Hollywood?

  11. So is this some sort of new Gunsmith Cats series or just a reissue of the old original? I always loved Gunsmith Cats for well, it’s modern day setting and general originality. Like you mentioned, a crime fighting Manga set in Chicago isn’t too common.

    I missed a lot of the later parts of the series but I do have to say from what I did catch it seemed to drop downhill pretty quickly with the introduction of the villain Goldie. Every issue seemed to progressively become more and more about lesbian Lolita porn than about Rally and her gun toting, car driving fun.

  12. GATS – You can make a work ABOUT pedophilia that doesn’t necessarily promote it. Gunsmith Cats reads like “Underage Girls Want You to Take Advantage of Them: Finding the Child Bride of Your Dreams.”

    And I don’t know why you meantioned Hard Candy. If anything, that film is a manipulative anti-pedophile screed.

  13. The “Revised Edition” omnibuses are the old comics in non-flipped format. That’s it. Burst is an actually-new continuation of GSC. I think it started what, last year? Year before?

  14. What is wrong with all of you? If you can honestly say that you don’t enjoy Gunsmith Cats, then the tumor has finally started pressing on the sector of your brain we call the “awesome center” (named after Dr. Mallory P. Awesome,) and you only have a month left to live. You don’t have to read everything through the filter of your righteous indignation.

  15. ManekiNeko- The porno manga industry in Japan’s huge. There’s a bunch of monthly magazines published in a similar format to Shonen Jump that pander to the different fetishes, including several dedicated just to loli (or pedo stuff, to be frankly honest).

  16. Actually, GATS, you retard, Frank Miller is even more dispicable misogynist than Sonoda, but not having read Sin City I can’t comment, you filthy moron.

    ManekiNeko, that’s actually a pantyhose seam — the cameltoe that broke the camel’s back, if you will. You can tell it’s hose because her legs are darker. Oh, and since Sonoda has drawn pretty much every one of his female characters in the nick at various times, it’s also common knowledge that Minnie May doesn’t depillate down there.

    Syrupticious, enjoy prison! I hear they love pedophiles there.

  17. I’m not even going to mention the M-word here. Too tempting, too easy.

    Keep fighting the good, hopeless fight to save manga from itself, and if you ever lower yourself to the point of listening to an anime/manga podcast, try one called Anime World Order. They linked to your site for a piece on Golgo 13, I think, and you might find common cause.

  18. Guns aren’t quite illegal in Japan. If you have the patience to wade through a stringent license application process, you can buy yourself a shotgun, which of course is the safest of all firearms.

    They even have an NRA in Japan(, though I’d imagine most people don’t count sport shooting rifles as “real” guns.

  19. bobservo: “GATS – You can make a work ABOUT pedophilia that doesn’t necessarily promote it.”

    So Larry Clark’s films don’t promote pedophilia?

    “And I don’t know why you meantioned Hard Candy. If anything, that film is a manipulative anti-pedophile screed.”

    It still used the potential exploitation of a fictional minor as the hook for selling tickets.

    parish: “Actually, GATS, you retard, Frank Miller is even more dispicable misogynist than Sonoda, but not having read Sin City I can’t comment, you filthy moron.”

    Then you really should see the movie, as one of the thugs is a guy who cracks jokes about being a child-rapist. Also, don’t call me a moron after misspelling despicable.

  20. how else is a 17 year girl suppose to sniper shoot a bad guy with a tight mini-skirt?

    Still, I’m more fond of Bean Bandit anime, The only piece of kevlar was under his bandanna.

  21. GATS, you half-wit, I’ll call you a moron as long as you continue to post your ill-formed sub-human bilge on my blog regardless of how many times I ask you to go away, ban you and block you, you festering sack of sub-retardation. Especially if you’re going the tired old route of HURR U MAKE TYPO

  22. What the hell…Why do people get so rilled up about lolis? You’re all a bunch of freaks!

    Note: I like hard-boiled action more than a bunch of filler-fanservice. Contemporary manga is more guilty of the latter.

  23. I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that Parish and GATS have met before – perhaps GATS is Parish’s Megatron, and their wars have torn planets apart.

  24. Jeremy, you deride this sort of tomfoolery, and yet you post the image on your blog. In addition to making me feel as uncomfortable as the “people who would see you reading that on the bus”, this image is obviously NSFW.

    It’s your party, you can do what you want — and I really enjoy your writing. But if you keep posting images like this, you’ll be inundated with the same loli-pervs you slander. And I won’t be at that party.

  25. Is this a fakepost?

    The cover is “tame” in comparison to the contents of the book, and is also showcased in bookstores in a section where children can and do buy comics. I don’t think that loli-pervs are going to be logging onto GameSpite to view images they can see on for free.

    I have officially commented too much on this post.

  26. Right, I didn’t post anything here that you can’t see at any Barnes & Noble, and the art was taken straight from Relax your knee, son. I’m pretty sure that pedophiles aren’t going to begin flocking to this site, unless they just really like being insulted on a regular basis.

    The image isn’t as obscene as it appears at first glance, you know — what you’re seeing is pantyhose over underwear, with a seam whose placement makes it look more explicit than it actually is. It’s that first glance that makes it embarrassing to carry in public; it’s the artwork’s relationship to the underlying themes and content of the actual manga that make me not want to read it ever again.

  27. No fakepost here bobservo, I’m for real.

    I had a strong negative reaction to this image, and if it were my blog I wouldn’t have felt comfortable posting it. Frankly it bothers me that Barnes & Noble would carry books with cover-art like this along with the other comics. Sometimes strange things get past the industry’s modesty/acceptability censors (see: the sex minigames in God of War, which Hillary Clinton should have been all over).

    I’m sure I agree with many of you fellow anime geeks — the general trend toward blunt fanservice really bothers me, especially when it comes at the expense of storytelling and characterization. I just wouldn’t have drawn attention towards the problem with an image that is so suggestively obscene.

  28. Well, to be honest, I wasn’t entirely comfortable posting the image, but ultimately decided that it was necessary to make the point that yeah, this straddles the borderline of filth. In fact, I think if you could look beyond the fact that I posted the cover art you’d find we’re very much in agreement about many things.

  29. It’s funny how you can go through entire volumes of Gunsmith Cats without getting any disturbing pedo vibes. For a time, I knew the series only from the harmless anime and a later book that had Rally rescuing her cat-burglar friend. Said friend was topless for most of the comic, but it was still basic R-rated movie material. Imagine my surprise when I finally looked up earlier volumes and HOLY SHIT NO NO NO.

    It’s a discovery that every Sonoda reader makes, and a lot of them don’t come back after it. I haven’t given up quite yet; I like Gunsmith during its non-creepy stretches, even if I never know when it’s going to fly off the rails. The first volume of Gunsmith Cats Burst, Sonoda’s re-launch of the series, didn’t have any creepy undertones that I could see. I’m afraid to read the second one.

  30. The second volume of Burst is actually mostly about Bean Bandit, who is almost kind of the moral center of the series, and it’s nowhere near as bad as the cover might lead you to believe. Unfortunately, any pleasure you might derive from Bean’s purehearted badassery may be negated by the latest incarnation of Sonoda’s “all strong women are whores” mentality: A tough-as-nails villainess who manages to put in two scenes of full-frontal nudity (well, mostly – she’s fully revealed below the belt but modestly hides her nipples!), uses sex as a tool for personal advancement and of course ends up disgraced and dead. Yay!

  31. Anyway, thanks for the heads up on the existence of this new series. I haven’t followed manga essentially ever or comics for ages. I’ll have to check this out though since I love the old GSC.

  32. I read Burst Vol. 1 since I remember enjoying the few issues of the original series that I read. Didn’t do much for me to be honest.

  33. “What kind of loser hates child molestation and kiddie porn?”

    This is neither of those things. This is an innocent and fun action comic for kids aged 12-16, and I honestly have no idea how anyone could reasonably construe it as anything else. Where are all these pedo scenes you speak of? I saw none when I read through the 9 volumes, before giving them for my sister to read when she was ten.

    (Would have given it earlier, if not for all the violence in it – that’s not good for kids, you know.)

    You’ve been painting Gunsmith Cats as roughly the worst thing since Hitler while avoiding to say anything concrete. I’d really like to hear some issue and page numbers here, because the most explicit stuff I witnessed were a couple all-ages shower scenes and a steady stream of healthy innuendo.

  34. Sorry, I’m not spending a day annotating Gunsmith Cats just because you’re oblivious to subtext. Calling this manga “innocent” tells me you weren’t paying attention. Just because things aren’t explicitly shown on-page doesn’t mean they’re not present, and GS is saturated with unpleasant undertones. But hey, if books about child prostitution, drug-induced rape and violence as an aphrodesiac strike you as perfect reading material for your 10-year-old sister, more power to you.

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