Monday, August 19, 2013

MISC. MANGA, *Fantastic Panic

What became a secret trendsetter in more ways then one, Fantastic Panic was the first authentic Japanese manga to be released by Antarctic Press back in the early 90s. It was technically a Comic Market release as it wasn't featured in a regular magazine like Shonen Jump. It was created by Satoru Yamasaki who went under the pen name of "Ganbear". This started off the manga line for AP, which on its own eventually lead to the formation of Studio Ironcat after AP dropped their manga titles after the whole Bad Girl fad passed and they had sunk too much money into their Warrior Nun Areala merchandise. The manga also contributed to AP's ever-growing list of manga of anthropomorphic titles like Furrlough, which also lead to the formation of Radio Comix which mainly deals in furry comics. So, this manga has a real history behind it.

Set in a fantasy world filled with anthropomorphics, the story centers around Nee, a young mouseboy who wants to be the very best hero he can, like no one ever was. Armed with the magic Dagger of Minos, he set out through the Demon Forest to get to Tora Castle and take part in the Great Hero Contest. Along the way, Nee adds a menagerie of eccentric characters to his party, including the missing tiger prince Taigar, the vivacious bunnygirl Uun, and the narcoleptic master chef girl-cow Kyau. Nee eventually is honorarily wins the Contest, and then embarks on another quest to gain four gems from ancient dragons so he can be their champion. He manages to get the first three gems easily, but the manga finished without a completion to his quest. All this is going on while the evil Lord Indra and his four lords of the Demon Forest plot his downfall, and send various enemies to stop Nee in his efforts, but keep failing each time. Some of them, like Uun, eventually team up with Nee and join his party.

This manga originally went on for two series through Antarctic Press. The first volume went on for eight issues, and the second also for eight even though near the end of its American run it was labeled as being ten. Ganbear provides a great old school approach to manga, as seen in the late 80's-early 90's, similar to Outlanders and original Dragonball. It's got some really slapstick moments going on too, so it's great if you liked Dragon-Half. The first four issues were collected in a single graphic novel which you should check out since those issues are really hard to track down.

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