Urasawa Naoki Y򒼎

[born: 2 Jan 1960, Oosaka-metropolis; bloodtype: ?]

Urasawa does not have the most versatile character design ability, but he has a great mastery of comic expression and serious tension-building.

After having received the Shogakukan New Comic Artist Award in 1982, he made his professional debut in 1984 with "Beta!!". He's studied economics at Meisei University.

He got his real breakthrough with Yawara!

Pineapple Army
written by Kudou Kazuya H
published by Shougakukan, 1986-88
10 volumes @ Y460
[ 01:____| 02:____| 03:____| 04:____| 05:____| 06:____| 07:____| 08:____| 09:____]
[ 10:____]
An ex-military man trains others to defend themselves, on the condition that he never gets involved himself. But he always does, anyway. The stories always have a nice twist to the plot, are well-written, and have great artwork.

serialized on Big Comic Spirits, 1987-93
29 volumes @ Y500
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[ 10:8906| 11:8909| 12:8912| 13:9003| 14:9006| 15:9008| 16:9010| 17:9103| 18:9106]
[ 19:9109| 20:9112| 21:9203| 22:9205| 23:9207| 24:9210| 25:9303| 26:9304| 27:9306]
[ 28:9309| 29:9310]
Judo romance comedy. About a judo-champion girl who wants to have fun just like other girls, and her strict grandfather who wants her to triumph in Judo tournaments. Recommended. Although Yawara is the star of the series, she is surrounded by a big cast of interesting characters. Her opponents, her two suitors, the female Japanese Judo team, the male counterparts, her grandfather and her father make this an outstanding story full of suspense, laughs and tears. The Judo fights are gripping, but even if you don't like Judo, you'll like it. Yawara won the 35th Shogakukan Comic Prize in 1990.

See also: Yawara Manga Summaries



APG:(TV)(124)891016-920921(Mad House)

Master Keaton
written by Katsuhika Hokusei k
serialized on Big Comic Original, 1988-94
18 volumes @ Y500
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[ 10:9201| 11:9206| 12:9211| 13:9305| 14:9308| 15:9401| 16:9404| 17:9406| 18:9408]
The main character is this guy who's half Japanese, half English. Son of an English woman of noble birth and a Japanese zoologist. Keaton went to England at the age of five with his mother after his parents' divorce. There he learned archeology at Oxford University, where he met his wife with whom he has a daughter (Yuriko). They divorced after five years. He works as an operative/detective for Lloyds of London where he's known for his abilities he acquired as a master sergeant in the SAS and as a veteran of the Falklands War, and was one of the members of the Iran Embassy incident. This helps him carry out his dangerous work of insurance investigator. His works at Lloyds, but his dream is excavating the ancient civilization in a Danube basin.
He's called "master" because the SAS training camp' teacher told him that he wouldn't be able to be a "professor" in his fighting style, but a "master" at best. {YRL}

The manga does portray many facets of Keaton. Not only his role as a detective, but also his humanistic views on nature, family and culture. It's Indiana Jones + Pineapple Army + some other things rolled together. If you liked Pineapple Army, you'll like this too.

Writer Katsushika's displays his outstanding ability in this manga, Urasawa's art is at a very high level too. Master Keaton is sort of an extended work to his former "Pineapple army".
Urasawa's various viewpoints to his characters and their minds are excellent even in all his series. {YRL}

See also:



short story collection
published by Shougakukan, 1988
1 volume @ Y480
[ 01:____]
A fantasy about a middle-aged office worker who trains every day in order to become Japan's first astronaut. Includes other early short masterpieces. {009}

short story collection
published by Shougakukan, 1994
1 volume @ Y500
[ 01:9410]
It features four stories about Jigorou, Yawara's grandfather (from the Yawara series) during his younger years. It also includes a samurai and a baseball story not related to the Yawara series.

published by Shougakukan, 1994-present
23 volumes @ Y500
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[ 10:9604| 11:9606| 12:9609| 13:9611| 14:9704| 15:9705| 16:9708| 17:9711| 18:9803]
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The text on the back of the first tankoubon:
"Miyuki Umino was a senior in high-school. Although Miyuki, her two younger brothers and her younger sister were poor, they were happy living together. But, one day all of a sudden her older brother's debt of 250 million yen fell upon them. To pay back the debt Miyuki quit school. What was the incredible choice she took to do this?"

Actually she decides to pay it back by becoming worlds number one in tennis. Ganbarimasu, Miyuki!! Happy resembles a lot like Yawara! Miyuki is a Yawara lookalike, she has also two suitors, enemies who make her life hard. Happy! is an interesting series but it doesn't reach the same heights as Yawara. Miyuki's enemies are a lot more ferocious than those of Yawara, the cast is less appealing than that of Yawara and we miss a lot of the humour we found in Yawara. Fortunately, Miyuki's coach takes care of the humoristic touch. {PVH}

Happy starts out simply as a story about the trials and
tribulations of Umino. She has to take care of her two younger brothers, and one sister, on her own. They are poor, but surviving. One day, two Yakuza decide that since Umino is so pretty, she'd work out well as a Soapland girl. They pressure Umino into agreeing, but she discovers that an upcoming tennis tournament is going to have a big purse. So, she starts training, and then people start recognizing her as a former tennis player who had shown potential before dropping from the scene a few years earlier.

There are two rich former tennis pros, women with serious ego problems. One of them decides to sponsor Umino, only if the girl can beat the rival's daughter. Enter the spoiled rich girl, Chouko, who does everything to sabotage Umino's training -- including buying an expensive racket for one of her minions, then planting said racket in Umino's locker. Umino is then branded as a thief.

At the same time, things have gotten more serious in the yakuza camp. Before, the yakuza were portrayed as bumbling clowns (although Jyunji is having a change of heart.) But, Kyouhei has gotten involved. Kyouhei is presumably the president of a finance company, but is really the head of a Yakuza family and is involved in loan sharking. Umino's older brother had gotten a loan from Kyouhei, but couldn't pay it off. He ran away, and hasn't been seen since. Kyouhei wants to get his talons in Umino, officially to take a cut of Umino's winnings to pay off the loan. He goes to Utako to strike a deal.

Happy uses the same artstyle as Yawara and Master Keaton. And some of the same character designs. However, while it had started out with a light-hearted, bouncing pace, it is becoming more ominous and devious. In my opinion, Urasawa Naoki is best as an artist. Yawara is a big exception. However, I think that she does better when she is drawing the pictures and someone else is doing the writing. At the moment, I'd rather read Master Keaton, over Happy. {CHO}

Monster - Horrible Story
serialized on Big Comic, 1995-2001
18 volumes @ Y500
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[ 10:9810| 11:9903| 12:9906| 13:0002| 14:0006| 15:0010| 16:0102| 17:0107| 18:0202]
The text on the cover of the first tankoubon:
"Dusseldorf, West-Germany in 1986. One day, Dr. Kenzo Tenma ignored his boss's order and executed humanitarian rescue of a man's child. That's how this horrible story begins!!"

An exciting, fast-paced psychological thriller about the adventures of a surgeon who saves the life of a child, named Johan, who is in fact the result of genetic experiments and commits violent crimes.

Winner of the Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize in 1999.

Winner of the "1997 (The First) Media Arts Festival award for Excellence", the reasons for the award given: "This is a story about a genius doctor named Tenma and a twin named Johan whose life he saved. There is always a sense of lurking danger which turns into suspense as Tenma turns into a murderer in his search for Johan. The clever plot development and the accuracy of the art work make this a hard Manga to put down once you start."

Nijuuseiki Shounen [The 20th century boys]
serialized on Big Comics,
14 volumes @ Y505
[ 01:0001| 02:0005| 03:0008| 04:____| 05:____| 06:0107| 07:0110| 08:0202| 09:0206]
[ 10:0208| 11:0212| 12:0303| 13:____| 14:0309]
This is a strange title, 5 chapters into the story and I have no idea where it is going, and I like it. Traveling in time back and forth, many people lives flash in front of our eyes and individuals' stories branch out and tangent everywhere. However, somehow, like a puzzle, every piece eventually fits together and forms a gigantic story no less than saving the world from Armageddon. Oh yes, the end of the story and the teaser for a sequel are revealed in chapter one, believe it or not.

How should I describe "it"? It is a lighter reading than Monster but definitely darker than Master Keaton, I think, the story is about a cult leader "friend", using games and ideas from his childhood with his playmates, plans for the end of the world on December, 1999. His childhood friends start to get involved when they get the feeling of deja vu by the strange symbol the cult use to identify itself. It is obvious Urasawa was heavily influenced by: The Japanese cult poison gas attack on train; Tom Clancy and Ebola; Evangelion (talk about strange symbolism, giant robot and laser guns).

The story is full with nostalgia references, childhood games and dreams, 50's Sci-Fi movie poster art, Woodstock, 45rpm album, Rolling Stone's Jumping Jack Flash, landing on the Moon, growing up and facing the reality of broken dreams and unfulfilled promises, life and death, memories of dear friends and family, always with a pressing story line of the impending cult attacks in the background. All this while our characters (none of them are really heroes, just common people.) slowly unravel the mystery. I am not particular a big fan of Yawara and Happy, but his last three titles definitely are keepers. This is what manga with mature readers as a public can be. {CPK}

Winner of the "2002 (6th) Media Arts Festival award for Excellence".

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