animefringe november 2003 / reviews

Cyborg 009 Vol.1
Format: right-left manga
Production: TOKYOPOP / Shotaro Ishinomori
Comments: Meaningful retro-manga.
Animefringe Reviews:
Cyborg 009 Vol.1

I always get a kick out of the disclaimers placed at the front of older manga, especially Osamu Tezuka's works. Usually, they warn readers that back in the day, comic book writers did not accurately portray members of other races as they appear in real life. In particular, they warn us to not get offended by the look of such works.

It's amazing that these books, with such an overwhelmingly clear message of world cooperation leading towards world peace, could insult someone because of the way they look. Let's face it - nothing looks much like the illustrations Shotaro Ishinomori created for his anti-war story. It must be hard to point out one particular visual inaccuracy while ignoring so many others and simultaneously keep a straight face.

So, what we have here is a Cold War reactionary peace that raises some very interesting issues. Cyborg 009 may look dated, but many aspects of the series still hold true to this day. In Ishinomori's world, an elite band of high-ups strive to maintain the global balance (and line their pockets along the way) by ensuring that they keep wars going on at all times. War machines are very profitable and they feel that war helps out local economies.

Where have we heard this before?

So, in order to keep the all-consuming flame of war burning out the human race (as well as to keep the upper hand in all battles) a secret project is commenced. Nine people from around the globe are chosen to be artificially augmented with cybernetic powers. These incredibly powerful nine warriors were designed to keep wars going for as long as possible. However, while the test subjects may be part robot, they each have enough humanity in them to resist the commands of their creator. They flee the scientists that granted them their newfound powers of destruction and decide to resist the wishes of their warmongering rulers.

Thus, instead of creating an internationally staffed war enforcement crew, the villains of the story unwittingly made a group of superheroes destined to put an end to war, or die trying.

As mentioned before, the visuals are extremely dated (as can be expected), and every character seems like an exaggerated cartoon caricature of a real human. However, action scenes are pulled off skillfully, and clearly convey movement when the cyborg team must face off against their enemies.

Cyborg 009 is part of TOKYOPOP's 100% Authentic line of manga titles, and thus it keeps its format (right to left) and sound effects from the original work.

Altogether, if readers are able to look past the superficial aspects of this series, there's bound to be an important message to be revealed eventually. As with Tezuka's manga titles, I'm already hooked and eager for more.