Orion is a science fantasy manga by Ghost In The Shell creator Masamune Shirow, first published in 1991 by Seishinsha. This relatively little known piece of work doesn’t receive nearly as many accolades as Shirow’s other manga like Ghost In The Shell & Appleseed, but it really is a gem of a manga with superb artwork and some great ideas/concepts.
As a kid I read the Chinese language edition of the manga but I’ve always wanted to revisit the comic in its original Japanese language.
In a nutshell, the main story revolves around two primary characters, the Shinto God Of Destruction Susano and a powerful sorceress Sesuka in their struggles to stop the Nine Headed Naga from destroying the Universe. Chaos ensues, with lots of great humor and superlative action sequences thrown in.
The manga’s core concepts borrow heavily from Japanese/Chinese mythology elements, in particular the summoning of heavenly deities to wage battles using a combination of scrolls, talismans and spells. Shirow’s impressive skills as a concept artist sees him re-imagining deities that are household names in Chinese/Japanese culture into spectacular fantasy characters.
The staggering amount of detail and complexity is Shirow’s drawings are just mind-blowing, and this was back in 1991 when screentones (stickers with gradation used to create the grey shades in the drawings) had to be painstakingly pasted, then scrapped away in areas where specular/shine effects were desired. It is ALOT of work.
(above) The Monkey King Hanuman is summoned by the sorcerer Hebime to battle Susano. Hanuman is the monkey deity from the Hindu mythological tale The Ramayana, and predates the Chinese Monkey King Sun Wukong from Journey To The West. Here however, his character design is based more on Sun Wukong, with the classic striped tiger robe and the long decorative “antennas” from his battle armor head dress.
One of my favourite Shirow Masamune mangas, right up there with Ghost In The Shell and Appleseed. There are also some very nice colored illustrations of the Orion characters in Shirow’s art book Intron Depot.
“Orion – Masamune Shirow” manga details :
Dimensions – 8.3 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
Soft cover, 280 pages
B&W, in English
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