Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Bremen (manga)

It’s been a long time since I started to read Bremen. It was one of the first series I started reading when I discovered the joys of online fan scanslations, so it has a special place in my heart. There’s also the fact that it’s just good. Very silly indeed, but great fun. The scanslators fizzled out when their flagship series all got licensed or ended, leaving Bremen with three chapters remaining unreleased. Fortunately, I’ve finally gotten hold of the last ones from a different group and finished the story.

Bremen is a manga about a rock group of that name – indeed, I almost wish I’d thought of the name myself because it’s such a good name for a band, being a reference to the Aesop fable The Musicians of Bremen. Unlike, say, Beck, which tried to be realistic and thus looked ever more goofy as it got harder and harder to swallow the drama injected into the story, Bremen dispenses with realism from the off. Putting emphasis on rock spirit and ridiculous excess, it follows the Mohawk-toting guitarist and straight man Renji as he meets Romio, a wild teenager with ridiculous strength and total amnesia but a great singing voice. They set off to make the perfect rock band, soon joined by a convincing transsexual named Ryo on drums whose sideline in S&M helps develop the whipping action needed to play, and a bassist called Ran whose previous band won’t let him go so easily. Their names all beginning with ‘r’ is never commented upon.

The band have to fight their way out of all sorts of scrapes, be it the members’ pasts catching up with them or challenges from other bands with extreme philosophies, but usually end up getting in a big fight, then playing with such great energy and such amazing vocals that they win over even the people who wanted to kill them. They get more and more successful until the final chapters, where there’s a half-arsed and silly story arc about a hidden society that really drags the whole thing down a bit.

But when the manga is just having a lot of fun with big exaggerated fights and a celebration of the spirit of anarchy, fun and community inherent in rock, it really puts a smile on the face. Well worth a read, and if there’s ever an anime adaptation, I’ll be the first in line.

(originally written 29.9.06)

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