• Hideyuki Kikuchi (story), Yuho Ashibe (art) • ADV (2004) • Akita Shoten (Bonita, 1988) • 1 volume • Shôjo, Occult, Science Fiction • 16+ (brief language, graphic violence, nudity, brief seual situations)
An unfinished, surreal science fiction horror tale. In the future, the family-owned Persona Corporation owns 90 percent of the world, monitoring past, present, and future under the ominous sign of the spider. Suddenly, a gothic figure of rebellion appears: the mysterious Darkside, a gentleman with inhumanly piercing eyes, who drives a horse-drawn carriage out of a black mirror and sets up shop in the Mansion of Illusions in Shinjuku’s slums. A group of rebels and street urchins (dressed in embarrassing 1980s fashions) courts Darkside’s help in the battle against the Persona Corporation. If Kikuchi’s Demon City Hunter flirts with weird imagery in the context of a formulaic action manga, Darkside Blues is almost undiluted surrealism. Some of the vignettes are reminiscent of writers such as Ray Bradbury, Grant Morrison, or China Miéville: a miniature factory is shoved into a person’s wound, causing them to turn to gold; an “appetite enhancer for inanimate objects” causes a house to come to life and eat the occupants. Unfortunately, the story has no buildup, ending, or resolution, and ultimately is little more than glimpses of a kind of anime opium dream. Yuho Ashibe’s 1970s shôjo artwork is the perfect counterpart to Kikuchi’s strange but specific concepts.