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I’m done with Shoujo for a while, and am moving on to its natural successor in my series: Shounen manga. Shounen, Japanese for boy, is, obviously, directed towards a younger male audience. And as one can imagine, has a markedly different set of styles and themes than mangas aimed a younger female audience. There is more emphasis on fighting, on the idea of getting stronger, (I say that in the blandest and most general way possible), surpassing rivals, discovering who you are, etc. The humor also tends to be a bit cruder, to put the matter bluntly.

Personally, even as a guy I find Shoujo more interesting, if only because I’ve lived my entire life with what can only be described as passive masculinity, and I find Shoujo opens up an entirely different and interesting set of sensibilities and emotional outlooks that I love exploring. (This does apply more to manga though, as I tend to watch mostly Shounen shows, if only because so many Shoujo animes are awful, even of series I love). In other words, my Shounen suggestions are going to be in some ways more eclectic and diverse than what I suggested with Shoujo.

I’m going to start with my number one recommendation, as always. Imagine a Shounen manga. Now imagine a Shounen manga with medieval Jewish mysticism as its framework and Satan as its protagonist. That is exactly what you get with 666 Satan (also published in some countries as O-Parts Hunter, for understandable reasons), a manga by the twin brother of the mangaka of Naruto. It is that rare blessing of a finished manga (it seems like I’m constantly waiting for the next chapter of something or another to come out), and it is a sci-fi fantasy built around the Jewish Kabbalah and Christian angelic and demonic mythology.

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The Kabbalah of course divides God into eleven different concepts, or, more accurately, states that God is revealed in different manifestations. Keter and Daat, though, are two parts of one whole, thus creating the ten sephirots which form the "Tree of Life":

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Keter (supernal crown, representing above-conscious will)
Chochmah (the highest potential of thought)
Binah (the understanding of the potential)
Daat (intellect of knowledge)
Chesed (sometimes referred to as Gedolah-greatness) (loving-kindness)
Gevurah (sometimes referred to as Din-justice or Pachad-fear) (severity/strength)
Rachamim also known as Tiphereth (mercy)
Netzach (victory/eternity)
Hod (glory/splendor)
Yesod (foundation)
Malkuth (kingdom

which account for ten separate concepts. The fascinating aspect of Kabbalah lies in its distinct Eastern-flavor. God as a whole cannot be comprehended, and thus there are numerous aspects of God—feminine, masculine, compassionate, wrathful, good, evil, all of which are not matters of God changing, but expressions of a greater unrevealed whole. A main line of thought in Kabbalah is that no angels or demons exist—in other words Satan is merely another manifestation of God, and evil is just another limited portion of our perspective of God.

I go into this digression into Jewish Mysticism because it serves as a crucial element of 666 Satan, as does Christian mythology. The mangaka borrows the names of Christian seraphim and cherubim and attaches them to the concepts laid down among the Sephirots of Kabbalah. And he does it in a well-informed and intelligent way—he’s not fucking around with third grade world history impressions here. A fascinating subject, and the way it’s mined for a manga framework is equally fascinating.

The manga is about a young girl named Ruby, who, while searching for her father, (a famed archaeologist), runs across a strange and immensely strong young boy named Jio who saves her life and agrees to be her bodyguard in exchange for food. The setting lies in a strange but fascinating, anarchic world, where there are advanced alien devices called O-Parts, which only a microscopic percentage of the population can use. The devices themselves are more fantasy than science, but as one famous sci-fi author once said, 'Any science sufficiently advanced beyond our own would seem like magic' (a quote that I am mangling). These O-Parts (out of place artifacts), are remnants of an alien race that came to the planet a vast time before, crashing in an advanced ship called, surprise, the Ark.

The essential idea behind O-Parts is that they manipulate the universe by understanding the data behind it and certain functions. The various unique abilities they display keep the reader guessing and help add to the excitement and charm of this manga. As does its surprisingly wide and vivid cast of characters, both among the enemies and the protagonists (including an extremely likeable set of major protagonists).

Beyond anything of the plot, the ideas of this manga fascinate me, even if, in the end, they aren't fully exploited. It really explores the idea of humanity; particularly with characters, the Sephirots, who appear human, and might once have been human, but are now organic machines for all intensive purposes; weapons. Not only weapons, but representations of an alien technology and thus literally separate from their humanity. The main plot-line deals with the fact that two separate groups are trying to unite the Kabbalah (which means absorbing the ten Sephirots), and use it's power to take over the world.

While it may be by the twin brother of the mangaka of Naruto, and the artwork definitely shows their shared influences, (and there are some small similarities in the plot), 666 Satan has a moral seriousness that Naruto lacks, as well as more interesting and fascinating ideas that it is pursuing; such as the interaction between mankind, between nature, greed and conscience, what constitutes and drives evolution, and most interesting, an interplay between the two main enemies. This interplay is that of megalomaniac idealism against pragmatism, culminating in the assertion, (not giving away anything more than this), that unity is not the ultimate evolutionary path, but the end of evolution and of progress. And it's final speech, proclaiming that true power lies not in weapons and abilities, but in the interaction between people, between other sentient beings.

666 Satan is one of the most interesting and well-balanced mangas I've read. Brutal for a Shounen, and filled with complex ideas (not necessarily perfectly developed, but I give it lots of credit for trying and bringing those ideas to me, making me think about them) within an imaginative use of sophisticated religious theology, adjusted seamlessly to better fit the authors needs (he creates two Trees of Life, a demonic and an angelic, and uses them as actual representations of specific beings). At 76 chapters and the most gargantuan average chapter length (I'd say 56 pages at least), I've ever come across for a manga, it's a meaty and satisfying read, that has been concluded (I'll be waiting 5-6 years for the same thing with some of my other mangas). A word of caution: the ambiguous ending may be a severe disappointment or area of consternation for some. If so, be sure to come to me and we'll rant/share ideas on the matter. Heh.

P.S. Please vote in my poll. I'm interested to see how many separate users read this. I always appreciate having an accurate view of the size of my audience.

Originally posted to Manga And Anime Fans At DailyKos on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Pink Clubhouse, Spiritual Organization of Unapologetic Liberals at Daily Kos, and DKOMA.

Poll

Have you Read 666 Satan Yet?

21%5 votes
78%18 votes

| 23 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (7+ / 0-)

    "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

    by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:51:39 PM PDT

  •  Well Dom, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mythatsme, x, Dom9000

    I kind of went half-way. Wrote something up, published it half-way in the night, but only did it on one manga instead of 3-4 as my installments normally are. I'll have to make one with 3 more soon.

    This one didn't turn out the best, but I still find it difficult, especially for organizational purposes, in walking the fine line between talking about important main plot points and needlessly giving away information that is part of the thrill of reading the manga. So as a general rule, with this sort of thing, I prefer to stay away from plot discussion as much as possible. Still I feel like I couldn't get what plot I did discuss organized in an appealing way. My passion and interest in the idea of the manga got in the way, and worse, it was also a thrilling, action-packed read with an original and often quite dark storyline (though I think it suffered in the second half). Oh well. I hope I sold it to you and the other members of the group.

    "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

    by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:56:54 PM PDT

  •  hey. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ArkDem14, x, Dom9000

    I love anime. I could write up a few reviews for you guys if you ever need the help.

    Not that much into manga, but I love anime with a burning passion. PM me if you guys need help!

    "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

    by rexymeteorite on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 10:59:06 PM PDT

    •  you kidding? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      x, Dom9000

      We always need help. And our group is a bit focused on manga as it is. We could use someone to write up on anime for us.

      Message me the next time you write and post a diary on an anime series and I'll republish it on our groups stream.

      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

      by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:07:58 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Awesome. (0+ / 0-)

      I'll send you an invite and promote you to editor so you can publish to the group.

      Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

      by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 04:31:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Invitation sent. n/t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ArkDem14

      Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

      by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 04:53:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Terribly frustrated. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    x, Dom9000, ArkDem14

    Really. Maybe it's been TV's fault. Dragon Ball and the like. Even the much recommended Bleach.

    There might be some good stuff, as your review indicates, but in general I'd rather watch reruns of Kimi No Todoke or Kanamemo (totally underrated! And you'll learn quite a bit about recent Japan as well!) than the typical shounen stuff.

    This article is quite good, however!

    •  Dragon Ball (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mythatsme, x

      the original series, is hilarious!

      But I haven't heard of either of those shows.

      But seriously, I don't read bad, run of the mill Shounen stuff, lol. 666 Satan is great. I really really recommend it if you like reading mangas and have the time. I'd even go so far as to say set aside some other stuff for a week or two.

      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

      by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:15:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Those Shows: (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArkDem14, Dom9000

        1. Kimi No Todoke: An ongoing manga, with 2 seasons as an anime. A typical high-scool girl loves boy romance. Neither very well written or drawn, but cute to no end. At least I think so.

        2. Kanamemo: One of those weird stuff only anime can invent. A young (middle school) girl looses her last close relative, and then set out to live on her own (logical loopholes generously provided). She finds a place in a bed & board newspaper delivery service where also ...

        Suffice to say, there is nothing to be seen that might be considered inappropriate for young viewers (except the most staunch warriors for the intolarate wing of whatever religion), still, there are many cute things concerning tolerance, working conditions, general sillyness and a working, ongoing and until-the-end unbroken lesbian relationship.

        The last point is especially laudable, I think, because, unlike in manga, in anime, lesbians are mostly portrayed as comical side characters hopelessly chasing after het women. That may be quite funny, like in Railgun, but here, they just are together and nobody ever makes a fuss about it.

        About moring in this part of the world right now. Night!

      •  Kimi No Todoke is typical high-school romance. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ArkDem14, mythatsme

        I recently read a really well-written review recommending it though, so I'm probably gonna try it.

        No idea what Kanamemo is.

        Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

        by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 04:33:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The first 80 episodes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      quarkstomper

      or so of the Dragon Ball (not DBZ or the like), are both hilarious (and not accidentally), and tremendous fun. The series was all downhill after that. (I know because it's the only anime I've been watching this summer, though eventually I'm hoping to gather up the emotional strength to watch Higurashi).

      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

      by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:17:50 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  I dunno I'll watch DBZ (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dom9000

      Perhaps because its so mindless and repetitive its easy to watch...I swear you can jump right into any of the 200 or so episodes and know EXACTLY whats going on without ever seeing the series. Its so mindless and needlessly violent, god I love it.

      I dunno, I take the good and the bad of all the anime I watch.

      "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

      by rexymeteorite on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:25:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really like early Dragon Ball (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        quarkstomper

        It's such a smaller, more imaginative scale and I love the old fashioned watercolor animation style of it. It's also a lot more innocent and a lot funnier.

        "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

        by ArkDem14 on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:33:48 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  DB is legit (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ArkDem14, Dom9000

          great story, funny as hell.

          Nothing beats DBZ's campiness though. Nothing.

          "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

          by rexymeteorite on Fri Jul 01, 2011 at 11:35:00 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  Exactly (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ArkDem14, Dom9000

          Dragonball was a lot more fun when it was more about Master Roshi trying to catch a glimpse of Bulma's panties than bringing Goku back from the dead in time to stop this season's Android from destroying the planet with his eyebrows and when Goku could spend a ginormous martial arts tournament battling a bald, three-eyed guy with super-powers, narrowly lose to him... and then shake hands and say "I guess I'll just have to train harder for next time!"

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 03:34:47 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I'm getting to the point where (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dom9000, quarkstomper

            the author just realize he could bring people back to life with the Eternal Dragon.

            It was simply more fun when Goku was trying to surpass Master Roshi period, and, as you said, it wasn't about trying to fight the new strongest villain for 60 straight episodes. Though, admittedly, Vegeta was probably one of the best conceptualized and managed anti-heroes in anime at the time, and still ranks on my list.

            "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

            by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:03:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  I'm with you. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mythatsme

      Shoujo is much more my speed, I could never stand DragonBall, and bleach is mind-numbingly repetitive after a while.

      Most of the good shounen I've read has been far off the beaten path, the popular shounen, anything that appears in "Jump" for sure, seems, to me, to be just toned down and dumbed down to the point it loses any potential it might have had.

      I agree this is very well written.

      Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

      by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 04:44:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Bleach is so much fun :D (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Dom9000

        Shounen Jump is dumb stuff.

        Pandora Hearts will definitely be on my shounen manga series. If you're familiar with it.

        "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

        by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:11:34 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  All bad things I'm afraid. (0+ / 0-)

          I've heard it ripped by a couple people as being low, stereotypical harem trash, so I didn't read it. I'll wait and see what you say about it but I don't really like harem series (well, Love Hina was good, but I don't believe I've ever liked another, including the popular ones like to-LOVE-ru and Strawberry 100%).

          Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

          by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:18:39 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Pandora Hearts? (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Dom9000

            Are you sure? I can't imagine why people would call it harem trash. That really perplexes me. It's just that I can't see anything of that sort in it. Pandora Hearts is one of the most innovative and original mangas out there.

            Oh well. I probably will get into Rosario Vampire, which is quite a harem series, but in a much more innocent and good-natured manner than most. It's ecchi humor that I can handle, toned down and not too over-the-top sexist. A fairly popular shounen series from my experience.

            "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

            by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:24:15 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Maybe I'm confused then? (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ArkDem14

              I just checked Pandora Hearts on wiki and yea, I think I must of confused it with a similarly titled manga, I don't believe I've ever heard of Pandora Hearts.

              Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

              by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:27:02 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I am shocked, lol (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dom9000

                That you have never heard of Pandora Hearts. It's gotten really popular.

                "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:40:57 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  My knowledge of shounen (0+ / 0-)

                  is fairly limited, and I don't speak with a lot of other manga or anime fans or track what's popular so I'm pretty out of the loop.

                  Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

                  by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:16:40 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  Oh yeah. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              ArkDem14

              And I wanted to thank you, I really Liked Nononono, but it's a Seinen series -- not shoujo, and what with some pretty mature themes (such as the guy who tries to rape her?) I have no idea why you mistook it for a shoujo manga.

              Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

              by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:29:22 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I wouldn't really call it Seinen either (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Dom9000

                but I didn't really have a place I could put it either. Did you already read it all the way up to the current chapter? Man that was fast, lol.

                "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:40:27 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It is Seinen though. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  ArkDem14

                  It appears in a Seinen magazine, it's a Seinen I assure you. And yes, I've read up to the current chapter already. :-)

                  Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

                  by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:45:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I read like 88 chapters in one week (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Dom9000

                    then stopped for 3 months hoping to let it get a little further. It didn't help me, as now I'm just stuck in the middle of a tense arc, rather than in between arcs.

                    Seinen eh? I should have paid more attention. It seemed to be pretty feminine for a seinen, but it really is one of the few sports mangas I've been able to get into.

                    "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

                    by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:50:51 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Well (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      ArkDem14

                      unlike shounen (which is mainly all manly-men stuff) there are some pretty feminine Seinen.

                      Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

                      by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 12:14:38 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

    •  random, but here's a little weekend music (0+ / 0-)

      for you:

      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

      by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 07:46:17 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  For some reason (0+ / 0-)

    DailyKos polls haven't been working for me for some time now, I have read 666 satan, only a few chapters though, I really don't like that style of art, but I'll dive back in and give it another shot.

    Aren't they amazing? They could go on forever, aimlessly talking about pointless subjects. Even I'm beginning to admire them for it. -- Nagisa, A Lollipop Or A Bullet

    by Dom9000 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 04:39:50 AM PDT

    •  Hmm (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dom9000

      the art is a bit kiddy, in a sort of traditional shounen manner. But throughout the course of the series the art "grows up" along with the plot. I like it a lot.

      Perhaps what I like most about it is that it is rejecting elements of both Buddhist and Christian theology, and uses Kabbalah, which is an ideology far more fascinating than Christian Theodicy. In the end it sort of affirms the power of individualism working towards a greater goal.

      It's hard to get anything past you, Dom >.<

      "If people doled out nutkickings where they are deserved, the world would be a better place." -Marcel Inhoff

      by ArkDem14 on Sat Jul 02, 2011 at 10:16:13 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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