The Bottom Line
In Japan, manga simply means "comics" – and like American and European comics, there's "mainstream" and then there's "indie" and "avant-garde" artistic works. Thanks to PictureBox, American readers are given a glimpse of manga from the creative cutting edge with Yuichi Yokoyama's New Engineering.
New Engineering is a very different kind of manga – it's more about putting out innovative ideas than it is about traditional storytelling. It's boldly original and thought-provoking – but will everyone would "get" and enjoy this? No, not really. I'm glad it exists, but I can't say I love it.
- A thought-provoking exploration of manga as a medium for fine art and new ideas
- Boldly original and distinctive art style
- Explodes with manic, mechanical energy on every page
- Artistic, coffee table-worthy design and presentation
- Aggressively avant-garde manga that will fly over most readers' heads
- Yokoyama's anti-humanist, anti-aesthetic approach seems pretentious
- Purposely clunky artwork that will turn off fans of more conventional manga
- Original Title: Nyu Kogaku (New Engineering) (Japan)
- Author & Artist: Yuichi Yokoyama
- Publishers: Picturebox Inc. (US) East Press (Japan)
- ISBN: 978-0-9789722-5-7
- Cover Price: $19.95 US
- Age Rating:
Not rated, but suitable for OT – Teens Age 16+
for abstract violence
More about content ratings.
- Manga Genres:
- Gekiga (Graphic Novels)
- US Publication Date: November 2007
Japan Publication Date: 2004
- Book Description: 226 pages, black and white illustrations
Guide Review - New Engineering
While there's now more manga available in English than ever before, the manga that's available in America today is but a tiny fraction of the spectrum of artistic expression that's available in Japan. On the outer edges of manga's artistic continuum are creators like Yuichi Yokoyama.
New Engineering is a collection of short "stories" by Yokoyama featuring humanoid men and omnipotent machines building, fighting, creating and destroying. I say "stories" because there's no real "plot" here – it's all about action, noise and transformation for its own sake, exaggerated to the point of absurdity.
New Engineering crackles with manic, aggressive energy on almost every page; fights break out at the drop of a hat. Knives fly, factories crank out product, mountains are created. It's got a lot of action, but it's also somewhat pointless – or is that the point? That all the everyday routines of modern living – going to the store, putting on clothes and going to work are ridiculous and dehumanizing in their mindlessness?
To quote Yokoyama,
"I want to remove the human trace... I don't want to make humanistic works.... It may be because I feel a sense of impotence in humanistic works."And in some respects, he's succeeded. Yokoyama draws with rulers and mechanical curves, so his artwork has a stiff, block-y feel to it, like an exploding box of Lego pieces. But is his approach somehow less "impotent" by removing the human element? That's debatable.
By willfully removing the human emotion in his storytelling, Yokoyama is asking us to look at his ideas in their pure abstract form. It's all thought-provoking, but it's not very endearing. I know it's Art with a capital "A", but I can't say that it's something I'd want to read over and over again. Does it deserve to exist? Yes, absolutely. Do I have to like it? No, not really.