Extract from 500 Manga Heroes & Villains

Each chapter of this book focusses on a different kind of hero or villain – male, female, or non-human. This extract is taken from Chapter 4, devoted to male villains.

Crystal Dragon and Legend of Galactic Heroes have still not been translated into English, but you can buy translated Astro Boy manga from Amazon and many bookstores. Tezuka Productions also plan to make all Tezuka’s manga available online in English, Korean and Japanese over the next three years. They will all be digitally coloured, giving those who find the Japanese loyalty to black and white graphic fiction disturbing an alternative way to see the master’s art.

Back to 500 Manga Heroes & Villains page.

“BARAGH [1982]

Born sickly and not expected to live, Baragh was saved by his sister Elata, a magician who used dark powers to save him and make him strong so that he could grow to succeed their father as leader of the Domnu Gwyn tribe of Ghost Valley in the isle of Erin. Yuho Ashibe’s manga Crystal Dragon is a fantasy of the first century A.D., when Rome ruled the world but the wild tribes on the fringes of the Empire used all their warrior strength and the wiles of both dark and bright magic to resist the invader. The historical background is not rigorous, but the iconography is used to rich and powerful effect in the complex tale of  Arianrhod of the Grian Conor tribe, known as Arian, and her struggle against Baragh’s determination to conquer and dominate all in his way.  Baragh is a fabulous villain – totally evil, ruthless, tall, good-looking, and almost irresistible. He has only one eye, though his immortal spirit form has two eyes and  black blood, one single drop of which can take away a person’s will. He is protected by four strange child-like spirits. Normally only attracted to men (his devoted charioteer Glivis is also his lover) Baragh takes a fancy to Arian after he exterminates her entire tribe except for her and chieftain’s daughter Wijnruit. Elata and Glivis, jealous and afraid of the force of attraction between the pair, help Arian to escape, but Baragh enchants Wijnruit with a drop of his black blood and sends her and Glivis after Arian. She flees through the world, meeting Romans, Vikings and  magical beings, trying escape his relentless pursuit. He then acquires another lover (the spirit of one of his former lovers re-animating the body of one of his victims) and a winged black unicorn named Fire Sword, and rejects the faithful Glivis as surplus to requirements, embarking on yet further campaigns to spread the evil of his valley through the world. The manga had a hiatus after ten years of publication in Bonita Comics, then re-started, and is still one of the best and most involving fantasy series ever created.

PROFESSOR BOYNTON aka PROF. TENMA [1951]

 A tall, slim man with a prominent nose and a shock of black hair that sticks up in a crest in front, Tenma is a charismatic genius, but completely self-centred and exploitative. Head of the Science Ministry and creator of Astro Boy as a replacement for his dead son Toby (Tobio), he rejects his robot child when it fails to fulfil his expectations – he couldn’t give it the capacity to grow up as his dead son would have done. So he sells the little robot he had previously loved into slavery as part of a circus sideshow. He became creator Osamu Tezuka’s prototype father from hell and mad scientist, a stereotype of power used unwisely and selfishly. He went on to play several roles in Black Jack, including Jack’s elder brother, and appeared in Microid S, Rainbow Parakeet and Atom Cat.

OTTO VON BRAUNSCHWEIG [1988]

Katsumi Michihara’s manga version of Yoshiki Tanaka’s epic series of space war novels, Legend of Galactic Heroes (Ginga Eiya Densetsu)  appeared in Chara Comics in 1995. In the late 3500s, the Alliance of Independent Worlds (a federation of broadly democratic systems) and the Galactic Empire (an Austro-Prussian autocracy with a feudal heirarchy and stunning uniforms) have been at war for around a century and a half. The battles are fought across huge areas of space in mighty starcruisers and swift, deadly fighters, but the political machinations on the worlds involved are ultimately more influential. Imperial noble Braunschweig is a blood relative of the Emperor with 500 years of privilege behind him, but his position and his view of the world order is threatened by the rising prominence of a brilliant young general who is the brother of the Emperor’s concubine. A distinguished-looking man in his forties, he looks the part of a leader but is stupid, arrogant and obstinate. He forms a group of nobles and plots a coup, but he is no match for the military and stragetic genius of his enemy, and the knowledge of his own inadequacy drives him insane. He squanders his forces and wastes the lives of many loyal followers. He imprisons his loyal and devoted young aide, Ansbach, for arguing against the mistake that leads to his final defeat, but Ansbach escapes and saves him from humiliating capture by forcing him to drink poison. Ansbach also takes revenge for his master on his enemy before taking his own life.”

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