Like, oh, everyone, I’m thrilled that Del Rey licensed Moyasimon: Tales of Agriculture. Winner of the Kodansha Best General Manga award for 2008, the manga also spawned a brilliant anime series, available piecemeal on YouTube. Most American fans familiar with the series discovered it through the 12 episode anime (which covers the first four tankoubon).
Image/manga by Masayuki Ishikawa.
Moyasimon centers on Tadayasu Sawaki, an agricultural university freshman who can see and talk with bacteria. To him, however, the bacteria resemble a cross between microbe plushies and Princess Mononoke‘s tree sprites. They’re adorable, and like the manga itself, marry the technical with the irreverent.
It’s that marriage, between scientific curiosity and mischief, that distinguishes Moyasimon from other seinen or edu-manga series. It’s a peculiarly childlike approach, and therefore designed to appeal to anyone with an inner child, preferably one seeking the gross, bizarre, and extraordinary.
In the first chapter, for example, we see human-size radishes and unearth a dead seal. We watch Sawaki’s professor suck a sea bird’s fermented guts out of its rear (a delicacy known as kiviak). Later story lines include various cutely rendered infections, all conveyed through Masayuki Ishikawa’s distinctive art. The characters are first-rate, too: unusual, flawed, and funny. UPDATE: Kate Dacey has an excellent full review here.