Comfort Food Comics Potluck: Tokyo Zombie by Bachelor Soft

Comfort Food Comics Potluck is a regular column where I ask some of my favorite people to write about their special Comfort Food Comics.

Today’s column comes from Bachelor Soft. He is an artist/video game developer/writer that I am incredibly jealous of because he is so darn talented at everything. I first encountered him here on the Select Button forums where he would post various writings & updates as a developer blog on making “DDD: THE NATURAL PLAYBOYS”, a tribute to offbeat Japanese adventure games and the people who made them. All of his posts on Select Button are pure gold. He’s since started a Patreon for his game/zines/etc. The guy’s style of writing is effortless humor & genius skill. I love reading anything he creates. I HAD to get him to write about his favorite Comfort Food Comic:

God, zombies are played out. I never wanna read a zombie comic again. Except for this one. Yusaku Hanakuma’s Tokyo Zombie. I’ll read Tokyo Zombie again any old time, cuz unlike most modern zombie fiction it’s not some survivalist wank fantasy but a story about stubbornly pursuing your art and your passion even if no one else respects it. Even if it only leads to further isolation. Even if the entire world is burning down around you. But most importantly it has a cute dog and a bunch of pro-wrestling shit and there’s a real funny bit where a horny dumbass gets his boner bit off so yeah it’s art. Art that brings me great comfort.

Heads up: since this is manga you gotta read these panels right to left. Yes, this comic is from the 20th century but the English edition is from 2008. That’s after most publishers stopped flipping manga pages but before using Japanese honorifics in translations became commonplace. Boy, am I not into honorifics. I’m not into seeing “-chan” or “-kun” after everyone’s name. Were the late 00’s a “golden age” of “manga translations”? I dunno. I’m out of the loop. I don’t know what’s being published nowadays. Maybe things are better than I think. But back then we got most of Cromartie High School in English and I don’t think the word “senpai” appeared in it once. Would that happen today? I dunno. Again, I’m out of the loop. But I doubt it. I doubt it..!!

Imagine your boss hassling you like this. It’s easy for me, as I am also bald and beautiful. But perhaps it’s more difficult for you. Give it a shot though. Really, really try to imagine being cool and good looking and getting grief from this grump. Imagine the satisfaction of murdering his abusive ass. Imagine taking his corpse and dumping it on Dark Fuji, a toxic mountain made of trash where the wicked bury their sins. Dark Fuji, a place where…starting today…the dead come back to life.

Above is the face of a man who went to dispose of a body on Dark Fuji, but then found a huge stash of adult magazines as he was digging a hole, and got so aroused by these magazines that he began celebrating the self out there, in a garbage dump, which seemingly aroused the Earth’s first zombie to burst from the ground and bite him right on the b*ner. I’m planning on never dying but if I ever do kick it I hope it’s not like that. I hope my needs never trigger any kind of apocalypse.

That guy with the afro is the bald dude’s co-worker, Brazilian jiu-jitsu sparring partner, and accomplice. I don’t remember his name. I didn’t take notes. But these two, they’re Hanakuma’s recurring leads. I bet they get up to so many hijinx in so many stories but this is the only Hanakuma I’ve read and in this one they only seem to care about grappling with each other. I think that’s good. I think that’s the ideal male friendship.

Hanakuma himself is a BJJ practitioner. He’s wearing a gi in his author photo. I enjoy the sequences where these dudes grapple. Hanakuma slows down a bit. Takes his time. Puts a little more care into depicting boys getting all up in each others’ areas. They’re a nice change of pace from the rest of the story, which is mostly people getting ate or shot or genitally mutilated.

There’s a film adaptation of this comic, directed by the guy who wrote screenplay for ICHI THE KILLER. I’ve never seen that movie but I hear it is very violent, and features almost all the fluids you may find in a body. I do not know if the Tokyo Zombie movie is similarly “juicy” because I quit watching it almost immediately. It was bad, and jokey, and looked like a TV show, and worst of all, the cast was way too good looking.  Like, a few years ago on a plane I watched a film adaptation of I’LL GIVE IT MY ALL TOMORROW, which is about a middle-aged loser who lives with his parents and works at a fast food restaurant yet refuses to give up on his dream of becoming a successful cartoonist. Good, relatable comic. In the manga the lead was plump and homely, yet in the movie he was movie-star-level-handsome, because they cast a movie star in the role. It was disgusting. It was absurd. It was unbelievable, even though yes, there are incredibly good looking artists of advancing age who live with their mothers. I’m one of them. But I believe sometimes being good looking is the ugliest thing you can do, and that’s another reason why comics are so much better than movies. In comics everybody’s free…to be ugly.

Damn, check it out. More grappling. This time it’s our boy taking on a zombie. That’s what the bulk of the book is: martial artists fighting zombies as rich folks watch and get their rocks off. I feel like I could probably properly apply an armbar after reading this. You can tell this Hanakuma dude knows his stuff. You can tell this guy would have absolutely destroyed Lou Reed in a fight. You ever see those drawings Lou Reed did of himself doing tai chi and karate kicking dudes in the chest? That shit is beautiful, and hilarious, but also childish. It was not as well executed as this comic. I’m also sure Lou Reed would have died if he ever competed in Pride. Hanakuma, though…he probably woulda gotten his clock cleand but maybe he woulda gone home afterwards and drawn a convincing comic where he gets a rematch against, I dunno, Gary Goodridge and chokes that mother out in 20 seconds and then a chicken hops into the ring and pecks the loser’s nuts off or some shit.

This, to me, is one of the greatest panels in all of comics. That man is bad for mistreating the pigs, and also because he’s a murderous monster, but I’m still somewhat envious of his attitude here. I would never be able to lose myself in a moment like that. I would never think to try pig surfing.

This is another greatest panel. I cropped out the text. Can you guess what is depicted here? Perhaps you could write down your guess on a piece of paper and seal it in an envelope, which you will then open once you finish reading Tokyo Zombie. That might be a fun game to play. 

The best character in Tokyo Zombie is the dog. That dog is waiting to fuck some shit up. That dog is a very good dog. Just look at it. You can tell that dog hates the bourgeoisie. I had to look up how to spell that word. I’m a poseur. I’m a joke. But don’t say that to my face — my dog is even tougher than this one. He’ll rip your throat right out.

The second best character is this dude who looks like Masa Saito. Perhaps that’s a coincidence but to me that’s Masa Saito, a former Olympian and pro-wrestler who did hard time for beating up a whole slew of American police after they came to arrest him for throwing a fuckin’ boulder through the window of a McDonalds. After he got out of prison he moved back to Japan, where he wrestled Antonio Inoki in a “Desert Island Death Match”. That was a wrestling match where two men wandered around a deserted island for hours not doing much of note but I think at one point someone got set on fire? I don’t really remember. It’s no longer on YouTube and isn’t available on the New Japan Pro-Wrestling site so I can’t confirm how that match ends without actually, like, searching and reading so let’s all agree it ends with Masa Saito getting set on fire.

I’ve decided this character is the worst character, this dude who’s carrying around a gal, banging her, cuz perhaps that is a reference to a certain Japanese porno director. I’m not being coy there — I don’t remember the guy’s name and I’m too lazy to look it up right now but there’s a Netflix series about him called The Naked Director, which is one of maybe 3 TV shows I’ve managed to watch to completion over the last year or two. It’s not a good show. I do not recommend it at all, even though I did watch all of it. At one point they show the titular director playing Soldier Blade or some shit on a Famicom using a PC Engine joystick and they say the year is like 1984 and that’s horrible, how do you fuck up that bad. They also gloss over all the sex crimes the guy did too, which is definitely way worse than TV game anachronisms, but I didn’t know about the crimes until after I finished watching the show and read the dude’s wiki entry. I knew something was up when I saw that Famicom though. I knew that show was full of shit. But yeah according to wikipedia that director’s signature move was the walk ‘n bang so perhaps that’s a gag here, one that I didn’t catch last time I read this book! Perhaps this work has even greater levels of depth than I thought. Perhaps there are many other references to garbage people who belong in jail and perhaps I should be glad I can’t pick up on them.

Tokyo Zombie is from 1999 so maybe this bit was inspired by the Matrix but this is better than the Matrix because those generators are clearly bouncy houses of doom. There’s also a chance this inspired the rave scene in Matrix Reloaded. Feel free to start that rumor, everyone. Say this comic inspired the Matrix sequels. Why not.

I want to make this panel into a welcome mat. I would leave it outside my front door, which is the ideal place for a welcome mat. I think it would give folks a good idea of who I am, and what to expect from me, and my apartment, even though I’m clueless when it comes to grappling. I sometimes consider taking it up though. Sometimes I think maybe it would solve all my troubles. But then I remember that shit costs money and everyone in the class would probably be half my age so fuck that. When I was in 5th grade a friend and I took karate classes together but quit after a few weeks cuz they stuck us with kids 4 years younger than us and it was all too humiliating. I’d probably be able to do some real Power Team-esque shit today if my sensei (teacher) had recognized the raw skill and strength and yomi (ability to read the mind of my opponent — I am very good at Street Fighter [and Chess 2]) that lurked inside me but whatever. He didn’t! He was a failure, that sensei. So who needs real martial arts. I have Tekken 7, which is the realest sport, right? Right.

There are a bunch of dekotora in this comic. You ever see dekotora? They’re real fancy looking trucks. They look like the Vegas Strip on wheels. I’m not into cars but I definitely woulda been a truck bastard if I grew up in Japan, and was exposed to some fuckin’ dekotora. 

There’s a series of films titled Torraku Yano, which the internet once told me translates to Truck Bastards. I’ve never seen these movies but I have seen trailers and from what I recall they’re just shots of the coolest trucks ever made set to enka music with like one or two closeups of a dude driving. There is no way the actual films are as good as those trailers so I will never watch them. Once I am done writing this I am going to go look up those trailers though. I will draw the blinds, turn down the lights, and grasp a pie-tin as if it were a steering wheel and pretend I own a real bad ass truck that looks like a Gundam le Discoteque (editor please insert accents where appropriate — I don’t know French. Thanks.)

This is a comic from 1999 and I think that’s about the time when mixed martial arts began its ascent in Japanese pop culture which helped hasten pro-wrestling’s decline and there’s lots of that real vs. fake shit up in this book and I think that’s always interesting, I’m always down for contemplation and discussion about authenticity and artifice and such but I think I really just like this comic cuz the protagonist doesn’t gain fame, or fortune, or love, or vengence. He just gets a bunch of evil people killed, earns the respect of some pro-wrestlers, and rides off into the sunset with a dog. That’s the dream, man. That’s my #1 comforting dream.

“Bachelor Soft is the developer of the upcoming DDD: THE NATURAL PLAYBOYS, an adventure game for computers. It is about a famous lady wandering around Miami wearing nothing but a bath towel. It is surely going to win many awards. If you are interested in posing as Bachelor and accepting one of those future-awards on his behalf please visit http://bachelorsoft.com or https://twitter.com/bachelorsoft and submit an application. Thank you.”

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