War looms over everyday life in the capital. Two girls who seek respite in the bucolic outskirts of Suginami Ward learn that a riverside where spirits reside is creeping with rotting anomalies. As the adults prove incapable, youth must take up arms. A sublime mixture of Hayao Miyazaki, Evangelion, and scatology!
Jiro Matsumoto was born in Tokyo on August 20, 1970. A graduate of the Musashino School of the Arts with a major in sculpture, he quickly turned his focus towards the comics world upon receiving his degree, taking the top honor in Kodansha’s prestigious Morning/Chiba Tetsuya New Comic Artist Awards in 1992. Velveteen & Mandala marks his English-language debut.
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“Velveteen & Mandala feels wrong in the best sense of the word. It’s a creepy, gross little monster of a book, the type that is going to crawl inside your brain and throw up on your frontal lobes… The strongest scenes come from the extreme cruelty that lurks behind high school life or the way that people—and I mean regular people here, like you and me—are casually insensitive to each other in deeply cutting ways… The exact manga you need if you’re a fan of Johnny Ryan’s Prison Pit, Charles Burns’s Black Hole, or seeing some good old-fashioned gross action.”
“It is funny, but in the black, ghastly way that something like Catch-22 or M*A*S*H (the original film, at its most embittered) was funny: you laugh, along with the storyteller, that you may not cry… The most significant development over the course of V&M is how it slowly trades the outré, non-sequitur black humor of its opening chapters for something a lot sadder and more expansive. There’s a surprising amount of emotional punch in the conclusion, enough that it invites a second reading of the book…”
“Velveteen & Mandala is as disturbed as its protagonists, and maybe that’s because it manages to be both fun and sad… Just like the way Mandala obsessively shouts ‘Tape recorder!’ at the top of her lungs, Velveteen & Mandala will stay in your head and beg to be reread. Here’s hoping Vertical, or an equally gutsy publisher, pumps out more material like Matsumoto’s in the direction of an otherwise unsuspecting North American audience.”
“With [Velveteen & Mandala, Jiro Matsumoto] shatters all expectations of what it means to be manga, a zombie story, or even sane… The storytelling and pacing is brisk. It is a welcome change from the drawn-out pacing of manga where often little happens over the course of a 200-page volume… From panel to panel you will feel elation, arousal, revulsion, and fear. Nothing is too small or too taboo for him to tackle. Because of that, this book will not be for everyone… Be prepared to be challenged.”
—Stumptown Trade Review
“Matsumoto’s story is dark and uncompromising… The girls have unpleasant things happen to them, and they do unpleasant things themselves—but the reading of it is never unpleasant… This is not a book for the squeamish—but it is a creepy, gnarly, tricky book with its own thrills to deliver. Reading it is something like picking at a scab, but, if you tear it right off and accept the pain, it’s an exhilarating feeling.”
—Realms of Fantasy
“There’s plenty of pop culture evoked here, and it’s not just glib allusions… At least for people like the subjects of this manga, you have an end of days, and you don’t have the Bible or another religious structure to explain it. Instead, what you do have is RPG menu systems, Tomino anime, and other pop culture rattling around… The two girls, one volume span of Velveteen & Mandala grows its wild little garden… A great zombie work that sticks around in your head without looming like a mausoleum.”
—Ain't It Cool News
“It isn’t for young readers and those easily offended as well as it shows scenes of rape, nudity and defecation. These scenes also seem to be the most detailed and well-drawn parts of the manga… Jiro Matsumoto does especially well when it comes to capturing the different, and sometimes crazy, expressions of characters… The translations are clear, easy to read, have a nice flow and seem to fit in each of the bubbles on the panel just right.”