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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

License Line: In Soviet Russia --- You Know

What is License Line? Put simply, it's a bi-weekly feature on Nagareboshi Reviews in which yours truly posts about a certain anime/manga series that truly, desperately needs to be licensed and put on my shelves ASAP - from the obscure but well-deserving manga to the stream worthy but not yet DVD licensed anime.

Have you ever spent an evening searching in despair for a manga about communist Russia and its various leaders and found nothing? Are you also a fan of the absurd, the surreal, and the downright guro? Do you like your gore and guts to be completely ridiculous and make absolutely no sense at all? You've come to the right place, my friend. 

And by 'right' I mean so very, very wrong. I'm sure more than a few obscure manga veterans are already giving me looks of horror, knowing full well what my latest license begging spree is about, and they are probably right on the money for being horrified.

Ladies and gentlemen, meet Shintaro Kago, one of the most well known guro artists around. The manga in question is, of course, Dance! Kremlin Palace (Танцевать! Кремль Дворёц/踊る!クレムリン宮殿) and if the idea of guro itself turns your stomach . . . you might want to walk away as quickly as possible, for it only goes downhill from here.

How do I begin to describe the manga that is Dance! Kremlin Palace? It's an absurd illustration of Soviet Russia history, and even that doesn't begin to go into detail on how demented the whole thing is. Political figures like Stalin and Lenin acting as literal guardian angels for their most loyal Communists and literally purging their followers on the rack and talking about taking vodka showers (a Russian stereotype I'm sure Axis Powers Hetalia fans are well aware of). At one point, Neo-Nazis kidnap Gorbachev and turn him into a cyborg. So there's about as much literal history in D!KP as there is in . . . well, Hetalia. Only with a lot more spilling guts and guro stuff.

So, in short, Dance! Kremlin Palace is obscene, extremely and grotesquely surreal, and an entertaining lesson in bad taste and the Soviet Empire, kind of. Which publisher in their right frame of mind would even consider touching this title? Not many. It’s a hell of a risky title; it could easily earn itself a Mature rating and a shrink-wrapping treatment.

But when it comes to publishing guro in the States, I can think of one company who has the, err, guts to bring out the Kremlin in English: Vertical, who already has a reputation for releasing risqué manga like Lychee Light Club and Velveteen & Mandala. Now, do I ever expect Vertical to do this? Nah. This is probably the one License Line request that will never be fulfilled. But at least it’s out there that there is actually some sort of weirdo who would spent money on reading the bloody demented antics of Cyborg!Gorbachev, Putin’s recycling efforts, and samurais in adult diapers fighting communists in Japan, all in the King’s English.

For more info about Dance! Kremlin Palace, you can check out the manga-orientated site Same Hat!, which has a lot of info on Shintaro Kago’s amazing profile of work.