Otaku Corner #10: Eagle Vol. 2

Polit­i­cal appeal comes through in sec­ond vol­ume of Eagle

Bran­don Beatty, editor-at-large

Wel­come back to “Otaku Cor­ner,” where GI show­cases the best in Japan­ese comic art and ani­ma­tion. I am happy to announce that GI editor-in-chief Lyn­d­sey Hicks Mosley will debut the Anime Lounge where she will review var­i­ous anime that new and vet­eran fans will enjoy.

In a pre­vi­ous issue, I reviewed a manga that fore­told the elec­tion of the first black pres­i­dent of the United States, Barack Obama. Now, in the spirit of the 2012 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, I’m review­ing the sec­ond vol­ume of that manga that not only show­cases the main char­ac­ter as a unique under­dog, but also shows what can result when Japan­ese comic art col­lides with Amer­i­can pol­i­tics. This is “Eagle: The Mak­ing of an Asian-American President.”

In “Eagle Vol­ume 2: Scan­dal,” by Kaiji Kawaguchi and pub­lished by Viz Media, the road to the White House con­tin­ues as Ken­neth Yamaoka, a third-generation Japanese-American sen­a­tor from New York, vies for the Demo­c­ra­tic nom­i­na­tion in the 2000 U.S. pres­i­den­tial race before the New Hamp­shire pri­mary. Join­ing Ken­neth for the whirl­wind ride is the Photo courtesy of Amazon.comsec­ond main char­ac­ter, Takashi Jo, a Japan­ese reporter assigned to cover Yamaoka’s cam­paign. Jo early on learns that Yamaoka is his long-lost father as a result of an affair that Yamaoka had in Oki­nawa before head­ing into the Viet­nam War. Upon arriv­ing in Boston, Takashi is intro­duced to Yamaoka’s fam­ily where Takashi learns that his long-lost dad not only has strong finan­cial back­ing, but also he has a kin­dred spirit in his adopted sis­ter, Rachel, who is the press sec­re­tary for the cam­paign, and a younger brother, Alex, who is test­ing Takashi’s patience and skills as a jour­nal­ist while try­ing to prove to his father that he can take the pres­sure of the polit­i­cal cam­paign. Mean­while, as the cam­paign moves into Man­ches­ter, N.H., Yamaoka plots and suc­ceeds in not only lur­ing the Repub­li­can Party’s top strate­gist, but also derails a top Demo­c­ra­tic rival’s cam­paign with proof of an affair.

Eagle” has not missed a step ever since I started read­ing, thanks to a strong and fresh plot and char­ac­ters. Kawaguchi retains his golden touch of comb­ing fic­tional writ­ing with real-world pol­i­tics while pre­sent­ing the pos­si­ble future of a Amer­i­can minor­ity who could hold the posi­tion of “leader of the free world.”

As a polit­i­cal wonk, “Eagle” appealed to me, show­ing that comics in gen­eral can have sway in read­ers’ opin­ions on cer­tain world events. Credit goes to Carl Gus­tav Horn and Yuji Oniki for an excel­lent mix of adap­tion and trans­la­tion of this polit­i­cal manga that has a deserv­ing spot in my manga col­lec­tion, but guar­an­tees that otaku will want to grab this series and never let go.

Bran­don Beatty can be reached by email at gicomics@gaminginsurrection.com

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