Antarctic Press 2020
By Motofumi Kobayashi
Translated by Jacob Yomtobian
Sergeants Perky, Rats and Botasky, the members of special forces unit Cat Sh*t One, continue to brave their way through multiple dangerous missions on the battlefields of Vietnam. The stars of Motofumi Kobayashi's famous war manga may be "mere" rabbits on the outside, but they're beasts of battle through and through!
This has turned into a book that I crave to see more of. Who knew a Vietnam War book that features animals instead of humans could be so damn compelling? We kind of know what happened, it’s pretty well documented and M.A.S.H. put it’s own spotlight on it as well but that’s not the real history. Every country teaches its own version of events that have happened world-wide that are centric to their people. This story is told from its own unique point of view and it has what I think of as a non-bias approach as we see the story told from this unit’s perspective.
The way that this book is being told is utterly and spectacularly brilliant! The story & plot development that we see through how the sequence of events unfold as well as how the reader learns information is laid down exquisitely. This is a documented event and to see how those real events are woven into this story is amazing to me. That this feels like it’s as much a history lesson as it is a story for entertainment is mind blowing. Just the overall sense you get from reading this is worth more than your weight in gold. The character development is astonishingly good. As we get to know these men and their relationships with one another and how the bonds of brotherhood form you find yourself caring about them in ways you didn’t expect. The pacing is brilliant in how it guides us through the pages revealing the situations and circumstances they have to face. All of this works together to create the overall ebb & flow while also highlighting how well the book is structured.
While it feels war has been consistently being waged worldwide since I have been alive this offers a perspective on not only the way it is, to some degree, but also the consequences of the actions that they take. Revenge, counter attacks, you name it we see, understand why it’s happening as it envelops us in this world.
The black and white style we see here is an example of some the best you will ever see in your lifetime. Not only are there varying weights in the linework but we also see a myriad of techniques being utilised as well and all together it just makes this so much powerful of a story and not just in the visual sense. That Kobayashi does the entire book is equally as impressive because that takes a high level of skill and talent. That everything we see is precisely what he wants us to in order to get the maximum impact is fully on display. The way backgrounds are utilised and how we see them utilised within the panels to create this depth perception, sense of scale as well as that overall sense of size and scope for the book. The utilisation of the page layouts and how we see the angles and perspective in the panels show a masters eye for storytelling.
It wasn’t until I had grown up that I have actually come to appreciate the war story genre in comics. Seeing the sheer unadulterated strength of will and character these characters possess is nearly inspirational. War is Hell and while it may seem a necessary action we also see the underbelly of it as well. Death and destruction follow hand in hand as weapons become more advanced and volatile as the land becomes uninhabitable. This engages the reader in pretty much a fully immersive experience and it will leave you changed when you're finished reading this.