With her psychedelic creepy Kawai with an overtone of sexual content, the artwork of Junko Mizuno is some of my favorite artists out there and my all time favorite manga is Pure Trance. Written in the late 90’s and then getting an English release in 2005 it is still available today for purchase on Amazon at a very reasonable price (on the American site at least). But looking at the cover of this strange manga you might be wondering, what the hell is this?
This manga is very dark in tone, I will tell you that right now, much like most on Junko’s work what might look strange yet cute it will always have a darker side. Pure Trance is a sci-fi story taking place in the far future after world war 3, a war which has sent humankind off the surface and underground, but that’s ok humans have a great life underground. The main character of the story is a nurse who works at Overeaters Treatment Center 102 where she tries to help her patients. Unfortunately, her job is made difficult by the woman in charge of the treatment center who is a drug addict who uses her position to get what she craves most.
It was the art style that caught my interest when it came to the work of Junko and Pure Trance but it was the strong female characters, interesting character development and world building that had me hooked on Pure Trance. Little snippets of information about the world she has created in this manga can be found at the bottom of nearly every page. These can be explanations of products, devices, hobbies the characters take part in or creatures scattered throughout the story and I really loved this. It added an extra intriguing level to an already weird narrative and in a way almost made it feel more grounded in a believable reality, well almost I don’t think cloning is a popular hobby amongst young women just yet.
The manga deals with themes of social norms, eating disorders, self-harm, drug use and finding one’s self in the chaos that surrounds us in the world. It is because of these themes that Pure Trance may not be a good starting point for someone new to Junko Mizuno’s work. One manga I would recommend to someone new to her work is Mermaid Princess, which is a strange re-imagining of the classic tale of the little mermaid, a safer place to start down the rabbit hole that is Junko Mizuno.
Though not the best quality this is a really cool interview with the artist herself, being interviewed by a familiar face to any top gear fan on his previous show Japanorama.