So, who wants to go through an entire, beat-by-beat, retelling of Joe’s awakening chapter from the beginning of the series, now featuring Lil’ 007?!
Me either, so let’s just talk about the other 15% of the prologue, which is a time skip.
After Cyborg 009 was dropped by Weekly Shonen King, it was picked up by Weekly Shonen Magazine in July of 1966. This chapter was not meant to be considered canon, as confirmed by Ishinomori. All of the background information about Joe being a race car driver, Francoise being a ballerina and GB still being a child was inserted here for the sake of making the manga more inviting to people who had taken up the manga after watching the 1966 movie.
It’s been four years since the finale of the battle against the Mythos Cyborgs, which means, despite the series getting picked back up we’re still left without any concrete resolution to the Mythos arc. All we know is that they seemingly beat the Mythos Cyborgs and they all survived the battle.
Apparently, whether or not the Mythos arc is even still canon has been a topic of debate ever since this volume was released because it acts as though the Vietnam arc was the story immediately preceding this one. Ishinomori wanted to rewrite the Mythos arc one day to give it a proper conclusion, but even though the manga continued on for a long time, he never revisited it. I’m inclined to believe the Mythos arc is canon, but that’s just me.
One more note before we continue, even though Ishinomori claimed this chapter wasn’t canon, that doesn’t make much sense because a lot of what happens in this chapter will carry on throughout the entire arc. For instance, if Joe becoming a successful race car driver isn’t canon, why does he have that sick house for so long? If he was never followed by reporters wanting to get insight into the famous Hurricane Joe, why do they reappear as his informants later on? If Joe never had this encounter with his friends, how did he meet Helen? It’s very confusing.
Joe has taken up a job as a successful race car driver, but he holds a lot of resentment about his cyborg nature and Black Ghost. Despite his newfound success, he’s also garnered a reputation as being a bit of a grump who won’t talk to the press or take off his helmet while on the track. However, two persistent journalists decide to follow him home to finally get an interview.
Journalist: “One thing I’ve heard is that he’s some sort of half-breed. That would explain why he’s so damn secretive.”
I’ve never heard that stereotype before. They treat being mixed race like it’s a secret identity.
They follow him to a store where Joe meets up with some old delinquent friends from reform school. Ibaraki (incorrectly translated by Tokyopop as Ibaragi) Oyamada and Mary. They’ve gone straight since their school days and are even running a modest moving business out of their truck. Joe invites them to his swanky-ass smart house that has a combination-locked door, flippable floors to switch the purpose of the rooms instantly, a large screen TV, meals that pop out of the tables, etc.
As Mary and Joe get drinks, she suddenly becomes melancholy as she remembers her father and how he abandoned her. She wonders if her life would have turned out differently if he had kept her. Joe consoles her and they go back out to get the party going with the boys.
Mmm….old friends of one of the main characters….getting nostalgic….having fun…….they’re going to die, aren’t they?
It should be noted that this scene was drastically changed from the original version. Originally, it was revealed that Mary and Joe were both bullied as children for being ‘half-breeds’ which caused them to fall into the wrong crowd. I have no idea why this was changed to just being a generic ‘If I hadn’t been an orphan, would my life be different?’ speech. Especially since, as the comparison on the Fandom page explains, the translation claims she wound up at the same reform school, which should be impossible because Kurihama Juvenile Hall is meant to be boys-only.
The boys are watching a news broadcast about a giant robot bat that attacked recently that they believe originated from a Polynesian island.
Oyamada: “The news is so boring.” BORING?! What world do you live in where reports of a giant robot bat attack are boring to you?
A fly gets let in by the journalists, and it turns out to be a robot that triggers the three friends into attacking Joe. They were secretly cyborgs sent to kill him.
Ibaraki is covered in gun barrels in his chest and elbows. Black Ghost made 004 with guns in his fingers, which are extremely easy to aim……then they made Ibaraki with guns in his elbows and chest, which are very hard to aim…I guess this is an upgrade from Mr. “Black Ghost pretty much duct taped a machine gun to my arm stump.”….….……Black Ghost is filled with morons. Ibaraki also has target-vision, which is pretty cool.
Also, nothing to do with his cyborg nature, but look at his shirt.
Did someone look at a bowl of Alphabits and say ‘Yeah, I want that as a button-up shirt.’?
Oyamada is pretty cool looking, having a bunch of ‘tusks’ jutting out of nearly every space on his body. These tusks can spear his enemies, but if he captures one of them in his ‘ribs’ he can crush them to death.
Finally, Mary was turned into a dog-like cyborg who runs on all-fours, creates electricity with her paws, has razor-sharp claws and can control wolves with a cry.
Ibaraki is the main one attacking at first. He shoots up the joint while Joe runs for his life and tries to convince his friends to stop. He attempts to appeal to their bond as friends and reminds them of the good times they had. They do feel bad about what they’re doing, but they’re not just being ordered by Black Ghost, they’re legitimately angry with him. Joe simply vanished from their lives one day and they haven’t heard so much as a peep from him since he disappeared. What’s worse is that he never warned them about Black Ghost, and they were turned into cyborgs as a result.
The fight continues, Mary accidentally getting shot up by Ibaraki in the crossfire. Ibaraki and Oyamada decide to retreat for the time being in order to get Mary to safety. Before they drive off in their truck, Joe puts a tracker on it. After they drive away, he heads back into his house to put on his good ol’ uniform, hops in his car and heads after them.
They won’t let themselves be followed, however. They activate missiles hidden in the tail lights of their truck. Despite all of the massive explosions, Joe manages to outmaneuver the missiles. Mary wakes up and uses her wolf-summoning powers on Joe’s car, which, funnily, actually makes him stop, get out of the car and take refuge up a tree….Joe….you have super speed…..just run away from them and chase the truck on foot.
He’s trapped until Mary is so far out of range that the wolves no longer attack Joe.
When Joe is finally free, he tracks the trio to an old cabin in the woods.
Also, this creepy-ass owl.
The trio pop out of the cabin, but there’s something off about Mary…what it is, I don’t know. I can’t see anything different about her, but Joe asks with a shocked expression what they did to her. Joe tries one more time to talk to his friends, explaining that Black Ghost did the same thing to him as they did to them and that Black Ghost is the real enemy. The only way he made it through becoming a cyborg was with the help of his friends, and he wants to help them now. Despite his pleas, the trio attack anyway.
Shockingly, when they converge on Joe, they all explode.
Joe: “You were wired to explode if your thoughts strayed from the mission.”
Hey…hey Joe….do you do parkour?
…..Because that’s quite the leap you just made.
There was no indication that any of them were actually taking what you were saying to heart, and their final act was to lunge at you, either knowing they’d explode or otherwise. How do you get ‘they were wired to explode if their thoughts strayed from the mission’ out of that? They’d run away from you if they were really starting to reconsider. The Wiki page for all three of their characters also claims that this was a last-ditch attempt to kill him. Their reluctance was not translated to the imagery at all.
Also, would Black Ghost not just go for complete control over their minds instead of blowing them up the instant they even started thinking about disobeying? They basically made the same mistake they made with 0013 only worse. It took quite a while after 0013 considered defecting that he (technically 13 Robo, but still) was set to blow up, but Joe’s friends seemed to blow the instant they thought ‘Hm, maybe I shouldn’t kil–’
How is it possible that, given all the evidence we’ve seen throughout the manga so far, Black Ghost somehow manages to get worse in their tech and even stupider in their plans?
Joe mourns the loss of his friends for a minute before heading off to investigate the cabin. He finds a young woman named Helen tied up on the floor.
Before you ask, yes, Helen is basically just Helena recycled, both in name and design, but she’s not the Mythos cyborg, she’s an entirely new character. Tokyopop was even cheeky about this and changed a line when they first meet from ‘Hey! Hang in there!’ to ‘Hey! I remember you!’ which caused more confusion in me than anything because I thought this was a character that we might have met at the start of the volume/chapter or something. I knew she looked the same as Helena, but we didn’t know her name at this point, and it could have just been a coincidence. Next time, Tokyopop, just say ‘You look like someone I used to know….’ or something. Wording is everything if you’re going to intentionally change lines to make a joke.
There’s something else in the cabin as well – a giant robo-cat. Joe fells the robot rather easily. The robot is a cheap piece of garbage, and Joe wonders why Black Ghost would send such a pile of junk after him.
He and Helen drive off, and she explains her story. Her father, Fishbone, was a widely respected scientist that Black Ghost wanted to recruit. Fishbone, however, refused to join up. Black Ghost never takes rejection well, so he was hunted. Fishbone vanished, but Helen was captured as a hostage.
Joe considers getting the gang back together since Black Ghost seems so active lately. Right as he ponders that, he notices a helicopter following closely behind them. Joe tells Helen to drive while he jumps into the helicopter to confront their stalker.
However, much to his surprise, 004 is piloting the helicopter with a huge smirk plastered on his face. That little scamp.
004 hadn’t visited 009 in a while, so he decided to pop in with his helicopter. When he saw Joe’s fancy car, he decided to tease him a bit. He becomes apologetic, however, when 009 explains Helen’s situation. 004 did have actual business with 009 – the obvious situation with Black Ghost reemerging. 004 and 009 head off to meet Dr. Gilmore and the others, but Helen asks to come.
004: “I’m sorry. This is no place for a woman.” Yeah! There are no women on our tea–….Oh shit.
009: “Don’t be a pig, 004!” Thank you, 009. I love 004 to bits, but he has his moments…
The three depart, and 004 quickly detects and corners the journalists from earlier, but he doesn’t do anything to them. *shrug*
On the way to Gilmore’s place, 004 explains that, when the team broke up, he headed back to Germany. However, everyone was too afraid of his cybernetic enhancements to hire him. He was soon destitute so he tried to find work elsewhere.
Wow. That’s quite the contrast. 009 is able to become an insanely rich and famous race car driver, but 004 can’t even find work and wound up broke. Couldn’t Albert have just….ya know…covered his hands? Those are literally the only parts of him that are outwardly cybernetic. His chest is also noticeably mechanical, but unless he’s planning on being a stripper, that shouldn’t be an issue.
After recapping 004’s backstory, they arrive at Gilmore’s sub, which means DRUMROLL PLEASE
We officially have the Dolphin! Whoo! And we get the blueprints of it, which is awesome. I always love any mech/cyborg/robot etc. anime that provides blueprints or schematics for their machinery. It’s so cool.
The Dolphin is specially designed to go on land, air and sea, meaning they can go literally anywhere Black Ghost travels.
In the sub, 004 expresses distrust of Helen – not for anything she’s done but because she’s leading them on a Black Ghost case, and anyone even remotely connected to Black Ghost cannot truly be trusted until proven otherwise. 009 vehemently argues against this…..but….dude, you were literally just betrayed by three of your closest childhood friends because they wound up in the clutches of Black Ghost……that happened like six hours ago…
They’re suddenly attacked by one of Black Ghost’s robotic undersea dinosaurs, and I love that I get to say that sentence. They’re able to outmaneuver it with the Dolphin’s speed, and 009 uses some of the torpedoes to strike it down. Gilmore is impressed considering 009 has not been trained on the Dolphin yet, but 009 explains that he can intuitively understand how to operate any vehicle thanks to his cybernetics…..which…is something you’d think he’d never have to explain to Dr. Gilmore…the guy who designed 009…..
009: “I’d say that attack proves Helen’s on our side. I don’t think even Black Ghost would fire on one of their own.”…..009….did you suffer brain damage on a page I missed? Black Ghost attacks and kills their own all the time. In fact, again, they literally just did that by blowing up your friends because they maybe, for half a second, considered not fighting you.
Onto the next chapter, we get a news report explaining that the ‘bat’ monster we had heard about earlier was actually a robot pterodactyl with ultrasonic waves so powerful that it can crumble buildings and cause insta-death by vibrating your blood vessels and bones so violently that you basically turn to mush.
That…is ridiculously horrifying and awesome. Also, imagine how different Power Rangers would be if the Pink Ranger’s zord had that power.
Albert heads to China to recruit Chang, who is running his own restaurant.
Next, Joe heads to London where GB is utilizing his shape-shifting abilities to impress audiences in the theater. He’s also utilizing his power to continue looking like an adult because, you guessed it, Lil’ 007…..*sigh* Once he has GB on board, he tells him to head to the United States to find Jet while he heads to France to find Francoise.
Francoise has made it big as a ballet dancer, and she’s living her dream. When Joe confronts her about coming back, she vehemently refuses, wanting to leave that life behind her once and for all, choosing to chase a life of positivity and expression instead. Joe understands and wishes her luck, but she changes her mind before he leaves since she knows there’s a sense of duty involved.
Meanwhile, Jet has made it as a professional football player…….I really, really don’t understand why literally everyone else has found success and/or happiness, four of them ending up FAMOUS AND RICH, but Albert can’t even find a job all because of his robot hands that he can easily cover up.
Anyway, Lil’ 007 pranks Jet by turning into the football he caught, freaking him out and causing him to get dogpiled.
On a Native American reserve, I think anyway, G. Junior is riding around the countryside when Lil’ 007 calls him over by shaping a smoke signal to say 005….somehow.
Enjoy this surreal image of G. Junior dressed as a cowboy and Lil’ 007 dressing like a stereotypical Native American.
The final teammate to retrieve is Pyunma, who is now a gameskeeper in Africa. He’s confronted by a giant robot alligator…..which would be something I’d happily point out as being awesome…..
……But he DESTROYS PYUNMA!
What the fuck!? He is almost totally obliterated! Poor Pyunma. Rarely has a manga panel made me pause in shock like that one did. Dude just lost his entire family in the last volume and now this?!
Joe acts fast and fights off the alligator. When he leaves, Joe takes what’s left of Pyunma and rushes him to Gilmore as fast as his accelerator will take him.
When he arrives, the damage is assessed, and it doesn’t look good, obviously. All of his vital parts, barring his brain, have been destroyed. Gilmore rushes to reconstruct him, if he can.
While the others nervously wait for news on Pyunma’s condition, the TV suddenly turns on and reveals Skull. He is announcing to the world that they have one year until Black Ghost turns everyone on the planet into followers of Black Ghost. To prove that they’ll have no chance, he uses the robot pterodactyl to completely destroy New York City. The transmission suddenly ends, and the group determines that Black Ghost has somehow managed to take over the broadcast systems of the world, meaning he can beam any message he pleases over any media network at any time. It also means that he’s completely ruined any chance the group had at doing their missions covertly.
Gilmore emerges from the reconstruction room, having finished his work on Pyunma. However, he won’t know of his true condition until he’s had at least a few days rest. Before they’re able to catch Gilmore up on the broadcast, Albert accuses Helen of turning the TV on so they wouldn’t miss the broadcast. He now believes more than ever that Helen is a cyborg sent by Black Ghost, so he drags her out into the water.
He, not kidding, and this is exactly how 001 describes it, is putting Helen through a Salem Witch Trial. In the Salem Witch Trials, one of the tests they used to determine if someone was a witch was by stripping them down to their underwear and throwing them in a body of water – the logic being, if they’re a witch, they’ll float. If they’re innocent, they’ll sink. Here, 004 is using the same concept. She has a half hour of oxygen in her tank – if it runs out and she floats, she’s human. If she sinks, or if she can generate her own oxygen I guess, then she’s a cyborg.
….Uh….guys….don’t you have an x-ray machine?….Maybe….use that instead? Actually, doesn’t 003 have x-ray vision? If you’re dedicated to this stupid test, why did you even put an oxygen tank on her at all? Just throw her out there freebird. You wouldn’t have to wait for a half hour.
Anyway, no time for these murderous shenanigans – missile sharks!
Have I mentioned I love this manga?
They’re closing in fast, so 009 rushes out to save Helen. 004 pulls a super gun on 009 and demands that he get away from her. 009 persists in refusing to allow Helen to get tortured for the sake of 004’s paranoia, but 004 says he has no other options and 009 should trust him enough to know he’d never do something of this magnitude unless he had to. However, sadly, 009 says he can’t trust him that much.
I hate to disagree with 004 here, but I disagree with 004 here. Like I said, they have other options for determining if she’s a cyborg. This test is ridiculous, dangerous and pointless.
Commence awesome battle with the missile sharks. The Dolphin is able to shield them from some missiles because of its force field technology. Additionally, it has an ultrasonic pulsator that can disrupt the signals emitted from the devices on the sharks. The sharks are still mostly sharks, they just have missile launchers on their heads. Black Ghost’s technology allows them to tap into the shark’s innate desire to kill. When this desire is most active, their missiles launch.
….No, it doesn’t really make much sense. Sharks aren’t bloodthirsty murderers. They’re just eating. Their one desire is ‘find and eat food’ not ‘murdermurderdeathkillmurder.’ Killing is part of their eating process, sure, and they hunt, but they’re not processing the killing part. They’re just obtaining food.
Helen runs out of oxygen, so 009 rushes back to the Dolphin to get her treated. She’s unconscious, but alright.
009 confronts 004 about his actions, but he doesn’t believe he has to defend himself. After all, this incident didn’t prove she didn’t work for Black Ghost, it just proved she wasn’t a cyborg. In fact, he’s suspicious as to how the sharks even found them to begin with and suspects she might have a tracking device on her.
He goes even further by saying he’s not the only one who is suspicious of Helen – 001 is as well. Francoise also chimes in to say she doesn’t understand Joe’s blind faith in Helen………..But this is turned into girl things, because 001 claims Francoise is only taking this stance because Helen’s a woman, and Francoise is jealous because of her feelings for Joe. Meanwhile, it’s clear Joe is so adamant about defending Helen because he’s grown to care about her.
001 can sense these thoughts and feelings in both Francoise and Joe, but he hasn’t been able to sense anything in Helen. Just as he says that, he senses something very faint in Helen – a deep feeling of grief.
006 directs their attention to the news where a Japanese company called Mitsutomo has rushed the development of an anti-ultrasonic wave gun to combat Black Ghost…..how long has it been since Skull made that announcement? Because that’s quite the rush job.
They can’t have a single moment’s peace because, once the news broadcast is over, a new army of enemies appears.
It’s a….*deep breath* school of robot kamikaze drill stingrays….I know I’m repeating myself, but I do really love this so much.
And, taking up the back end, a giant robot plesiosaur.
The stingrays give the ship a good beating, and the Dolphin is damaged even more when they use their ultrasonic wave gun to destroy the stingrays. The Dolphin is now loaded with cracks, and one of their wings has been blown off, but they still try to make an escape. The plesiosaur, however, has other ideas.
Turns out, this is another monster with an ultrasonic gun. It gives their other wing a terrible hit. It looks like they’re done for, but 009 has an idea. He aims their own ultrasonic gun at the beast and prepares to fire right when the monster fires its shot, hopefully canceling each other out. The plan works, but in a manner they didn’t expect.
When the two ultrasonic waves collide underwater, they create whirlpools and waterspouts that shoot them out of the water and into the air. Since the Dolphin is also an airplane, they manage to escape, however just barely because the Dolphin is an absolute wreck at this point.
Or is it?!
Because the Dolphin is such a badass piece of machinery, even this disaster can’t take it down. The Dolphin actually has two exterior shells. One is meant to take the brunt of damage in battle. If the damage becomes too great, it can shed this shell and escape the danger with its main structure.
Once the Dolphin is back in tip top shape, Pyunma emerges from the reconstruction room with his brand new scaly body.
After a short time skip, Francoise and Gilmore watch Pyunma as he sits outside watching the waves from a cliffside. Francoise asks why Gilmore did that to Pyunma. Gilmore is extremely confused by her question because the body he built for him was much better than the design he had before, and he put a lot of work and passion into building that body for him.
I hate to break the flow of the story, but, uhm….the translation’s already doing that for me. See, in the speech bubble that is conveying the information I just explained, someone from Tokyopop wrote ‘Hahahahaha’ behind the words…..for…some reason. It’s overlaid like it was a mistake, but what the hell is this? Why did they write ‘hahahaha’ anyway? This is a very serious and somber scene but one of the people doing the text not only wrote that but left it in the panel, and this somehow got past quality control.
Gilmore insists that the new body is a major improvement and he’ll be exactly what they need to fight Black Ghost. Francoise, however, calls him out for ignoring Pyunma’s needs as a human being. He now has silver scales from the neck down and will have an awful time trying to fit into human society. She definitely has a point if Albert was experiencing such hardships that he nearly became homeless all because he has metal hands.
Gilmore: “Those scales allow him to move even more quickly underwater. He should be grateful. And silver is far better than the black of his skin. I was thinking of him.”
Gilmore….what the hell? This is the first indication I’ve seen of Gilmore being racist. I legitimately needed time to pause reading and process that. Not just that Gilmore is so blatantly racist here, but the thing is, he’s not just saying he dislikes the appearance of black skin….he’s saying SILVER FISH SCALES are more visually appealing. Wow….just….just wow.
Francoise, however, is having none of his shit. She argues that he definitely wasn’t thinking of Pyunma at all. He’s very proud of his heritage and his black skin, and replacing most of that with scales is an insult to his culture and him as a person. You tell him, Francoise!
After she leaves, Gilmore clearly has a moment of reflection on her words.
Outside, Albert meets with Pyunma and talks to him about his new body. Albert, previously being the most altered out of all of the cyborgs, has a metal cyborg body, and the only part of him that really looks human is his head. I know I mentioned before that his metal hands were the only parts of him that were causing him prejudice – I said that because I can’t see any reason why he couldn’t wear long-sleeved shirts on whatever job he got.
Likewise, I should mention that, for some reason and somehow, Pyunma’s hands are black when the previous shot showed that his hands were whitish-gray and had scales on them. I don’t know if he’s wearing some sort of ‘skin’ gloves or something. It was probably just easier to draw him that way instead of drawing scales on his hands every time he was shown.
Albert learned to accept who he was and how he looked because it gave him the power to make a difference. It’s a curse, but also a gift that he can use to protect people and stop evil.
His pep talk works, and Pyunma thanks Albert before taking off his clothes and diving into the water to test out his new skills. He’s now insanely fast in the water and even shows off for 005, 006 and 007 who are underwater in the Dolphin keeping watch.
Pyunma heads back into the house to thank Gilmore for the new body. Dr. Gilmore was attempting to apologize for what he did, but Pyunma interrupts him to thank him.
I’m….not entirely on board with that. It’s great that Pyunma has accepted his appearance and is learning to make the best of it, unfair as though it may be, and it’s great that Dr. Gilmore was even attempting to apologize, but I feel like he should have actually gotten the chance to apologize because, really, he did majorly fuck up in changing his appearance so drastically without taking Pyunma’s feelings into consideration. Even without the racist comments, no one would feel happy being covered from the neck down in metal scales. For a guy who felt so guilty about turning them into cyborgs in the first place that he chose to live a dangerous life on the run from Black Ghost in order to help the cyborgs, he sure doesn’t understand how they feel in regards to their increasing loss of humanity.
After that scene, we show Albert suddenly shooting off a finger dart to kill a fly. And then we get this looming shot.
You guys remember the last time we saw a fly? Hmmm?
Anyway, did you know that Jet is from America? Because he has a shirt on that just says ‘USA’ over and over.
Oh, excuse me, most of the words say ‘USA’ but some of them say ‘UAS’ and ‘ASU.’
001 is back to sleep, so he’ll be out of commission for another two weeks. Meanwhile, Joe has headed back to Tokyo to meet up with the journalists from before who were tailing him. He’s interested in learning if they have any information on Mitsutomo Engineering – the company that made the anti-ultrasonic gun.
According to them, the anti-ultrasonic gun was made a little over a year ago, and the president is someone named Ban Bogart (Whose name was really messed with in translation. His actual name is meant to be Van Vogt, which is how I will refer to him.) who lives in the Hakone mountains. When 009 arrives at Van Vogt’s home, he’s confused to find a building with no windows or doors. When he infiltrates the property, he finds even more oddities such as an incredibly small horse, a sea monster and a weird bigfoot/caveman monster.
What’s even more shocking, however, is that Joe sees Helen through one of the windows that is not supposed to exist.
009 is attacked by the weird bigfoot/caveman monster thing, which has a legitimately horrifying design. It looks like he’s about to be killed when ‘Helen’ yells out the window for it to stop. However, with one final panel showing that the blow connected, we’re left off on the end of the volume assuming the worst of poor 009.
And that was volume eight! We had quite a bit to go through there, but it was a fun and interesting ride from start to finish.
As you can see, this volume kinda acts as a very, very soft reboot of the series once the cyborgs had finished their initial mission and went off to live their lives. I like how mostly everyone found a career and success doing something they loved, but I will never not be confused as to why Albert has such difficulty getting work when his hands are really the only piece of cybernetics anyone can see regularly. Can he not wear gloves? I can imagine people with prosthetic limbs get plenty of discrimination too, but people are so off-put by the mere sight of his hands that he can’t find work anywhere and nearly went homeless? Maybe I’m just not thinking through the era and location.
Let me also clarify – I’m not saying anyone’s prejudice against their cybernetics is right in any way, of course it’s not, but if you can’t help what people think and you can do something to blend in better, I’d think it’d be better to take that option instead of running risk of being homeless.
The fact that literally everyone else went off to find success despite their cybernetics, several of them even finding fame and fortune, just seems weird to me when put in contrast to Albert’s plight.
Also, despite this being a gentle feather-touch ‘reboot’ the only backstories we recap are Joe’s and Albert’s, and Joe’s basically took up an entire chapter. I get that recapping everyone would be tiresome and repetitive, but, to be honest, Joe’s was tiresome and repetitive on its own. It was literally like they copy-pasted the entire actual first chapter and called it a day.
At least Albert’s was a brief flashback that was chopped up.
I liked the addition of Joe’s childhood friends, I just really wish they had been given more characterization. Mary in particular seemed like she had an interesting story attached to her, but they all had potential.
Their story was predictable after a point, everything was just going way too smoothly for this manga, but turning Joe’s friends into cyborgs sent to kill him from Black Ghost was an interesting way to hook him in particular back into the conflict. Things were already going down, but targeting Joe specifically and through his old buddies was a great way to actually get him emotionally invested, even if the way the conflict resolved itself was really confusing and jarring.
I still don’t buy that they exploded because their minds wandered away from killing Joe for a microsecond. Black Ghost is a really backwards company if they keep spending millions of dollars on these cyborgs, allow them to keep their free will but then put a bomb in them that will make them explode if they don’t obey.
Their reasoning is also a bit difficult to follow. They should know full-out that Joe didn’t abandon them, and warning them about the existence of Black Ghost would do nothing. It’s not like they could defend themselves against Black Ghost even if they knew about them. Their only option to protect themselves if Joe did tell them is by staying with Joe, and that’s just as risky if not moreso.
I can excuse this, though, because they’re probably just externalizing their own shame and guilt for being kidnapped by Black Ghost and ‘allowing’ them to turn them into cyborgs.
It was a great moment to get the old gang back together, and I was devastated to see what had happened to poor Pyunma. It makes sense, though. I was wondering why Black Ghost had only targeted Joe and everyone else was seemingly left to their own devices, but then Pyunma is suddenly targeted by this massive robot crocodile and veritably destroyed.
I felt a lot closer to Francoise then ever before. Everyone else just kinda joins right back up again when the call to action comes, but Francoise is very understandably put off by the suggestion. She has finally managed to find peace and happiness doing something she loves. Asking her to give all of that up in order to go back into the torment, pain and death of war is devastating to her, especially considering her powers. However, she realizes it’s a necessary evil. After all, she knows plugging her ears and going ‘lalalala’ isn’t going to help any. The death and destruction will just infiltrate her new happy life.
I also love that she was the one who confronted Gilmore about what he did to Pyunma. They could have easily made this as direct as possible and had Pyunma lash out at Gilmore immediately, resulting in a major fight. Instead, they cut right from our first exposure to Pyunma’s new body to showing Pyunma quietly dealing with the aftermath, lost in a depression.
Francoise has consistently been the one most vocal and passionate about maintaining their humanity at all costs. We saw this in a previous volume where she was appalled at Gilmore giving them new enhancements and powers, further increasing their status as machines instead of humans.
Not only is she defending Pyunma’s humanity, but she’s also trying to get Gilmore to understand that Pyunma’s skin was a very important part of his identity. He treasured his culture, and his skin color was a massive part of that. The fact that Gilmore threw so much of it away was like he was throwing Pyunma away.
Granted, a lot of his body was simply lost either way, but Gilmore has the ability to make artificial skin and could have easily restored his appearance, but he didn’t, which is even weirder considering he gave him black hands, in some capacity. In hindsight, that detail is almost insulting because it’s essentially Gilmore proving he could have restored all of his skin but chose not to because he really wanted to make Pyunma into Troutman. He not only didn’t think it was a big deal in the first place, but he thought he was doing him a favor by getting rid of his black skin in favor of silver scales, which is something I still can’t believe was said by Gilmore.
Francoise is also the emotional center of the group, because of course she is, so she can present her case in Pyunma’s defense very effectively to the point where Gilmore actually starts to feel apologetic for his actions, even though I was really disappointed that he never got to actually apologize.
Likewise, choosing Albert to approach Pyunma about his situation was a great choice since Albert is so drastically changed physically. He’d be the only one who really, fully, understands Pyunma’s feelings and how to talk to him about it to make him feel better.
Time will tell as to how useful his new enhancements will be, but I’m glad that he’s learned to use it to his advantage instead of hating himself for them.
Helen’s part of the story is intriguing so far. You know there’s more to her than meets the eye, but she’s not a cyborg and she’s seemingly a good person. She has this veil of darkness over her character that insists that something’s not right with her, which is ‘proven’ more or less when we see ‘Helen’ at the home of the president of Mitsutomo Engineering.
I definitely believe Albert went too far when trying to test her, though. He can be as suspicious as he wants, and he can even yell all he wants about it – at this point in the story he has a right to be paranoid of anyone with relations to Black Ghost – but doing a literal Salem Witch Trial test on her was way too far. Even if she is a bad guy, even if she was a cyborg, there’s no need for that level of extreme. He could have easily killed her for something that could be determined by using an x-ray on her.
However, in the opposite extreme, Joe’s being way too trusting for a guy who was betrayed by some of his closest friends literally minutes before randomly meeting Helen, who was seemingly being held captive by the people who just betrayed him. I get it. Joe’s a nice, trusting guy and he has a crush on her maybe kinda for some reason, but Albert’s got a point about her. He’s right to be suspicious. He goes too far with it, but he’s right to not trust her entirely.
And for those of you wondering if Helen is somehow controlling or manipulating Joe, she’s not.
Helen is an integral part of the final arc of Cyborg 009 – the Underground Empire of Yomi. I say ‘final’ arc despite being a long way away from the end of the manga, because most fans and even official sources, including Tokyopop, take this as being the grand finale of the series. You’ll see why at the end of volume ten, and when I start talking about all of the…..many…many things that come after it, but for now, there IS more to Helen than meets the eye.
……And it is super distracting that she is designed to look so much like Helena and has basically the same name. I get liking her character design, Ishinomori, but you could at least give her a more different name. The ‘Helen’ at the Mitsutomo house is even dressed like Helena.
Finally, the weird creatures at Van Vogt’s home are very interesting. I love the idea of a dog-sized horse, and that bigfoot/caveman giant at the end was legitimately horrifying.
Join me next time for volume nine!
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