Manga recommendations related to Digital Media, Culture, and Society

My fellow classmates made some articles about V-tubers, these digital figures often take inspiration from otaku culture, which is to be put simply the Japanese gaming, anime and manga spheres (though the definition can be a bit more complex). Being somewhat familiar with the later two, I will make some recommendations of works that are interesting in context of this course. In this first article manga, and similar comics from other countries.

Some are translated to English, some only to French, so unless you can read Japanese, you should wait for official localization of the works or use other means.

First, two works of the Korean artist and author Boichi.

Hotel

image from the publisher Glénat: https://www.glenat.com/roman-graphique/hotel-9782723481458

The protagonist of this story is, like the title indicates, a hotel, however not a normal hotel, a high tech self repairing hotel that’s governed by an AI. And this short story summarizes the 27 million of years of it’s existence, long after the extinction of humanity. The story being told through the perspective of a building, which is more alike of a giant machine, is really interesting, it allows to hear another view on the popular post apocalyptic setting.

Origin (オリジン)

image from the publishet Pika Éditions: https://www.pika.fr/serie/origin

This time it is a longer story, and human are still populating the Earth, but the protagonist’s view is quite similar: Origin, a robot, under the instructions of its creator, pursues its quest to “live properly”. It builds itself a human-like robot body, which for the untrained eye looks like the real deal. To cover the maintenance costs, it gets a position in a famous research and design company. Not only it has to act like a believable human at his job and interact with its colleagues, it must also make sure nobody finds out about its nature, and amidst robot and AI experts, this is not a simple task.

DÉDALE (百万畳ラビリンス) by Takamichi

image from the publisher Doki Doki: https://www.doki-doki.fr/manga-da-dale-9782818943557.html

It’s a short story of two game testers. The two girls are transported into a fractal-like world and exploit its bugs to find their path out of it. It is difficult to speak too much about it without revealing too much about the plot, but it goes about the themes of gamer culture and virtual simulations of reality.

Demokratia (デモクラティア) by Mase Motoro

Two engineers create a human-like robot. They send randomly a link to 3000 people of an app that controls the robot. Before that it performs actions, a vote will be issued, in this way the robot will do the ‘best’ action. However things won’t go as planned. This series explores the themes of free will, justice and AI.

Some other interesting works:

Sora ni Mairu (宙に参る) by Abarabone Hekosuke: It’s a space travel story of a woman bringing the ashes of her deceased husband to Earth. The theme of AI is a recurring topic.

Online – The Comic (online – 宙に参る) by Tsukasa Kyokas and Midori Amagaeru: It’s a story of a haunted game. It’s a fun read and I like how it blends game elements into reality for the horror effect.

Android have no blood (안드로이드는 혈이 없어) by 황동: It’s the story of a robot in an eastern cultivation fantasy setting where a robot follows the three laws of robotics by Isaac Asimov.

Messiah’s Hammer (メシアの鉄槌) by Amida Muku: It’s the story of a cyborg that lost his sense of self that fights against an AI gone out of hands.

This Village Sim NPC Could Only Be Human (村づくりゲームのNPCが生身の人間としか思えない) by Kirukuma and Morita Kazuhito : It’s the story of a gamer living in seclusion which mental health goes better thanks to a quite realistic video game.

Tsutomu Nihei (弐瓶 勉): Most of the works of this author explore a post human world where semi biological and technical entities are the norm.

Webcomics you can read right now

The Fever King by Victoria Lee and Sara Deek: It is the story of somebody that has the power to control technology. It explores a political intrigue.

Seed by Said P.: It’s the story of an AI that escaped it’s closed playground that now interacts with a little girl.

Steel Scars: Dunklayt: One of the themes is cybernetic prostheses and the corporations monopoly on them, it also addresses the theme of cyber criminality.

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