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Manga / MW

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MW is a manga by Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy. It ran from 1976-78 in the seinen magazine Big Comic.

Garai was part of a gang that kidnapped the young Michio Yuki. After hiding out in the mountains overnight, they find themselves the sole survivors of a leak of the eponymous chemical warfare agent, MW. Fast forwards 15 years: Garai, in penance, has joined the priesthood; Michio, for his part, has become an exceedingly attractive and charismatic but utterly amoral criminal, and Garai's lover, much to Garai's distress. The plot follows Michio as he attempts to hunt down the current location of the MW gas, and Father Garai and Detective Meguro as they attempt to hunt down Michio.

This is not an abbreviated article of the Modern Warfare series, by the way.

This work provides examples of:

  • An Aesop: A later chapter is dedicated to teaching a lesson that homosexuality is neither wrong nor shameful.
  • Alpha Bitch: Michio's wife, and his boss' daughter.
  • Antagonist in Mourning: Michio when Garai forms a Heroic Sacrifice to send the MW gas with him to the ocean.
  • Anything That Moves: Michio, whether the other party wants to or not. It's implied that he has something going on with his dog.
  • Art Evolution: Yuki's face tends to be drawn consistently harsher near the end of the story, likely the result of the characterization he had picked up. Public Prosecutor Meguro's earlier appearances have him with a much simpler face; his enormous beak of a nose being his only notable feature. His later appearances, where he's more important to the plot, he was given sunken cheekbones, haggard eyes, and a nose that flip-flops between 'caricature' and 'aquiline'.
  • Asshole Victim: Michio is killing off the ones who are involved in the MW including his boss at the bank he worked at.
  • The Atoner: Garai, with variable effectiveness.
  • Ax-Crazy: Michio.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Garai initially thinks that all of Michio's horrible acts are motivated by a desire for revenge against those responsible for the MW accident. Michio reveals that he doesn't give a shit about payback, and considers the notion absurd. No, he just wants to bring an end to all human history when he dies, really for no other reason than he feels like it.
  • Cain and Abel: Michio and his lookalike brother, Tamanojo. They eventually confront each other by the climax of the manga.
  • Chick Magnet: Michio.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Michio is a male version of this to Garai, complete with glomping.
  • Confessional: Michio routinely confesses all his crimes to Father Garai, who is unable to report him to the police because of the confidentiality of the confessional. Michio apparently does this largely to torment Garai.
  • Continuity Cameo: Shunsaku Ban, AKA "Mr Mustachio", is a character from another of Tezuka's manga, Astro Boy.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Michio's boss at the bank, who's also part of the MW cover up.
  • Creepy Child: Michio, after inhaling a dose of MW.
  • Creepy Crossdresser: Michio, frequently impersonating his female victims.
  • Crippling Castration: Shunsaku Ban has his penis bitten off by Michio's attack dog. Despite this, he manages to kill the dog and escape. He spends the rest of the story recovering in a hospital, though.
  • Darker and Edgier: MW is considered to be Osamu Tezuka's darkest work.
  • Depraved Bisexual: Michio.
  • Disposing of a Body: After killing his wife, Michio cuts off her hands and then burns her face off in a furnace, making it impossible for the police to identify the body after he tosses it in front of a train. Earlier, he gets rid of his boss' daughter by wrapping up her corpse in a blanket and then tossing it into the ocean. Her decomposed skeleton isn't found until a year later.
  • Downer Ending: Father Garai foiled Michio's plot of gassing the entire world with the titular chemical weapon by sacrificing his life of taking it down with him to the ocean, the latter gets gunned down by one of his hostages, Shunsuke Ban still doesn't recover from his last attack, and Michio is revealed to be alive and escapes punishment by impersonating his older lookalike brother.
    • Ambiguous Ending: It's worth questioning as well whether that's really Michio or his older brother.
    • Bittersweet Ending: Even if Michio did survive, he's still dying and only has a short time left to live, while Garai's sacrifice has thwarted his plot to Kill All Humans. Also, Shunsaku Ban has decided to avenge all those who were killed in the initial MW accident by breaking his silence and finally testifying about what happened.
  • Eagleland: Well, we have this "Nation X", which fought the Vietnam War and has bases in Japan. One section of exposition talks about how America developed chemical weapons such as nerve gases and Agent Orange, then abruptly switches to talking about how this "Nation X" used them without regard for civilian life during aforementioned war.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: Garai talks to Michio about how he's no different, having helped the latter in several of his crimes for the sake of seeking justice upon those responsible for MW. Michio laughs in his face and tells Garai that he only wanted the MW so he could expose all of Japan, perhaps even the entire world to it.
  • Evil Laugh: Michio does this a lot.
  • Evil Versus Evil: In this corner we have the Liberty Party and its supporters, a cadre of highly-placed Japanese officials who worked with Nation X at the end of the Vietnam War to hide a deadly nerve gas in such a slipshod manner that some of it escaped and killed a village of 800 innocent people (and 51 visitors) on Okino Mafune Island, which they immediately covered up. And in this corner, we have Michio, who was exposed to said nerve gas as a child and went insane, who tortures, rapes and kills without remorse as he seeks to uncover the depths of his foes' corruption before his body falls apart. And get the nerve gas for his own purposes.
  • Expy: Michio may be the basis for Monster's Johan, another beautiful but amoral killer, though Michio's sexuality is much more overt and he entirely lacks Johan's trademark Dissonant Serenity.
  • False Innocence Trick: After killing his boss' daughter, Michio extorts money from her family by dressing up as her and then tying up and gagging himself in order to make it seem like the daughter is still alive and being held for ransom.
  • Fetishized Abuser: Michio, depending on whether you believe he actually loves Garai, or is just jerking him around for his own amusement (which would make it more of a Mad Love situation).
  • The Fettered: As long as Garai believes that Michio can be redeemed in some fashion, he won't expose him or take any other action that might put him beyond redemption (in the Christian sense) such as using potentially-fatal physical force against him or exposing his deeds and getting him executed. When Sumiko relays to Michi that Garai told her his plans to leave the clergy, Michio recognized immediately what a dangerous foe Garai would become if he went through with it.
  • Freudian Excuse: Subverted; when Michio starts targeting people involved with the MW accident, Father Garai thinks he's after revenge, but actually Michio wants a sample of the gas so he can synthesize large amounts in order to take the whole world with him when he dies.
  • Go Mad from the Revelation: The trauma of learning that his daughter has been killed, dismembered, and replaced causes Nakata's brain matter to soften. He's last seen in a hospital bed, muttering gibberish.
  • Good Is Impotent: Michio generally effortlessly outmaneuvers poor, conflicted, and not all-that-bright Garai. And everyone else.
  • Good Shepherd:
    • Garai tries to be one of these, and is largely successful, except when it comes to Michio and Sumiko after she falls under Michio's sway. He also sacrifices his life to save humanity.
    • Father Anderson from the airbase pleaded with Michio to give up his plan and told him the Lord had not forsaken him even after Michio shot him three times. The only thing that stops him is when the fourth shot is to the head.
  • Groin Attack: Poor, poor Shansaku Ban.
  • Heel–Faith Turn: Garai, from child-molesting Mook to priestly do-gooder.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Garai manages to get the sample of MW away from Michio, and commits suicide by leaping into the ocean with it.
  • Implacable Man: Meguro.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Michio begins his Cold-Blooded Torture of Yabushita by accurately shooting him three times in spots which aren't immediately fatal and denying him all but the most basic of treatment. Not only does it take the old man over a day to crack, but he's still capable of walking and talking, albeit haltingly.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Aohata, to whom Father Garai reveals the details of the MW incident on Okino Mafune Island, ignores the threats against him and is ultimately brain-damaged in a bomb attack for trying to reveal the truth.
  • Joker Immunity: The ending. Maybe.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • The people behind MW didn't just get away with their cover-up, they thrived for decades. Until Michio came along.
    • Minch just might have shot the wrong guy....
  • Kill All Humans: Michio.
  • Kill and Replace:
    • Michio does this to his boss' daughter, and later to his own wife. He even takes his wife's clothing to complete the disguise.
    • The entire population of the island where the MW accident happened. In order to cover up the fact that everyone except Michio and Garai had been killed by the gas, the government had a bunch of new people shipped in to repopulate the island. This kept the world from noticing that everyone who previously lived there basically disappeared overnight.
  • Love Martyr: Sumiko, and she knows it, which doesn't help.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Guess who.
  • Master of Disguise: Michio can imitate people so well their own families don't recognize them. This includes their voices, even after only a few moments of hearing them.
  • Mood-Swinger: Michio.
  • Morality Chain: Garai makes ineffectual attempts to be this to Michio, and instead ends up being a subverted Morality Pet - the one person Michio really cares for, but not treated any better for it.
  • Morality Chip: Garai's deep Catholic faith acts as one of these for him, keeping him from taking any action that might condemn Michi irrevocably to Hell.
  • Mythology Gag: Metropolis, one of Tezuka's first works featured a robot by the name of Michi which could change from male to female in appearance by having a switch in their throat flipped. This manga features Michio, a male with androgynous features who can flawlessly imitate an attractive female.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Thanks to Minch unknowingly killing Michio's lookalike brother, Michio becomes a Karma Houdini in the end.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Michio mentions this to Garai at a few points, though the analogy is so absurd neither Garai nor the reader takes it seriously. Much more effectively done with Sumiko- when Garai confronts her about the sheer illogic of her relationship with the psychotic Michio, she points out that he's doing exactly the same thing. Garai avoids seriously considering this fact.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Michio.
  • Out with a Bang: Michio kills a female character during sex, just for the fun of it.
  • Precision F-Strike: From the Vertical translation: "I'll teach them to fuck with the common man!"
  • Psycho Serum: MW, the gas that leads to Michio's Ax-Crazy.
  • The '70s: Michio's sideburns. Michio's apartment. Michio's fake mustache. Everything about Meguro.
  • Sissy Villain: Michio.
  • Shout-Out:
    • An early sex scene between Garai and Michio is a pastiche of Aubrey Beardsley's illustrations for Lysistrata and Salome.
    • A character compares the MW cover-up wherein the government replaced the entire dead population of the island with new people to Invasion of the Body Snatchers.
  • Sleazy Politician: Michio's eventual father-in-law, who's also part of the MW cover up.
  • Straight Gay: Minch. He even boasts about how he's managed to successfully hide his orientation from his wife for 30 years.
  • Suicidal Cosmic Temper Tantrum: Michio is slowly dying from being exposed to the titular chemical, and he plans on taking the rest of the human race with him.
  • Take Up My Sword: Shunsake Ban, a former resident of Okino Mafune Island, who'd been bribed into staying quiet about the activities of Japan and Nation X, is motivated to get involved with the plot after Aohata, a reporter investigating the Liberty Party and its connections to MW begs him to take a notebook to Father Garai after being badly injured. He becomes a full-on whistleblower after being attacked.
  • Taking You with Me: Michio, on a grand scale.
  • Transparent Closet: Garai.
  • Twin Switch: Part of Meguro's intricate plan. However...
    • Except they're not twins, just lookalike siblings.
    • Depending on how you read the Ambiguous Ending, it could be inferred that Michio survived by using this trope.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Michio before the MW/Garai/hostage situation.
  • Villain Protagonist: Michio.