Io Sono Shingo (Watashi wa Shingo) is one of the most famous comic series of the horror mangaka Kazuo Umezu, known amicably as Kazuo Umezz. It’s about one of the most important authors of both the genre and the entire editorial era. Thanks to works like Orochi e Drifting classroom, but also the same Io Sono Shingo, acted as a school and precursor for many works by horror genre and Science Fiction genre.
In 2018 the manga won the illustrious heritage award assigned by Angoulême International Comic Festival, becoming in all respects world heritage cartoon.
I am Shingo: main characteristics of the work and of the author
The aforementioned series started in 1982 and finished in 1986in reality, it is not really horror, but one of the few works by Umezu belonging to the Science Fiction genre. Io Sono Shingo therefore arrives in Italy thanks to Star Comics editions that after finding one great growth in popularity of the mangaka in our country, thanks to his particular media representation in the Eastern world and his being incredibly bizarre and eccentric, he thought it well to publish one of his most important and famous works.
Umezu has always been famous for using a unique and inimitable stylistic trait, characterized by the incredible exaltation of human expressiveness. If this was initially only a key feature of the horror genre, in Io Sono Shingo is located within a more real and everyday setting. More intimate topics such as love and melancholy are treated, but it is done through the growth and development of a latest generation working robot.
The robot, between curiosity and love
The robot is the central fulcrum of a story set in 1982 with the protagonist Satoru, a nice and funny elementary school student. He is basically a rebellious and very eccentric boy (a sort of allegorical representation of the author Kazuo Umezu) with a great passion for technology and for anything that is also vaguely futuristic. One day the boy’s life is completely turned upside down when a mysterious and particular mechanical robot arrives at the factory where his father works.
Satoru remains ecstatic, especially when he observes him while performing even complex tasks with a practically zero margin of error. During a trip organized by the school in his father’s factory, little Satoru also gets to know Marine, a girl who immediately breaks through the boy’s heart. The center of their knowledge will be precisely the robot and the desire for knowledge, strong in both, which will allow them to grow and unite by learning the mechanics of the new instrument.
The robot (initially called Monroe and then Shingo), from the earliest volumes, is as if it represented the narrative voice of the story. He explains how he manages to learn the reality that surrounds him through the meetings of Satoru and Marine which, in turn, try to strengthen their knowledge thanks to the common interest that is present inside the factory. Their strong curiosity, reinforced by the classic sensation of butterflies in the stomach given by the first crush, it gives rise to both new feelings and new ways of communicating between them and with unknown technology.
The importance of the family in modern society
There is no shortage, however, the problems and obstacles imposed by their families. This is another relevant topic of Io Sono Shingo since the family represents the centrality of the life of the two children who, day after day, move to the periphery giving priority to other interests. Certainly Umezu wants to pose a very heated criticism of consumerist and capitalist society who continues to attach great importance to the figure of the father (in particular that of Satoru) who, however, is portrayed as a rough man and who places a great interest solely in work.
Just the father, endowed with a disproportionate ego, when he sees his central parent figure begin to waver because of Monroe, he begins to hate with all his might on the exact day he decided to put him on his assembly line. One day he saw the layoff of many workers no longer necessary for the workforce and that technological optimization could continually repeat. This too is one of the many accusations and analyzes on modernity conducted by Kazuo Umezu’s masterpiece.
The humanization of the robot and the robotization of humans
Actually what Umezu shows off in his Io Sono Shingo is the slow, but powerful and currently unstoppable process implemented by globalization. The robot tries to be a human, while the human tries to overcome his mental and physical limits by trying to match the machine. This contrast is shown mainly in the storytelling of the work that depicts and describes the aforementioned concept with a very ambiguous duality.
The author’s style is so precise and realistic as to seem disturbing, however it is so detailed and delicate that it makes the reader fly in a whirlwind of sensations ranging from amazement to anger and from melancholy to happiness. Everything is even more mystified by the fact that the protagonists are basically two children and by the presence of a particular robot that fulfills the role of narrator.
The world of Io Sono Shingo appears almost fairy, far from the malice and rawness of adults. In spite of everything, important topics like it are also treated exploitation of workers, technological development, a sense of responsibility and above all love albeit between two elementary school kids.
Each theme, even the crudest, is discussed with extreme delicacy by the author without ever being afraid to do it, but in turn without ever exaggerating. The reader finds himself revived a society in constant evolution on a par with the man-machine relationship and the love relationship between the two young protagonists.
The work was written in 4 years and includes 10 volumes (the version brought by Edizioni Star Comics sees 7). Since its first release in 1982 it has been considered a milestone in Japanese culture, tradition and mythology. Small note: if the first volume seems to be not very futuristic, it is from the second volume onwards that the story begins to follow the science fiction branch.
The love relationship between the two boys becomes stronger and unexpectedly true despite the age and the robot, which in the meantime he becomes increasingly aware of himself also changing the name to Shingo, represents the good and bad of the life of young lovers. You just have to start immersing yourself in a story that will capture and excite you page after page.
Source: Tom's Hardware by www.tomshw.it.
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