License request day: Franken Fran

I swear I’ve seen Erica Friedman describe Akita Shoten’s Champion Red as a shônen magazine where dignity and hope for a better world go to die, perhaps even suggesting that its readership should be monitored for their potentially detrimental influence on the gene pool. I trust Erica implicitly, but there is a horror series that’s run in Champion Red that was recently… well… championed in comments, and – as sometimes happens with horrific scenarios – curiosity has overcome good sense. (Don’t go in the Champion Red basement, you fool! It’s filled with the creepiest kind of otaku!)

I refer, of course, to Katsuhisa Kigitsu’s Franken Fran. Those covers make me wish for the swift oblivion of death to end my shame, but the host of Sunday Comics Debt sent me on the road to no return with the following remark:

I like to think of Franken Fran as Pinoko all grown up, and being raised with the Doctor’s medical skill would make her a prime candidate for doing outlandish operations that would be banned in any country. Admit it – all the elements are there – she’s a childish tumor with no qualms of ethics or humanity, and enjoys operating madcap experiments that would make Desty Nova proud, just for the fun of it.

Now, you all know of my completely misguided adoration for Pinoko. I’m not going to bore you by repeating it, but she’s so creepy and disturbing and precious and… ahem. Sorry about that.

It’s being published in German by Panini, and you can see some preview pages at the Amazon listing for the volume. The insides look a little more restrained than the “purchase by mail and try not to think of the shipping clerk judging you” covers would suggest.

We’re almost done with Black Jack (Vertical), and while it seems like a series with great snowy-Sunday reread value, I’d feel better if I knew there was something similarly ridiculous and entertaining on the way. Franken Fran’s potential tackiness may overwhelm its giddiness, but I’m willing to take that risk.



  1. Man, that looks CREEPY. That panel with the doctor standing in a room filled with bodies….*shudder*

  2. I read a couple chapters of this a while back and it’s pretty twisted but the amount of black humour and sick twist endings make it worth a read also the story of the catapeller girl is one of the best. Also here’s a scary peice of triva Champion Red also seralized the manga adipataion of Princess Tutu and Cat PAradise think bout that for a while scary is it not. (ha)

  3. James Moar says:

    First time seeing the covers, and, yeah, they don’t reflect the contents at all.

    • Same here, I was actually shocked to see those. The actual manga contents are so nihilistic and full of black humor that I probably just skimmed over the covers without ever noticing them.

      This manga was what Reiko the Zombie Shop could have been if it hadn’t taken a left turn into suck with the second volume. No, wait, that’s not fair – it’s far better than that. Franken Fran is a distillation of cynicism, nastiness, and bitter misanthropy, with just the right flavoring of dark humor. It’s best taken in small doses, though – you go numb after a couple chapters.

  4. I have always thought about reading Franken Fran…but yeah, Shonen Champion Red has a lot of series…that you can hardly consider “Shonen.” Or sfw!

  5. Oh, wasn’t exactly expecting other people to like this series so much, and I am happy that there was a License Request for it. And I do solemnly swear if it gets licensed I will personally buy 2 copies of every volume published.

    This was one of the first series that came to my head when you mentioned Horror manga and it’s one of my favorites of the genre. It also has the distinction of being one of the few series where I actually can stand the body horror aspects to it.

    The whimsically macabre antics lead to the occasional rumination beyond the basic moral story structure. And the chapters have a tendency to not always end as you expect (often in a darker direction.).

    On the topic of covers, there are actually 2 for each volume the first one which is the fan-service shots see up above, and the internal one which have an awesome B-Moive vibe. If you’re forgive me for linking to tinypic, here’s the first volume’s alternative cover:

  6. Franken Fran is like the poster child of what series JManga should be hosting. It has a snowball’s chance in hell of getting licensed by a physical book manga publisher because it’d be a marketing nightmare. Any retailer or library that took too close a look at the contents would be leery about stocking it. Half the readership would become too disturbed to continue and stop collecting after the first book. There may be a potential audience for this but I’m afraid it’d be too weird and uncomfortable for most people.


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