The last 4 volumes of the Silent Mobius Manga are, in a lot of respects, representative of everything about the manga that works, and everything that really doesn’t. We have some truly spectacular action in these volumes, but also a reiteration of some of the more considerably cringy elements of the series. There will be spoilers for the ending below the cut.
Over the course of the series conclusion, we get the introduction of a new member of AMP – Taoist sorcerer Lum Cheng, the death of Kiddy Phenil (she gets better) to spur Katsumi to break free of Medium, and the big final battle. All of the mystical combat that is a part of this works great – making for a solid mixture of cyberpunk and mystical action that fits with all of the book’s strengths. There’s also some brutality that, while par for the course for 90s manga, can be somewhat surprising, like Nami having part of her arm broken and then ripped off.
That said, the climax of the manga is, basically, a reiteration of the most cringey of the manga’s themes – that the members of AMP, being women, are able to triumph because they can have babies. Now, the best possible read of this is that it diminishes the value of women who are medically unable to have children (either due to age and menopause, infertility, or risk of miscarriage). Worst possible read is that it’s transphobic in a TERF-y manner.
Could this be out of ignorance? Absolutely. This story was a product of the ‘90s, and some of these “Earth Mother Feminism” attitudes had persisted from the ‘70s and 80s (i.e. only women can create life when men can’t, therefore women are spiritually superior). So, I could absolutely see Kia Asamiya including this as a central theme of the story because he thought it was feminist, out of unexamined privilege and biases. This doesn’t excuse this, but it does potentially explain it.
In any case, I went down the journey of hunting down physical copies of all of the Silent Mobius Manga basically because the Silent Mobius TV series had a “read the manga” ending, with the protagonists heading off literally for the final battle, and never following up with an OVA or a film to provide that conclusion, and I wanted to know how this ended. Thus, the important question becomes – does it hold up, and the answer is: kinda.
The ending has Ganossa Maximillian pulling an 11th hour swerve, with the intent to destroy both Earth and Nemesis, which leads to the Lucifer Hawks deciding to give the AMP an opening to finish Ganossa off. At the end of which, the Lucifer Hawks decide to bugger back off to Nemesis with a “no hard feelings, it was all Ganossa’s fault, we’ll stay in our dimension.”
All of this without getting into why Nemesis and Earth were trying to make contact in the first place – which is that what is pollution in our world is just fine in Nemesis and vice versa, and Gigelf Liqueur’s plan was to just bridge the gap between the two worlds, swap contaminants, and call it a day. Oh, that plan is discussed, and Ganossa brings up that he deliberately sabotaged it, and that if he hadn’t done so it would have worked. Considering the spectacular property damage to Tokyo in the conclusion, it would have been nice to address that in the finish – something along the lines of “We have fulfilled the original bargain.” or something.
Instead, after the victory, we get some general “Happily ever after,” denouement – with everyone who has a romantic interest (that isn’t dead) hooking up with their partner, and Katsumi raising her daughter. It’s fine, but it’s also frustrating, because it’s basically just a loose hook for a “The Next Generation” sequel series which we got in 2013, and which hasn’t been licensed for a US release yet.
I’m glad I finished the story, and I did enjoy reading it. However, that little intensely problematic theme, which the manga could have just dumped as some early installment weirdness and left out of the conclusion, puts a big asterisk on whether I could recommend this manga.
As of this writing, Silent Mobius has been licensed for digital distribution by MangaPlanet, but none of the manga has gone up yet.
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