Manga: The H-Man Continues


The H-Man Continues

Japanese Comic Title

[Zoku Ekitainingen]


Hideo Unagami


Shigeru Fujita
Akashiya Shobou


Mikio Ono



By: Nicholas Driscoll

In 2020, when looking for awesome manga to read and review for Toho Kingdom, I stumbled on a particularly rare manga volume—The H-Man Continues, or, more literally, Continuation: Liquid Human, for sale on Mandarake… for almost eight hundred dollars. Perhaps due to a brief bout of insanity brought on by trying to survive a pandemic, I bought the manga anyway… then shortly afterwards, before the manga could get delivered to me, suffered a heart attack.

There is a certain horrific irony about that situation. For those in the know, H-Man (1958) was based on a short story written by author and actor Hideo Unagami; he is also the credited author of the story upon which The H-Man Continues is based. Whether he actually wrote the script for the comic remains in question, however, because he… died of a heart attack at the young age of 45 in 1957, the year before this manga was released. I feel great sympathy for him, and a haunting sense of connection—I was 39 years of age and nearly met the same fate.

So it is that I start this review with a certain sense of gravitas, but I also do want to treat this material with some seriousness as it cost me a LOT of money, and the manga itself is obscure even in Japan. As far as I know, no tokusatsu scholar from the west has ever read this manga or covered the contents of the story, so I want to give it a pretty thorough work-over, including basically a complete translation. I don’t imagine the manga is going to fall into any other Western fan’s hands anytime soon, so I want to make the best of it.

I have read some of Shigeru Fujita’s manga work before, in the Godzilla Manga Collection 1954-58. In that volume, two of Fujita’s kaiju manga were republished—specifically, his interpretations of the original Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955). These particular Godzilla manga were released in 1958, the same year as The H-Man Continues, and in the same format—hard cover tankobons as complete stories, and NOT serialized in children’s magazines. According to an article also published in the aforementioned collection, the late release of those manga was meant as a way to keep Godzilla fandom alive when there were no new movie releases. It seems Fujita was busy with adapting other tokusatsu releases at the same time, though, promoting contemporary movie releases. Fujita’s other famous manga continuation, Rodan Continues, was published in 1957.

Let me make a few more notes about the format of the book. While I have never held the original publications of Fujita’s manga adaptations of Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Raids Again (1955), I can now see that they were reproduced quite faithfully in the previously mentioned Godzilla manga collection. The comic is technically not black and white, but rather a mix of full-color pages (the first sixteen pages of The H-Man Continues, as well as some particular spreads scattered throughout the book), and the other pages are tinted—light blue, light green, etc. The hardcover backing seems high-quality, and the spine is tied together with string. Otherwise perhaps the book would have been in worse quality, having survived over sixty years before getting into my grubby mitts.

Some notes on the story (spoilers)

Fujita’s storytelling style seems to generally incorporate a goofy sense of humor, based on my reading of his Godzilla manga, and some of that can be seen here as well—but The H-Man Continues in general takes a more serious tone (the goofy bits are mostly limited to funny pictures hanging on the walls in the backgrounds of certain panels, such as a weird drawing of a many-eyed jellyfish). No Catholic priest comes to give last rites to the monsters here, unlike with his adaptation of Godzilla (1954).

For this itching to get a sense of where the manga takes the story after the movie, I have attempted a full translation of the comic book.

Please enjoy the translation here.

Now for a review: the story, too, is very focused on human action—I personally was hoping for a bit more monster madness, but the eponymous liquid men don’t appear as much as I was hoping, mostly featuring in the last half of the comic. There is an element of mystery, but since the comic partially clues us in to what is happening with the gangsters early on, we don’t get the sense of solving the mystery so much as just enjoying watching the police try to figure out what is going on, which has its own charms. The story plays with some common themes often seen in monster sequels (a new mutation, a more powerful iteration of the monster), while also giving some interesting takes on how humanity in Japan would have dealt with the shock of the existence of liquid men after the events of the film. The end action feels a bit anticlimactic and overly similar to the film, however, and lacks punch.

Characters are mostly quite shallow, being only lightly sketched in to propel the story forward. For the action/detective storyline, they fill their purpose with at least some energy, and the gangsters are a treat—I liked their over-the-top designs and personalities.

Art is light on detail, but heavy on personality—especially for minor characters. Isamu looks like a generic hero, though, and there are some frames where character poses feel a little underwhelming. Colors are from the time period, but are sharper than the four-color designs from American comics, and add vivid images to highlight specific scenes effectively.

My basic opinion is that the comic mimics the tropes of H-Man (1958) too closely, while perhaps in minor ways prefiguring the action of “kaijin” classics like The Secret of the Telegian (1960) and The Human Vapor (1960). Some individual sequences are quite striking, and the monster attacks can be fairly gruesome, which fits with the material. I personally wish that the special light weapons took a bit more effort to create (rather than being thrown together seemingly out of nothing in a matter of days), but that kind of trope was also very common in classic 50s sci-fi like The Giant Claw and The Deadly Mantis from the West. The H-Man Continues is probably not a must-read by any stretch, but it’s a curiosity piece and a fascinating bit of history.

Now if only I can get my hands on Rodan Continues next…