Not quite man, not quite monster, manga author Goblin Moriguchi is a thing of pure brutality spawned from the moldy VHS collection locked in your basement. And the tagline to this living, breathing creature feature: All killer, no filler.
His stories from the pages of late-80s porno anthologies follow a formula as predictable as the best of the worst B-movies: boy meets girl, monster kills boy, monster violates girl, avenging warrior kills monster. Wipe the fresh layer of gore from your eyes to see the influence of his teacher, “tentacle master” Maeda Toshio, who introduced the west to slimy demon sex via La Blue Girl, Legend of the Overfiend and other animated raunch.
Still, Goblin manages to craft his own personal cosmology based on the unholy trinity worshiped by social outcasts the world over--slasher films, heavy metal albums and low-self esteem. His is a world of mind over matter, where the weak-willed are easy prey for demonic possession and an iron-clad resolution can make man into a god.
This can-do attitude transforms the leader of the MFP--Mad Fighting Police--into a patent leather luchador and his arch nemesis, an ancient Persian soldier, into a winged Centurion with the power to control lightning and a face like Eddie from Iron Maiden. Those who can't rule by strength of will do so by brute force. Biker punks run riot armed with shotgun-pistols, serrated hunting knifes and bladed guitars to be swung like, um, a mighty six-string axe.
Manga is supposed to be escapism but for Goblin it’s self-flagellation. He chose his pen name because, in his own words, he's “Ugly, like a goblin,” a revelation that turns each pus-filled monster a twisted self-portrait. If I were to psychoanalyze someone based on their Wikipedia entry I’d say Goblin feels guilty about the way he depicts women--that’s why he saves the most brutal punishment for the rapist--but rough love is the only kind of love he knows.
In a since deleted blog entry, Goblin recounts how during his first sexual encounter--with another man’s wife, no less--he couldn’t maintain an erection, so he used his fist instead. Not many X-rated manga authors can boast to practice what they preach. The Internet is split on if they should respect, or pity him.
Snippets from his blog pasted onto 2channel, an anonymous labyrinth of a message board, reveal a childhood of relentless tragedy. Beaten and bruised by his sister, verbally abused by his mother, he cut ties with his family after his father died in a house fire. Years later he received a municipal summons to move back in with his ailing mother and be her caretaker. The letter went into the trash and Goblin went on with his life.
He may be a wayward son but he's no psychopath. Where others in his situation may have made the headlines with a double homicide, Goblin found a constructive, non-violent way to channel his anger and frustration. I mean, a guy who loves cats this much can't be all bad, right?
Writing scummy manga for a living took it’s toll. He would blackout at his desk and later come to, pen still in hand. Without time to eat he defaulted to a diet of instant ramen. Three square meals a day of broth, noodles and sodium split his lips, ate ulcers into the lining of his mouth. Enough! To hell with it! Goblin threw out his detailed line work, crosshatched shadows and screen tone-rich leather chaps along with the demons, serial killers and cock rock riot police. All that remained was the black humor and wonky S&M.
And so began his slow slide into ruin. At first things were looking good. He worked less, produced more and made gobs of money. But as market demand shifted to the soft, clean moe aesthetic, Goblin stayed rooted in the past with his realistic gekiga style. Job requests dried up. His stories grew stagnant. Fans could tell that his heart wasn’t in it. Then, in May 2008, days after he stood up his own 47th birthday party, Goblin went off the grid.
He and his blog vanished without a trace. The following month a concerned reader got the scoop from his editor at an indie manga swap meet--turns out Goblin had been living off payday loans and went underground to escape from debt. The conspiracy theorists on 2channel wrote a novel of wild speculation. One popular scenario--Goblin’s abusive older sister owed money to the Yakuza, and when she defaulted it was on him to pay the piper.
Whatever the truth is, it’s probably not as lurid as the imagination of Internet trolls. That December Goblin emerged for air to let a friend of his former editor know that yes, he was alive, and no, he wasn't working. Why would he be? He was collecting a welfare check.
The next year he began to re-release colored versions of his pornographic output from the 90s on download sites. He still had one foot in the door but made it clear he was only digitizing select titles and not writing any new ones--Goblin was done with smut.
But the roller coaster ride doesn't end there. Apparently Goblin's been sitting on a stack of four-panel gag manga where cats play out famous 80s horror movie scenes--get the Videodrome reference?--and a series about the observed behavior of chipmunks set to a self-recorded psychedelic rock soundtrack. Don't laugh, the guy plans a mean vibraslap. His band's name--perfect for someone who loves animals as much as he loves metal--Beast Master. Wouldn't you know it, “Goblin” was already taken.