Thursday, June 3, 2010

Logical Demon Yenta High School: Recovered Sketches

I've always loved Logical Demon Yenta High School, an obscure manga about a 16-year-old Ayn Rand defending St. Petersburg, Russia - her original home town - from various oni (demons from Japanese mythology) by ranting at them until their heads exploded. The manga character Ayn Rand goes by the name Ayn Rand in her St. Petersburg childhood, even though in reality she went by her given name (Alisa Rosenbaum) during that time. I assume the various supernatural creatures she fought in the manga, and the witch hunters who train her, are likewise fictional.

It's incredibly hard to find any evidence at all that Logical Demon Yenta High School ever really existed. Ayn Rand was in some ways a libertarian L. Ron Hubbard; she gathered a cultlike organization of followers around her and that organization protects her memory to this day. The similarity extends even to naming conventions; Hubbard's group was the Scientologists, Rand's the Objectivists. Logical Demon Yenta High School incorporates this with periodic battles between the two camps (even though neither organization existed yet, during Rand's years in Russia), and adds a third organization, funded and controlled by oni, called the Truthologists. I suspect, but absolutely cannot prove, that the Objectivists sent people to Japan in the 80s to destroy Logical Demon Yenta High School. Rumors on 4chan and elsewhere suggest that the Yakuza were involved, that the manga's creator went insane and disappeared, and that UFOs descended on Tokyo to destroy every copy of the manga and every episode of the anime.

A while ago I decided not to take these rumors seriously. They're obviously some indie manga scene joke. Instead I started hunting on eBay for copies of the manga. They were hard to find. Even the rumors about it were hard to track down. It seems odd that an entire media property possessed of such originality, verve, and literacy could just go Croatoan like this, but in a world where the Heart Throbs only get 804 views on YouTube, I guess anything can happen. I'm not going to press the Objectivist conspiracy theory angle too hard - I don't want to see if they can fight as fiercely as the Scientologists - but I've heard stories. That's all I'm going to say.

The good news is I was able to find some very, very crude sketches of two of the main characters, the 16-year-old Ayn Rand and an oni called Demon Einstein, who was half-man, half-snake, and one-sixteenth Hydra on his mother's side, which sounds irrelevant but comes up in the story quite a bit, as Hydras can regrow their heads on demand, and this demand grew very high among oni who were trying to invade a city but kept finding themselves battling a 16-year-old girl with the power to make an oni's head explode just by ranting at it. Demon Einstein kind of became the go-to guy for the oni over the course of the comic, because for most people getting your head exploded is kind of a one-time deal, while for Demon Einstein it was just a serious headache. In the first few years of the series, the oni tried to block out Rand's voice, but it didn't work out. They tried headphones and Walkmen, they tried fuzzy earmuffs, and in one twelve-episode story arc, they even tried hiring construction workers to build things next door, but eventually they just settled on Demon Einstein.

Again, these sketches are very crude, but I don't care; I'm a big fan of this show, and it deserves to be remembered. Here they are: