Eat-Man (イートマン Īto Man?) is a Japanese manga series created by Akihito Yoshitomi in 1996 which was serialized by MediaWorks monthly in 19 volumes until 2002 manga magazine Dengeki Comic Gao!. In 1997 Studio Deen adapted the manga into a 12 episode anime television series which was broadcast in Japan from January 1 to March 27, 1997 on TV Tokyo. A sequel, Eat-Man '98, was also animated by Studio Deen and ran from October 8 to December 23, 1998. Both anime series are licensed in North America by Bandai Entertainment and the manga series was licensed by Viz Communications before it was dropped.
Eat-Man is a series of short, episodic stories about an "explorer" (a type of mercenary job) named Bolt Crank, who has the ability to eat virtually anything, and can then produce from his body at will any object he has consumed. Eat-Man's world is a mix of high tech futurist and fairy tale styles. The episodes take place in various worlds and in undefined times. (See Cyberpunk)
About Bolt Crank
Bolt Crank is the best "explorer" in the world. "Explorer" in the manga is a kind of mercenary. Although mercenaries in the manga do any job, even assassinations, the explorers were employees with principles.
Bolt has a bizarre power, the ability to eat anything and then later recreate it (even fixing the item ingested) from any part of his body. The item usually comes out from his arms and hands, but sometimes can be created in other body areas, like his head, chest, or legs.
In the manga, it was revealed that inside Bolt's body was actually a void of space. Objects that he has consumed float around in a seemingly endless space, much like the inside of Doraemon's fourth-dimensional pocket.
He is a man of few words and doesn't show his feelings. Always acting cool, his cynical personality and his "always get the job done" attitude can make him seem like a very cold and dark character. But in the end, he always finds a way to do the right thing. He never appears to look back at the past, never regretting it.
Although Bolt's past remained a mystery in all the series, some stories gave clues about his past, including some characters that appeared in various episodes. In the end of the manga series revealed a lot about who and what Bolt is, but his exact identity still remains a mystery.
Here are some hints in the series:
- Bolt never ages, but the end of the manga series revealed that he is not an immortal (he may be hurt and killed).
- The series suggests he had been created before the beginning of mankind. In a story about the downfall of two old winged races before mankind arrived, there is a prophecy about a "man that eats anything" that will be the guardian of mankind until the end of times.
- There is a character identical to Bolt called Leon. His creations include an android woman (Stella) with human feelings who loved him (an antagonist of Bolt in various episodes, trying to transform all living things in machines) and a weird robot capable of assimilating any mechanical part (it has a parasitic relationship with Bolt and keeps annoying him in various episodes from inside his body). It is implied that Bolt is his clone, or he is a clone from Bolt.
- Other possible origins are shown in other stories, where Bolt "worked" in a research center that performed tests with human beings and created humans with odd powers, like an immortal woman (with instant regeneration), a girl that turns into a monster, and another girl that generates electricity. Bolt's job there remained unexplained, suggesting he was just another test subject.
- Aimie: An old detective friend of Bolt. She is immortal, and at childhood was a successful superhuman experiment in a laboratory at which Bolt worked. She investigated a series of murdered scientists, which turned out to be her quest for revenge against those who "created" her.
- Naomi: Aimie's room-mate and lesbian girlfriend. She was an unsuccessful experiment in the same laboratory as Aimie and she knew Bolt as well. She looked like a child, but only because she didn't get old. She was very unstable and turned into a monster.
- Elena: A girl with the power to generate electricity. She was Rivette's sister. She was once a girlfriend of Leon.
- Margot: A girl who dismantled mechanics that helped Bolt in various episodes. She usually dismantled the weapons and ammunition for Bolt to eat more easily.
- Hard: Another explorer with a strong sense of justice. The mysterious ways of Bolt sometimes made him distrustful, believing Bolt to be his rival and enemy. Nevertheless, Hard admired Bolt as the greatest explorer, and tried to follow in his steps.
- Leon: Bolt lookalike. Leon suggests that he lived very long. There is nothing to suggest that Leon has any of Bolt's abilities. Leon fell in love with Stella. After his death, he planned and succeeded to use Bolt to resurrect himself as a machine, in order to live with Stella for the eternity. To do this, he created Teromea to parasite Bolt and convince him to eat and recreate him.
- Rain Boyer: Granddaughter of a famous explorer named Boyer, and heir to the all-powerful Boyer Sword. She dreamed of becoming an explorer like her father. She is shown as a young girl with little experience searching for the sword in volume one. Later in volume eight she appeared as an adult and a very skilled explorer with a little crush on Bolt.
- Rivette: A skilled explorer with the power to generate electricity. She was cynical and interested only in money, at least on the surface. She was actually looking for her sister Elena, who was kidnapped when Rivette was only a child.
- Roan mi Ferdo: The princess of a country which was at the mercy of the Demon King, seen in the first story in Eat-Man. She was initially disguised as an explorer who was to serve as a guide for Bolt. In truth, the guise was so she could fulfil her final wishes to travel with a great explorer before the Demon King killed her for her blood. However, Bolt destroyed the king and Roan was saved.
- Selena Bryan: The secretary and childhood friend of an Emperor, dismissed from her duties and left believing that he no longer had any use for her. She was determined to fulfill a childhood promise she made to him to retrieve the Flame Flower for his wedding. Little did she know who the Emperor's bride would be...
- Shadow: An assassin with much resentment toward Leon. He thought that Bolt was Leon, and wanted to make Bolt suffer, no matter what. He dressed as Bolt and killed people, defaming his name and making Bolt wanted in various countries. He had some psychic powers. He was in love with Stella and hated Leon because of that.
- Stella: A woman who was madly in love with Leon. She was actually an android created by him, but got mad and perverted when he killed himself. She planned to convert all the humans to machines, as her plan to end mortality. She did some twisted experiments to achieve that. She ultimately ended up living with a resurrected Leon as a machine for all eternity.
- Teromea: A parasite machine created by Leon. It tricked Bolt into eating him, and then lived in Bolt's body as a parasite, annoying him. His ultimate objective was to resurrect Leon, and convince Bolt to do his part in that plan. The resurrection involved Teromea eating Leon and using Bolt's powers to recreate him. He later dies due to Bolt completing his mission of stopping Stella.
The anime series
Although the manga series was a success, the 12-episode anime series released by Studio Deen was highly criticized by fans of the manga because of the great differences between the plots of the manga and the anime.
Almost all fantasy elements were removed from the anime, leaving a futuristic world. Bolt Crank's personality was very different from the manga. This Bolt showed more feelings, hated his explorer life, and desired to be a normal person. The series is episodic and mysterious. The magic crystal that appeared in the opening, the glass monoliths, the ever-floating ship, and the afterlife dream in the 11th episode are never explained, creating a very bizarre and abstract atmosphere. Most of the episodes ended with unanswered questions.
Due to the fans' dissatisfaction, a new season was released as Eatman '98 one year after. Almost all the stories were directly based on stories from the manga, making it very true to the manga.
The character of Bolt Crank made a guest appearance in Akihito Yoshitomi's later creation, Ray. The story is included under a special chapter, "Drop in", in Ray volume 5 from pages 167 to 190.
- Eat-Man (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Eat-Man (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- "Untranslated Pick of the Month" -(J-pop.com review of the manga)