Grey (manga)

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Genre Action, Adventure, Sci-fi
Written by Yoshihisa Tagami
Published by Tokuma Shoten
English publisher United States Canada Viz Media
Demographic Shōnen
Magazine Monthly Shōnen Captain
Original run 19851987
Volumes 3
Anime film
Grey: Digital Target
Directed by Satoshi Dezaki
Studio Magic Bus
Tokuma Japan Corp.
Released December 13, 1986
Runtime 73 minutes
Anime and Manga portal

Grey is a Japanese science fiction manga created by Yoshihisa Tagami that was published in the 1980s.

It was also turned into an anime under the title Grey: Digital Target.


The world is covered in wastelands that are dotted with numbered "Towns". All Towns are supervised by computers called "Little Mamas" (nodes connected to the world governing super-computer called "Big Mama"); the underprivileged live in the slums and are referred to as "People". One can only become one of the privileged "Citizens" by joining the army and fighting the other Towns' forces, as the Towns are continually at war with one another. Combatants earn 50 credits per mission, plus 30 credits for every enemy killed. Once the total reaches 1000, the fighter's class is increased by one category (starting at F, then going to E, D, C, B and making one's way up to A). The A class guarantees a transfer to the idyllic, legendary "City".

Citizens have numerous advantages over People: in addition to getting out of the ghetto, they do not worry about being beaten up, raped or otherwise victimized. It's this advantage that leads Grey's lover, a girl known as "Lips", to become a Trooper. Her death, during her first and only operation, leads Grey to join the army as well and follow her dream of getting to the City by sheer force of will. Grey soon earns the nickname "Grey Death" for his tenacity on the battlefield and ability to survive when the rest of his comrades are killed. He only accepts orders that keep him alive, and will not kill the resistance fighters that fight against the Town system because they are not worth any points. Sullen and cocky, Grey exists only to survive and kill, in that order.

Grey's sense of loyalty gets him into trouble when he finds out that his field commander, a man that saved his life many times, is lost in the African sector. He abandons Town 303 to go look for him. Along the way, he discovers who and what the resistance fighters are, why the Towns are all different in both military might and how they are run, and what the true secret of "Big Mama" is.


Grey is not a lighthearted adventure. The nickname of "Grey Death" is accurate, and the bad luck Grey seems to spread around makes his tragic situation even worse. As we follow him through his adventures, things get darker and darker.

(translator's note: the Japanese text reads ”死神と言うグレー” or more literally "the GREY who is called the shinigami (god of death, spirit of death))

Where the manga stays on a downward spiral of tragedy, a few choices in the anime adaptation provide some hope to Grey and his companions.

Harlan Ellison wrote the introduction to the Viz Media English Adaptation. In it, he compared Grey to his own type of hard-edged speculative fiction.


Grey consistently encounters "dolls" (robots and androids closely resembling humans in behavior and speech), leading to tension between his search for the truth behind the Little Mamas and his reliance on robots to perform menial tasks.


Yoshihisa Tagami draws detailed vehicles and mecha in a variety of styles and a mix of retro and future weapon technologies. Each chapter adds new mecha or fantastic weapon of destruction. Towns have different tech levels: we see World War II style tanks, Grey's signature attack jeep, advanced F-15 style jet fighters and other realistic machinery. The series also features armored suits, jet bikes, walker style mecha and cyborgs. The series is notable for the Maya and Inca feel to the technology seen in the latter chapters.

Tagami's characters are simplistically rendered, especially with regard to their facial features. Some of the characters look a little stereotypical of the character design style that stuck around throughout the 1980s.


Helen McCarthy in 500 Essential Anime Movies praised the film as being "intelligently written". She stated that "although the animation is dated, this is one of the most poignant and compelling anime ever made", calling it a "bleak yet uncompromisingly courageous view of the individual choices and chances against the system".[1]


  1. ^ McCarthy, Helen. 500 Essential Anime Movies: The Ultimate Guide. — Harper Design, 2009. — P. 65. — 528 p. — ISBN 978-0061474507

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