Exon Depot is a series of three full color short episodes, who have not been collected yet. Shirow's official statement on that is that he expects there to be enough material to collect "somewhere towards the end of my career"; "It might take 20 years", he said. So far, he's done a total of 19 pages.
The first story was published inside Comic Gaia #12 1992 and re-published by Penthouse Comix Vol. 2, #24 (1997 July/August). The title of this 11 pages long manga is Judgment (Shimban) (voices say The god game never runs smoothly). The story: inside a space ship the members of an highly developed civilization are discussing about the planet below inhabited by a primitive population. They decide to intervene and to improve the living conditions.
Meanwhile two native girls (really beautiful!) are fighting for something (food?) they have found in the mud and, accidentally, their rags start to fall (well, I think that Penthouse staff knows his work!) (sorry guys, but Geocities doesn't want sexy pictures on its pages).
Two "visitors" go down on the planet and appear in the middle of the fighting. They behave as gods and, while one is treating patients (some of the natives live inside the ruins of big buildings testimonies of a civilized past), the other is distributing little luminous objects which can be used as energy source (?). The living conditions have improved but the population splits preferring one god or the other, causing a bloody and ferocious war (where Shirow shows all his drawing ability).
Facing this slaughter, the gods weep bloody tears and a flood breaks out leaving few survivors to witness the departure of the visitors. They understand to have lost a great chance but they haven't learnt the lesson and start discussing again. This time they aren't alone and somebody is arguing on the star ship too.
The picture on the right is the second page of the another Exon Depot story published by Comic Gaia #8 and re-published in A Decade of Dark Horse #4. Its title is Wild Mountain Cherry (Yamazakura); it is 4 pages long and there aren't balloons.
This one is, as other Shirow's works, a strange manga and it's so short that you have few elements to understand.
I have a personal theory: think to a mad AI commanding a company for vegetation growth (the symbol on the drift of the plane); the people, who were controlling the AI, are dead (men in the mecha and in the plane) so the plants have completely covered the Earth (first picture). A girl cuts a tree and this causes the arrival of a patrol (mecha and plane). After an engagement, the patrol goes away probably thinking to have killed the girl, so the heroine can finally drink from a fruit of the fallen tree.
What do you think?
During 1998 has been published in Japan another manga of the Exon Depot series: Arms. To know more go to my ARMS page.
From the Top: 1-2) Exon Depot ©1992 Shirow/Seishinsha. Left: Orion ©1991 Shirow/Seishinsha.