Alive (英語) ペーパーバック – 2014/4/29
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GEN Manga is Indie Manga from the Tokyo Underground. GEN Manga was made to give fans an exclusive look at real doujinshi, otherwise known as indie manga, that they had heard about, but until now, unable to get their hands on. In its essence, doujinshi is manga traded among other manga artists. Manga for manga lovers! Seemingly mundane events twist with an unusual presence of the unreal as the psyche of ordinary people is explored. Depression, time, and thought are redefined. Alive is a collection of melancholy love stories saturated with sadness. Characters struggle to connect with one another but never quite succeed. They are essentially alone. Enter a world that is dark and disturbing - suicide is constantly contemplated and feelings of guilt, inadequacy, and suppressed sexuality surface as identity itself becomes a terribly fragile thing.
"Alive" does depict some provocative and adult subjects and images that elevate the story into respectable adult literature but may also surprise readers used to the typically all-ages friendly content that Gen Manga has published thus far."
I bought e-book edition from kindle, I could do it though live in Japan. It became convenience era. This work is English edition, so it has a little hard to read, but it do not have difficult slangs.
This work tells mainly fails on relations of men and women, and fault of the day of youth. Some of them have a key word as "dirty". Boys to men...it is "dirty". That is the theme of this work.
This work have mangas of men and women much, and there are some sex scene, but they are depicted just as if they are "dirty". Intercourse with a lifeless love doll of｛DOLL｝is representative of it. It do not have life and is a long way from love. ｛THUS, WE ARE DIRTIED｝is a story of high school students who hesitate to go to a strip theater with someone's lost wallet. It is symbolic that the name of that strip theater is "Ryugujo". "Ryugujo" is a palace at deep sea of an old tale of Japan ; At that palace, beautiful women welcome a man and he does not become old. But on the other hand, students fear that they get dirty if go through it. They stopped to go to the strip theater, and they plan to buy a bat and break windows of their school(It is affected by a popular song of Japanese famous singer Ozaki Yutaka. The song "卒業 Graduation" has lyrics "夜の校舎窓ガラス壊して回った When the night, we made a round and broke windows of school buildings" ). Finally, they did not do it, and they brought the wallet to police box. The day of youth that they could not do something heap up like "dirty" dirt...
Scenery of the country of Japan is beautiful. In "RED RICE (Japanese traditional food as celebration that they eat when a girl of a family began menstruation)", The scene is trivial, but very good that children walk through old cracked walls of houses to their school. The other scene, boys and girls get back to their home through a path between rice field in red light of the sunset, that is very beautiful. That is the scene of Japan. On the other hand, The scene of city is dull. It might owing to using ready made manga material. Rooms of city is tasteless. Residents lay only goods that is necessary to survive. However the hand made cardboard house of roof of a tower has humanity much more than a room of an apartment of city. It has slatted drainboards on its floor, that is contrivance to avoid damp of rainy Japan. It might be based on the real experience of the author.
"69 STREET MARY" is an experimental piece of work that repeats the same background 19 times. It is a manga that a viewpoint-man hears old mary who works in the sex industry talks her life. Viewpoint-man is not drawn. Mary talks about her son and daughter. But after Mary left, other customers say Mary is a transwoman. Thus, Mary cannot have a son and a daughter, it is the punch line. It is too good to end here. I wanted once more step. Because the viewpoint-man does not involve to the story. It must be wanted that the viewpoint-man involve with the life of Mary.
There are contemporary dramas in the first half, but there are some SF or absurdity mangas in the later half of this work. The SF that a boy try to crime the huge wall encloses his world is nice. The boy crime wall that his father tried to crime and did not come back is saved by an anchor that his father knocked. And he finally did it and know the truth of the world. He cut his lifeline, it is his umbilical cord. The theme "boys to men" appears also here. But it is not "dirty". The theme of the author changed slowly.
But this work needs onece more step. I can not feel paranoialike love from it. Tedsuka osamu loves furry fandom, Otomo katsuhiro loves broke buildings, Akimoto osamu loves guns and toys, Miyazaki hayao loves strange mechanics (and coquettish girls with gun). But backgrounds of this work are just backgrounds, those seem backdrops that only are used to show stages of dramas. Charactors, too. Love of the author does not appear. Foods do not seem delicious but only to ingest a calorie. The scenery of city that the author spend unfortunate time seem cold. On the other hand, the scenery of country that he saw while lived in childhood is beautiful. And, the cardboard house at roof of a tower is interesting. That is small, but has many goods to survive. That seems like a room of a ship. I do not want to live there, but I want to stay only one night there. It might be based on the real experience of the author, these are nice.
The point of a construction of this e-book. That does not relate to the author, but a responsibility lies with the publisher, this work goes from left to right. That is equal to a book of the West. Although so, it goes from upper right to lower left in one page: that is equal to Japanes manga. So I got bewildered at the first time. Why did the publisher make this e-book into the Western style although pages are Japanese style? Certainly, there is a guide to read Japanese style... Americans should have difficultly in reading. There must be readers that make mistake reading direction and can not understand the story. That is an easy problem that they can reform by revise its epub scripts, and I hope it.
If you are a fan of darker, moodier manga then you should love this. If you prefer your manga more lighthearted and happier in tone, skip it.
Gen Manga is, like Max Factor, the manga of manga artists! These are underground indie manga (doujinshi) traded between manga artists, and who doesn't want to read comics that the artists themselves consider great? Alive is a fantastic collection of short stories that definitely don't jibe with mainstream manga - they're introspective, brooding, and criticise modern society - totally at odds with bestsellers like Dragon Ball, One Piece and Naruto.
A number of stories focus on the pains of adulthood, the idealisation of innocence and wanting to remain a kid or return to the womb and be reborn. A boy tells his guidance counsellor he doesn't want to grow up because adults are dirty. A girl gets her first period and thinks she's dying. A woman lies in a small, warm bathtub, imagining herself in the womb again. A boy and a girl run away to live atop the roof of the tallest apartment building, believing they could live together alone forever. A man and a girl dig a giant vagina-shaped hole, enter it naked, and emerge, seemingly changed.
Other stories focus on love in various forms. Like a woman whose partner of three years leaves her with a note and a box of cookies - she eats the cookies and reminisces about her relationship. A man goes through a bad breakup and buys a life-sized doll of a woman, unable to forge new relationships with women. A man breaks up with a heavy-smoking woman and, in her absence, buys a pack of cigarettes and lights them in his flat, the smoke reminding him of her presence.
Surrealism is pleasantly worked in as well, like a girl with spectacles which blur out anything she doesn't want to see, a talking frog wanting to be named, and the bizarre story of a climber who discovers the truth of his world when he climbs the giant wall that encloses his town.
The stories as a whole could be looked upon as superficially melancholic but there's a lot of hope to be found in them. The characters encounter difficulties in their lives, the story explores them, and they emerge at the end with renewed purpose, better for the experience. They go through an arc, put down by circumstances but rising by the end.
And it's not like Taguchi is unaware of the kind of stories he's creating - he does throw in some humour here and there, like in the story of a desperate man, unhappy with being a grown-up and deciding upon suicide. He goes to the woods to die and tries to recapture some happiness by dancing frantically only to fall over a root and have an ant laugh at him!
Or the story of the boy and girl who run away to live on the roof ending with the boy standing in traffic wanting to be run over only for a driver to tell him to get out of the way. "Why won't you hit me, are you telling me that I have to live?" the boy sobs. "No," says the driver, "but if I hit you I'd have to through the court system."
The stop-start of the short story collection means it's not ideal for reading in one sitting and not all of the stories are effective but for the most part these are outstanding original comics.
The problems of modern life, Japanese or elsewhere, and the pains of the human soul are memorably delved into with these stories, told with enormous skill and imagination by Hajime Taguchi. It's easy to look at these stories and think they're just sad tales and nothing more, but they're actually very upbeat in unexpected, abstract ways. Many of the characters are suicidal but they don't die, they choose life, and that's the message of Alive - life, with all its pain, is worth it. And so is reading this book.
In the next story, a girl gets her period. The following story explains why a kid is going rock climbing. The next is about natural disasters in a city where people don't notice each other. Then there's a yawner about a girl who misses having sex with her ex-boyfriend. And then a story about a talking frog who philosophizes about the need for names.
I was ready to give up at this point because the stories try to be profound but never manage to be interesting. Fortunately, the next story tackled a true moral dilemma: should students use the money in a wallet they found to pay the entrance fee to a strip club? That story had the potential to be interesting until it reached a goody-goody ending.
A whole bunch more stories follow. They attempt to teach life lessons without the use of creativity, subtlety, characterization, complexity, or good story-telling. Alive is too inoffensive to hate so I didn't give it one star, but too dull to like so I'm giving it two.
Themes of depression, violence, fear of love, isolation and aging all run through the book. There is a story about a girl who gets a new pair of glasses that obfuscate things she doesn't like to look at, which makes math class and homework a bit hard to do. There's the girl who's decided to drop out of society and live in a shelter on the roof of her building, which works well until a storm comes. There is the man with the life-sized doll who doesn't want real relationships, or does he? There are themes of loneliness and isolation. Some stories are funny, many are poignant.
Some stories do tend to trail off, so it was a bit tough to figure out where one ended and another began. Sure, the characters changed, but it was hard to tell if it was a story change, or a scene change. Some stories have titles, but many don't so this added to the confusion. Overall I liked it. The nice thing about a collection like this is if a story isn't working for you, there's a new one in a few pages.
I received a review copy of this graphic novel from Diamond Book Distributors, Gen Manga Entertainment and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Thank you for allowing me to review this graphic novel.