Last post here. This new one started as a comment, but I decided to make a post out of it.
So, down in comments, Noah and DerikB both assured me that Ashinano, as good as he is, is a long way from peerless. Japan has a lot of artists who would be exceptional over here, but over there they’re just very good artists.
David Alex asked what I made of Akira. I liked it. This is going back to 1988 when I read 10 issues, probably because Spin mentioned the series in its comics-are-cool issue (white cover with Matt Groening’s Binky). I bought the series a few issues at a time and felt like I was having a bit of a cross-cultural adventure. The story moved nicely, the panels were worth looking at — detail, as with YKK, but detailed undersides of flying vehicles, not detailed porch floorboards. Then I lost interest. Seeing the movie in, I guess, 1990, I told a kid on line that following comic book series in general was like following a tv show: after a few episodes you kind of got what they had to offer, and then pretty soon you were moving on. Don’t know if that’s my philosophy now, but it seemed very exact and just at the time.
Ok, in Comments Bill says the story really is unusual for Japanese comics but that Alpha herself is not — other strips also have a “fantasy girl.” Which brings up something that hit me about the series: yes, it’s beautiful, but it also finds time to be banal. Fulfilled fantasies tend to be banal and that goes for fantasy girls. Alpha’s a mannequin doll who’s there to make the old guys feel good. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it is a limiting thing.
Noah wanted to know how I put up with the shojo, uh, imagery, given the way I complained about googly eyes. I responded:
To tell the truth, I was getting to the faces/eyes issue just before the cafe shut down. So, to be stoic … I think the googly eyes are a drawback, but read manga and you’re going to find them. Not everywhere, but pretty often. Maybe I can adjust.
I do think YKK has a streak of banality that is right in tune with the googly-eye motif, especially in some of the isolated splash pages where Alpha is posing. The story itself I don’t mind, but I’m not tuned into it. It seems like an excuse for stringing together little exercises in atmosphere, like a Bolton-Wodehouse book is an excuse for its show’s score. The atmosphere bits work fine for me, though the smaller they are, the better. For instance, drinking canned coffee in the early morning worked better than Alpha discovering the different meanings behind tears.
Those mellowed-out roads and so on, the landscape’s details, take the principle the furthest. The moment is so small that nothing is happening, all you do is look at something being what it is. Those moments are the best thing in the series.
So, the banality again. But at this stage of my manga exploration I’m just getting used to what’s around me. We’ll see how I react down the road.