Wow, it’s only a second appearance of manga on Re-enchantment… After Yotsuba&!, it’s time for Mushishi, another of my favourite series. Created by Yuki Urushibara and published for ten years in serialized form in Japan, now it’s available both in English and Polish, collected in 10 volumes.
This is the only manga I own a whole set of. Well, this and Azumanga Daioh, but the other is just one 700 pages omnibus. Also highly recommended, from an author that later gave us previously mentioned Yotsuba&!, but that’s not for today.
Mushishi is a story about Ginko, a wandering mushi-shi, occult specialist protecting people from mushi, ethereal, supernatural beings not perceived by regular humans, but capable of influencing their lives in usually pretty dangerous ways. Partly a shaman, even more a scientist, Ginko uses his knowledge of the supernatural to help people as he travels through Urushibara’s version of XIX-century rural Japan of the late Edo period.
For a long time I hoped to write a sort of introduction to manga and follow it with some reviews and recommendations. I don’t feel up to the task. It’s a topic books were written on, and a great number of excellent blog posts. Having given up on this, I’m free to mention some specific mangas every now and then and treat them like just another comics.
Which is risky. Manga is an emanation of a specific culture and it takes time for a European reader to familiarise himself with different tropes and structures. Not to mention the fact that manga is drawn from right to left, like Japanese scripture, and this is usually preserved in English editions. And sensivities of Japanese readers are often… hard to understand. The amount of fanservice and sillines in otherwise serious and thoroughly researched and realistic mangas… the prevailing sexism of some of even the latest series… sometimes I read an excellent story for 10 volumes only for the immersion and enjoyment to be destroyed in a moment by something dumb or distasteful. Maybe I’ll elaborate on that some time in the future, but let me start today with something safe and unapologetically nice 🙂
So, I’ll just point to tvtropes for some basic information and introduce our heroine of the day: Yotsuba Kowai.
A Japanese comic about little girl? Wait, don’t call the police, it’s ok, it’s a series my 3(almost) yo niece safely enjoys. And so do I, partially because both the fictional and the real-life brats are similarly adorable. Continue reading