First an apology. This is the first of a series of very quick reviews. Essentially it’s Christmas and I want / need a break. So the list of reviews on the wall has to get down to zero very quickly and the easiest way of doing that is by doing these sorts of mini capsule reviews of things I’ve been meaning to get around to but just know I haven’t got time to do properly…..
So let’s start with…….
Danza is a collection of six beautifully illustrated stories from Natsume Ono (House of Five Leaves) that explores interpersonal relationships. The stories range from an estranged relationship being mended through death and how the appearance of a stranger in a father’s life helps him reach out to his son. Subtle and contemplative, this is considered to be Ono’s best work among her short stories.
That’s what the PR says anyway. I sort of agree. A bit. With a couple of the six short tales in here.
They’re all trailed as being heartwarming, exploring familial friendships, especially the whole father and son thing. Ono is very much the modern manga exponent rough lines, very alt-manga if you know what I mean.
First one is okay, nothing special. A poignant little thing. But the second is the one that blows me back. I was expecting just your standard father son thing after the fairly staid first story and instead I get this funky weird time travel tale.
Son goes back in time to spend time with dad and grandfather into the bargain. Death hangs around, things remain unsaid, just hanging in the narrative, tension sits, coiled, waiting….. oh so very very good, completely threw me.
… and the ending. Oh yes.
(Danza – remember it’s authentic Manga – right to left)
Third tale of father-in-law feeling he has to battle with American son-in-law perfectly describes the quiet conflict of these sorts of relationships, a more laid back, yet just as wonderfully portrayed tale.
But after this the remainder of the book simply drags, pages turn, story doesn’t really engage. Oh so much promise in two of the tales, but the whole thing…. no, not really doing it.
Dammit, the thing is I actually wanted to enjoy this a lot more than I did. After the second story I was really thinking this would be something great, but that really was the highpoint of the whole thing. There’s huge, huge potential from Ono, and seeing as this collection is five years old, I hope the artist’s current output is more weird time-travelly-epicness than the fairly bland stuff that tends to dominate Danza.