Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Reevo Ponders....Natsume Ono

In the beginning of this year, I started to build up my anime/manga collection. Every week I had the chance to spend my hard earned money; it mostly consisted of highly recommended licenses like Naruto and The Melancholy Of Haruhi Suzumiya, but like my music tastes, I want something different to watch or read, like a indie title of sorts. I knew that most (if not all) anime TV shows, OVA's and films would at least have some kind of fan base, so instead I wanted to try and find a manga that looks unique yet still giving me a great story like most Japanese authors offer.

It wasn't until a trip down Leicester City Centre and a walk round the Waterstone's manga section, that a white book with the title "not simple" took my interest, when grasping the book; its cover looked strangely different, I actually thought for a moment it was either a novel or a comic book, however the manga is supposed to be read right to left, so that answered my question. Scanning through the pages and cover art again, it felt weird that it had none of the anime traits I've come to know in manga like cute faces, insane character models or environments, it even gives the description on the back:

"Ian, a young man with a fractured family history, travels from Australia to England to America in the hope of realizing his dreams"

Australia? England? American?

To be honest manga examples like Hellsing tend also to stray away from the land of the rising sun but to be honest this was the first time for me to see a Japanese author handle a main character in this worldwide journey.

However I didn't buy it automatically since my wallet was almost dry but it didn't take me long to order it from the Internet, this gave me time to look up more information about the author. Her name is Natsume Ono and to this day I still don't know much about her, only that her works are a mixture of Drama and Yaoi and while i'm a male fan it doesnt put me off one bit.

One of my favorite manga's so far in my life

So after my order comes through I get it straight out and start to read through it, I had no idea what I was getting into, just from the brief description of the main character Ian and the tag line:

"A story within a story, a book within a book, a tale about the search for family, for an emotional home."

Its unique purposely strange sketched art and its take on today's big issues such as disease, cruelty, alcholism, family troubles all these issues gives it a very realistic Slice-of-life feel and makes the story gut wrenching at times (if not that it gave me the hand shakes with many emotions raging inside on how Ian is treated and how unfair his life is), I have done a proper review on not simple so look out for that.

A realistic world's take on manga is most likely why I like Nastume Ono so much, not that I dislike any fictional genre but to make a manga feel like it was real is a very big accomplishment and it could basically be my own view, someone is bound to find Not Simple's art ugly or depressing to look at and that's there opinion.

However not all of her works are full of sad stories, in early 2009 producer's David Productions turned Natsume's "Ristorante Paradiso" into an anime and was luckily available to watch on Crunchyroll (however it's since been removed). Again the story is set uniquely away from Japan and takes place in Italy on the streets of Rome, a popular restaurant consisting of middle aged men all wear glasses; because of this the customers find all of them charming not to mention the top class chef's that create fantastic food that bring them back to this place.

Like what "Not Simple" did with manga, "Ristorante Paradiso" feels unique and fresh with its excellent characters and colourful artwork to make it really feel like I'm in Italy and the story really builds the character development and succeeds in creating a captivating anime.

Late this year Viz has released her next manga series over here called "House Of Five Leaves" which takes place in the Japanese Edo Period, where a Shy Samurai called Akitsu Masanosuke can't find a job to protect clients, however once he encounters Yaichi who is the leader of the criminal house of The House of Five Leaves. Natsume shields this group who perform illegal acts of kidnapping in mystery for most of the first volume and its very exciting that way.

Can't wait for the next six volumes ^_^

So why did I create this blog post anyway?

Since Beez entertainment are releasing the anime version of House Of Five Leaves over in the UK and Viz licensing "La Quinta Camera " recently, it best that I get my appreciation for her out the way. I hope her fantastic stories continue to be translated so I can support her works.

Thank you Natsume Ono.

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