- Hardcover: 240 pages
- Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly (24 November 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9781897299869
- ISBN-13: 978-1897299869
- ASIN: 1897299869
- Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 2.3 x 22.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #7,45,353 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Red Snow Hardcover – 24 Nov 2009
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About the Author
Born in 1943 in Ishinomaki in northeastern Japan, SUSUMU KATSUMATA died in 2007.
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Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I'm a retired guy who's been reading a lot of manga because there's a lot available online. 90 percent of manga is just fun stories for teenagers and young adults: magic fantasies, epic battles either made-up or from Japanese history, discreet love stories, lots of humor. These are fun for me because the drawing is often so good, and because every once in a whole a creator of these stories reaches far beyond fun. This is one of those cases. The drawing is cute. The events are realistic depictions of rural life of the past. But the people, ah the people! They are lovable and full of feelings and the author renders them and their difficulties and struggles with great insight and gentleness and the conveyance of their unspoken emotions with symbols well chosen.
As the blurb on the back of the book truly says. "While the world [the rural characters] inhabit has faded into memory and myth, the universal fundamental emotions of the human heart prevail at the center of these tender stories."
In particular, this male author has the great gift of knowing and depicting the feelings of women in the situations presented.
What you'll get inside are ten splendid short stories, set in a rural, pre-modern Japan of hard, snow-covered winters, where the natural and the supernatural, such as ghosts or kappa creatures, can still sometimes mingle together, although, whenever they appear in the book, these beings are on the retreat, the remains of a vanishing past. The protagonists are toiling peasants, travelling monks, sake brewers, and lots of boys and girls facing the adult world at the terrible age of 12-13.
Let's take a look at some of the tales. We have, for instance, "Torajiro Kappa", in which a kappa is persuaded by a young kid to interfere in a case of a husband that beats his wife whenever he's drunk. In "Wild Geese Memorial Service" a young man who gets lost in a snowstorm is rescued by a local farmer, and is found to bear an uncanny resemblance to his (very attractive and widowed) daughter's late husband. In "Mulberries" a boy and a girl share the pains of puberty, their attraction to each other disguised as childish pigtail-pulling hostility. A traveling monk has a rather explicit dream involving "The Dream Spirit" after having too much sake and sleeping in too crowded common rooms at the local inn. The girl that works scrubbing the floors at the inn at the hot springs in "Cricket Hill", is getting old enough to hear suggestions about getting more involved in entertaining the male clientèle of the establishment.
The drawing style is simple (these guys didn't have an army of assistants to do their bidding) yet beautiful and evocative. The first page of "Specter" is a lyrical 3-1-3 panel evocation of the arrival of spring, when blind traveling musicians came to bring a little entertainment to the people in the villages. Although "Now, it was just old Otora who'd come by the hot springs alone".
At the end of the book, we find an interview with the author, that appeared originally in the Japanese edition of Red Snow, and a short essay about his life and career, first published in a Korean manga magazine (that's where my "knowledge" about the life and work of the author comes from, by the way :p). The typography work is excellent, as we've come to expect from D&Q (nothing like the arial or comic sans horrors of French publishers.) Sadly, the paper is nowhere as good and heavy as in the compilations of Yoshihiro Tatsumi's short stories, and this is the only fault i can find in this wonderful book.
This book is a gem, one of the few comic collections I would keep to read over and over again. Very highly recommended!