Tamura MMF: Link Round-Up (3)

Sorry for the odd formatting; typing this round-up on a taxi on my way to the airport.

Melinda at Manga Bookshelf tackles one of the central characters of Basara, the Blue King Asagi, and his resemblance to a certain blond Harry Potter character.

Sara K. is lucky enough to read 7Seeds in traditional Chinese, so she lists down how this title has numerous similarities with Basara.

Ash at Experiments in Manga follows up with the review of the second volume of Chicago.

Tamura MMF: Link Round-Up (2)

Ash reviews Chicago: The Book of Self, picking up on the volume’s quirky charm and supernatural coincidences: “Chicago can be a little over-the-top, ridiculous, and unbelievable, but ultimately I found the first volume to be a fun read.”

And I guess we both had Chicago on the brain since I also wrote up my own take on the first volume, focusing on how Tamura connects beauty and chaos as complementary yet contrasting elements in her story.

 

Beauty and Grit in Tamura’s Chicago

Chicago begins with fire and crisis. Two members of the Self-Defense Force Rescue Squad Four, Rei and Uozumi, rush in to save any survivors. Amidst the smoke and the dead bodies, they’re surprised to hear the strains of a familiar melody, the Fourth movement of Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9 in E Minor — better known as “From the New World.”

It’s a melody that becomes a repeating theme — both in the musical and in the narrative sense — throughout the first volume.

It’s a tune that Uozumi notices doesn’t fit with the destruction that surrounds them. Seconds later, they hear the ominous sound of a plane and then bombs. In Chicago, this juxtaposition of the beautiful and the gritty is common. The nightclub itself is another example of this: it’s classic and “looks like it attracts a fine clientele” but as soon as they enter, the figures hidden in the shadows don’t necessarily look too respectable. Rei herself is the same way: she comes off as tough, seasoned by the harsh demands of the job, but at the same time, she’s a calendar/pin-up model.

The Dvorak symphony comes up again two more times: when they’re looking for Billy, the kidnapped boy, in the first hideout; and then once again when they move Billy and when Rei finds herself trapped in the room with the explosives. In the second instance, I find it was extremely clever that Uozumi used the length of the movement to figure out how much time he had left. He knew that the movement typically lasts around ten minutes, but that particular arrangement was slowed down, giving him an additional two minutes to escape.

Looking at Uozumi, you initially wouldn’t think that he would be such a connoisseur of classicial music. He looks and sounds like the classic warrior; even with bombs dropping above their heads, he wouldn’t miss the opportunity to tell Rei how much the situation reminded him of his experiences in Somalia, Rwanda, and Iraq. Yet, in prison, he’s that guy playing the cello, practically lulling the guards with his rendition of Concierto de Aranjuez.

Chicago exemplifies what I adore about Tamura’s works: it’s terse, yet manages to still toe the balance between action and characterization. Rei and Uozumi (and later Shin) find themselves in dangerous situations, where’s somebody’s bound to possibly lose a limb or two. The page of the three of them floating in the air just after they jumped off the plane was absolutely gorgeous. I could practically hear the air whooshing in my ears. The first volume alone is as packed with guns and bombs as any summer blockbuster movie. Yet at the same time, throughout all the noise, we still hear Rei. We hear her confusion and  her loneliness. We hear Billy and his fear about never reaching his dream and about being too scared to face his dream even as the chance offers itself.

If Yumi Tamura can build this world in one volume, now imagine what she can do with twenty-six more.

Tamura MMF: Link Round-Up (1)

Anna N. posted a round-up of her reviews of Chicago and volumes 1-12 of Basara. The cello technique critique is among the reasons why I adore manga bloggers and their (our?) attention to detail.

Personally, I have to say thank you to the person who first drew my attention to Basara, Shaenon K. Garrity.  Way back in 2006, when everyone was on Livejournal, she wrote this piece featuring Basara as part of her Overlooked Manga Festival; several years later she would write this piece for Jason Thompson’s House of 1000 Manga column on ANN. When I read the livejournal post, I remember being impressed that somebody who actually worked on the book actually coming out and professing their love for the manga that they’re working on. Back then, that was such a novel idea; there wasn’t as much access to the manga publishers or to the various editorial departments, so Shaenon writing and openly fangirling about Basara became the nudge for me to order the books and fall in love with them myself.

That’s why I never underestimate the power of blogging and social media. Without livejournal, without Shaenon, I would have never known about this amazing manga and its equally incredible creator…and my life would’ve been so much sadder now.

Welcome to the Yumi Tamura Moveable Manga Feast

Welcome to the May 2013 Moveable Manga Feast. I am Anna, your host, and I’m happy to feature one of my favorite manga creators, Yumi TAMURA, as the focus of this month’s feast.

2013 is a milestone year for Tamura: in 1983, she debuted with her short story Ore-tachi no Zettai Jikan (“This is the Time for Us”) and won the Shogakukan Grand Prize for new artists in the same year. Ten years later, in 1993, she won the Shogakukan Manga award for best shojo manga for Basara. Ten years after that, in 2003, she won the Shogakukan Manga for best shojo manga award yet again for 7Seeds.

As of this writing, three of her works have been published in English: Basara, Chicago, and Wild Com.

For this week, various members of the manga community will be posting their thoughts on Tamura’s works. I have a particular fondness for Basara, so I apologize beforehand if my posts will be more skewed to that series more than the others.

If you would like to submit your own review or post to be included in the daily link round-ups, comment below or tag your post #TamuraMMF on twitter or tumblr. Older reviews are welcome as well. Let’s celebrate the Yumi Tamura love!