Monday, September 08, 2008

Manga Monday: Red Colored Elegy

Red Colored Elegy
Seiichi Hayashi
Red Colored Elegy is a beautiful hardcover book from Drawn & Quarterly, collecting Seiichi Hayashi's work from 1970 - 1971. At 235 pages, it's a pretty brisk read, and I'm not sure about that $25 pricetag, but this book does look gorgeous on the bookshelf. The story follows a young couple who struggle to make ends meet, one of whom (Ichiro) is an artist who wishes to make a living off of his work, but seems to make compromises and do other forms of artwork other than what he's passionate about, for the sake of having art as his occupation. He's also not a very likable character. He can be sweet and loving and playful, but he gets depressed and takes things out on his lover Sachiko, saying things he doesn't mean, and pushing her into the arms of other men. Through all of this, Ichiro's father dies and he has a hard time dealing with his grief. The art in Red Colored Elegy is really simple for the most part, but every once in awhile, Hayashi will have a page with an elaborate illustration. I'm not sure why exactly, to be honest, and it kind of turned me off, but not enough to take away from the rest of the experience. I usually do like a little more structure than what is offered in this book, and if the creator is going to offer something a little more abstract, I want it to be evocative and atmospheric or something. I think Hayashi did just that. His choice of making the story more non-linear actually worked in this book's favor to give it a certain tone overall. Red Colored Elegy was depressing and the characters felt out of control of their lives, and that's kind of how it felt reading this book. Sure, the characters may be a little difficult to make sense of, but they did feel very real. I'm sure this type of book isn't for everyone, but I think that reading should bring you to new places, sometimes uncomfortable, difficult ones. And while Red Colored Elegy isn't a fun read, it is worthwhile.

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