Monday, September 20, 2010

Manga Monday: Gente

Natsume Ono

Gente is a new book from not simple creator Natsume Ono.  It's actually a book that examines characters from another book from her that was recently released through Viz's Signature line, Ristorante Paradiso.  In Ristorante Paradiso, the restaurant Casetta dell'Orso, in Rome, is already a hit, with a loyal clientele who come in droves to be waited on by the gentlemen in glasses.  Gente backs up the story of this chic place to dine to its humble beginnings.  As the owner opens its doors to the public, he hires waiters, establishes the trademark eyeglasses his waitstaff wears, and has to replace a chef who quits early on.  This book ends with the one-year anniversary of the restaurant's opening, getting all of the characters that readers have gotten to know over the course of the previous four short stories together in a nice little gathering celebration.  The art, of course, is fantastic.  We've come to expect this as a given when picking up an Ono manga, so it's hardly going to be a surprise to anyone that she maintains her storytelling prowess with thoughtful panel arrangements, keeping things fresh with her unique look.  But you can expect to enjoy a great story with Ono's books as well.  And what Ono does best is character studies, and she doesn't disappoint with her look into the lives of four characters from Ristorante Paradiso, effortlessly drawing out astute observations of human behavior and providing a glimpse of significant moments in every day life.  Ono doesn't have to pack a huge event into the lives of the people she depicts, but rather highlights the insecurities of her characters, or provides compelling dialogue, to tease out her scenes organically, resulting in a rich final product that's ultimately very rewarding.

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