Monday, December 13, 2010

Manga Monday: Ayako

Osamu Tezuka

Ayako is another compelling page-turning thriller from Tezuka, written in the early 70's with plenty of post-WWII commentary.  Beautifully illustrated as usual, Tezuka's latest US release sees a family's slow downward spiral into ruin, beginning when son Jiro returns from the war, where he was a POW, to witness strange behavior in his family.  His new young "sister," Ayako, eventually witnesses something that the family wants to keep secret so that the family name isn't tarnished, and it is decided that she be confined to the cellar until she dies, and is pronounced dead and buried by the family physician before the police can question her.  Ayako lives longer than expected and when in her twenties, she is released from her prison, but is emotionally unready for the world she ventures into as a young woman.  There are a lot of complex characters in this book, mostly members of Ayako's family, most of whom harbor horrible secrets and guilty consciences.  All of the different plot threads come together for a very satisfying story, with a stunning finale that sees many of the duplicitous individuals getting their just deserts.  The story can kind of meander, with perhaps some aspects of the story unnecessary to the whole, but for the most part, it's all pretty vital to the story at large - it just goes to some strange and unexpected places.  If you can say anything about his book, it's that you can't really predict what's going to happen next.  There are a lot of mature themes throughout this book, from sexual crimes to plenty of murder and intrigue, not to mention the nudity, so that 16+ rating that Vertical slapped on this book isn't for show.  It's actually rather appropriate to have a cover with a naked woman, and the dangling feet of a person who's been hung on the back cover.  But if you don't mind the dark subject matter, you're in store for a family saga unlike any other.

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