Monday, May 02, 2011

Manga Monday: Hipira

Katsuhiro Otomo & Shinji Kimura

Hipira is more of a picture book than manga, but as it's written by Katsuhiro Otomo (Akira), I thought of it as close enough.  The artist, Shinji Kimura, has worked on plenty of art for anime, including Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro and the more recent Steamboy, which is where he met Katsuhiro Otomo, resulting in the production of this beautiful book.

Hipira is about a little boy vampire who lives in a city of vampires, Salta, where the sun never shines.  And together with his best friend, a little sprite named Soul, he gets into lots of mischief, including confronting a monster frog and climbing a strange vine produced by a meteorite.  This book isn't told with speech balloons, but rather with the words merely printed within the panels of the pages, speech and descriptive sentences alike, just like a picture book.  And as the language is very simple and nothing ever remotely scary happens, it's meant for those little kids who love monsters, much like I did when I was a little terror.

The real draw here, despite the pedigree of the writer, is the art.  Kimura's art is amazing.  It's very moody and Gothic, but ultimately very cartoony and whimsical, despite the dark color palette and constant shadows.  Kimura uses a scratch board style of art to illustrate the elaborate city scenes, the backgrounds, and of course, the characters, all with a beautiful blending of color.  This may not be the typical thing manga readers would buy for themselves, but if you've got little ones, this might be exactly the sort of thing you're looking for to share with them.

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