Otsu-ichi. Calling You. Trans. Anges Yoshida and Django Wexler. Los Angeles: TOKYOPOP: 2007. Summary
: With illustrations by Hasami Miyako. Includes three short stories: "Calling You," "Kiz/Kids" (the title is a pun; kizu
means "wound" in Japanese), and "Flower Song." Comments
: What with all of the light novels that have been churned out from the manga presses lately, it's truly remarkable how...awful
most of them are. (And that's putting it generously!) But Calling You
, much to my delight, is one of the few that I can say, wholly without reservation, is actually enjoyable. All three short stories take what Westerners most to love about Japanese manga--the mystical, morally-ambiguous plot lines and a deep-set craving for human connection--and reproduces that in prose. The first two stories, the first about a solitary girl who calls people on her imaginary cell phone and the second about a little boy who takes on other peoples' wounds, literally, read like semi-literary shoujo manga. The third, on the other hand, approaches the status of myth: A woman who commits suicide gives birth to a flower that restores hope to a protagonist who turns out to be a woman in a similar situation. (Really.) But what seals the deal for this book is it's deceptively simple yet luminous language; the short, declarative sentences were easy to translate convincingly, and Django Wexler's adaptation reads with acres more naturalness and grace than any of TOKYOPOP's Pop Fiction offerings thus far. Notes
: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Kadokawa Shoten in 2001 Rating
- Poignant stories, pleasant prose, lovely illustrations--a pleasure in every respect. Highly recommended.