Nut Ink. Mini reviews of texts old and new. No fuss. No plot spoilers. No adverts. Occasional competency.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Tropic of the Sea (2013)

Author: Satoshi Kon |  Illustrator: Satoshi Kon | Page Count: 236

"I don't get what just happened but I think it's your fault."

Satoshi Kon was a filmmaker.  What’s less well known in the West is that he also created manga that, in the case of Tropic of the Sea, wasn't readily available outside of Japan until now.  It was created for a weekly magazine in 1990.  This is the first time it’s been translated into English, but don’t get too excited because it’s nowhere near as good as his film work and the translation is even worse.  It was Kon’s first ever attempt at a serialised manga, and he wasn't at all pleased with the result.  He was under pressure to provide each episode on time, meaning the work was rushed; a state of affairs that’s evident during reading.

It’s a nature Vs industry morality tale with a little bit of the magical world thrown in; the kind of thing that Miyazaki does a million times better.  There’s almost nothing in the narrative to suggest that Kon would go on to become an auteur of such high calibre in the anime world.  The characterisation is slight, the pacing is languid and the depth rarely delves below surface deep, which is something that can be said to apply to the main protagonist, Yosuke, too.

It's Yosuke's job to protect a 60 year old Mermaid egg, just like it was his father's job before him, and his grandfather's before then.  Until now there's been very little to protect it from, but tourism is growing and small town traditions are meaningless to a property developer with a thirst for Yen.

Alongside some words from Kon, many of the covers from the original serialization are included at the end of the book.  I'm pleased about that but feel they would've been better placed as they were originally intended because their removal means there's no longer any indication when the story was structured to pause, which causes it to feel repeatedly broken.

2 buckets out of 5

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