Lovefool 01.12.15 | Back and Forth

Reincarnation meets romance in Chika Shiomi’s new manga Yukarism.

 

 

[This week’s column was completed on Monday, and it is only due to your Fearless Editor’s issues with internet service and time management that it was not posted on that day. Regular service should return next week. —JG, FE]

It’s kind of weird how the world works, nerdlings. I am at my desk, on lunch for any bosses or boss-bosses who might be reading, and my friend just randomly brought up Ghost World and here I am, sitting down to write my tardy-to-the-party column. In my defense, it was a busy Saturday. And then all I wanted to do was sit around and read on Sunday. And also look at my omg brand new tattoo, which I got at a fundraiser that an artist at Iron Age was doing for Tenth Life. And poke at some stuff we got at Friendmas, our annual friend gift exchange. Combine all that with the weather, which I had to stare at in case I missed the moment in turned into freezing rain, and it was a recipe for non-productivity that may or may not be carrying over into Monday. Idk. We’ll see.
 
While I was flailing around on my couch yesterday, I managed to read a comic. I know, what heroic effort. Yukarism, VIZ Media’s new historical manga, is weird. But good-weird. It starts by introducing us to a child who was born without forgetting his past life, per a fortune teller consulted upon his birth, who later grows up to write beautiful works about Japan’s Edo period. I say “grows up” but he’s, like, 17 when we meet him and already an accomplished author. He tends to play truant from school, caught up in his work, but manages to slink in one day and meet a girl who helps him pick up a few manuscript pages that get caught in the wind. It turns out that she’s a fan, a bit more than a fan, and she later comes to his house thinking he’s not feeling well. They don’t exactly become friends, but Mahoro is around and Yukari is kind and actually seems to be paying some slight attention to all the things that make her the person that she is. Eventually, they touch and bam, he’s transported back into the life he didn’t quite manage to leave behind at birth.
 
And Mahoro is there and a girl they meet later is there and you were there, too! Except not really but Chika Shiomi’s art will make you feel like you were. It’s a beautiful book and it’s filled with wonderful details, despite Shiomi’s admitted lack of knowledge about the period at the start. She’s an experienced creator, having previously released Yurara and Rasetsu, so she finds her way quickly. Amusingly for us, though, her travails are documented in the included “Day In The Life” sidebar comics, but she doesn’t seem to miss a step in the work itself.
 
It doesn’t seem like it would be hard to, either. There’s a deft twist almost immediately that made me laugh in delight. We all know reincarnation tales can go incredibly awry in a number of fascinating ways, but this one seems to be off to a pretty solid start. The work’s title gave me some pause with the whole –ism overtones but there’s some fascinating insights into gender roles and Japanese history. And, of course, like any good story, there’s some magic and a bit of tension. Everyone’s in love with various versions of Yukari, it seems, or they just want to be around. None of those storylines come to any conclusions or even seem to have a hint of where they’re going so there’s plenty to look forward to in future volumes. In the meantime, there’s lots of gazing and sighing and beautiful lines and all those things that we read things like this for. It certainly brightened up my rainy Sunday. | Erin Jameson
 
To order a print or digital copy of Yukarism, visit http://www.viz.com/manga/print/yukarism-volume-1/11345.

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