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Red Colored Elegy

3.45  ·  Rating Details ·  387 Ratings  ·  71 Reviews
A true cornerstone of the Japanese underground scene of the 1960s


Seiichi Hayashi produced Red Colored Elegy between 1970 and 1971, in the aftermath of a politically turbulent and culturally vibrant decade that promised but failed to deliver new possibilities. With a combination of sparse line work and visual codes borrowed from animation and film, the quiet, melancholy liv
...more
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published July 22nd 2008 by Drawn and Quarterly (first published January 1st 2000)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Troy
Mar 01, 2009 Troy rated it it was amazing
Shelves: comics, read-in-2009
This deserves both 5 stars and 2 stars.

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I just finished Nate Powell's Swallow Me Whole which was a fantastic combination of comics experimentation and narrative, but Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy takes experimentation in comics to another level. As such, the narrative is nearly completely lost, and the reader is forced to put far more work into filling the gaps and crafting a story. This is comics as mood and not as story; comics as odd juxtapositions and dramatic
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Anthony Vacca
Apr 21, 2016 Anthony Vacca rated it liked it
Even in a Japanese underground comic from 1970 the familiar story of inconstant and angst-ridden twenty-something lovers trying to "make it" as artists feels pedestrian. Nifty use of jump-cuts à la Nouvelle Vague and other free-wheeling forms of expressionistic hijinks. Recommended only for teenagers or you odd souls who have crossed the threshold of twenty and still think the anemic likes of Garden State, Donnie Darko and Requiem for a Dream are any good. (You should get out more.)
Anina
Dec 03, 2008 Anina rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic-novels
I liked this but I don't really know why as it was incredibly confusing.
Trane
Dec 08, 2009 Trane rated it it was amazing
Shelves: manga-and-comics
Seiichi Hayashi's Red Colored Elegy is one of the saddest and most beautiful comics I've read in a long time. The story is so simple that there's almost no story at all — in fact, the book is almost anti-narrative in form — but the basic 'plot' involves a young comic artist and his girlfriend, who is an animator. They're broke, living together, and trying to think about their future (as individuals, together), a future that's stuck through-and-through with the knives of family obligation, econom ...more
Michael Scott
Aug 12, 2013 Michael Scott rated it did not like it
Red Colored Elegy is a graphic novel about the anguish of twenty-somethings facing the modern (1970s) society. Set in Japan, the novel features a man who strives to make manga drawing his trade and his rather confused girlfriend. It could be a universal, timeless love story, made more earthly by the need to find money and the psychological drama of understanding one's self.

Overall, I was not particularly touched by this material. I did not find it graphically or dramatically appealing, or though
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Bryce Holt
Aug 30, 2011 Bryce Holt rated it it was ok
There are illustrations inside here that are stop-you-in-your-tracks phenomenal. You just stumble upon them the same way you observe a piece by Dali or Brancusi that's tucked in some forgettable corner of an art gallery. It's a pretty awesome moment when that happens.

Then there is the rest of the story which is a struggle to get through. Anyone who has been...oh, say...15 years old, have had the angst-riddled relationship that persists throughout this book. The difference is that they typically
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Dov Zeller
Apr 17, 2015 Dov Zeller rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphics-comics
One tumultuous relationship gathered in a dizzying confluence of artistic, comic and and emotional modes.

What can two young artists do when they are unable to make their relationship work but don't know how to let go? They cry, they draw, they throw tantrums and a few other things. They act like children but must face the consequences as adults.

This is a coming of age story in which the coming of that age never comes, both in terms of character, form and era. We never were truly innocent and a
...more
Kira
May 20, 2009 Kira rated it it was ok
Shelves: comics
didn't like it, even though Seiichi Hayashi is one of my favorite illustrators. but I gave it one more star for at least trying to do something different. I think it was a little outdated in its stylistic
experimentation.. like it was trying to do early modernism all over
again, but from the 1970s. I think that the piecemeal (parts looking silkscreened, some futurist-looking experiments) borrowing kept it from being aesthetically convincing. I wasn't moved by the story and I also
didn't find it int
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Abraham
Nov 22, 2010 Abraham rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel
Does the world really need another beautifully written graphic novel about a mildly privileged graphic novelist who is crippled by self-pity and depressive inaction to the point of alienating all those around him? WTF? It seems like every other graphic novel you find is like this - completely unsympathetic self-pitying protagonists who appear to be foils for the author himself. It's not a story I'm particularly interested in, and I wonder if it is a massive reaction to the history of comics bein ...more
Tosh
May 12, 2009 Tosh rated it really liked it
A very bitter-sweet book that is more about Tokyo circ. 1968 or the youth quake revolution seen through the eyes of a young couple and their up and downs. Very cool and the graphic style is very seductive.
Mariano Lastiri
May 12, 2016 Mariano Lastiri rated it liked it
Akairo Elegy (o Elegía Roja según la edición española) es una experiencia muy difícil de describir y a veces de entender.
Sin duda, es un relato que es más comparable con los experimentos cinematográficos de la época (Sobre todo en el cine europeo), que lo que sucedía en aquel momento en el terreno del noveno arte en el país del sol naciente en aquellos lejanos setentas.
Hayashi le es ajeno a las convenciones tradicionales del manga y narra una historia muy chiquita en base a una imaginario entre
...more
Chadwick
Oct 23, 2008 Chadwick rated it it was amazing
Holy motherfucking shit. This is amazing.

So, it's just a story about a Japanese hipster couple in the 70s, being broke, fucking, fighting, breaking up and getting back together. Sometimes it's touching. Sometimes it makes me feel shitty about all of the awful things I've ever done in a relationship.

And then I turn the page, and I just can't do anything but bug out my eyes at how damned good Hayashi is. He moves in and out of different styles with a bewildering fluency. The bulk of the dialogs b
...more
Zane Robertson
Jul 31, 2014 Zane Robertson rated it it was amazing
I've been wanting to get more into reading comics. I'm more of a gamer, but when I got a book called 1001 comics to read before you die, I flipped through it, and many caught my eye, the first one I searched for on Amazon was Red Colored Elegy. It stood out to me because the description, that being about a young couple starting a life together (to put it simply), seemed relevant to me, and the art seemed unique. I couldn't have predicted however, the essence of this graphic novel.

It's true, if y
...more
Alexander
Jan 23, 2009 Alexander rated it liked it
Inscrutable... I think I liked it, though. Maybe I'm missing something because of a mistranslation or a lack of cultural context. Some of the artwork is wonderful: a seabird falling into the waves, a crying moon.

I probably need to read this a few more times to appreciate it. Not a book that lends itself to a casual skim-through.
Arf
Feb 20, 2016 Arf rated it it was amazing
we the passing of Andrzej Zulawski last week, this was the perfect thing to read...
Stephen Douglas Rowland
Dec 13, 2016 Stephen Douglas Rowland rated it it was amazing
Just beautiful! Probably the best and most unique manga I've ever read.
kathryn
Feb 23, 2017 kathryn rated it liked it
Shelves: graphic
I had little idea what was happening.but I loved the graphics..both indoors and out
David Schaafsma
Mar 28, 2016 David Schaafsma rated it really liked it
I am a person who would have read works of literature like this and seen films like this IN 1971, when Hayashi produced it, so I liked this a lot. I warn you, though: Almost everyone else on Goodreads doesn't seem to like it. Why? Because not much happens. Two vague people who are not sure what they want out of life kind of wander episodically throughout life, not sure how to communicate with each other. Lying around, smoking. Trying to decide what to do with their lives, with their relationship ...more
Aaron
Sep 15, 2014 Aaron rated it liked it
I admit that I'm not even close to well read in manga, so I don't understand the cultural significance of this or what exactly it added to/challenged the genre with. But anyway: okay, so you're experimenting with form. Okay. Okay, so you're constructing not a cohesive time-based narrative, but an emotional one. Okay. Okay, so German expressionism. Okay. Okay, so nouvelle vague. Okay.

Style only goes so far. I found some pieces of this to be mildly touching, but overall I don't think the experime
...more
Penelope
Jul 22, 2011 Penelope rated it it was ok
I was underwhelmed by this book. I think I was expecting something a little more profound but really it's just the story of an artist and his girlfriend and the ups and downs of their relationship and careers (with a little death thrown in for good measure...er...I mean, tragedy). Stylistically I thought it was pretty interesting and I liked the variety of illustration styles. The portions of mostly visual story-telling are well drawn and nuanced; I felt like those portions held a lot more emoti ...more
Kate
Apr 01, 2012 Kate added it
Shelves: 2012
I didn't get a lot out of this, unfortunately. Maybe I read it too quickly? There are some lovely drawings, but the whole thing felt slight, especially in such a substantial, nicely-designed package. But then I felt like comparing this to something like A Drifting Life or Moto Hagio's A Drunken Dream, which have so much to them that it feels criminal to pay just $35/$25. Whereas this is $25 and felt like not much. When it comes to some D&Q books sometimes I think, "Who buys these?!" because ...more
Kaarin
Oct 16, 2010 Kaarin rated it really liked it
Shelves: graphic-novel
A beautiful graphic novel. Be willing to just go along with the flow, though. If you come in wanting to understand everything that is going on you will easily be frustrated. The narrative comes in and floats out. The reader can get a basic idea of what is going on, but must be flexible to where the story is going. It was written in the early seventies in Japan and makes a number of pop culture references that I didn't quite catch. But, the underlying story about love, loss, and trying to find a ...more
Emilia P
Oct 14, 2008 Emilia P rated it it was ok
Shelves: comic-books
I wanted to like you so hard little book.
I would give the cover 5 stars, but the story was stilted (I think that was the point?) and the art was stilted (also, maybe the point) and the dialogue was stilted (translation issues?) and I had no idea what was going on--was something going on?
I bet it was going for a mood with all of this, but I really do need to have one of those things be smooth. Sorry, this book.

The little emo picture of the author right after the last page of the book did not help
...more
Adam
Jun 11, 2009 Adam rated it did not like it
tale of disturbed early stage adults. the expression of suffering is severely hampered by the poor quality of art and extreme lack of cohesive narrative. in some panels the art is quite good and makes it all the more confusing that the rest is treated w/ such utter nonchalance. on a whole the art comes across as not so much stylistic, but lazy. The narrative which i'm sure is meant to represent tumult leaves the reader w/ very little to go on and also very little reason to want to figure things ...more
Andrew
Apr 28, 2016 Andrew rated it it was ok
Shelves: graphic-novel

I don't really know what I just read. I give this two stars instead of one because some of the art, particularly scenery, was very beautiful. But to call this book abstract isn't enough; these feel like random pages of a life in no order or any way to understand much of what's going on. The scenes are constantly shifting, and (to me) not in a good way...


It's as the GR description says, about a couple who both love and struggle with eachother, but that's it. You don't even really get a feel for t

...more
Dionisia
I agree with another reviewer that stated, "This is comics as mood and not as story..." That pretty much sums up in toto exactly how I felt about this work. Lots of angst with almost no narrative structure to speak of.

Curious side effect: After reading this book, I spent the rest of my evening singing along to old 90's R&B songs. Dru Hill, Silk, Xscape, Something for the People....
David Balfour
Jan 30, 2014 David Balfour rated it really liked it
One of those angsty, self-absorbed, lonely young people stories that are so popular in the American underground. It completely lacks the poignancy of something like Clowes' Ghost World though. That said, the artwork is gorgeous. I can see that Suehiro Maruo has been heavily influenced by Hayashi, so if you want to see this art style applied to much more interesting narratives - and you're not too squeamish - give him ago.
Bria
Dec 22, 2014 Bria rated it it was ok
I just happened across this artist a few days ago, and really liked what I saw, so I was delighted when this book was at the library when I stopped by for my semi-annual comic book/graphic novel binge. However, it didn't seem to have much in common with the art I had seen online, and I was not at all motivated to put in the enormous effort it seemed to require to follow what on earth was supposed to be going on.
scarlettraces
May 02, 2009 scarlettraces rated it really liked it
i admired rather than liked Red Colored Elegy - i always find older manga art takes some getting used to, and this is more angsty than most - but it was fascinating just for the context and period in which it was written. i'm extremely glad drawn and quarterly are publishing this kind of literary manga.
Kobeest
Jun 21, 2009 Kobeest rated it liked it
an interesting look back to the early underground scene in Japan. not much of a story here but if one of the goals of comics is to allow for closure within the individual reader this works. of course that opens things up for a huge continuum of criticism...read it slowly with thoughts of working out a relationship early in life.
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