I came to this series in a roundabout way, having enjoyed the anime Your Lie in April and looking for similarly styled dramas.
I was suspicious at firI came to this series in a roundabout way, having enjoyed the anime Your Lie in April and looking for similarly styled dramas.
I was suspicious at first, mainly because the setup has the feel of an after-school special. Shoyo is a charismatic but vindictive pre-teen living with his older sister and single mother. Shoko, the new transfer student in his elementary school class, can't hear. Unable to cope with Shoko's special needs and unrelenting good nature, Shoyo begins a litany of abuses that eventually change both their lives forever.
I'm usually wary of "ripped from the headlines" stories. Creator Yoshitoki Oima won me over, though, by largely avoiding overt sentimentality and easy messages. Instead, Oima offers a realistic portrait (and gentle condemnation) of the culture that leads to such situations. A dozen small decisions, from the complicit nature of Shoyo's friends to the aloofness of their teacher, contribute to the escalation.
As the book description indicates, this volume ends with Shoyo on a mission to presumably make amends. I'm looking forward to seeing how Oima handles the hard work he has ahead in volume 2....more
This is one of those "all-ages" books that's actually worthy of the description.
In these short stories, Venus navigates her friendship with the reserThis is one of those "all-ages" books that's actually worthy of the description.
In these short stories, Venus navigates her friendship with the reserved Yoshio, competition with the unapologetic Glinda, and stress of educating her young sister Marie. The continuity-free stories and compact size of the collection also make this a great book for sharing with younger readers (while showing off the beauty of Gilbert's individual panels).
It's hard to imagine that fans of Gilbert's more mature work won't appreciate this one as well. There are some clever metafictional call-backs, including a dazzling dream sequence at the end. More importantly, though, the book showcases Beto's impressive talent for depicting childhood in all its wonder....more
Even a brief summary of this volume's plot (or of L&R in general, really) would make it sound hopeless soap-operatic. And sure, it is that—but it'Even a brief summary of this volume's plot (or of L&R in general, really) would make it sound hopeless soap-operatic. And sure, it is that—but it's also visually dazzling, playful, moving, uplifting, and heartbreaking.
All of the stories in this collection are pretty short (some no more than a page). Even so, chances are you'll walk away with a profound empathy for each one of the book's large cast of characters. This is where Luba's half-sisters Fritz and Petra start to become really fascinating as Beto relates singular tales of high school woe and adult misadventures. Petra's pre-teen daughter Venus steals the show, though.
Gilbert has always had a knack for making his youngest characters' perspectives feel real. Even a simple trip to the comic shop can have momentous importance, and he's not afraid to build a story around those basic pleasures. After all, they never last as long as you'd hope, especially with some of the parents in this book. That being said, don't share this one with your kids—check out The Adventures of Venus for that....more