365 Days of Manga, Day 63: Red Colored Elegy


RED COLORED ELEGY (Akairo Elegy “Red Colored Elegy”) (??????) • Seiichi Hayashi • Drawn and Quarterly (2008) • Seirinkogeisha (Garo, 1970-1971) • 1 volume • Underground Romantic Drama • Unrated/16+ (adult themes, nudity, sexual situations)
Challenging on both a visual and emotional level, this classic underground manga about a relationship between two young adults was immortalized in Japan as a popular love song by musician Morio Agata. 20-year-old Ichiro, a boy with long girlish hair, works as an animator but wants to draw comics; he falls in love with a fellow animator, Sachiko, and they move in together, in a ratty room with a single futon and a swaying lamp. They drink and argue and laugh and dance, but gradually life comes between them, though they cling together for comfort in the dark. As a tale of young love and despair, Red Colored Elegy compares favorably to works such as Craig Thompson’s Blankets but looks like it could have been published in Raw magazine; with its often free-associative imagery and disjointed narrative, it’s not an easy read. But Hayashi’s almost shapeless human figures convey emotion and vulnerability in every line, and at moments such as the one when Ichiro buries himself in his work thinking “Just draw…just draw…just draw!” the heartbreaking power rewards the determined reader.
This is one of the most powerful manga stories I’ve ever read, but it was hard to get into it — at first, I wasn’t even sure whether it was supposed to read right-to-left or left-to-right. But once you get into the flow, it’s unforgettable. It’s definitely a “mature” title, though, not in terms of sexual content but in terms of the emotional situations.
Today’s winner is Sarah G. of New York. Congratulations, Sarah! We’ve also got a photo from another winner, Ricardo!
Ricardo, thanks for the awesome blog post talking about the glories of “Slam Dunk.” I agree with you 100%! I’ll do my best to send you five more manga which are equally delicious! Thanks for entering the contest, and I hope you win any other contests you enter, so that you can live entirely off your contest winnings like the Japanese TV show victim — I mean contestant — Nasubi!