365 Days of Manga, Day 161: Voiceful

 

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VOICEFUL • nawoko • Seven Seas Entertainment (2008) • Sun Magazine/Ichijinsha (Yuri Shimai/Yuri Hime, 2004-2006) • 1 volume • Yuri Romance • 13+ (mild sexual situations)
Kanae is a withdrawn girl who stays at home all the time, listening to the music of her “goddess,” the also-reclusive teenage internet musician Hina. One day when Kanae summons the courage to leave the house, the two girls randomly run into eachother on the street, and Kanae impulsively says “I love you!” However, Voiceful is a story of friendship more than attraction, a tale of two troubled souls who find that they have something in common. The art is delicate and wisftul, and the platonic relationship is nicely handled, but the lack of overt drama or romance makes it an insubstantial read at graphic novel length.
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Looking back over my review of Voiceful (I wrote this one back in 2008), I end up thinking about my tastes in manga. There are manga of incredible subtlety, but on the whole, I have a preference for manga which are more over-the-top and emotional, which wear their hearts on their sleeves. In other words, I like “Otaku no Video” more than “Genshiken,” and I like Rie Takada more than Hisaya Nakajo. To me, dating back to my original days as a shy nerd watching the “Maison Ikkoku” anime, manga has always been a way to say and experience things I didn’t dare see in real life; it’s always been bout expressing emotion, not repressing it. I do enough repressing on my own.
So, although it’s not just a matter of increasing the volume and making everything louder to the point of incoherence, I generally tend towards manga which are more vigorous and passionate (whether shojo or shonen, and whatever their topic). Shinji Ikari from “Evangelion” is a great character and is one-of-a-kind, but I’m tired of his third-generation spawn, of all the endless stories about hikikomori and lonely, miserable, brooding introverts. (Although I myself have my own emo, Goth side too, being particularly in love with “depressing city” stories of the Brazil/Eraserhead/Kafka/Dark City type, and doomed romances — but *excitingly* doomed romances.) “Those who love life do not read,” wrote Michel Houllebecq (in his book on famed misanthrope H.P. Lovecraft), perhaps indicating that sitting at home and reading a book about crazy thrilling adventures is, at heart, no different than sitting and home and reading a book about a gloomy shut-in. At the moment, the introvert manga seems to be growing in number — are all these stories just a dollar-driven way to market stories as the manga market contracts into a core audience of sad nerds, or is there more to it? In any case, I can be sure that at least I’m expressing my personal preference, and my preference is for more over-the-top, active stories. They don’t have to be any less subtle than quiet stories, after all; just because something is slow-paced and quiet doesn’t make it deep, and subtlety doesn’t have to come softly, it can sweep into a story like the sudden rush of wind left by a fast-moving car, hitting just an instant after the car passes.
Today’s winner is Mike C. of Pennsylvania — congratulations, Mike! And here’s a photo of one of our previous winners:
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That winner was Steve C. Thanks for posting your photo, Steve! I’m glad you liked “Skull Man”! Unfortunately that’s all the volumes I have of “Skull Man” and “Stone,” so I’ll have to send you something else for your next batch. But I’ll do my best to send you something good!

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