After a brief detour for my San Diego Comic-Con report and making my own doujinshi for Comitia 113, I’m finally back to reviewing doujinshi. As usual, I am concentrating on purely original creations, the equivalent of self-published minicomics in the west.
1. 追憶の森で (In the Forest of Reminiscence) by Kamei Usuyuki (circle: Usuyuki)
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A lone soldier dashes across a snowy plane to a crashed fighter plane. He finds the pilot largely unscathed, and instructs him to follow his footsteps back to a shelter, and promises to cover his back along the way. When the pilot berates him on rushing into such a dangerous situation all alone, he replies “I hear pilots are very costly.”
Several years later, Raura, the pilot, having been dismissed from the military, meets with his estranged friend Nora in a forest, where she leads him to an enemy plane abandoned at a nearby lake. Also dismissed, she has been working with a civilian company salvaging planes and other parts for the military. She asks him to help her out by flying the plane, an offer he briskly declines.
We soon learn the reason why he is hesitant to associate with the military: The rescue mission that saved him from the battlefield had not ended quite as well for the lone soldier.
Eventually, Nora manages to convince Raura to a test flight in one of their salvaged planes, and he meets another character whose fate he has affected in a profound way…
In the Forest of Reminiscence feels like the first chapter of a much bigger story. At the same time, the author manages to flesh out the main character’s background and emotional state extremely well in a very limited amount of pages, and offers a great chance to balance out his inner conflict in the final pages, ending on an up note.
The two protagonists’ relationship conveys the familiarity and deep understanding a decades-long friendship brings. Their way of speaking suggests that she might be a former subordinate, but Nora is clearly more at peace with her place in the world, making for fun dialogue between the two.
The art consists of single-width, scratchy lines that are very well placed, with very limited use of spot blacks and tones. It’s an art style that I enjoy quite a bit, and I felt this instance was very well executed. The characters’s simplified, squarish faces offer a great range of emotional responses, and the planes, while also greatly simplified, are pulled off nicely, conveying a sense of motion that wouldn’t be there if they were more truthfully rendered.
I also thought the way the author indicated time jumps (by inserting a narrow blank “panel”) was also very well executed.
I found out through a tweet by the author that it’s the 2nd part of a series, but it stands on its own very well.
In the Forest of Reminiscence has 23 story pages bound in a matte cover with a cloth-like texture, which is only black lines and blue background. It’s a very nice idea that I felt made the book look very classy and presented the art well (it caught my eye immediately when I saw it at Comic Zin). I got it for 617 Yen.
2. 人間ではない(Not Human) by Tatsumi (circle: Akatami)
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Not Human‘s protagonist is a teenage girl who starts her first-person narration with a tale about an exam she hat to take on her 7th birthday. We learn nothing about the contents, except for a single panel of the girl gazing at a screen, with a large helmet on, with cables sticking out in several directions, and the girl’s assertion that her parents were overjoyed when she passed the exam.
Several years later, the girl’s class teacher informs his pupils, very nonchalantly, that one of their peers has passed away, then immediately proceeding with the class, leaving the kids shellshocked and confused.
However, one year later, the protagonist suddenly encounters that same classmate, evidently alive and for some reason carrying a fireaxe. When she relates the incident to her family, her mother makes a panicked phone call before berating her daugher about responsibilities to society, saying her friend had reaped the results from “not doing what she was supposed to.”
Days later, the girl once more undertakes one of the mysterious “exams.” Upon completion, a man approaches her and guides her into a different room for a secondary exam, but promptly sedates her. When she comes too, she has cables attached to her head, and is informed she has just died…
Not Human is a Copy-book, a minicomic made from photocopies stapled together, and has only 6 inside story pages. Even the cover is simply a reproduction of the first page, making it evident that this book is meant more as a preview for an upcoming work, rather than a stand alone story. To underscore this, it ends with a definite “to be continued.”
Despite these limitations, Not Human sticks out for me because of the sheer quality of the artwork. Super detailed, expressive, and engaging, this is some of the highest quality art I have seen in a doujinshi.
Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find out a lot about the author. There is a website, but it’s extremely sparse and hasn’t been updated this year. I haven’t been able to find any social media or pixiv accounts, which is a shame because I liked this and would have liked to know more about the author. Unfortunately he (the website does list his gender) isn’t registered for Comitia this year, so I guess I’ll have to wait and see. I will update here once I find out more.
That’s it for today! Hope you enjoyed the read.
In for more? Make sure to check the category for books I have previously reviewed.
As always, I welcome feedback and interaction, so I’d be happy if you liked/reblogged, or even commented. Questions and suggestions are welcome!