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The Asian ApertureTatsumi
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, March 16, 2014    Share

There are numerous worlds waiting to be drawn and fleshed out by creative minds that evoke poetry through images that have depth and soul. One such creative mind is the manga artist Tatsumi Yoshihiro, who is a pioneer of the gekiga style. Gekiga is akin to the graphic novel and is intended for adult readers because it is in contrast to children’s manga. Tatsumi’s most famous work is the banned work called A Drifting Life about Tatsumi’s own life and is a bitter sweet. Tatsumi is an animated movie that is able to retain the flavor of manga without being anime.

Tatsumi shows the young artist drawing pictures while his sick brother grows increasingly jealous. Such is the childhood of the talented and gifted. He recalls the horrors of Hiroshima when he went out and took pictures with his camera and the nightmares the aftermath of the atomic bomb brought with it. Beaming with joy he met his longtime hero and the God of Manga, Tezuka Osamu. He shared an apartment with other manga artists and saw his work serialized in newspapers and eventually they were collected in book form called tankobon.

Tatsumi weaves biographical narrative between short manga works such as Hell, Beloved Monkey, Just a Man, Good-Bye, and Occupied that is never boring. The viewer is able to experience the emotional roller-coaster and day-to-day struggles of an artist with a focused vision who just wishes to create and exist.

This is a close as any film has gotten to explore the reality of the manga artist. Along with the freedom to create comes the problem of keeping readers engaged. Tatsumi loses his children readers and is forced to reinvent himself with the adult reader as his new goal. He succeeds at this endeavor. In fact, one particularly striking scene shows a mature Tatsumi in his 70’s inside a manga café. A little girl is reading manga appropriate from kids and not one of his titles. He takes a stroll through the café and sees all the adults reading his books, nodding to them as he walks past.

Tatsumi invokes an overwhelming sadness in the viewer that lingers on as the quiet classical music gently plays. Yet, it is not an unwanted sadness rather you want to see Tastumi keep doing what he does best, which is drawing, even as he is now a senior citizen and is up against time and he is still filled with tremendous amounts of creativity that is poured onto his pencil drawings. He still has good stories to tell.

Tatsumi is a Singaporean production that was animated in Indonesia with Japanese voice actors.

Currently streaming on Netflix and should be required viewing for anyone with any interest at all in manga and anime.

Highly Recommended

5 out of 5 Stars

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2014 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2014 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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