- Paperback: 144 pages
- Publisher: Ponent Mon, S.L.; 2nd ed. edition (3 July 2003)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 8493309346
- ISBN-13: 978-8493309343
- Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 1.2 x 24.3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 1 customer review
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,551,695 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Yukiko's Spinach Paperback – 3 Jul 2003
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About the Author
Top customer reviews
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Frederic Boilet, a Frenchman resident in Japan for some years, accomplishes several novel and interesting things in Yukiko's Spinach:
He brings the Franco-Belgian style of comics ("Bande Dessinee") to the Japanese manga genre, replacing the extreme stylization of manga (for example, the absurdly round eyes and exaggerated expressions) with the more realistic and closely-observed style of drawing typical of the B.D. tradition.
Conversely, he adopts the Japanese manga's focus on story, particularly stories of everyday life and everyday emotions, rejecting the focus on the extra-ordinary and the bizarre common in the European/American comic tradition.
But, perhaps more importantly, he displays a dizzying skill at constructing his stories in a non-linear fashion. In particular, he plays wondrously with the notion of TIME: events are not depicted in the order in which they occur in the real world, but in the order in which they juxtapose themselves in the emotional world. Doing this in a comprehensible and affecting way is a tremendous challenge, and Boilet has succeeded admirably. Premonition, memory, anticipation, and reflection are strongly present throughout the story because of his skillful working, and add greatly to its emotional force.
The story itself is quite simple and touching: an autobiographical love story between the author and a Japanese girl. Intertwined with this is the story of producing the manga itself, which gives it its self-referential structure, its folding-back-on-itself-in-time character. He uses several clever devices to accomplish this: diary entries, scenes of working on earlier parts of the story, and, most disconcerting of all, the ex-post-facto replacement of characters (where, suddenly, a different person will appear in the same role).
Often the story gets quite erotic, and this may be the attraction of it for some, but the eroticism, while extremely well done, is not the point of the story. It is not the story of a lecherous western man in pursuit of Japanese girls. One feels Boilet knows from the start his relationships are doomed, and lives in constant fear of it --- he knows that, culturally, despite his ability to speak basic Japanese and his familiarity with Japanese life, he is too socially isolated (and probably too old, for the age-conscious Japanese) to form real lasting relationships with these young women. He is an amusing and unusual foreign man ("oooh... a French manga artist!"), but ultimately they will leave him and form the serious relationships of their life with Japanese men. Their time with him is merely a dalliance, a diversion. This, for Boilet, is the tragedy. If it were a story of simple sexual conquest it would lack this bittersweet element which gives the tale its life.
Nevertheless, I must say the sex scenes are pretty good.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
But the story is the real star here. This is another one of the increasingly growing list of graphic novels that someone who's never read one can enjoy to the fullest. It's hard to portray a wonderful relationship without getting maudlin and Boilet shows us a love between two people that is, though not without problems, beautiful.
One last thing -- as beautiful as the art is here, this type of slavish photorealism is becoming tiresome. It seems that anyone with Photoshop can become a comics artist these days whether they know how to draw or not. And artists like Tony Harris and Alex Maleev deprive us of their ample drawing skills by using photo reference in every panel they draw. Rant over.
Buy this and anything by Boilet you can. Highly recommended.