You know: in a foolish, undiscriminating way, I've been happy these last few months. I don't know why. I just am. I love my friends; I love my pupils; I love what I read; I -- dammit -- love my thoughts. I love the taste of oranges.
Thornton Wilder in a letter to Gertrude Stein, Aug 14, 1936

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

MANGA MANIA: MR. ARASHI'S AMAZING FREAK SHOW by Suehiro Maruo

She later appeared on Japan's Got Talent
Maybe this had been too exuberantly recommended. It also makes me realize that even when reading manga or graphic novels I am expecting as much in the way of narrative as I am visuals. 

Is there a story here? Sure. Midori is an orphaned child taken up by the owner of a failing freak show. She is sexually and physically abused. When she takes in three abandoned puppies, one of the performers, a woman whose talent appears to involve nothing more than sitting naked in a bucket of snakes, discovers Midori's puppies, stomps them to death and serves them in a stew. Midori's apparent savior is a midget magician whose act involves crawling into and out of a large jar with an impossibly small opening. Although the new act can save the freak show, Mr. Arashi, the owner, runs off with the money and the performers go their separate ways. Midori's midget lover has her wait on the train platform while he goes to get some food. He is stabbed while stealing. Midori is more alone than ever. (According to the book jacket. this is a retelling of a classic Japanese tale. I haven't tried to track it down.)


Maruo overuses the tongue-to-eyeball motif

Sorry, should I have warned of spoilers? Why bother? The story is nothing, much of it a dream or a hypnotically induced hallucination. Fans go to Maruo for the arwowrk, which is outrageous and spectacular. Maruo has a flair for perversity. Midori's rape by the puss-filled mummy man is a visual high point. So as you can imagine this is not likely to be to everyone's taste. And yet glancing through promotions for Maruo's other works, this might be one of his tamer offerings.


Midori and her midget beau have a night on the town

Midori has a moment of clarity

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