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Wednesday, February 04, 2004

THE MANGA CORNER: GRIMM'S FAIRY TALES

Multi-creator manga anthologies in book (as opposed to magazine) form are rare in Japan, as far as I'm aware, but they do exist, and today's manga (which again I have not read) is one of them: Sekai-ichi zankoku de utsukushii Gurimu douwa (Grimm's fairy tales, the cruellest and most beautiful in the world). It's just what the title implies, a collection of fairy tales told in manga form, including both familiar tales such as Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty and Little Red Riding Hood (though these aren't all from Grimm, iirc) and less familiar tales, including a couple I don't recognize at all. The art in all the stories is shoujo in style, though ranging from rather plain to full baroque splendor. I don't recognize any of the artists' names, but they all display a high level of craft, much higher than the average level of the anthology magazines I've seen; and also higher than I'd expect to find in a comparable American anthology, whether "mainstream" or independent. To my eyes, the artistic standout is Hashimoto Noji, whose "Kaeru no Oojisama" (Frog Prince) effectively deploys a variety of textures, and also dares to feature a rather unattractive heroine.

As far as I can tell without having read the stories, these are for the most part straightforward retellings, though several of the artists have played up the violence--Kotokawa Aya's "Haikaburi" (Cinderella) graphically depicts both the stepsister cutting off her toes to be able to fit into the slipper and the birds pecking out her eyes at the end, two details omitted from most modern renditions--and/or the sexuality--in Sakamoto Mimei's "Rapunzel," the prince first catches sight of Rapunzel masturbating in her tower window--implicit or explicit in the original tales. At the end of the book is a brief scholarly bibliography.

The full list of artists is Kotokawa Aya, Hibiki Naomi, Matsuyama Hanako, Kasuga Mio, Hashimoto Noji, Fukuzato Satsuki, Takeuchi Kumiko, Sagami Takayoshi, Sakamoto Mimei, Miike Romuko and Fuse Naoko. It's 344 pp., its price is 648 yen, its publisher is Shueisha and the ISBN is 4-8342-7239-7.

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