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Sunday, March 16, 2008

Last year I wrote about Usamaru Furuya's The Music of Marie (Marie no Kanaderu Ongaku*), but without having read it. Well, I finally got around to reading it; and while I can't say for sure that it's the best graphic novel I've ever read, it's definitely a contender. I don't have much to add to this excellent review by Carlos Santos, though (not without major spoilers, at any rate).

The first 200-odd pages of the first volume (out of a total of 274) are basically set-up: Furuya takes his time developing his world and main characters. But because the society and culture Furuya has created is fascinating, this isn't dull at all. The story itself, when it gets going, seems to be basically a familiar one -- up until Chap. 14, a little more than halfway through the second volume, which is where the fireworks begin. But when they do, they're spectacular. In fact, good as the first volume is, it's the second volume, and its retrospective effect on the first volume, that makes The Music of Marie a masterpiece.

There's publishing information in my earlier post. The volumes are in the Birz Comics Deluxe line. If you're fortunate enough to find these in a bookstore, note that instead of being labelled "1" and "2," the two volumes are labelled with the kanji for up and down, respectively. This is common for Japanese novels, which are frequently published in two volumes, but I don't recall having seen it in manga before.

I don't usually link to scanlations, but The Music of Marie is such an important work that I'm making an exception and linking to Kotonoha's scanlation. Unfortunately, only the first volume has been put up so far. If you can read French, the book has been published in French; but again, apparently only the first volume is available right now.

*As I remarked in my earlier post, a better translation of the Japanese title would be "The Music Marie Plays," and I don't know where "The Music of Marie" comes from; but the latter translation is probably too entrenched by now to dislodge.

Comments:
Hi Adam,
The reason you haven't seen much of this "up/down" numerotation is probably that manga tend to come in longer installments than two volumes. I also think that most of them derive from as-they-go publishing, which means that a two-volume manga might not have been scheduled as such when the first volume was published -- hence the choice of "1", to leave the option open.

All this to say that I've seen that numbering on a few bunk├┤ versions (my recently read Ashura from George Akiyama, Heaven de King Gonta, etc.). Also note there is a similar way to number three-part volumes, with "up/middle/down", that I've seen on some occasions.
 
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