Friday, May 04, 2007


Usamaru Furuya is one of my favorite manga creators (see the sidebar), and I have more than once seen Marie no kanaderu ongaku (usually translated as The Music of Marie, but more accurately The Music Marie Plays) acclaimed as his best work. Unfortunately, it had been out of print, so I couldn't read it. A few weeks ago I saw both volumes of the series offered on www.amazon.co.jp, so naturally I ordered them; and yesterday they arrived, a couple of weeks ahead of schedule. My joy at receiving them was somewhat tempered when I discovered that they'd been reprinted recently, so I could have special-ordered them at the Japanese bookstore in Arlington Heights and saved myself about twenty bucks. (I had thought I was buying used copies.) But the books look so good that even that doesn't bring me down.

Marie no kanaderu ongaku is a fantasy, though not the elves-and-dragons kind. Think more of Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind (even though that's actually science fiction), which Marie's art in fact resembles. And while I haven't begun reading it yet, it looks great, as I said above. In addition to Miyazaki-like characters and landscapes, there are intricate clockwork animals. (The Marie of the title is a gigantic clockwork woman floating across the sky.) In fact, I could almost recommend it for its art alone. I'll say more once I've actually read it.

Marie is published by Gentosha Comics and costs 1200 yen per volume, but the volumes are thicker than the usual tankoubon (paperback manga volume): the first is 276 pages, and the second is 248 pages. The ISBNs are 4-344-80012-5 for the first volume and 4-344-80005-2 for the second.

Great, great manga. Only the first volume has been scanslated so far, but even that is incredible. Up until that point I had only read Furuya's comedy stuff (Palepoli, Short Cuts) and maybe Suicide Club, so it was a huge shock that he could do fantastical manga so well. I've heard great things about his other story in the "genre" too (I think you praised it in a review of one of his anthologies?)
If by his other story you mean "Tsuki no Fumi," or "Moon Letter," it's in his anthology Garden, which I reviewed (see the sidebar), and it's one of my favorite comics of any genre or nationality. Garden contains another fantasy story, "Ratai no kigen" ("The Origin of Nudity"), a surrealistic story inspired by a Hieronymous Bosch painting, which is also very good.
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