GOODBYE • Yoshihiro Tatsumi • Drawn and Quarterly (2008) • Various magazines (1971) • 1 volume • Gekiga Drama • Unrated/18+ (language, violence, nudity, sex)
Good-Bye, the third volume in Drawn and Quarterly’s chronological Yoshihiro Tatsumi reprint series, contains some of the classic artist’s most powerful works; selected stories from the book were “honored” with an unlicensed translation, Good-Bye and Other Stories, by Catalan Communications way back in 1988. Compared to his other works, the collection is stronger than Abandon the Old in Tokyo and just as good as The Push Man. Depressing almost to the point of comedy, Tatsumi’s grim gekiga stories (some of which were apparently based on police reports) can seem repetitive, with an endless stream of neurotic young men and lonely old men wandering through Tokyo’s back streets, cartoon characters driven by death and lust and a sense of failure. In “Rash,” which reads like a collaboration between Hideshi Hino and Sigmund Freud, an old man abandons his family and lives along in a house in the woods, where he develops a psychosomatic illness. In “Hell” a photographer feels guilty for profiting from an iconic photograph of the Hiroshima bombing, until the past chases him down. In the title story “Good-Bye” we meet a prostitute who sleeps with American G.I.s in the ruins of occupation-era Japan. Sex hangs oppressively over these stories, full of phallic symbols like mushrooms and cannons, and a few weaker stories are little more than snapshots of some miserable individual’s sexual fetish. Tatsumi is easy to accuse of sexism: his women and feminine characters are generally inscrutable villains or victims, and are rarely given their own voice. But despite the large number of henpecked husbands, the best stories explore powerful political subjects: tales which connect sex and power and World War II, such as “Good-Bye” and “Just a Man.”
**** (four stars)
Today’s winner is Gary M. of Washington! Congratulations, Gary! We also have a new photo of a winner, Heather C. of California!
More manga reviews and winners’ photos to come tomorrow!