From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Along with manga giants Keiko Takemiya and Riyoko Ikeda, and other notable female creators known as the Fabulous '49ers who pioneered the shojo revolution, Hagio forever changed the landscape of comics for girls and started a creative industry for women outside of the domicile. A decade after Sailor Moon, American audiences finally have the chance to read Hagio's work and see the genesis of a genre in this anthology. Unlike current shojo manga, Hagio's sentiment is more restrained, recounting a calmer account of destructive sibling rivalry, a quieter portrayal of a romance destined for failure, a subtle unraveling of a young woman in mourning. Her craftsmanship reflects wisdom and exercises the creative strength necessary to unravel and tie together the range of narrative threads that make up the tragedies and slow recoveries of life. In "Angel Mimic," Hagio turns the deflated student-teacher romance on its head, bringing it new life. In "Willow Tree" the story is so subtle, it takes place on the periphery of the page. A Drunken Dream collects stories by Hagio from her beginning, middle, and current career. The consistency of her work is evidence of why she's finally being translated into English and why that was long overdue.
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*Starred Review* Once the folks at Fantagraphics decided to dip their toes in the manga pool, they didn’t mess around, choosing to launch their new manga line with this collection of short stories from one of the most influential creators of manga for women. Not a retrospective of a waning master, the book instead showcases a career four decades in the making that remains vibrant and relevant today. Hagio’s stories are infused with dark emotions—longing, jealousy, remorse—that are instantly identifiable and, hence, often uncomfortable to confront. The stories are collected in chronological order, affording a glimpse of how Hagio’s storytelling abilities have matured, from the melancholic shojo romances of the 1970s (“Autumn Journey”) to the gender-bending sci-fi from the 1980s (“A Drunken Dream”) to the powerhouse introspective character studies from recent years (“Iguana Girl,” “The Willow Tree”). Two articles written by manga scholar Matt Thorn are also included: an overview of Hagio’s career and place among “The Magnificent Forty-Niners” and an interview with Hagio in which she discusses her work, her life, and how the two intersect. It isn’t often that a book’s back matter is as fascinating as the stories it supports, but Hagio’s openness illuminates the stories in a way mere commentary never could. Although many of the stories included in this volume were ostensibly written for young adults, and may indeed be enjoyed by teens interested in literary manga, this topflight collection will likely resonate most with adult readers. --Eva Volin
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