From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Matsumoto's nearly European art paired with Japanese manga pacing have made him a fan favorite for years, and he won an Eisner for Tekkonkincreet
. In GoGo Monster
, he effectively blurs the line between reality, imagination, and madness. Yuki is an outcast elementary school student who feels the presence of invisible monsters at his school. Are Yuki's monsters real or imaginary? The old school groundskeeper has reasons to believe Yuki's monsters do exist, and they seem to influence the level of disciplinary problems at school. While we never see Yuki's monsters outside of the depictions scribbled on his desk, readers share Yuki's other hallucinations. In one troubling scene, his teacher's and classmates' heads are replaced with flowers. Matsumoto brings out the surreal moments in everyday life, such as when Yuki stares into raindrops clinging to his umbrella at the distorted image of his face, replicated a hundred times. The high-contrast contour drawings are heavily influenced by French artists Moebius and Enki Bilal, with occasional nods to the psychedelic works of Milton Glaser and Peter Max. Despite occasionally experimental storytelling, the story is very accessible: Viz has faithfully reproduced the beautiful Japanese edition of the book, complete with red-trimmed pages of exceptional quality and a colorful cardboard sleeve. (Nov.)
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Although seinen—manga for men—have been published in the U.S. for years, none have taken hold in the marketplace, despite critical praise. This gorgeous presentation of Eisner Award winner Matsumoto’s work deserves to capture more attention from the older readership it hopes to win. In the original graphic novel, third-grader Yuki Tachibana must choose between his imaginary world, in which faces appear in raindrops and unseen beings dance to the music of his harmonica, and the real world of mocking classmates and potential new friends. Taking place over the course of a single school year, Yuki’s struggle to maintain a hold on his dream world turns dark and frightening the closer he gets to new classmate Mokoto. Matsumoto’s scribbly style works perfectly for the story in the childlike way it depicts Yuki’s imaginings and renders the faces of his tormentors as abstractions to intensify Yuki’s sense of alienation. Matsumoto’s examination of an often forgotten period of childhood is powerful, heartbreaking, yet ultimately reassuring. --Eva Volin