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Red Colored Elegy Hardcover – July 8, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. An underground Japanese comic from the 1970s, Red Colored Elegy tells the breakup story of two young animators. Hayashi uses animation techniques and an experimental style to beautifully lament Ichiro and Sachiko's failed relationship. Traced photographs, blank word balloons and nearly cubist sex scenes are effective in telling a surprisingly narrative story in a minimalist style. Ichiro was trained as a painter and began work in animation for the money, but now he wants to draw manga. Part-time animator Sachiko runs from her arranged marriage and moves in with Ichiro instead. The two lovers drink heavily and risk being ripped off by animation companies in the shadow of politically volatile student protest movements. Feminist ideals and talk of labor unions take a backseat to a personal and painful story of everyday life. Although a brief introduction explains the historical context, more information on such story elements as the avant-garde Garo magazine would have been welcome. Readers unfamiliar with Japan might not understand the cultural pressure Sachiko faces or expenses for a Buddhist funeral that Ichiro cannot afford to pay. Yet the book, presented left-to-right, is completely accessible for an experimental work, and the story is heartbreakingly universal. (May)
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“I wanted to live like Sachiko and Ichiro; to have aspirations even while living stoically and humbly.” —Morio Agata (from obi)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Drawn and Quarterly; First Edition edition (July 22, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1897299400
  • ISBN-13: 978-1897299401
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 1.1 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,705 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 27 people found the following review helpful By GARGANCHUAN on July 19, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I pre-ordered this book without knowing anything about it or Seiichi Hayashi other than that both were highly regarded in Japan. D&Q have been publishing underground manga written in the 70's and I was hoping it would be something like the first three English offerings from Tatsumi (e.g. Good-Bye). It's far from it.

Red Colored Elegy was difficult for me to read. The panels are in sequence, but it's hard to tell how much time has elapsed between them--there are no segues and characters just pop in and out. Short sentences (averaging around five words per panel), and simplistic artwork (characters are drawn using mostly profiles with very few lines and background art) only contribute to the staccato-like nature of the narrative. Though, it's impressive how skillfully Hayashi handles body language with this art style.

The main characters in Red Colored Elegy aren't particularly charismatic either. Sachiko is a bit dramatic; all of her actions yearn for attention and it can be annoying at times. Ichiro is the other pole; he's often apathetic, especially towards Sachiko, but he has his moments in self-pitying flare.

After reading glowing reviews about this book, I feel it's unfair for someone who's ignorant towards the book's social context to review it. I'll have to give it another try or two, I guess. Let me just say it wasn't what I expected and that the gap in culture between 2008 America and 1970 Japan might just be the gap between a great book and a hard one to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D. Tylkowski on April 12, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I first read it, I didn't understand anything that was going on. Is still felt like there was something wonderful in it and worth exploring. Like the first time I watched Lost Highway, there was an itching to delve into the work. Since it only took me an hour to read, I read it again. This time I started to catch on to the pacing and story of it all but there was still something I needed to figure out about it. Time for a third read. This time things unfolded more coherently. I'm not saying everything was clear to me, but I felt satisfied. It's also good to know that next time I pick up the book there will be more to explore. I get to figure out what's missing on the page and piece together the visual poetry of the work. Sometimes I want a very well structured story, other times I like to read something bewildering with lots open to interpretation and connections yet to be discovered.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Lily Rosen on May 3, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The story feels extremely personal. The illustrations are wonderfully beautiful, and the artist very talented. I really enjoyed this book and would suggest it to anyone who is interested in a more experimental form of reading graphic novels. This is truly a piece of art to be appreciated, re-read and not simply skimmed through.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
If you go into Red Colored Elegy expecting an easy, comfortable read, you very well may be disappointed.

If you open your eyes up to the sparse beauty and emotional forms that simple lines on paper can convey, you can read through this book in an hour and feel changed forever.

Red Colored Elegy isn't for everyone -- its an artsy, underground manga that abruptly begins and ends with lots of hills and valleys in-between. The two main characters are very much in love, yet bound together through a sense of apathy and wanting for something more that they can't quite express. Instead, Seiici Hayashi does it for them -- bringing their inner turmoil out through pages that (sometimes) literally leap from the book. His style is so unique, you'll want to read it again and again just to try to understand the authors innermost feelings more so than the characters; and that's something that you can't say about all manga.

No, this book isn't for everyone. But it is a beautiful, abrupt work that has the ability to deeply move you if you let it. I suggest reading through it as fast as possible, and then going back and studying each panel to appreciate the lines and manga conventions that Hayashi carefully dismantled and put back together again.

Give it a chance. If nothing else, it'll give you a nice juxtaposition between Tezuka's classic works and the factory-farmed mangas of today. No offense to either (I enjoy them both), but Red Colored Elegy is an incredible product of its time.
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