Usamaru Furuya Happiness

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Reviews Views Date product posted
0 2668 10/8/2007
 
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{Please note ~ this is an import comic and is not available in English at the time of this review. It can be purchased with the ISBN number below through Japanese bookstores and amazon.co.jp}

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Publisher: IKKI Comix
ISBN: 4-09-188310-9 C9979
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Background

Usamaru Furuya is an amazing artist and an incredibly twisted man. It takes a certain sort of courage just to pick up a title with his name on it: one never really can know exactly what to expect. Chances are it will be offensive, eye-opening and heartrending. This book, like the bulk of his work, is a collection of short stories. What sets this one apart is an uncharacteristic gentleness and sadness that permeates the volume.

Short Stories Included

Flower that Blooms - a high school girl falls in love with her teacher and he with her, but because of the taboo inherent in their relationship, the still have to stand an entire car apart when riding on the train. With their relationship limited to love hotels, is true intimacy even possible...? (drama, romance)

Lolita Number 7 - Kyoko is a bright, fashionable and popular schoolgirl who has been madly in love with Atsushi since she was a little girl. Now, years later, Atsushi is hikkomori and refuses to leave his room, drawing nothing but manga-style pictures of his beloved "Lolita Number 7"... (drama, psychological)

Demon's Song - two inseparable best friends find their relationship imperiled by one's new fiancee: Satan... (comedy, drama, horror elements)

If - two schoolgirls play a neverending game of "what if" on the train... (drama, comedy, horror elements)

Happiness - a bullied schoolboy meets a kindred spirit in a casual gothic lolita who is henpecked by her peers. She tells him that they both come from another world and that a recently deceased Visual Kei star's music points the way home... (romance, drama)

The Cloud Room - with interest in nothing but watching clouds, a schoolgirl drops out of school and moves into her own apartment in Tokyo and paints a cloudy sky on the ceiling. Scammed by the apartment owner into paying far more for the room than she can afford, she's forced to prostitute herself to him in order to get by... (drama)

Indigo Elegy - a schoolboy paints his way into the heart of his idol only to find that he may not necesarily want to be there... Her idea of love doesn't match his at all (drama)

Angura Doll - a girl working as an idol in the soft sex industry finds her life off the rails and a comrade in the most unlikely of places... (drama)

Overall

While sex and death are still looming on the horizon of most of these stories, Usamaru opts for a softer approach. Well developed characters with problems very much relevant to Japanese youth today make sympathizing with them more or less inevitable.

The stories are memorable without being visceral and surprisingly uplifting endings are the norm. Even "Happiness", which ends on the lowest note, has a strange sort of optimism about it. The only story that's a total downer is "Lolita Number 7".

Final Thoughts

The world is an ugly place and Usamaru never tries to deny that. But there are moments of beauty, fantasy and hope in all the ugliness which are made all the more radiant by the contrast. "Happiness" is a gently written love letter for realists, something to warm the hearts of those who know better than to hope for happy endings.

Highly recommended to all who are old enough to read it.

NOT suitable for minors (nudity, prostitution, suicide, sexual situations, demon-summoning)
Keywords: short stories manga, comics, japanese book collection
Illustrations and Layout Excellent
Entertainment Value Excellent
Replay Value Excellent
Plot Excellent
Genre Drama, Horror, Independant
Volumes 1
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