GRAPHIC NOVELS

The Sky Is Blue with a Single Cloud

Drawn & Quarterly. Jul. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781770463981. pap. $29.95. Rated: Teen+. literary manga
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A selection of comics completed by Tsurita—the only female cartoonist to appear regularly in the influential alternative manga magazine Garo before the late Seventies, arrives in English for the first time, featuring a smoothly rendered translation by Holmberg. The stories here, all completed between 1966 and 1980, offer a distinct perspective on the lives and attitudes of young people in Japan during the time, often with a cynical or satirical angle. In “65121320262719,” a woman struggles to find her place in student protests and the counterculture only to be rebuffed, and in “Anti,” a group of bohemians screen a film, in which a man falls into a volcano and dies. The humorous tone displayed in earlier work, such as “The Tragedy of Princess Rokunomiya,” about a woman whose disaffectedness is mistaken for enlightenment by her peers, is replaced by a darker, more foreboding tone toward the end of the collection. This is especially evident in the titular story, which features a woman frolicking around a strangely empty landscape, wondering where all the people have gone, and culminates in a spread of a mushroom cloud rising from the horizon.
VERDICT A long overdue and revelatory collection of masterfully crafted and deeply affecting stories.

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