Sunday, May 3, 2009

Disappearance Diary Hideo Azumi (Manga Mature)

Disappearance Diary by Hideo Azumi (Manga Mature)

This is a black and white Japanese manga translated into english. It is a three part "slice of life" story. The content is mature, but not salacious.

The author, Hideo Azuma went through three dark periods in his life. The drawings are very unrealistic because they give an upbeat mood to some very dark situations. This creates a deep contrast between the actual content and the situations being described.

In the first set of stories the author loses his ability to draw and wanders off into the woods becoming homeless. It describes him scrounging for blankets, searching for food in garbage cans, and setting up shelters with plastic sheets and avoiding people.

The drawings are free hand and very detailed, but not photorealistic. Scenes show him scrounging for money in vending machines, going through bottles for wine and saki, hanging out at the library and sitting around in the park. Some of the scenes in the library are quite interesting. Eventually, he gets picked up by the police and returned home. He has been listed as a missing person.

The second part is him wandering off from home again and eventually becoming a laborer and then advancing to becoming a pipefitter. He meets a variety of obnoxious hard drinking and womanizing working class men. Many of the characters in this manga are eccentric or very unpleasant. The characters create a lot of conflict which makes the stories gripping. It is clear at this point Hideo Azuma is an alcoholic. Parts of the manga story remind of the classic novel On The Road by Jack Kerouac.

There are moments where he describes his career as a manga artist. He becomes very successful. So successful, that he has too much work and does not know how to say no. This drives him to drink more. His editors pay his tab at the bar. This segways into the third and final part of the story, where he is in the hospital as an alchoholic. The story is very exacting; it describes his alcholic anonymous meetings, medication, and his hospital stay.

This is an excellent and interesting manga. It won the grand prize at the 9th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2005. The book was translated into english in 2008.

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