The idea that any conventional person has about comics has to do with childhood. If you already mention manga, then surely they think of their children. And they do well because the reality is that today’s kids are hooked on this type of comics.
One proof is a best-selling phenomenon like Ken Wakui’s Tokyo Revengers, where time travel mixes with youth gang violence. Another test, but already for adults, is the Traces of Blood saga by Shuzo Oshimi which, for the writer, is probably the best comic of recent years. Not recommended for sensitive souls as it is the most twisted thing one has read in a long time, with a mother and teenage son involved. And it is that manga, despite the idea of being a youth genre, which is also a benchmark of Japanese culture for adults.
Yoshihiro Tatsumi’s Lost World is a case in point. This mangaka (this is how comic authors are called in Japan) began like many making youth manga, indebted to the Walt Disney style, the oligarch of children’s feelings. There was a moment when he got fed up, he wanted his work to be aimed at an adult audience. He got away and was the founder of a style known as gegika, which means dramatic image. In the sixties, this author revolutionized the language of manga with shocking short stories. All of them are collected by the commendable publisher Satori, as is the case with this volume, or the previous one by this same author, titled with his surname: Tatsumi.
A series of stories in this volume where we see the most miserable working class of Japanese society. Guys who seek life in the worst way, with alienated jobs, while women have the only way out to be geishas or company ladies (not to be confused with prostitution, something that our obtuse Western mind does not understand). One of the recurring themes in this volume is illegal abortions. The image of the sewers with the unborn floating in their waters can hurt more than one sensitivity.
They are painful stories where, for example, a worker sacrifices his arm to financially satisfy his wife; a guy, in charge of pushing subway users, begins to be harassed by a lonely woman and her children; a seamstress’s best friend is an erotic doll in the best style of Berlanga’s Natural Size; a contract killer gets sick when he gets an assignment, so he makes up for it by mistreating his wife or watching documentaries about the Holocaust; a rat becomes pregnant by a man whose partner is in turn a geisha who runs away from the harassment of the rodent giving birth. As you can see, stories that mix neorealism with the most bizarre.
That is why it is exhausting to have to explain that comics go beyond children’s entertainment. What happens is that some are afraid that in this hypocritical system of ours, they will be branded as living in an eternal adolescent world (better that than being screwed for eight hours in an office for a pittance), or what is worse, depraved .
Writing: Gonzalo Visedo