Daydream Sanctuary Features

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Manga Review: Rainbow Field Holograph


Nijigahara Holograph
by Asani Inio
(Published by Ohta Shuppan in Quick Japan (Ohta Shuppan) )
Suzuki is a troubled boy. He's lived with uncaring foster parents for most of his life, alienated from the other kids at his school, owner of a cynical, unhappy mentality. Komatsuzaki is a violent, unpredictable bully whose head trauma causes him to act in mysterious, inexplicable ways. Arakawa is a no-nonsense, normal girl who pines after Komatsuzaki but can never have him. A teacher with just one working eye. A mother who committed suicide. A daughter in an endless coma. Attempted rapes, murders, extortion, sexual deviance, and a freakish explosion in the butterfly population. All of these elements are whirled together in a story spanning 10 years, a tale of blackness, pain, and apocalypse. And maybe just a bit of hope and redemption. It's a spiritual cross between the misanthropic suburban malevolence of Kyoko Okazaki's Rivers Edge and the eerie mysticality of Donnie Darko. (MangaScreener)

[ OVERALL IMPRESSIONS ]

If you prefer stories that are relaxing and straight to the point, don't even bother in reading this. Its beauty is not on how much you enjoyed the story itself, but more of how brilliantly the story was told and how interesting the themes have been presented.

The story spans in ten years, skipping from one timeline to another, focusing on one or more characters to another. It's quite difficult to follow because the beginning of the story is pretty confusing (and the later parts aren't exactly less confusing); the characters don't even help since they're not even in their right minds. And with those we can't even tell if the pages we're seeing are what's really happening or just illusions (or the character's delusions). But as you read on, little by little, you make realizations and get some sense from things Surprisingly, events that don't seem related turn out to be very connected after all. The revelations and twists had been remarkably well done. However, not every story in this manga has been clearly resolved... at least not all of them. It's not that the manga failed in filling the missing parts, it's just that some of the outcomes are just hinted or just left to the reader's interpretation and imagination.

The manga also contains symbolisms, and it tackles several themes.... mostly involving people who are attached to their pasts and who are viewing different realities. It also appears that it makes references (at least the butterfly stuff) on Zhuangzi and his butterfly dream.

I love how the artwork has creatively and wonderfully presented these symbolisms and illusions. The visuals are so stunningly beautiful. They're also so intense that horrific scenes are indeed frightening and the heartwarming scenes are indeed calming. Only the drama didn't work for me for some reason, not that it wasn't tragic enough. Probably it had something to do with the fact that the characters didn't appeal to me much. Not that the characterizations have been bad, they were so well done actually; but they're just not my type. Some of them are just too immoral for me....

The story's full of abuse and bloodshed, twistedness and deviance. It's so dark and complex that, as I've said in the beginning, those who only prefer happy things won't enjoy this manga. I don't encourage those with innocent minds to read this either, because it indeed has a number of graphical mature contents, mostly sexual and violent. Speaking of violence, there doesn't seem to have much sexual discrimination over it. For instance, though the females get abused a lot in the manga; females are also capable of doing very horrible things Though sadly, when it comes to sexual violence, the woman is always the helpless prey. I think no female main character had been exempted from that abuse....

Nevertheless, despite the chaos and the tragedies, that doesn't mean there are no positive views ,like hope and redemption, in this manga. Though admittedly, they aren't much nor obvious.... and many of those that started lightheartedly later turn out to be something bloody. It's sad indeed, but as if the manga promised any joyful moments in the first place.

This manga may seem short, but surprisingly it managed to cover most, if not all, events that seem relevant to the main plot. The mystery and the tension also keep on building up on each chapter. Storytelling was impressively executed and the visuals were marvelously presented. I admit that some things here are not yet that clear to me (though I think some of them are really vague... intentionally and not) that I think I need to read it another round (I'm lazy to do that however) and none of the characters have become appealing to me, but even so, it got me really amazed and interested.

I highly recommend it to those who like psychological thrillers and want something thought-provoking.... also those who don't mind the contents and themes here that are not suitable for innocent ones or "I like happy tales" ones. It's one of those "short and sad yet brilliant and beautiful" types of manga.
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