by Seiichi Hayashi
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Format: Hardcover, 6x9, black & white, $24.95
Reviewed by: Publishers Weekly
An underground Japanese comic from the 1970s, Red Colored Elegy tells the breakup story of two young animators. Hayashi uses animation techniques and an experimental style to beautifully lament Ichiro and Sachiko's failed relationship. Traced photographs, blank word balloons and nearly cubist sex scenes are effective in telling a surprisingly narrative story in a minimalist style. Ichiro was trained as a painter and began work in animation for the money, but now he wants to draw manga. Part-time animator Sachiko runs from her arranged marriage and moves in with Ichiro instead. The two lovers drink heavily and risk being ripped off by animation companies in the shadow of politically volatile student protest movements. Feminist ideals and talk of labor unions take a backseat to a personal and painful story of everyday life. Although a brief introduction explains the historical context, more information on such story elements as the avant-garde Garo magazine would have been welcome. Readers unfamiliar with Japan might not understand the cultural pressure Sachiko faces or expenses for a Buddhist funeral that Ichiro cannot afford to pay. Yet the book, presented left-to-right, is completely accessible for an experimental work, and the story is heartbreakingly universal.