The terrible economy has sent more people than ever out into the yard with shovels and seed packets. Harvest time is fast approaching, and gardeners of every experience level will soon be pondering that universal question, “What the heck am I supposed to do with all of this stuff? Who needs this much eggplant?”
Leave it to Iou Kuroda to turn the ubiquitous, easy-to-grow fruit/vegetable into a manga series, Nasu, that I really, really wish someone would license and translate into English. It was originally serialized in Kodansha’s Afternoon magazine and collected in three volumes. Here’s what Wikipedia has to say about it:
“Nasu is a collection of stories, focusing on a returning [DW -- does the author maybe mean 'recurring'?] series of characters, such as Takama, a farmer, and a young girl named Aya Takahashi, who begins the series abandoned by her father and residing in Tokyo with her two younger siblings, and as the manga progresses to its second volume, leaves the city to reside in the countryside with her relatives, near Takama’s farm. Apart from the chapters concerning Takama and Aya, other stories are also featured, such as one telling the chronicles of samurai in the Edo period hunting forbidden eggplant (nasu), another set atop a futuristic Mount Fuji, another tale concerning a truck driver, and also ‘Summer in Andalusia’, the story concerning the professional Spanish bicyclist Pepe Benengeli, from which the film was adapted.”
Aside from the fact that it sounds awesome, Kuroda is one of those creators who tops my “Please license more work from this person” wish list. This is based on my abiding love for his one work available in English, the splendid Sexy Voice and Robo (Viz), which was originally serialized in current buzz-anthology IKKI. Here’s some critical reaction to that book:
“So multi-layered is this manga that any attempts to explain the story end in ‘Oh, just read it and you’ll see.’ And there’s no reason not to read it—it’s smart enough for picky intellectual comics nerds, thrilling enough for action lovers, and deep enough for those who care about characters, emotions and drama.” Carlo Santos, Anime News Network
“Sexy Voice and Robo is a marvelous comic. Kuroda’s singular vision and craft transcend conventional ideas of genre and storytelling. It’s one of the best graphic novels I’ve read all year, and you really should try it, even if you don’t think you like manga.” Me, Comic World News
And here’s Shaenon K. Garrity’s image-rich celebration of the book in her Overlooked Manga Festival which, incidentally, is where I first heard about Nasu.
Seriously, I’ve never run into anyone (mostly the web version of “run into,” obviously) who has read Sexy Voice and Robo who doesn’t yearn for more of Kuroda’s work to be licensed and translated. And Viz, since you’re sharing IKKI titles online, why not throw Sexy Voice and Robo into the mix? It’s one of the best things you’ve ever, ever published, so give it a second chance.