I’m barely able to form coherent thoughts about Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories (Fantagraphics). It’s an amazing collection of her work, and I hope it just causes an explosion of interest in her work. I’ll try and write something proper about the book later, but a passage from her interview with translator and curator Matt Thorn really struck me. In it, she’s talking about the Tezuka story that made her want to become a manga-ka:

“I sympathized so much with the situation of the hero, that I found myself reading the book as if I were him. I completely synchronized with him.”

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use that word, “synchronized,” to describe that experience, and I find it really lovely. I also think that Hagio evokes that synchronization with increasing facility over the 40-year span represented in this collection. I mean, she has that knack from her earliest stories, but she just gets better at it until she doesn’t even need words to pull it off. It’s just breathtaking.

You can view some pages over at Amazon, but I hope Fantagraphics post some other samples for preview, because I honestly think seeing anything from the book’s midway point on would convince someone to buy it. Reading Kate (The Manga Critic) Dacey’s review will also go a long way towards that.

Huge thanks to Deb (About.Com) Aoki to take time out of her insane Comic Con International schedule to pick up a (signed!) copy for me. I owe her forever.

7 Responses to Synchronized

  1. DanielBT says:

    Hearing all these advance reviews is immensely gratifying and extremely agravating, since I KNOW these stories are really good, but it won’t be out until the end of September for the rest of us. As such, I can’t read these reviews too heavily for fear of spoilers (I avoid movie reviews for similar reasons – I want to be surprised by what I’ve seen) and have to keep these on the backlog until I’ve got the product in question.

    Other than attending the ComicCon in question, or being part of a popular blog with multiple reviews, I don’t see any other way of getting an advance copy. (Short of bargaining with someone on the black market, but that kind of defeats the whole purpose of licensing unknown material and brings us back to the whole scanlation debacle again) [which likewise, still hasn’t been solved, like it or not]

    Be sure to reference this post when her book finally comes out.

  2. LillianDP says:

    Yeah, I basically will be getting this book for, like, everyone I know for Christmas. I am really, really looking forward to Wandering Son now, too.

  3. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    I’ve literally been waiting for this book ever since I was 15 and picked up A A` and Four Shojo Stories–so nearly 15 years ago. Things like Vertical’s Takemiya volumes (and their tweet last Fall about maybe picking up some more classic shoujo), and the 2005 Comics Journal on her, kept me hopeful, but… Truly, no manga has ever interested me as much as the works of the “49ers” (and even earlier manga-ka as my dog-eared Japanese bunkos of Hideko’s Fire! will attest to, despite being able to read next to known of it)–but Moto Hagio, especially. Anyway, I really hope this leads to more–but it’s sounds like a brilliant volume for both longterm fans, and to introduce the woman’s amazing work.

    I know, in untranslated form, most of the stories in the collections from various volumes I’ve collected of her Japanese editions over the past decade (I’ll never say how much I spent on a near complete set of her collected volumes editions), and I think they’re all great choices from all her eras (I wasn’t expecting them to start from as early as 1970, but I’m glad they did). My only complaint would be that I would have included her groundbreaking November Gymnasium (which I believe is under 45 pages). However, a small part of me hopes against hope that Matt Thorn is holding on to that title to include it in an eventual deluxe release of Hagio’s Heart of Thomas with it (the prototype) and its later short prequel included as bonuses…

    One thing that did make my heart sink–I just checked the listing where I pre-ordered the title from, and saw the release date now says Sep 27, instead of Sep 7. I’m really not sure I can wait more than a month!

    Great post!

    • davidpwelsh says:

      I did find myself wondering about the relative lack of boys’-love content. Much as I want to read examples from that category of Hagio’s work, I didn’t find the collection lacking in any way, because the stories there are beautiful and they represent what I’ve thought of as Hagio’s essential qualities as a storyteller — psychological acuity, emotional punch, and visual beauty.

      Still, the absence of BL work does kind of make a promise, doesn’t it? Because you can’t ultimately celebrate Hagio’s career without publishing significant works from that category.

      • Eric Henwood-Greer says:

        It’s true that, November Gymnasium aside, most of Hagio’s BL work that’s well known are from her longer (in the case of Zankokuna Kami ga Shihai suru,*longest*) works. But I agree with you–surely knowing Matt Thorn’s love for Heart of Thomas (a love I share, probably more than the love for his other favorite work, the interesting but biazarre Banana Bread Pudding), I hope it’s soon int he pipeline.

  4. KrebMarkt says:


    Having the TCJ issue #269 Shojo manga, the “Synchronicity” is mentioned in very beginning of the Moto Hagio interview introduction.

    Since reading “Hanshin”, i’m in synch with this author.

  5. Eric Henwood-Greer says:

    Just wanted to point out that, while amazon seems to still not be releasing this for a month or so, you can order it right now direct from Fantagraphics books. And whilesupplies last they’re including free signed copies.

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