Red Colored Elegy

Garo magazine cartoonist Seiichi Hayashi transformed the world of comics 40 years ago with this groundbreaking, atmospheric manga, about two young animators consumed in a failing, and often tempestuous, relationship. Nominated in 2009 for the Harvey Award in the category of Best American Edition of Foreign Material, Red Colored Elegy was inspired by the French New Wave film movement of the 1960s, and combined elements of high and popular art to create timeless story with widespread appeal for adult audiences. This reissued manga includes an insightful contribution from comics historian Ryan Holmberg.

Ichiro and Sachiko live together in an almost primal existence, sleeping, eating, listening to music, having sex and drawing (when the work exists) in a sparsely furnished room. They dabble in politics while hoping to make their mark in the comics and animation world. Their relationship falls apart when ambition and personal tragedy take their collective tolls on their daily lives.

There is a voyeuristic and cinematic element to the restrained pen and inked drawings. Scenes of wind, rain, swaying trees and roiling oceans mirror the flaws in their relationship: carefree days of sex and sleep are punctuated by scenes of Ichiro hunched over a drawing board while Sachiko curls her body inward in a protective hug. Quiet moments of celebration strain under the soul-crushing weight of their doomed relationship. Hayashi depicts this couple in decline through stark black-and-white landscapes, music lyrics and background scenes emphasizing the weight of unspoken emotions between the two.

Ultimately Red Colored Elegy transcends manga, depicting universal themes as vignettes recognizable to any who have suffered through love. --Nancy Powell, freelance writer and technical consultant

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