These stories are told with the same bold, kinetic art style and brilliantly paced storytelling that Samura's Blade of the Immortal epic is famous for. The main offering, "Ohikkoshi," follows the turbulent paths of several twenty-something art students as they fall in love, fall in lust, play in rock bands, ride motorbikes, eat, sleep (together), and try to avoid making life decisions while drunk. This romantic comedy is a "Japanese art school confidential" packed with absurd humor, obscure death metal references, and some expertly placed, dramatic revelations. "Luncheon of Tears Diary" is a vibrant, genre-busting tale that also peppers its humor with sharp, dramatic moments. Natsumi Funabashi, a virgin, is an aspiring manga creator on a quest for love and a fulfilling career. Along the way, she has to cope with overzealous men, gang warfare, a mahjong addiction, and a lascivious manga editor. This collection is rounded off by Samura's hilarious "Kyoto Super Barhopping Journal: Bloodbath at Midorogaike," a rare, autobiographical travel piece.
(Source: Dark Horse)
Included one-shots: Shoujo Mangaka Mushuku: Namida no Luncheon Nikki, Midorogaike ni Shura wo Mita
Being a huge fan of Hiroaki Samura's work on Blade of the Immortal, I could barely contain my excitement when I ran across Ohikkoshi, and I had absolute confidence that he would deliver the same beautiful artwork and compelling storytelling that I've become accustomed to.
The story focuses on Tono and his group of friends taking those awkward, and often difficult steps toward adulthood. Desperately clinging together over alcohol, cigarettes, loud music, and love, the group slowly begins to crumble as each begins to drift toward their own respective paths.
It's a fairly simple story, and the sort of subject matter that I'm not used to
seeing from Samura, but as someone dangerously close to turning 30, I couldn't help reflecting upon my own experiences and struggles during that time of my life. Tono's obsessive and awkward feelings for his friend Akagi, the group's constant drinking, smoking, and desperate attempts to continue living in the moment, all of it echoed my own experiences and put me in a bit of an introspective mood. In this respect, Ohikkoshi does a fantastic job of delivering an interesting, relatable story, and I suspect a lot of people in their 20's and 30's will be immediately sucked in.
Taking this into account, it's unfortunate that the actual narrative is a bit of a mess. Dialog and plot elements are introduced at an erratic and random pace, often from panel to panel, and it's often difficult to follow what's going on, who's talking to whom, and what the group is even talking about or doing. This is further complicated by elements that are exaggerated or part of a character's imagination, but with little to differentiate any of it. One moment, I would find myself sucked in and enjoying the story and characters, only to be pulled back out of it again, and I couldn't shake the feeling that maybe something was wrong with the translation, as the experience was similar to some of the crappier scanlations I've run across.
While there were a lot of things I enjoyed about Ohikkoshi, it's clear that this story simply needed to be longer and paced more evenly. Instead, what's presented is something that could have been a truly great manga, but whose potential is sadly cut short. I'm not sure I'd recommend it if you're just looking for something new and interesting to read, but Samura fans will likely want to check it out if only to get a brief taste of what might have been.
The first person who teach you the meaning of the verb love will also be the first person who teaches you the meaning of the pain."
For some unknown reasons, I ended up dumping Blade of the Immortal, a renowned Samurai Manga. A year later, I've finally found the answer. It wasn't that BOTI was bad, it was because somewhere deep inside my brain, I was confirmed that Samura's real talent lies somewhere else and it turned out that I was right. Ohikkoshi brought out the best from Samura as he tells the stories of "Youth-in-Love" in a fantastic manner.
In this short but exciting manga, the
characters are portrayed realistically, art is epic as ever, the humor and puns are exciting and the ending is something to look out for.
Also includes a one shot "Luncheon of Tears Diary" which is probably one of the best dark humor stories I've ever read.