Apr 13, 2021
** spoiler alert ** "Me and the Devil Blues," a horror tale and retelling of American South mythologies, stars RJ, a man who sells his soul to the devil in exchange for the devil teaching him how to play the blues. The story includes many elements that are common to American readers but are hardly ever seen in Japanese comics, such as lynching and sharp racial differences in the south. According to what I've learned about the blues from both the manga and my reading, it's necessary to embrace and deal with emotion in order to play the blues. It's all about pouring your heart
and soul into your instrument and allowing it to represent your tears, blood, and sweat. When I read it I could feel those tears and sweat, because this manga is full of emotion. Although it's safe to say that in real life, Robert Johnson didn't sell his soul to the devil in order to gain such fame, the manga by Hiramoto Akira has done an excellent job of weaving the "devil's" presence into a timeline of Johnson's life. However, in addition to portraying Johnson's life, the manga is also a serious drama in that it introduces the viewer to a world rife with institutionalized racism. Racism is a touchy subject to bring up in real life, but Hiramoto tackles it head on and manages to be remarkably down to earth and honest in his portrayal of the subject. He has taken care not to include stereotypes, but rather realistic characters that represent the impoverished minority. I really enjoyed reading the vibrant Southern lingo and slang; although this may be due in part to the translator's excellent work, the language effectively conveys the atmosphere. Its art also was very amazing with a much more realistic feel to it than other manga I've read. Sometimes it was almost too scary to look at. The scene where RJ's friend had a knife centimeters away from his eyes after bragging about how good RJ was at playing made me want to run away from my screen. With depictions of death from racial hate and even showing weakness to a woman in the first chapter, the artwork was top class. An amazing story and definitely something that someone should read in their lifetime.
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