Undercurrent is an excellent, mature, adult, drama. The art isn’t fancy, but the story is a good exploration of abandonment, understanding those closest to you, and living in the aftermath of losing a family member.
It’s also an insight into the way Japanese public baths work, as the story’s main setting is in one. Main character Kanae runs a public bath with her husband, when one day he suddenly disappears from her life without any explanation, leaving no clues whatsoever.
Did he die? Did he run away? There could be a million reasons for why he disappeared, and that is the true horror
of such a scenario. The constant questioning, the lack of answers, the unproved possibilities always plaguing you night and day without end.
What do you do when your husband leaves the house one day and never returns? Kanae goes out of her mind with worry, she phones the authorities, hospitals; she wonders about motivations, did he cheat on her? Did he get bored of her? Did he commit suicide? She doubts even truly knowing him in the first place.
The dread of not knowing why someone disappeared one day is the ultimate nightmare, it is a never-ending hell with no resolution, and it’s explored very well with Undercurrent. There is a sad melancholy way about Kanae and her predicament that never veers into melodrama or histrionics; it’s perfectly subtle in that typically Japanese way.
Undercurrent poses this question: ‘what does it mean to understand someone?’ And it poses it in such an effective way, with multiple examples, scenarios and lots of poignant moments that are steeped in the kind of darkness human beings are capable of, and capable of surviving. There are really great revelations brought to the surface in the story, and they are executed in satisfying ways, with no shocking double-page panels or anything of that nature, they’re simply brought to the reader in a matter of fact way, which in a way is more effective.
The more Kanae tries to discover the truth of her husband's disappearence, the more a hidden truth in her subconscious rises to the surface of her mind, and its this duality and subtext that makes the manga an excellent read.
Undercurrent may disappoint the majority of manga readers, because it’s not concerned with typical manga conventions; it’s more concerned with story and drama, so you won’t see attractive character designs or wardrobes, you won’t see speed lines, action scenes, excessive nudity or fan service, and this is to be commended: Knowing what belongs in your chosen genre, and what doesn’t.
Author Tetsuya Toyoda's preoccupation with telling the story at a slow measured pace and reserved style ensures maximum emotional impact because the story and character conflicts and relationships are always at the forefront.
Undercurrent is a tense mystery, a melancholy drama, a subtle romance; it’s a quality manga.
The disappearance of someone close to you can be a frightening and dreadful experience, which may influence your daily life immensely, full of uncertainty: where is he? Did he hate me? Did he die? These are questions you won't stop asking yourself, and in the case of Undercurrent, it explores this theme in a satisfying manner.
The premise of the story is straightforward, Kanae coping with life after the disappearance of her husband, without any clue or hope as the reason to why. Undercurrent's main strength relies on its presentation and exploration of abandonment: uncertainty, stress, longing are many themes that are tackled. However, it is
a difficult task to convey these to the reader, and in this case it was executed well, yet it had its shortcomings.
The pacing of the manga was not that satisfactory in comparison. The slice of life moments were well done, yet conveying these afore-mentioned themes were done at some bad moments, besides of not fully exploring it. The buildup of the story is another aspect that should be mentioned. The author gave the impression he was trying to have a gradual progression, yet as the story nears its conclusion, events take place at a surprisingly fast pace in comparison.
There is an interesting aspect the manga tackles: what it means to understand a person. The concept on its own makes any reader ponder whether he or she really understands her peers, and in the manga it was well shown. Another aspect is the fact that Kanae works in a "onsen" or public bath house alongside with an old lady that helps her out: the labour of maintaining an onsen is well displayed, which was a pleasant detail that enhanced to the overall setting of the manga.
The characters are rather dull and uninteresting in comparison with the premise. Readers observe Kanae's everyday life and hardships, yet little character development is to be found in her, as well as the supporting cast. This doesn't mean that human relationships are lackluster as well; these are displayed in a satisfying manner, with a supporting cast of normal citizens. However, motivations behind some actions are rather disappointing and unrealistic, yet I can understand to a certain extent some of these motives.
The art style of Undercurrent is nothing outstanding, yet fulfills its purpose well for what it is trying to convey. Characters expressions might seem off at times, in addition of characters designs rather dull at times. There certainly is a big abundance of well drawn backgrounds, which enhances the overall atmosphere it is trying to convey.
To sum up, Undercurrent was an interesting read that presented a subject anyone may ponder about: understanding your fellow peers, which can be really difficult to do at times. The themes that were presented were of intriguing nature, yet the author didn't fully managed to convey it properly. The conclusion was rather unsatisfying, as the motives were lackluster. It is certainly worth a read, as it is only 11 chapters long, in addition to presenting interesting themes a reader may have experienced or want to know an interpretation of it.
This is my first review and English is not my native language
I read this because a beginning manga youtuber recommended it in a video saying that it was super deep and super mature. I even bought the manga and read it while I was in the train on the way to my faculty, and once read, I returned the manga and cancelled my subscription to that channel.
The story doesn't exists, or in other words: there is no present story. When I watch an anime/read a manga I want to see things happening, not things that had happened: the only plot motors comes from the
past, nothing relevant happens in this manga: the main character hires a guy and... that's all, they try to find the disaperared husband and the final explanation is like "ok, i don't give a shit". I know this is planned so but IT'S BORING.
I know it is mature, for example: in Mushishi there are bugs doing thing to people, but Ginko doesn't explode in rage to kill all the Mushis, he accepts the reality, something that a mature adult would do. Shingeki no kyojin, in the other hand, tells the story of titans doing bad things to people, and Eren is all the time screaming "i'm gonna kill all titans, i'm gonna kill all titans", yes, they kill his mother before him but anyway it's a very childish behaviour. So once explained what is for me mature and what not I can say that Undercurret has a mature plot because the main character tries to face the fact that she has been left by her husband and also because there is no ecchi, otaku-comedy within, there are no plot holes and there is not Freud shit without fundament to look smarter than it is, but also there is something important that every story has to have in mind and that is "be entertaining", and it can not be addictive but the first thing I want when i read/watch something is that I get amused. There is no hook and in the end I had to thank for at last only be eleven chapters.
I don't remember very well but it hasn't a bad background work, it's light years behind Inio Asano's but it's decent.
The characters anatomy is... good, but the design is very idle, I guess that it's due to it's a slice of life but please: THE (female) MAIN CHARACTER LOOKS LIKE A MAN, I can't with that
The characters are the best part of the manga, but "better than" still doesn't mean directly "good". All the character have all the time a poker face except for a pair of cases. There is no charm or charisma, I don't give a shit that the character change if before anything they are not interesting. I say that they are the best part because at last they transmit the atmosphera they try to give.
I DIDN'T LIKE THIS MANGA. Be mature doesn't always mean be fucking good, I have enjoyed a lot of animes that have a minor level of maturity but they are one hundred times entertaining than this. At the beginning i was like ._. then I was like ._. and in the end I was ._.
Sometimes I was lazy to take the one-shot and read and that is not good. I swear I have no problems with the "slice of life", my favourite anime manga is Oyasumi Punpun and if you go to my Anime and Manga List I enjoyed and enjoy a lot of slices of life like Yotsuba, NHK, Genshiken, etc.
I DON?T RECOMMEND THIS, it's not bad but is it's far away to be something I could consider amusing.