Eshikawa receives a letter from parents of a former girlfriend Hasumi, which says that she committed suicide. He remembers the time when they were together and trying to understand why she had committed suicide.
What is happiness if you have to trade lies for it? Is it happiness at all? Is lying to someone alright as long as those lies fuel their joy? But then, how happy does it make you, knowing the truth but not speaking it?
There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, there are only opinions. And in this manga, Yoshitoshi ABe provides us with his mellow insight, layered with a simple, yet powerful, premise. Ame no Furu Basho is another experiment of ABe, who seems to be eternally creative, with critically acclaimed titles such as Haibane Renmei, a quaint anime about a sort
of angels, and Serial Experiments Lain, a morose anime about the information revolution, under his belt.
Eshikawa is a man who has lost sight of his life and stumbles through it, with no clear meaning or purpose after his girlfriend leaves him. After he is informed that she committed suicide, his brain is set to introspect mode. Through the course of the 28 pages, he goes on a journey of self-revelation and contemplates upon the myriad of human emotions, the joys and sorrows of normalcy.
Even in the absence of a meaty story,we are reminded how mere character thoughts and interactions alone can carry the story forward, even with a complete lack of plot. The story is very simple and there are no plot twists of any sort, and neither are they necessary. Real life conversations cut in occasionally with flashbacks is all that this one is about. And with less than thirty pages to work with, we are handed quite a heavy message.
The dialogue in Ame no Furu Basho is the highlight, simply because it manages to say so much with so little. There are no distractions in the form of comic relief or melodrama and it all moves in a focused and rather melancholy direction. For the (very short) reading time, you find yourself absorbed and once you’re done, you’d be surprised at how Slice of Life and Tragedy come together in such perfect harmony.
The art is bland, but that's to be expected since this manga was finished when the mangaka was in university. It won the prestigious Afternoon Shiki award, not because of the candy for the eye, but for the grey cells.
The characters are nothing special and are perfectly average human beings, which makes it an apt fit for the Slice of Life feel of this one-shot. They are linear and there is hardly any character development save the last two pages. However, credit is due for making the characters interesting in the first pace, even though they are “everyday people”.
Ame no Furu Basho is more of an idea and it aims and achieves nothing more than providing food for thought. It's a fairly straightforward tale that showcases life after a break-up and life after a death poignantly. If you're looking for a manga that has a plot which twists and turns, complex characters and gorgeous art, then Ame no Furu Basho will without a doubt disappoint you in each of those departments. However, if a quick thought-provoking read is your thing, then this should work like a charm. There's not a lot of ground that can be covered in 28 pages, but it certainly is ideal for those casual manga readers who don't have the patience to sit through several volumes. It takes only about five minutes to read, so just dive with both feet in, because you'll be up in no time.