I happened to come across red snow while looking at Yoshihiro Tatsumi manga on amazon and as an aspiring fan of gekiga I decided to purchase it. I was not disappointed. It delivers on that nostalgic yet forlorn mood that can be found in Tatsumi's work. Red Snow captures that post-war Japanese identity that permeates throughout the other gekiga of the time period.
However, as with any short story collection it is a roller coaster of quality. Some of the stories were great while others were not. This could be a product of the editors at Drawn and Quarterly, the original Japanese publication or even
Katsumata's own faults. Although the stories are all linked in the similarity of rural backgrounds I often felt the stories were disconnected thematically from one another. Sure the characters are all struggling rural people but I could not find the thread that linked them together. If it was there, it did not hit home with me. That being said, the stories had their moments. Also, they give a glimpse into the lives of people in a specific place and time that is different from mine own. An aspect of the written word that I think is irreplaceable. On that aspect red snow delivers. At the end of the day it is a gekiga about the lives of rural Japanese people. It isn't flashy or superfluous. Katsumata's style is very direct as is custom of gekiga and he knows what stories he wishes to tell. Sometimes they lack punch but their intention is clear.
The art is standard gekiga. Nothing to write home about. Not bad, not great, average gekiga.
Overall, I enjoyed this release and only wish that we had more access to other gekiga stories in the west. Because this style of comic does not really exist in western comics I will take any chance I can get to read some more. If you like gekiga, Red Snow is worth reading. If you are new to gekiga, I would recommend starting with Yoshihiro Tatsumi as I prefer his works in both art and storytelling. If you don't like gekiga, then I am not sure how you made it here but this manga is probably not for you.