In the midst of a blazing hot summer beset by water shortages, middle-school girl Chinami faints from heat exhaustion. Upon waking up, she finds herself in a mysterious town by a beautifully pristine river whose waters hide many secrets...
I started reading Waters because I like the author and rivers. Used to live near a river, and once was fascinated with the way it carried away the corpses of bugs and the filth of my hands, yet never seemed to dirty its water. At the time I was very young so I didn’t understand the hydrological cycle. To me the river was an invincible, cleansing place trapped in its own world.
The story involves a family and their home village. It begins with Chinami, who lives in a present beset by heat and water shortages. She passes out and wakes up in a place
that no longer exists. A boy, his elderly father, and her are the only inhabitants of this village stuck in time. As Chinami explores this place she discovers the roots of her family, as well as memories no one was able to forget.
Waters walks a balanced line between isolated tales and an overall story: each generation of the family is explored in detail, introduced through the youngest and then starting at the oldest. Slowly it is revealed how all the generations are tied together by the boy who lives in the village.
Time passes quickly in this manga, zipping through many decades of life and showing the same cycles repeat in each version of an ever-changing culture. The titular water at the waterfall also displays this by filling the rivers in times of rain, evaporating in times of heat to return to the sky, and flooding the streets upon human intervention. Nature continues on, its water giving and taking human life.
Some people would want to see this cycle stopped, and see a static world created, where they can live continuously in their favorite moment. Whether this utopian illusion (pictured as the village) is the heaven most people want to see, a fond memory of the past, or a simple desire to keep hold of precious things isn’t really touched upon. Waters is not preachy, so it never seeks to teach lessons about life or death.
Yuki Urushibara is a fantastic artist, so naturally the environments look great. Little details like stones by the road or scrapes in the wooden floor are of course covered, but what separated this manga is the atmosphere. Mist, rain, the waves of heat assaulting an urban home, and sunlight flaring in the morning all enhance the mood. Like the author’s previous work, character designs are extremely limited; in this series however, almost everyone is part of the same family, so it only makes sense for them to look similar.
This wasn’t a masterpiece, nor was it the best water-themed seinen manga I’ve read. It was very good though, and in more ways than the kind of trashy-entertainment good. I enjoyed it a lot.
Suiiki (Waters) is a drama that focuses on a girl named Chinami and her family’s heritage. Due to a heatwave in Japan she faints repeatedly and dreams about a mysterious Valley by a river. The story is two volumes short (~460 pages) and contains a minimal amount of supernatural elements, but so lightly that you can probably overlook it, if you're not into that.
The story is mainly told through the dream scenes and flashbacks, this might be confusing at times but seems to be necessary to let the story slowly unwrap itself to fit the big picture. Parts of the story were quite predictable, but
that didn't take away the fun from reading it. I'm not too familiar with the supernatural genre, but I felt just a little bit cheated at the end, when everything came back together nicely. Therefore I'm giving story a 7.
Always depends on ones individual taste. The drawing is of a modern 2000-era quality and features characters with realistic proportions (and no fanservice). Urushibara seems to prefer two distinct types of panels: a) Environmental Panels, that are drawn with great care to details and look quite realistic and b) close-ups of a characters face where Urushibara tries to display a wide variety of emotions. The last point however lead to a certain repetition sometimes, where I asked myself whether she has simply copied/recropped a panel. This impression might be reinforced by the fact that the story focuses mainly around one family so the faces look somewhat familiar (e.g., grandma, mother, daughter). Besides that I couldn't find any obvious flaws (like different proportions, inconsistencies in character appearances, ...) in the art, it is pretty and consistent throughout the whole manga. Therefore I'm giving art a 9.
Due to the many close-up face panels the characters are nicely portrait, one can read their emotions from the faces. However the character study is limited to the main story, we only get to see the story relevant pieces, which leads to some plausible, but in my opinion somewhat flat, characters. The characters don't have to make moral decisions, in fact they don't have to make any real decisions, so I find it hard to identify with them. Therefore I'm giving them a 6 with a slight tendency to a 7. [On a scale of 1 (absolutely horrible) to 5 (average) to 10 absolutely outstanding]
I found much of the enjoyment in the different moods Urushibara was able to create. Mainly the mix of dry heat and cool misty and rainy water environments. Also I liked the relatively short and smooth story telling.
I'm giving it an 8.
It is nothing too exciting, but also nothing too dramatic or too romantic. It's an easy and enjoyable read, with an somewhat happy ending. I imagine it to be a nice read for a (or maybe two) rainy afternoon(s), when you're wrapped up in a blanket.
The calculation of the above values ((6+7+8+9)/4 = 7.5, with a slightly upward tendency in the Character section => 8) comes to an 8, with which I can happily agree :-)
P.S.: This review was part of the 2014 MAL Secret Santa - Review Edition, more infos: http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=1321323
Suiiki presents classic Japanese themes and motifs such as confronting the past only to ultimately deciding to move on, choosing to dwell in the present and not the past, and the importance of a strong familial household in an effective and new way. The story while not starting with these themes, develops them over time as a result of the plot, and ending with a more unified family and bright future.
A take on the story (not as much a synopsis) is that Chinami is confronted by her family past in the form of dreams that she enters, usually when she falls unconscious. In the dreams
she is left to confront and interact with the family's proverbial dark horse (the thing not talked about but always present in peoples mind) Sumio, who serves largely as an anchor keeping the family tethered to the past and their old village (now at the bottom of a dam). Chinami finds peace and relief (from the heat wave) in the dream and from Sumio's company, and is ultimately has to choose whether to live in the dream past or live in the present, actual world.
The art is constantly good, with lots of background artwork that makes every panel look lively and busy, but the characters (personalities) unfortunately don't have nearly as much character as the art. That said its understandable why the characters are moreover not particularly unique, its a drama, and they're meant to be normal people, and normal people are not heavily energetic and overly expressive; another reason probably being that the characters serve as a stand in for not just the family we see, but other family that lost their villages to other dams else ware. While the characters are not anything new, they are still interesting and endearing.
I normally pace out my reading but with this I found myself binge reading it to completion, curious the whole time with questions like -"what is this dream, how real is the dream, when is the dream, what does the heat have to do with it, how will they get Sumio out of the dream etc."
It has a beautiful mix of drama and supernatural that makes it an easy recommendation.