大発掘 (Daihakkutsu, published in Germany under the title "Existenzen und andere Abgründe" [Existences and other abyss]) is a collection of 13 older short stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Tatsumi is considered to be the father of the "Gekiga" genre. Gekiga, a play on words, with Manga meaning "whimsical drawings" and Gekiga meaning "dramatic drawings".
The 13 independent stories follow a typical short story pattern, where the reader follows a certain time frame of another person without prior knowledge about this person or their particular circumstances. Tatsumi does a great job in providing just enough to the to know everything he or she needs to know to follow the current story. Of course there could be more background information but that is a general characteristic of short stories.
The stories have a mature background (Gekiga) and let the reader observe Tatsumis characters, that are almost all placed on the bottom fringe of society in some way or another. I wouldn't go as far as to deem these characters 'broken' but if serious/mature/social drama material is your thing and you can deal with the incompleteness of short stories and do not necessarily need a happy ending, then you'll probably want to give this lecture a try.
I'll give Story a 9 (please keep the previous sentence in mind)
The graphics feature an oldschool pre-digital look that reminded me of barefoot gen. They are not overly detailed, but focus on the main point. Were the panels memorable or breathtaking? Rather not, but then again, the story is no fairytale neither, so it is quite fitting for the story. All in all the graphics were pretty solid, sometimes you notice the hectic behind drawing the panels, but then again you'll also find the occasional beauty that stands out from the rest.
I've given this a rating of 6 ("slightly above average"), because the age of the graphics shows, as well as the pressure of producing enough panels in a certain time.
Since these are short stories and this book has an observational perspective I don't want to judge about the characters and their development. When reading the book I never felt conflicted with the characters decisions, they all made sense in their specific situation.
Fun thing to do: Compare the appearance of the main protagonist to photos of Tatsumi and wonder if the characters share more similarities than just the looks.
I've given this category a 7, since it is a short story, which always leaves me wanting to know more about a characters background. But again this is a short story limitation.
I really enjoyed the grounded maturity of this work that is in a crass contrast to the rest of the cheerful and fantastic manga/anime world. Tatsumis stories are the ones that happen in the real world (probably more often then you'd want). And I can see myself reading this work again in the future re-reflect my own viewpoints on the depicted situations. I give this category a 9, even though it is difficult to really "enjoy" suffering.
Post scriptum: Yoshihiro Tatsumi passed away in March 2015. read more