Some manga-fans may know Mohiro Kitoh as the creator of 'Bokurano', an manga-series that puts a spin to the Super Robot-genre so utterly dark and nihilistic that it makes Evangelion (the godfather of genre-deconstructions in the anime-medium) look pleasant.
Many of Kitoh's works are similarly disturbing and depressing; but Zansho is an exception. It's by no means lighthearted; but the 7 stories featured in this collection combine insightful obervations on themes like regret and loss with a more bittersweet outlook on life and people as opposed to the oppressing nihilsm that normally permeates his work.
I'll reffrain from extensively explaining each of the stories in
detail seeing as the experience will be much more effective if the reader goes into it unspoiled. I will, however, shortly discuss some of the themes tackled in this collection to give you an impression of what's in store for you should you read it:
- Unrequited love.
- The way the old and (to some) comfortable is inevitably trampled by societal progress.
- Thoughts and feelings left unspoken and the often saddening consequences of it.
- How people change as they grow older, and how they long for happier days in the past that didn't seem so special to them back when they were actually living them.
The characters featured in these stories are mostly good people with very human flaws. Kitoh does an excellent job at writing realistic personalities and manages to tie them into a very strong narrative to make for a satisfying read which is all the more admirable given the short length of each chapter. Kitoh manages to create character-arcs in about 30 pages that most anime/manga struggle to do in dozens of chapters/episodes, very admirable indeed.
Great stuff all in all, which makes it that much more of a pity that the art isn't all that good. Many of the characters have the same 'skinny guy/girl'-model with slight alterations each time (mostly a change in haircut and/or something on the face like a mole or a scar). The way the characters 'posed' (while walking or standing) also seemed somewhat awkward at times.
The art is by no means a dealbreaker though. It still carries the narrative well and when the narrative is this good a few visual blemishes are easily forgiven.
Recommended to any manga-fan looking for a quick, poignant read. In particular to those who loved Bokurano and are in for another Kitoh-fix, one that's considerably more affectionate but no less intelligent.