Aug 30, 2009
“The Time Milk Wound the Spring” is a bizarre collection of short stories, centered around an enigmatic little girl named Milk. Milk possesses a flair for imagination as well as a bit of a cruel streak, most notable when she muses to her father about possibly boiling the child her mother is expecting in a pot, if not tossing it into the washing machine. The jealousy that often manifests itself in only children expecting a new sibling is taken to the extreme by Milk. When the child is born however, Milk is most accepting of it, even loving. That is because the child is in
fact... a large dinosaur. Or at least that’s what Milk would have you believe as the page turns to an image of her walking through the city with her new “brother”. This kind of quirky surrealism is what you should expect when reading this manga.
The stories that follow are equally as odd; from Milk’s boyfriend becoming pregnant from an innocent kiss after Milk told him “if you kiss someone you’ll get pregnant!” to people disappearing off the face of the Earth due to Milk forgetting them. Each story places the little girl into a position of immense power and control over her environment, concluding with the titular story in which the world literally stands still with only Milk left to wind the springs of the great machine that powers the world.
The art style of “Milk Wound the Spring” is not overly detailed or messy. Each page is composed of simple, yet effective imagery which helps to tell the odd tales in fewer words.
In terms of characters there is really only Milk as a constant. She embodies the innocence of childhood, the wild imagination that can often only exist when one is naive to the world around them. We see Milk’s childish thoughts and ideas manifest themselves to shape the world; controlling others and her environment as well. This is a somewhat disturbing notion in and of itself. When one has turned the last page however, one still doesn’t really know if these tales actually happened in the way that Milk described or if it was all in her imagination. It seems that she may perhaps have been utilizing these fantastical stories to deal with her own changing environment. The issue of her mother having a new baby was solved when it turned out to be a dinosaur. The nervousness and confusion of her first romantic relationship was avoided when her boyfriend became pregnant from a kiss and had to leave. The coming of adolescence was brought to a halt as the earth stood still. On the second to last page Milk admits that she may have wound the spring a bit too much. “Time started moving faster” and her dress was becoming too small for her, her legs growing longer. Her mother assures her that it is because she is growing up. Milk however is having none of that. “I made like I was impressed, like a good little kid...but what really happened; only I know!” And thus she continues to use a childish rational to explain the world around her.
“The Time Milk Wound the Spring” is a quick read, flavored with bizarre surrealism and the wacky imaginings of childhood. The idea of a young girl desperately clinging onto her childhood is executed effectively with simple, poignant stories that read like fairy tales or bedtime stories. It’s worth a read if you’re looking for something a little different from the typical plot-based manga or school-life comedy.
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