Synonyms: White Clouds, Once Upon a Time, See You Next Time, Imp in the Night, Sakura Antique Store, Molehill, The Land of Dreams, Grape Harvest, Let's Go Home, The Story of a Flower, The Road Where Flowers Bloom, Egg Water, Hoppie's Bear, To a Certain Place
During my trawls through various manga on the internet I've managed to come across some absolute gems, both as series' and one-shots. Only a few have tempted me to actually want to write a review for them though, and only one manga (so far), has actually compelled me to write one.
That manga is White Clouds.
As some people have noticed, I like odd anime and manga (especially comedies). White Clouds manages to fulfill the odd part, but not in the way you'd expect.
The manga is the work of Hisae Iwaoka, and it adopts a very unusual art style which is more reminiscent of some surrealist western
cartoons and comics. Although this may be off putting to purists who like their manga just so, I found the style to be quite nice (and a little quaint), and it worked surprisingly well in the context of the story.
One thing that surprised me about the manga was Iwaoka's impacting use of white space, and the fact that some panels were removed in favour of a line of text. This actually helps heighten the emotion and atmosphere in the manga, and I'm rather pleased to see such techniques being used in a one-shot.
The story in White Clouds is, for want of a better word, unusual. Not unusual from it's actual content, but from it's perspective. The story, you see, is told from the perspective of the family pet (a dog). This may seem odd at first, but it has been done before (Massugu ni Ikou and Shiawase Sou no Okojo-san are two anime that adopt this format). That being said, the story is actually very touching.
I won't go into detail about the story though, as the manga is only 16 pages long so I don't want to spoil it for anyone.
With this being a one-shot manga, there is little scope for character development. However, I found myself sympathising with the characters by the end of the manga, especially the dog. There is a great deal of simple emotion packed into the 16 pages of the manga, and a sense of calm throughout, mainly brought on by the narration from the dog.
This is a very simple, touching, and bittersweet story, and will appeal to anyone who's ever owned (and loved), a pet. The art style may not be to everyone's liking, but my advice is just to accept it and follow the story, as it is a very rewarding read.
It's a rarity for a one-shot manga to display the kind of quality and story telling I'd expect from such noted series as YKK, Mushishi, Kino no Tabi, and the like, yet this one delivers the goods. It's a bittersweet story that's told from an unsual perspective, and because of this it has a very different atmosphere to other similar manga.
This is going to be a pretty short review because it's a pretty short story (a single chapter, a mere 16 pages) and not a lot could be said about it plot-wise without giving away a lot of story details that should be enjoyed while reading this. With that said, White Clouds is a very sentimental sort slice of life piece that, even in a genre becoming known for uniqueness, is quite unique.
Story: 10 (Outstanding)
The story is told through the perspective of an elderly dog watching over his equally elderly caretaker as his granddaughter comes to visit. Being a slice of life one-shot story, there
isn't much to stay without ruining detail, but it's a very soft, warming sentimental story about life and moving on when it's time to go.
Art: 10 (Outstanding)
The art is actually very simple, but takes advantage of that simplistic style to achieve almost a surreal, softened image as if being peered through the foggy depths of memories gone-by. Lacking any color, the art instead uses the ample white space to create a surreal, almost heaven-like feel.
Character: 10 (Outstanding)
There's actually quite a bit of character development concentrated into 16 pages, and subtle actions are used to tell who these characters are while telling the story it has to offer.
Enjoyment: 10 (Outstanding)
Perhaps "enjoyment" is the wrong word to use here, since it ends with a rather sad note, but, to put it simply, it gets you every time. This is simply a piece that, rather than just reading about in a simple review, you should just make an effort to go find and read it for yourself.
This is a very simple one-shot manga with a very simple slice of life story on life and death. But this simplicity only made this manga more touching and straight to the point. Don't expect teenage twinkly-eyed lovers here though, in fact, don't expect over the top visuals. But, nonetheless, the graphics of this manga is enough to pull your heartstrings and even make you cry.