Maria is a manga from Kazuo Kamimura, a renowned gekiga author. At the time I write that review the manga is only available in Japanese and in French: my review is based on the French edition.
There isn't much of a plot; we simply follow the MC, Maria, a high school girl trying to find her place in her chaotic life.
The French edition is divided into two volumes, very different from each other:
The first volume is provoking, decadent and yet romantic. In it you'll find everything: dysfunctional families, violence, rape, depression, incest, passions and obviously murder and suicide. All of that with a little bits of
Reading that volume, I vacillated between astonishment and sour laughters.
The second volume is in contrary quiet, somewhat melancholic, and as always romantic. The little bits of nihilism gave away to a little bits of optimism. That doesn't mean there is no violence, no tragedy and such, but the atmosphere is quite different, the flow of the events too.
Speaking of which, about the atmosphere and the flow:
For those who already read a work from Kamimura (like Lady Snowblood), you'll find the same refined drawings inspired from the ukiyo-e art that are able to convey strong feelings, helped with a lot of symbolisms.
That manga really deserve the name of "graphic novel" in my eyes, since the drawings tell far more things than the text. By contrast the dialogs are simple and lapidary, without superfluous sentences. It is also though the drawings that the romantic atmosphere flows.
The art is really powerful, and it is thank to it that the manga manage to be sensible despite the very hard and harsh contents that it sometime have, while it glorify the characters' psyche and emotions.
I am really glad to have read that manga. And I do hope that in the future, more people will be able to read it.