May 21, 2021
Gen-ei Hakurankai is a manga, which has the typical traits of a work from Kei Toume, and I do mean this in the best possible manner. The manga is a detective story, set in the specific Taisho era of Japan (1912-1926), is portrayed with absolute detail, when it comes to fashion, design of the setting, as well as it's very subtly reflected in the character's interactions and philosophies, which is an absolute treat for people interested in historical settings.
The story of this work is not it's best part , in my opinion, I do believe the episodic formula works well to
flesh out our characters, and their personalities, but then again some more focus on a closure early one would've been preferred. Oftenly the chapter or two lenght short stories are great, sometimes they're mediocre at best. As stated before though, the author reflected perfectly the thoughts he has on the political and social climate of the time period by his characters, be they the main cast or the support ones, which gives the story quite peculiar and specific feel.
Art wise, Kei Toume's art is at it's best here, the character's facial expressions, their mannerisms and glances can very well to be said to be the better half of the storytelling of this work. Special work was put in the girl assistant, and her mysterious personality gives far more refined taste to the whole manga. The slightly gritty, and misty/rustic artstyle seems perfect fir for the era that the story takes place.
The work's characters that we mainly interact with are the detective and his sidekick, as well as the episodic appearance of others, the main cast is very entertaining to be seen as it banters, but sadly I do believe far more gradual and organic development could've been done about their chemistry, which is a pity.
Overally I do mostly believe this manga would be very entertaining read for fans of Kei Toume's other works, since all of the mangaka's works have this calm, sometimes somber, sometimes heartwarming, but almost always organic and relatable, humane characters, who do struggle with fitting in the world or society as a whole, or trying to let loose of the societal norms and achieve personal catharsis. I do also believe the work does gives us a great insight for the Taisho era Japan's political and social climate, well portraying the anxieties of losing their own culture and identity while trying to Westernise itself, as well as being suspicions of any interactions with foreigners, and their interests. For this I do believe the work will be appealing for people who are interested in history in general, as well as people interested in the development of the japanese values and virtues that are evident today.
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