“Capitalism and Love.”
Life is quite a volatile fellow, you’ll never know what it’ll throw at you, whether it be an opportunity or a nonchalant crocodile.
Kyoko Okazaki is known for implementing controversial dark but real themes in her works such as sex, prostitution, drugs and homosexuality. Her brilliant work, "Pink" is no exception to some of these aspects."Pink" tackles on the introspection of its witty characters, sexual relations, and their frivolous nature which really work for the story’s essence.
We are introduced to 22 year-old Yumi who works part time at a small office. Yumi is quite the ebullient young woman who tries to
confront life with a positive vibe - even though her position and utter circumstances are far from it. In order to feed her voracious crocodile - who sports a fine pair of lenses - she must sell her body every night to make the proper dough. One would think she would detest such a disgraceful act, but ironically she brushes it off casually and continues on with a gleeful smile - albeit beneath that carefree nature lies jaundice and family issues.
We're also introduced to Yumi's young precocious step sister Keiko, the candy and prince fascinator but also the insightful one. Her mother being Yumi’s stepmother, Yumi detests her and does her best to ignore and ridicule her in her thoughts. Knowing full well that her stepmother favors the life of luxury and does not truly love her father.
Now, enter Haruo, a young college student with aspirations and dreams of becoming a respected novelist in the literary world. He is quite the sharp yet flawed man who makes his earnings by serving as a gigolo for Keiko's mother, a gigolo being a man who is paid/financially supported by an older woman to be her escort/lover. Haruo is an inquiring young man who wishes to expand his intellect and his "powers of observation" to aid in writing his novel. He ends up meeting Yumi, Keiko and the ever conspicuous croc, forming a unique, intrinsic bond.
I found the main set of characters to be quite dynamic and enjoyable through their interactions. Even though their situations may be ridiculous and off handed, they always seem to enjoy each other's company. As for the sexual content. It didn’t feel oversaturated or shoved into the writing like I thought it initially would. It had its purpose and meaning.
(Tip: Don’t read in public unless you want people leaning your way).
Pink’s form of storytelling is through the different point of views from various characters. Most had their own moments of soliloquy and internal reflections. I rather favored this since it let the reader understand the real motives behind their facade like nature.
The overall plot flowed smoothly and the pacing was quite good, though the romance felt a bit forced in the beginning due this ambiguous feeling I felt between the set characters, that is until it their lustful relationship turned into an intrinsic one as the plot progressed. Pink sports a rather unorthodox, minimalist yet vibrant art style which is reminiscent a vintage comic strip. I found this to be refreshing and different - really digging Okazaki’s signature style. As for that croc, i personally feel that this reptile may represent an array of things, hell - it may not symbolize anything, just a simple red herring left by the mangaka.
From my perspective, I believe that the croc represented Yumi's reason for living - her merit existence and vividness. Without it, she would become solemn and quite cynical. The pigmentation of pink was also brought up a couple times, representing happiness; a vibrant color in contrast of the gritty reality which the characters face blindly.
Overall, Pink is a great read with a fairly strong execution in the end. The story was not too overly complicated, neither was the frontal premise. Even so, the characters are what knitted the story together into an enjoyable read. I highly recommend this work, but be warned - since it showcases heavy sexual material which is not appropriate for the younger audience.