This is one of those works that I'm having a lot of difficulties comprehending. I don't exactly know if I can respond to this work with my usual format. I'll give it a try, though.
There isn't so much a story as it is a conversation. It's a dialogue started by a painter who paints horrific images that are absolutely petrifying. I felt like this was a mix between Dante's Inferno and Eraserhead, where everything is symbolic and cruel. Does it make for a good story? Not necessarily, since there isn't a shred of hope, but there is a lesson, that lesson being that the world is cruel. I don't really agree with that, considering one person's life can suck and another's can be great, but even so, there are people with sucky lives who enjoy life nonetheless. So, just in that, I can't exactly connect with the mangaka's intentions.
However, one theme that is consistent is death and how indifferent it is. This I can sympathize with. Death is the great equalizer, the final occupation. The ending definitely reinforces the fact that regardless of what path is taken in life, death will arrive at your doorstep when you least expect it.
I really loved the classic, cartoony look of the art. It looked disgusting and horrid but it didn't look realistic. In that sense, this is where I feel the most 'Eraserhead' from the narrative. Everything was as if it were symbolic to the one telling the story, the painter. Everything he talked about was a painting he worked on, so every image was how he saw events as they unfolded. To this end, I found the artwork breathtaking.
There isn't much character but there's representations throughout. There isn't much else to discuss here. Again, it's all a conversation, a dialogue the reader is having with the painter. I suppose you learn a lot about the painter and it's all well and good but because of the format, we're introduced to other characters who are just disgusting human beings who have no purpose other than to make you feel disgusting.
The real focus here, as mentioned, is the painter. His character is quite strong, but some of the content is too archaic to be understood on the first read (at least for me). Does this make it bad? Not necessarily, but considering the whole work is likely a metaphor, there needs to be some grounding. If not in the setting, if not in the narrative, then at least the characters, right? Well, not so much.
I don't exactly enjoy watching people suffer. I don't think any sane individual would. However, the narrative starts out with black humor and then devolves into a dialogue of symbolism, so the suffering that takes place is... well, it's brutal, but it's bearable in the sense that there's a purpose. Is the purpose worthwhile in the end? I'm not so sure.
((If you liked this review, check out my other reviews by going to my profile and clicking the 'reviews' tab. I review virtually all anime and manga I find!))