Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Manga Review: Not Simple

I was browsing the manga section at my local library and noticed this one when I saw the Sig Ikki logo on it and was even more interested when I saw that the manga-ka was Natsume Ono. I haven't actually read any of her works but I did really enjoy the anime version of House of Five Leaves (a noitaminA show from Spring 2010) so I decided this was as good a place as any to start.

Not Simple by Natsume Ono
Summary: Ian has had complicated and not quite happy life but this is the story of his journey across continents to reunite with his sister.

The Good: Despite the odd order of events the story was not that hard to follow and didn't even require a second glance through to piece together the parts of Ian's life. The whole story is wrapped up nicely at the end of the volume (a bigger book at 320 pages) and manages to feel rather complete, even if the beginning is the end and the reader doesn't find out the resolution until the last few pages.

The Bad: While reality (and fiction) can be very strange at times yet completely true, there is a point when a story becomes too strange, too coincidental, and too fantastical and Not Simple crossed that line. Too many strange things happen to Ian to really be believable and that made it harder to sympathize with him as well. The novelist, Jim, also feels a bit out of place in the story, almost as if Ono wanted even more tragedy and decided late in the planning stage that Jim's actions would work nicely.

The Art: Ono's style looks strange in all of her works but here it looks extra odd and unrefined. Every character is drawn in blocky shapes, the eyes are huge and flat, and the art feels more experimental, unlike her later works where the art is still different but feels like it tries to be different on purpose.  

So, not my cup of tea after all, oh well, although this does make me want to go and rewatch/find the manga for House of Five Leaves now. And apologies that this entry is going up later, I'm starting to do more cooking and I normally write these entries in the hour before dinner so they might go up a bit later all summer, hope that won't inconvenience people too much!


  1. Are you familiar with Ristorante Paradiso? I'm having second thoughts on picking Not Simple up because I liked House of Five Leaves but didn't like Ristorante =/

  2. I have not, the House of Five Leaves anime is her only other work that I've seen so I can't really help you here. But, if you do decide to try this one, it's fairly short so you wouldn't waste much time on it if you ended up disliking it.