I do not usually read mangas. But I am fond of comics -European style though- and I think that classic EC Comics (Tales From The Crypt and such) are gems. Actually, I do read some mangas, if stories are intelligent and drawings, polished.
Taniguchi is a manga craftsman. He has a unique way to slow down time, freezing the best moments of every day life. The mangaka really has a talent for stretching fleeting moments until they give this feeling to last eternally. Unfortunately, I am not sure that his work has been thoroughly translated into English.
Taniguchi’s narration unravels gracefully and lazily, such as in “The Walking Man”. Every day life tastes good. “The Solitary Gourmet” is a mouth-watering trip in Japanese restaurants. Each dish, each food rings a bell and leads to various impressions.
I have a fondness for “The Sweet Years”, a masterpiece filled with sensitivity and finesse. After an original novel written by Hiromi Kawakami, the story does not stray from this zen mood draping Taniguchi’s work.
Tsukiko, a thirtyish year old bachelor is meeting her Japanese teacher (master) in a café. He is old and widowed, but also as lonely and strange as she is. By chance, they meet again and then again and again. Their friendship eventually grows. Tsukiko won’t admit it but there is more than friendship between them. Emotions are coming to life. Slowly, gently, subtly. In one word: intensely.
Nothing is happening out of the ordinary. Dialogues are scarce, the line is clear and stylish. The unsaid is filling space and time. However, it is a can’t-put-down book with a solid story flow and beautiful emotions.
Just to get an extra pleasure extension, I was about to hold up my reading pace. I was dawdling from page to page, collecting emotions like I was picking flowers along a country road. I was full of this ethereal atmosphere wising me up.
Since Taniguchi, manga has definitely gained some respect and the art of drawing has now become a form of literature. The two volumes of “The Sweet Years” are proving it again in a brilliant way.