Tale of Genji Vol. #01 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Wednesday, November 08, 2006
Release Date: Saturday, July 01, 2006
Writer/Artist:Artist: Yoshitaka Amano Text: Anri Ito and Junichi Imura
Translated by:Rachel Nacht
What They Say
Yoshitaka Amano has been praised around the world for his lush watercolors and evocative work dealing with myth and legend. In The Tale of Genji Mr. Amano brings his considerable talent to retelling one of the most famous of Japanese myths: written by Murasaki Shikibu shortly after 1000 AD and considered by most scholars to be the first novel ever written, The Tale of Genji is the story of the romantic adventures of Genji, the amazingly handsome prince and his many romantic conquests. Told through stunning paintings, Mr. Amano brings this classic story to life for a new generation.
The Tale of Genji is a prime example of Amano's stunning art style, which flows across the pages like a meandering brook late in the summer months before the first rains.
The packaging for this title is quite simply amazing. Presented in hard cover with a dust jacket and printed on glossy paper makes this a wonderful addition to any coffee table line up. The artwork for the front is colored in brown tones with stark white skinned ladies giving the art a nice contrast. The ladies on the front are depicted in various states of undress and represent Genji's many loves. The front cover art wraps around to the back where there is a small picture of Genji sitting on a massive flower under a crescent moon, which successfully hints at Genji's 'sneak into her bed at night' way of life. A nice addition to this title is the four-page, two-sided fold out depicting Genji making love to a mistress. Interestingly, both sides of the fold out display the same picture, one side colored in red and white, the other in light blue and white
Contents: (Oh yes, there may be spoilers)
The original Tale of Genji was written by a woman of the court in the eleventh century and has been credited with being perhaps the first modern novel. In this release by DH Press, The Tale of Genji has been interpreted by Yoshitaka Amano, who uses his art to highlight the women Genji fell in love with and cared for during his illustrious career as a lover of women. Not a gigolo, Genji had his own money and prestige, Genji was incredibly attractive and apparently quite able at convincing women they loved him. To his own credit, Genji appeared to be a genuinely nice guy (aside from cheating on his wife) because he truly loved the women he was with and financially accepted responsibility for his actions.
As an art book this title is interesting because there is a small amount of text explaining Genji's relationship with a particular woman, which is then accompanied by one or two paintings and a quote from the original Tale of Genji. This pairing of art with a description of the situation and its characters is done amazingly well. Now, I will admit that not every single painting readily lends itself to depicting the described situation, but certainly the vast majority of the paintings.
The artwork itself is rough and has an almost dark feeling to it. The characters are not always proportional and their hair is often very 'stringy', but the colors used for each painting successfully adds to the pictures theme. Some paintings possess as few as three colors, which can create a very strong emotion of energy or peace depending on whether the colors were primary or pastel in nature. On the other hand, some paintings are an explosion of colors with hair and clothing swirling in the winds of the depicted lover's passion. Many of the pictures span two pages and dance with vibrant colors.
Amano may have made his artistic debut in anime but according to his biography he has been much more interested in painting lithographs for the last decade. This interest in painting is quite apparent in this title and the other DH release Fairies. So as another reviewer mentioned when she reviewed Yoshitaka Amano's Fairies, if you're interested in anime or manga style artwork then you should look somewhere else. However, if you appreciate art in general and Amano's flowing style in particular, then I highly recommend this title for its art and the high quality presentation this title received from DH.
Mania Grade: NA
Art Rating: N/A
Packaging Rating: A+
Text/Translatin Rating: A
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Released By: Dark Horse
Orientation: Left to Right