Red-Colored Elegy notes

September 1, 2008

I have a long essay about Seiichi HAYASHI’s Red Colored Elegy in the new TCJ.  It’s one of the most important of all manga translated in English, so I’ve been mostly disappointed in the online reviews.  Most treat it as just another book to rush through for the next of fifty blog posts.  Must!  Create!  Content!

Eddie Campbell’s review, though, puts it in context.  He rightly notes the link to cinema– Red-Colored Elegy recalls the storytelling of the early Nouvelle Vague–and that many of today’s readers have more linear tastes.  (Or maybe they’re just impatient.)  Campbell’s one of the most articulate of all cartoonists, so he could pan my favorites and I’d walk away agreeing.

Early 70s GARO covers by Seiichi Hayashi

Anyway, my essay talks about Hayashi’s earlier works and the political context.  It was the early 70s.  May ’68 lingered; the cool kids were protesting the US security treaty.  And living in sin.  The book was popular, perhaps, because of the moment, maybe just the song.  At least the book deserved the attention.  It still does.

Here are some resources and scraps of interest from the Web:

  • Seiichi HAYASHI’s offical web page
  • The book’s theme song & Hayashi’s album art
  • Ga-nime’s recent anime version, with a short preview (I haven’t seen this yet)
  • An English-language short history of the Left in Japan.  Radical politics informs much of the era’s manga and animation.  I discuss this at length in the essay, especially the links to Hayao MIYAZAKI & his pal Isao TAKAHATA back in the day
  • Hayashi’s design for Lotte’s Koume candy, on a retro package.  He’s probably better-known as an illustrator than a manga artist.  I swear I’ve seen a YouTubed commercial with his animation, but it disappeared in a sea of Olympic ping-pong videos.
  • The closing credits for the movie version, Boku Ha Tenshi Dyanai Yo! is on YouTube still, but I won’t link to it because it’s just ridiculous.

Also, Adam Stephanides, another critic for TCJ, had the first(?) English-language review of the book back in May ’04.  He’s a smart critic, and one of the few who read Japanese.  A follow-up post has more.

Finally, some Japanese-language resources I found helpful:

  • Interview for the opening of a 30-year retrospective of Hayashi’s work at Hachioji’s Dream Museum in 2007
  • Anido, the venerable animiation society. Has a thin English page.
  • Brief history of the strike at Toei Animation
  • There are a half-dozen short biographies of Hayashi out there, including on Wikipedia, but the Japanese in the links turns to gibberish in WordPress.

I now eagerly await the review carousel of Hayashi’s other major work, pH 4.5 The Guppy Doesn’t Die.

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