Final month I reviewed considered one of Shuzo Oshimi’s oldest works (Satan Ecstasy) and now I discover myself within the place of reviewing his most up-to-date ongoing collection: Welcome Again, Alice. Does it provide the intriguing but typically weird storytelling the writer is understood for? Let’s discover out!
The story follows the protagonist Yohei and his childhood mates Kei and Yui. In center college, Yohei and Kei have been inseparable and whereas Yohei held romantic emotions for Yui, he might by no means work up the braveness to talk to her not to mention confess his emotions. Nevertheless, these peaceable days collectively quickly got here to an finish when Yohei noticed Yui confessing her emotions to Kei after which kissing him which rapidly drove a wedge between Yohei and Kei’s relationship. Earlier than they acquired the possibility to make up, Kei’s household moved away, leaving Yohei alone at college with nothing however these bitter emotions.
Quick ahead three years and we discover Yohei and Yui beginning their first yr of highschool. Yohei vows to himself that that is the yr he’ll lastly speak to Yui and construct a relationship together with her, however little does he know his life is above to be thrown into disarray but once more when Kei transfers into their class having moved again to city all by himself. Not solely that however he’s now presenting as a lady with stunning lengthy golden hair and sporting the ladies’ college uniform, which definitely startles each Yohei and Yui who beforehand knew him as a sporty younger boy.
Though Kei is now presenting as feminine, he insists that he’s “finished being a man, however that doesn’t imply I need to be a woman.” So he’s tremendous with Yohei and Yui referring to him with male pronouns (as they do all through the e book so I’ve finished it right here to replicate that) and doesn’t notably care what anybody else thinks of him both. Kei merely desires to start out over with Yohei and proceed his friendship with Yui.
As a reader, there’s a lot to unpack concerning Kei, not solely due to his emotions towards his gender but in addition as a result of he seems to have emotions for Yohei. It’s unclear if Kei’s dislike for the male gender is as a result of being male is what attracted Yui to him (subsequently souring issues with Yohei) or if Kei has at all times held romantic emotions for Yohei and thinks presenting as feminine would assist change Yohei’s opinion, or if there’s something that occurred within the three years he was away. The solutions to these questions are one thing Oshimi appears to don’t have any intention of showing proper now, so all we are able to do is speculate.
In the meantime, Yohei finds himself confused about all the things. He nonetheless desires to discover a method to be with Yui, however now that Kei’s returned and is presenting as feminine our protagonist finds himself with emotions for him regardless of the actual fact he is aware of Kei is male. Kei’s advances solely serve to make Yohei extra flustered as he tries to realize management of his emotions and work out why he’s interested in Kei and if meaning he doesn’t love Yui. Plus he nonetheless must resolve what Kei felt for Yui once they kissed again in center college.
It’s a messy state of affairs and the sort that we regularly discover Oshimi depicting in his work. A reasonably extraordinary younger man getting wrapped up in one thing exterior his common life-style is the theme of most of his works, together with Flowers of Evil and Happiness (though that one has a fantasy bias to it). I believe the writer does an amazing job of depicting this within the paintings too, with small panels that depict the solid’s feelings in nice element. As a result of Oshimi makes use of small panels more often than not, when he does make the transition to a full-page unfold for a pivotal scene it hits with the supposed depth of no matter is occurring in that given scene. Actually, as somebody who has adopted Oshimi for therefore lengthy now, I like seeing how he’s labored to good his explicit type reasonably than change it from work to work. You’ll be able to inform, even at a look, that this manga is his.
Within the afterword for this quantity, Oshimi talks about his personal struggles with gender identification and the way he briefly thought he can be higher off as a woman, however to say that was turning a blind eye to the struggles girls must take care of. On this manga he hopes to “look at, confront, and deconstruct one’s intercourse drive and masculinity” and I believe so far as that goes, he’s off to an excellent begin.
It’s clear that reasonably than making an attempt to leap on board the recognition of LGBT+ themes in manga proper now, Oshimi is as an alternative tackling a topic near his coronary heart. That’s to not say it isn’t additionally leaping on the bandwagon, however realizing the writer identifies with the struggles of his characters makes it simpler to offer him some leeway there. This manga is making an attempt to convey lots of uncooked feelings and I believe relying on how Kei’s state of affairs is dealt with it could come off as insensitive to some readers who’re trans, non-binary or relate in another method to his state of affairs. Yohei’s confusion over being interested in Kei may additionally show one other pink flag there because it borders on being disrespectful, however for this sort of story, it’s additionally surprisingly sincere in a manner that Oshimi isn’t afraid to be. Should you’ve learn the rest from the writer you’ll know roughly what to anticipate, however newcomers might need to try the free preview earlier than committing to studying the amount.
Welcome Again, Alice Quantity 1 involves the West due to Kodansha and has been translated by Daniel Koman. The interpretation reads nicely with no problems with notice. The collection is ongoing in Japan at 4 volumes and Kodansha has already launched Quantity 2 digitally with a print launch to observe later this month. Volumes 3 and 4 are set to observe in August and December respectively.
Total Welcome Again, Alice Quantity 1 is an intriguing have a look at not solely what gender means on a person degree, however how these round us come to grasp it. Our solid is already going by a turbulent time as they enter highschool, however Oshimi isn’t afraid to throw the cat among the many pigeons and plunge them into chaos as he totally explores these themes.
A free preview may be learn on Kodansha’s web site here.