The Summer Hikaru Died

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Cover art for The Summer Hikaru Died

THE SUMMER HIKARU DIED

// manga

AUTHOR

Ren Mokumoku

SYNOPSIS

Yoshiki and Hikaru are best friends. They’re the same age and have grown up together. But one day, Yoshiki notices that “something else” has taken Hikaru’s place. Even after learning of this, Yoshiki wants them to stay together. And so, his life with the “something” that looks like his friend begins.

THOUGHTS

The Summer Hikaru Died is a beautiful yet mysterious story about a high schooler whose friend has been replaced by “something”. It focuses on these two boys’ relationship, but also dives into the horrors and mysteries surrounding the replacement of Hikaru and a number of incidents that have begun to take place in their village.

Through a gorgeous and haunting art style, genius panelling, and amazing storytelling, this manga explores the complex feelings of someone who is unwilling to let go. Even after learning that his friend is most likely never coming back, Yoshiki tries everything in his power to keep his life exactly the way it was by welcoming the new “Hikaru” into it. Unfortunately, this might not be as easy as he expected.

While The Summer Hikaru Died has not been published in English (as of November 2022), it will be distributed by Yen Press starting March of 2023.

SNEAK PEEK

Boys Run The Riot

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Cover art for Boys Run The Riot

BOYS RUN THE RIOT

// manga

AUTHOR

Keito Gaku

SYNOPSIS

A transgender teen named Ryuu finds an escape from the expectations and anxieties of his daily life in the world of street fashion.

THOUGHTS

As a transmasculine person, I was really excited to hear about the release of Boys Run the Riot. In the first volume of this manga, we are introduced to Ryo, a transgender teenager that struggles with dysphoria and has found an escape in street fashion.

Being transgender himself,┬áKeito Gaku┬ápaints a realistic picture of what it feels like to go through high school and deal with its difficulties while simultaneously shouldering the social pressure to behave as expected from one’s assigned gender. While the author is not afraid to dive into the negative experiences that stem from Ryo’s gender identity, I appreciate the more positive focus that he brings into the story by giving the protagonist something that he’s passionate about and that allows him to explore those complicated feelings from a safe space. On top of that, he has a beautiful art style!

I was also delighted to learn that Kodansha hired an all-transgender localisation team for the English release of the manga.

GRIS

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Cover art for Gris, a video game

GRIS

// video game

PLATFORM

Nintendo Switch (also available on PC, PlayStation, iOS)

SYNOPSIS

Gris is a hopeful young girl lost in her own world, dealing with a painful experience in her life. Her journey through sorrow is manifested in her dress, which grants new abilities to better navigate her faded reality. As the story unfolds, Gris will grow emotionally and see her world in a different way, revealing new paths to explore using her new abilities.

THOUGHTS

Rather than a conventional video game, GRIS plays like a wonderful cinematic experience. Paired with the excellent soundtrack, the game’s visual storytelling is out of this world. From the environment design, to each little sound effect, every detail has been meticulously crafted and adds something to its special atmosphere.

Throughout this journey, we are tasked with returning colour to the protagonist’s world, which has been rid of it by a painful event in her life. Since there is no text in this game, we can only assume that Gris has lost someone of great importance. Based on the recurrent female statues scattered across the protagonist’s world, I drew the conclusion that the pain she feels is tied to the loss of her mother. As we progress through the story, Gris’ grief transforms from sadness into anger, from depression into hope, until her world is full of colour and she comes to accept her painful loss.

Although the twists and turns of Gris’ journey to acceptance made me anxious at times, it was truly a heartfelt portrayal of loss, translated into gorgeous art, animation, and music. Moreover, this is one of those pieces of media that could be interpreted in many different ways, making it an experience that every player will be able to take something from. If it sounds like a game you might enjoy, I highly recommend playing it with sound on!

SNEAK PEEK

Goodbye, Eri

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Cover art for Goodbye Eri

GOODBYE, ERI

// manga

AUTHOR

Tatsuki Fujimoto

SYNOPSIS

With his mother dying, Yuta attempts to capture her last days on his phone. After her death, Yuta heads to the roof of the hospital to commit suicide, but a meeting with a strange girl leads him on the path to making a movie.

THOUGHTS

There is honestly nothing I can type out that will accurately describe what it feels like to read Goodbye, Eri. Just like any of Tatsuki Fujimoto’s works, the first time I finished reading this 200-page self-contained story I was speechless. I could barely comprehend what had happened, or why I had found it so deeply moving, but as I sat there with my tablet on my lap I knew that I had been lucky enough to read something very special.

Goodbye, Eri doesn’t read like your usual comic book, where panels flow dynamically on the page and are strategically sized and shaped for the biggest impact. Almost every page of this manga consists of panels of the same size and shape, stacked one on top of another, resembling more of a storyboard. Within the context of the story, this is the only possible layout. Every panel in each page is an image captured by the protagonist’s phone camera, portraying life as it is. From the ugliness of a family tragedy, to the boring meals sitting around the dinner table, including the shakiness of Yuta’s hands holding the phone. We are invited to watch his movie as it is conceived and filmed. But what is life as it is, and what is part of the movie’s narrative?

SNEAK PEEK