If I had encountered this book in the wilds of some bookstore, I probably would have bought it just because of the dreamy watercolours on the cover, which seem to vaguely promise girls’ love of some kind. Not to mention the large print on the obi: “My life started when I met you.” Sounds like some yuri action is about to unfold for sure. Plus, it’s published by Feel Young, which is my favourite of the josei magazines and where Brain favourite Aoi Ikebe’s current series and est em’s Ii ne! Hikari Genji-kun are running. So Lullaby For Girl already had a lot going for it, and I no doubt would have picked it up had I come across it when it came out a couple years ago. But I never did and so it went sadly unnoticed until I read the manga adaptation of Chisato Abe’s amazing Yatagarasu series and grew curious about the artist doing the adapting.
I know that Abe personally selected Matsuzaki to work with her on the manga, but I’d never heard of her before. Naturally, just because I work in manga doesn’t mean I have heard of every single manga artist, but it does mean that I feel compelled to try and get all of their names in my head. A hopeless task from the outset made even more hopeless by my complete inability to remember names. But I try, nevertheless. So I decided to check out Matsuzaki’s previous work to see what exactly had attracted Abe to her for the Yatagarasu manga. Poking around, though, I discovered that she only has two previous works: a BL and this collection of josei stories. Given the josei/shojo nature of Hitoe, I would assume that it was the josei collection that cinched it, but Hitoe started serialization before this book came out. Slipping down this little rabbit hole has me honestly very curious about how the partnering of author and artist came together for the manga version of the first novel in the series, but I fear I will never know. Continue reading “Lullaby For Girl: Natsumi Matsuzaki”
Ever since finishing the Yatagarasu series at the tail end of last year, I’ve been feeling a bit at sea. I fell too hard and fast for Abe’s impossibly brilliant tale of imperial crow people, murderous monkeys, and fallen gods, and a life without it seemed empty somehow. Yes, I can always go back and reread it (and I will!), but there’s something magical about discovering a great book for the first time, and you can only ever do that once. So moping slightly, I returned to Tokyo and its bookstores, with the hope of finding a new book to love to ease the pain a little at least. But when I scanned the titles on the shelves of the fantasy schedule, my heart leaped up into my throat. What I saw there was impossible—a new Yatagarasu book?! How can this be?, I said to myself. The series is complete in six books. And yet a seventh book stubbornly continued to exist on the shelf before my eyes, Karasu Hyakka: Hotaru no Sho. I took it in my hands and saw that the impossible was indeed real, new pieces of the world I have come to love, a collection of side stories.
Normally, I am not one for side stories. It’s sort of like a band from my youth getting back together. The thing was finished. Forcing it back to life never ends well. But I missed my crow friends, and the side stories were written concurrent with the series, so it felt more like Abe taking little day trips away from the series rather than trying to beat a dead horse. And they were great! I got some closure with Masuho no Susuki that I didn’t even know I needed, learned the truth about some parentages, and generally felt reinvigorated by these injections of Yamauchi straight into my bloodstream.
But alas! That book also ended, and I was right back where I started. (Well, until the next book of side stories comes out?? My hopes are high!!) And just when I started to slump back into reality, some beautiful books fell into my hot little hands. Three, to be precise, the current number of volumes in the manga version of the first book of the Yatagarasu series! It’s not quite the same as new pieces of that world, but they definitely present a new vision of it, and I’ll take what I can get. Plus, the books are truly gorgeous. I was lucky enough to get the deluxe edition of the first two, the deluxe part being an extra book. Two books in one! The bonus books are mostly taken up with side stories by Abe, which means, yes, new pieces of the Yatagarasu world. There are also character sketches and explanations of the process by which the manga came about, and all of it is fascinating and worthwhile. If you’re a fan of the novels, you should definitely get the deluxe editions of the manga if you can find them. Continue reading “Karasu ni Hitoe wa Niawanai: Chisato Abe/Natsumi Matsuzaki”