I read a lot of manga. I don’t really review any of it. But I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say a couple words about the 7 volume series by the name of Kazan.
Kazan is our hero in this book, and yes, he’s a hero (see prior post on heroes vs. superheroes, Kazan falls under the hero type), though he doesn’t immediately seem like one in the typical sense at the start. Kazan is a boy (don’t call him a kid though) who appears to be about eight, on a mission to find a girl named Elsie.
He meets others, has to fight off various bad people at times, and screams out Elsie several times in the book in his search for her. The author did something I really liked with this particular work. In most heroic journey books the hero has to go through a change, a maturation. Kazan doesn’t really change all that much. He never loses sight of his goal: find Elsie. I like it when the hero doesn’t waver, doesn’t question his goal, and relentlessly pursues something with determined eyes. Of course, the story has to fit it, and this story does.
That whole-hearted devotion and desperation shown is something I appreciate. There is, of course, some changes in Kazan, a very slight softening in his attitude and image compared to his introduction. Though if anything it’s more about him gaining qualities he used to have, and then of course the ending. Everything builds up, the plot comes to its end, and the manga ends with a single line that gives you that feeling you look for when reading hero works.
The last line of a heroic book is important in manga. And to be honest, Kazan has one of the best. Utterly simple and short. Just 4 words, when translated into English. But the picture, the history of the events all prior to that last page, and those 4 words, all form an extremely emotional picture. It was touching. And on the very next page was the clincher.
It was the author. He didn’t thank me for reading his work. He told a story. And after reading Kazan, then the last 4 words, and finally the author’s story, I can’t stay silent. I wouldn’t normally do this, but what the author said is really the point of this post. Kazan as a manga was interesting, though the majority of it was typical of the genre. The author did a good job of making it moving. However the author’s Afterward was moving, and real. And more than just that, it has to do with writing, being an author, and why we write. So, as translated by a scanlater group kickthekitty (credit where it’s due, even though manga translation… well we won’t delve into legal issues, just read), please read the author’s afterward in English:
“Twenty years ago… I decided to follow my dream and leave the backwoods of Shikoku to go to Tokyo. I found a job but before I started it I met up with my father, who had come up to Tokyo on business. I told him: “I don’t know if I can make a living doing this. I don’t even know if I’ve got the talent to do it. But… I want to draw. And I want to try to make my living doing it.”
He said to me: “Do as you like. But watch out for things that narrow your mind.”
That was all he had to say on the subject. I thought then, “It’s nice to have a parent who understands.” I didn’t realize what it really meant then. Many years later… I had my own family and had become a father. As my children grew up, I began to understand the importance of my father’s words.
Aside from the fact that Tokyo was a long, long way away from Shikoku, where my parents lived and worked under arduous conditions, they must have had an enormous amount of courage to let me become an “artist” – a profession they knew absolutely nothing about. They must have been considerably worried about it all.
But my father just said: “Do as you like.”
From when I started drawing it, my father really enjoyed Kazan. However, the winter I was about to publish the fourth volume, my father’s chronic cancer put him back in the hospital, for good.
I really didn’t want to have to say these words, but I told my father: “Dad, hold on. You can’t die until I’ve finished Kazan.”
My father smiled and nodded.
But two months later, in the midst of blooming cherry blossoms, on a fine spring day, my father passed away.
I put a copy of Kazan volume 4, which arrived hot off the publisher’s presses, into my father’s coffin. I’ll never forget the efforts of the staff of the editing department in honoring my father’s memory.
Father, I did it. I finished Kazan.
It’s a bit late, but please read it anyway.
It’s the answer to your kind words: “Do as you like.”
Writing this is the third time I’ve read that. It still moves me as much as the first time did. This is a man who wanted to be an author for a living. Who wasn’t confident. Who pursued a dream he wasn’t sure he could fulfill. Like the rest of us who write, or want to write. And any further words are just a waste. Thank you Miyao-sensei.