Wednesday, May 22, 2013
Review: SUNNY Volume 1
VIZ MEDIA – @VIZMedia
CARTOONIST: Taiyo Matsumoto
TRANSLATION: Michael Arias
LETTERS: Deron Bennett
ISBN: 978-1-4215-3448-0; hardcover (May 2013); Rated “T” for Teen is recommended for ages 13 and up
224pp, B&W, $22.99 US, $26.99 CAN
Taiyo Matsumoto is a manga creator best known for his manga, Tekkonkinkreet, which was made into an animated film in 2006. VIZ Media’s English-language publication of Tekkonkinkreet won Matsumoto an Eisner Award. He also created the series the manga, GoGo Monster.
Matsumoto’s new series, Sunny, began publication in the Japanese manga magazines, IKKI, in February 2011. Sunny is set at Star Kids Home, an orphanage. There, a car called “Sunny” is a place where the children find solace.
Sunny, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 6) introduces readers to Star Kids Home, a home for orphans and foster children. Another resident of this Japanese orphanage is the Sunny 1200, a dilapidated old Nissan car that sits abandoned in the orphanage’s garden. The children call the old car “Sunny,” and it is off-limits to adults. Sunny is something of a clubhouse for the kids, because it is the place where they can escape their everyday lives, daydream, think, hangout, and talk.
I’ll start my review with this recollection. Many years ago, I read a review/essay about the late comic strip, Calvin and Hobbes, in which the review’s author praised cartoonist Bill Watterson for creating a “real kid” in Calvin. The author did his praising of the strip by criticizing “the Cosby kids” of The Cosby Show (1984 to 1992), the long-running NBC situation comedy starring Bill Cosby.
The author of the review/essay said (not exact words) that the Cosby kids weren’t real because of the way they acted. Back then, I figured the author did not know many upper-middle class African-American families – if he knew any at all. Maybe, if Theo Huxtable busted a cap in an ass or impregnated his fine-ass sister, Denise, then, the Cosby kids would have seemed more “real” to the review/essay author.
I don’t how many people will see the fictional children that Taiyo Matsumoto created for Sunny as real. At least at this point in the series, he hasn’t given each character a grocery list of quirks, motivations, and conflicts to prove to people that he can create “well-developed” or real characters.
Matsumoto simply makes the children seem authentic by their actions. The children of Star Kids Home (a great name, by the way) are seekers of knowledge, explorers of the ways of the world, and investigators of what drives people to do what they do. Sunny is poignant, but it is not really about a happy/sad or good/bad dynamic. Instead, Matsumoto has created manga with a sense of wonder and curiosity about the way the world is.
So are the children in Sunny real or real-like? I don’t know, but I do know that Sunny is the real deal in great comics.
Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux