Saturday, November 14, 2015

Review: YUKARISM Volume 4


MANGAKA: Chika Shiomi
LETTERS: Rina Mapa
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7971-9; paperback (November 2015); Rated “T” for “Teen”
200pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 UK

It seems as if VIZ Media published the first volume yesterday.  However, the English-language, graphic novel publication of Yukarism, the nostalgia-tinted historical romance, has come to an end.  Created by Chika Shiomi, this manga follows an accomplished teenaged author who can slip into time and  assume his past life as a courtesan.

As a 17-year-old high school student, Yukari Kobayakawa is already an accomplished author.  Yukari's historical novels are set in Japan's Edo Period of the early 1800s, of which he writes about with amazingly accurate detail.  Shockingly, Yukari has the ability to slip into a past life in the Edo period, where he is a beautiful, renowned courtesan (Oiran) named Yumurasaki.

As Yukarism, Vol. 4 (Chapters 14 to 17) opens, Yukari is confronted by his ailing health.  He seems to be afflicted by Yumurasaki's fatal illness from the past, and the reason may be because Yukari is spending more and more time in the past.

Yukari is apparently also taking his compatriots into the past.  In the past, fellow student, Mahoro Tachibana, was Shizuka Takamura, a witch-doctor who was in love with Yumurasaki.  In the Edo past, his temporary housekeeper, Katsuhiko Satomi, was Kazuma, Yumurasaki's bodyguard.  Caught in the mystic energies of the past, Mahoro believes that Kazuma killed Yumurasaki, so now, she must kill Satomi to save a life.  Are the three fated to repeat their tragic connection?

[This volume includes bonus manga.]

Like Chika Shiomi's prior series, the Yukarism manga is a short-run manga.  Yukarism Volume 4 is the final volume of this series.  The story is a fireworks-like display of mystic energies and time-shifting that rivals Steve Ditko's Doctor Strange comics.

The short bio at the back of this volume states that one of Shiomi's favorite artists is Gustav Klimt, and I can see the Klimt-ish in her art.  This final volume is filled with pages of lovely art, including many pages with big close-ups of romantic moments.  There is a happy ending, but it is as melancholy as it is sparkly and fizzy.  I like that Shiomi insists on complicating the little things and the big things.  Even here, the typical must be at least a little atypical.

Fans of Chika Shiomi will have four easy volumes in which to love the Shojo Beat title, Yukarism.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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