Manga-ka: Fumi Yoshinaga
Publisher: BLU Manga
Rating: Mature (18+)
Released: August 2007
Synopsis: “From modern-day tales of romance in Seattle, to eerie stories from historical Japanese fantasy, to Yoshinaga’s further depiction of the class conflict before the French Revolution. The characters Claude and Antoine, a young aristocrat and his butler, are initially introduced in this volume; we see their further adventures in Lovers in the Night.”
Truly Kindly is a compilation of short stories by Fumi Yoshinaga, a follow up to her previous compilation, Lovers in the Night, and includes a return of its title characters. Ranging from surprise endings to the short and sweet, it’s a diverse collection of character driven stories for which its manga-ka is known.
The first four chapters in the book are all self-contained stories that don’t connect or follow those in Lovers in the Night or each other. The first follows a man who lives life freeloading with his lovers. He soon finds himself in the home of an unusual man and must come to realize a terrible truth. The next two stories are simple tales of love and lust between two men coming to terms with their feelings for each other. While these first three stories take place in modern day settings, the fourth story is set in feudal Japan, following a couple trying to escape their past and live honest lives. All four tales give something different, from the chilling end of the first to the self-satisfying endings of the following two.
The next three stories take place in the same setting as those in Lovers in the Night, aristocratic households during the time of the French Revolution. The first follows a short love affair born of a mistress’s orders, and is followed by a bittersweet follow-up in the final chapter. The story in between takes us back to Claude and Antoine, filling in a gap that existed in their previous plot. Mention is also given as to what connects the previous story into theirs.
The artwork is consistent with what people have come to expect of Fumi Yoshinaga, from the solid lines to expressive faces. Notable in this book is a stronger attention to detail in things such as clothing and backgrounds, aiding in bringing the setting and era more to the readers’ eye. Also with the settings and characters being so diverse, due to these differences in setting, readers are given some designs they would not often be accustomed to with Fumi Yoshinaga’s stories, such as those in feudal Japan. With a mature rating there are a few explicit sex scenes but more often with implication over actual portrayal of the act.
Blu continues to do justice to its licenses with solid writing and tidy lettering for both text bubble and sound effects. The cover is simple but attractive, matching it’s predecessor except with a blue theme. The image on the cover is a watercolour painting that will immediately catch the eye of fans, though the oddly swamp coloured hair may get on the nerves on those who dwell on it.
Overall this book comes together as an entertaining and unique read. Each story has a different feel to it and, while it’s a nice mixture, it also feels at time like a mix-matched jumble of stories thrown together as a collection of leftovers. It’s recommended to fans of Fumi Yoshinaga but may be hit or miss to anyone else.