Saturday, November 22, 2014

Chaos Note review

I've mentioned Hideo Azuma before. He's a manga artist that was popular in the 1970's for his lolicon drawings, primarily of high school girls. In the 80's and 90's, due to the pressures put on him by his editors, he cracked and became a homeless alcoholic on several occasions. His Disappearance Diary recounts his time in a rehab clinic.

(All rights belong to their owners. Images used here for review purposes only.)

Chaos Note, 2014, East Press, Grade: A.
Chaos Note is Hideo's first manga work following Disappearance Diary. While he describes this as sort of a daily diary, it's really a collection of short surreal gags that follow the pattern "XX Day, X Month, I turned into a cat", or something similar. Many of the gags are only 2 panels, with two gags on one page. Others can be grouped as "Today I went mountain climbing", "Today I read a pop-up book" and "Today I went on a pilgrimage". These specifically are recurring themes that resurface occasionally. A few of the gags can be up to 2 or 4 pages long, while "Man eater" and "Trip to Hell" are probably the longest, at 5-6 pages.

If you're familiar with Tori Miki's Anywhere but Here gag series, there are a lot of similarities, in part because Tori is a fan of Hideo's, but possibly also because Hideo worked with Tori on producing at least one of his own books (Tori's interview with Hideo appeared at the back of one book). Regardless, Hideo has his own unique style which shines from cover to cover.

"(XX Day, X Month, I read a pop-up book.")

Some of the artwork isn't appropriate for minors, or anyone who is easily offended. Hideo is a heavy smoker, and cigarettes and sake, are a part of his character. Some of the jokes poke fun at his relapses, while the word "Sober" on his t-shirt is a constant reminder that alcohol is not his friend.

I enjoy Hideo's gag work and the more surreal elements. I highly recommend Chaos Note to fans of Anywhere But Here.

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