Hello and hello! Hopefully, the new anime season that just started is interesting so far. I know my blog kind of turned into a place that heavily reviews manga as of late. Not that I made any promises, the only content that seems to be promised here, as my handle suggests, is BL so at least I’m keeping that. However, very much like the rest of the world, I find myself turning to manga/webtoons/graphic novels more than trying to catch up with my ever-growing to-watch list. So many series, so little energy and so few brain cells in me.
Since I’m finished with the weekly digest, I wanted to post my review of From This Flame that’s been brewing for a week or so. I was provided a review copy of this 65-page-long collection by the publisher Glacier Bay Books in exchange for an honest review and that’s what I’m going to share with you. The only spoiler you’ll see in this post is this: I really enjoyed reading this collection.
From This Flame from Oumi Konomi is a collection of 8 self-published short stories. While it can be said that they are thematically connected, it’s still possible to read them as stand-alone. As my fellow reviewers would know, collections can be challenging to write about, and From This Flame adds to this by conveying what it’s trying to communicate in a symbolic, dream-like manner.
If I had to come up with one phrase to define From This Flame’s overarching theme, I’d try to sound poetic and say “the weight of the inevitable”. Like a piece of candy that rolls sweetly on your tongue but sometimes gets stuck in your throat and leaves you gasping for air, these stories manage to feel very light at first glance due to the round and cute character/background designs. While I didn’t connect with each story on the same level and there were one or two that didn’t get to me as much, there were also stories that left me staring at the screen. In that sense, I think my favorite among the collection was The Light of Primal Dawn. I actually wanted to talk a bit more in detail about this story but I couldn’t manage to do it without talking about the whole thing (since it’s 5 pages in total) so you have to take my word for it when I say it packed a punch.
I picked “the weight of the inevitable” as the defining phrase because, well, the simple reason is that was how I unintentionally grouped the first three stories, and the rest fit in as well. From resigning yourself to the gentle yet overwhelming change to what growing up entails, from the inability to forget what you came to know to your permanently changed point of view, all of the stories seemed to focus on some kind of change that’s inevitable, and necessary, but tough to navigate. As the protagonist Takao of Flowers of Evil, I was the edgy kid who enjoyed reading decadent French poetry in high school and I still find joy in the possibilities a narrative veiled with metaphors can offer and this collection felt tailored for me in that sense.
One thing I was thinking of in the back of my head while reading was due to the language barrier, and at times, the limited opportunity of discovering them, there are a lot of indie or self-publishing artists we aren’t even aware of, let alone being able to read them in English. As I was nearing the end, I said to myself how nice it would be to have some additional information on the artist and maybe tidbits on their thought/creation process when creating the work at hand. I was pleasantly surprised that there were both! I understand this is more workload on translators, but I was happy I got to read how each individual story came to be and when/where they were published first.
As I said, some of the stories struck me more than others. However, From This Flame as a whole was an interesting reading experience and I wholeheartedly recommend giving it a try, especially if you’re looking to branch out for pieces that might be out of your traditional manga/comic comfort zone and would be curious about stories that tiptoe around the border between the real and surreal. I’ve also noticed the way I’ve read certain stories was intended differently by the artist, and it’s always interesting to take note of these dissimilarities in my interpretation and the source material. Both the translation and the lettering were done competently, so I see no reason not to give it a chance if the premise intrigues you!
As always, I’m eager to hear what you have in mind! So do let me know, here or on Twitter, what you’ve thought about my review or From This Flame if you’ve given it a read already and a big thanks to Glacier Bay Books for giving me a chance to review this lovely collection. See you tomorrow with a new Salaryman’s Club review, take care ~
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