Monday, July 27, 2009

One-Shot of the Week: I Am A Piano

What a gentle, simple, beautiful manga. All of seven pages, it was more than enough to push this to one of my favourite mangas, and to One-Shot of the Week. Drawn in clean lines, touches of plain block colours and a simple expressiveness, it’s a very sincere style for a very warm one-shot.

Now, scepticism always argues the telling of a story in 7 pages. Like, where’s the depth? Development? Structure? Well, normally, I’d agree, but this is the first time that I’d say that if this was longer, it would’ve ruined the manga for me. This manga is deep enough, sensitive enough, and is touching without being long.

It’s about a piano (thank you Captain Obvious) depicted as a young woman. See, initially I would’ve said a young girl, but you consider the age and experiences of the piano, and you’d say she’s a young woman rather than a girl. The first page is lovely, her introduction is quite simple. Her narration is interesting, because it really gives you a feel that she’s not human, in the sense of showing emotion. However, her emotion is revealed through the artwork. The lovely juxtaposition of the emotion in her expression and the lack thereof in her words gives you an insight to her as an object. She’s not exactly human to feel emotion, really, but she does feel towards things because she’s aware as an object of where she is and who is around her.

Her story is simple. She simply explains where she has been and who she’s met. But like I mentioned before, if you want to fully absorb it, you should observe the art more. The full appreciation of this manga came from appreciation of the drawing. Notice the things around her, who’s ‘playing’ her, and the environment she’s in. I thought this was transformed beautifully considering she’s in human form. At the piano school she’s pulled around by the children, and once they’ve grown the hold her hands gently, because they understand her better. I think that was one of the times I thought; she’s a woman, not a girl. The way she watches the kids grow up – you understand that she’s older than she seems. At the time of the war, you see her side of the bar atmosphere. She talks simply, but the pictures give you a bigger picture.

Now, the slight pseudo-shoujo in this is simply when she is in a concert hall. She is approached by a young boy who plays a specific song. I thought this was sweet. Although it’s not referred to specifically in the text, you feel it. Actually, forget anything being referred to specifically in the text. Here, what she says in the narration is simply a small foundation – the rest? Leave it up to the drawing. There’s so much more there that is not literally spelt out. Here, there was a certain shyness about the boy, and a nervousness. Like young love! Like touching a lover for the first time. He seems unsure, shy and hesitant. But they dance :)

The ending is sweet. I loved her expression once she meets him again. She puts it so simply that he was a better piano player – but reading her expression and his… It made me sigh! Like the thought that she is old, worn out, but she is appreciated and also found her resting place – as a piano.

This is not a journey you want to miss, I assure you. It’ll take a short time to read, of course, but once you’ve read it once I suggest you go back page by page and go through it again. Just drink it all in. Ignore the text, even. Just observe her expressions, her reactions to people. I’m quite in love with this one-shot :) So please take a little time to fall in love with it as well.


(Image © NAKAMURA Asumiko. None of these images belong to me)