Manga Review: Good-Bye

Title: Good-Bye
Story & Art By: Yoshihiro Tatsumi
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Age Rating: N/A
MSRP: $24.95

Yoshihiro Tatsumi coined the term gekiga, the manga equivalent of alternative comics, in 1957.  Gekiga was Tatsumi’s way of showing people that manga didn’t have to be just for children.  Good-Bye (GB) collects nine short stories from his career between the years 1971 and 1972.  Ever wondered what manga could be like when it drops the magical girls, Super Saiyans, school hijinks, and gets downright gritty?  Good-Bye is the book for you then, be warned though as the stories presented in GB aren’t for the faint of heart.

The artwork in Good-Bye is really nice, which isn’t surprising considering Mr. Tatsumi had been drawing manga for over 20 years at this point in his career.  One thing that’s noteworthy about the art is that it strives to be as realistic as possible with its backgrounds.  They all look like places you might visit if you were in Japan.  The characters on the other hand are drawn in the usual manga style.  The only complaint I have is that some of the protagonist tend to look the same, even though they’re different people throughout each short story.

While some of the protagonist in GB may look the same that doesn’t mean each story follows that pattern.  Each of them is unique and presents a different tale.  For example Hell follows a photographer as he learns a picture he took amongst the ruins of Hiroshima may have a darker meaning then he realizes.  Rash on the other hand tells the story of a man who slowly learns to control a rash that’s started to appear on his body.  While you may not end up liking all of these short stories you’re bound to enjoy at least a few of them.

As far as mature content goes Good-Bye is not for children.  There’s several scenes with nude women, an implied account of rape, and intercourse.  Drawn & Quarterly didn’t give GB a rating but I feel 16+ is reasonable.  While there is some bad stuff presented in GB I don’t think it’s anything an older teenager couldn’t handle.

Speaking of Drawn & Quarterly I’d just like to say they did a wonderful job with Good-Bye.  This book feels more like a collector’s item, rather than just a manga to read and forget about.  The book is hardbound with high quality paper that you’d have a hard time accidentally tearing the pages.  The only extras present in the book are an introduction by Frederik L. Schodt, author of Manga! Manga! The World of Japanese Comics, and an interview with Yoshihiro Tatsumi.

As stated above the MSRP is $24.95, and while I’d have no trouble paying that for this book many others might.  Luckily you can find it for new at both Amazon ($16.59) and Barnes & Noble ($16.59). For the quality of this book and the content you get I’d say that’s a fair price, especially for something that resembles a collector’s item.  If you’re hesitant to take the plunge though Drawn & Quarterly has a preview of Good-Bye, and other works by Mr. Tatsumi, on their website.

While Good-Bye isn’t for everyone I think those looking for something a little different will enjoy it.  If you end up liking GB you might want to try Tatsumi’s other collection of short stories from earlier in his career: The Push Man and other stories and Abandon The Old In Tokyo.  Or if you’re just interesting in the manga business during the 1950s, or Mr. Tatsumi in general you might want to give  his memoir, A Drifting Life, a shot.

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