I Wanna Be Literated #273

I Wanna Be Literated #273

Friday, 05 January 2024

Shuna’s Journey
by Hayao Miyazaki

Look, I love Miyazaki, OK? Who doesn’t? I know he’s as “basic” as they get for anime exposure, but if he’s what people default to, God bless ‘em. Anything he does is miles above any movie in creativity. Also, the man seems like he’ll never stop working. Pity the people who work with him. He sounds like he’s an absolute nightmare of a boss.

I remember seeing Shuna’s Journey at my local comic book store when it came out. It had its own display section, signifying that its coming out was a big deal. I paged through it, then made a mental note to read it. Then I forgot about it. Then all of us got excited about the Boy and the Heron and I remembered I had been meaning to read this book. All it took was a hospital stay a-la My Neighbor Totoro and a pitiful walk to the library during my post-discharge recovery to remind me, “Oh yeah, I wonder if they have this book.”

It was one of those idealistic moments: I think of a book, I go to the graphic novels rack, I see it, I check it out, and I sit on my couch with a coffee to read it. No rush, no schedule, just living in the moment. It was a pleasant experience.

The book itself is alright. Just alright. I don’t know if maybe things got lost in translation, but the prose isn’t exactly gripping.  It’s kind of boring, actually. The story itself is simplistic. The art is good, of course. But, maybe what stopped me from truly enjoying this book is the overwhelming misery that everyone is living in. It’s just squalor, page after page. I don’t think a single person smiles during the whole book. It’s just a struggle Mad Max style, to survive. It’s like Princess Mononoke but sadder.

I’m glad I read it. And I’ll think about the special moment that involved curling up with this book to read it cover to cover. But that experience is the true highlight. You had to be there.

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