Natsume Ono MMF Roundup: At the Finish Line

Well, here we are. It’s been an entire week of Natsume Ono, her comics, and a discussion of her work. This weekend has given the MMF a final burst of content, so let’s get started. I will keep the MMF call up until Monday evening, so if you have any content you want me to feature, please contact me using my twitter handle @mangawidget, my Contacts page, or by using the Manga Moveable Feast Google Groups page. Now, onward to the reviews!

First, Connie at Slightly Biased Manga has a review of House of Leaves, Vol. 3 and finds a lot to like. Still, she mentions Ono’s sketchy artwork as a source of some reader’s confusion, and I can understand that. Ono is hardly the only mangaka out there who has similar looking characters, but it’s a valid complaint, especially when volume 3 features face-0nly closeups more frequently than in previous volumes. I will be interested to see how Connie likes volume 4.

Next, Johanna Draper Carlson reviews Tesoro from the standpoint of someone who isn’t an unabashed fan of Ono (that would be my standpoint, obviously) and finds quite a bit to like despite her distaste of Ono’s longer works like House of Five Leaves. Johanna’s critique of Ono is that her writing style allows her to focus on incidents and moments, and that this style doesn’t mesh well with a longer running series, but works great for a collection of short stories.  This is a very interesting review, since many of the people writing for the Manga Moveable Feast are fans of Ono, so I invite you all to check it out.

Jason Green, host of the early October Love Hina Manga Moveable Feast, has some pretty strong words for not simple:

Given the reputation of both Ono in general and the book in particular, I went into not simple with high hopes. I finished it feeling not only disappointed but, honestly, kind of gross. Withholding spoilers, the story takes several turns that feel exploitative, even more so in the context of Ian’s mercilessly downtrodden existence.

Certainly this isn’t my experience with the comic, but I can see Jason’s perspective. not simple is a miserable- the subject matter demands it be so. Still, exploitative isn’t a word I would use to describe not simple, and I don’t think it was the experience of many other reviewers in this MMF – which is a perfect example of why this digital monthly book club is so fascinating. To get another take on not simple, Jason Green is your man.

There is certainly more content out there to be found, so I will close this post tonight and look for more tomorrow. One more day until the Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast is on the books. Let’s finish strong, folks!


Natsume Ono MMF Round Up: Days 2+3

Wow, this week is going fast – we’re already close to halfway done with the Natsume Ono Manga Moveable Feast. If you have content you would like to have featured in these round ups, please send me a message using my Contacts page or the MMF Google Group. I am also scanning Twitter for the #MMF hashtag, and you can tweet me up at @mangawidget (There are so many ways you can say hi to me, so no excuses!).

Yesterday we didn’t have too much in the way of content, but I did post an essay regarding Natsume Ono’s different styles and her choice between the two in series like La Quinta Camera versus the more serious House of Five Leaves.  Some reviewers have poo-poo’ed the rounded, less complex style she uses for books like La Quinta Camera and not simple, and I think that these reviewers are missing a very significant point. Check out the link for more discussion.

David Welch at the Manga Curmudgeon explored one of his older reviews from his Flipped! column (which originally ran at, and afterwards at The Comics Reporter) – in this case, it was a review of not simple back when Natsume Ono was first being published in the US. I’m going to steal a quote here, because I think it’s so perfect for the spirit of this MMF:

There’s just so much to admire about Ono’s work – its variety, its uniqueness, the level of talent it suggests. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to hope that she becomes one of those creators whose popularity transcends the audience specifically interested in comics from Japan and those who are interested in well-made comics in general.

It may be wishful thinking on my part, but nevertheless, I feel that this has been the case. Many of my American only comics friends have read House of Five Leaves. My little sister, who generally doesn’t read comics devoured La Ristorante Paradiso and Gente.

Next up from this afternoon is a review of Tesoro by Kristen at Kristen finds a lot to love about Tesoro, from the individual stories, the sketchy and spartan illustrations, and the book’s construction. Why haven’t I gotten my copy of this book yet?!?!

Finally, Ash Brown at Experiments in Manga has a review of the first volume of House of Five Leaves. Ash points out the true strength of this series lies in the interaction between Masa and Yaichi, and how their strange friendship develops.