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Review: Graphic: Just So Happens by Fumio Obata (Jonathan Cape, pounds 16.99)

February 1, 2014

James Smart

Yumiko is at a gallery launch enjoying the life of an arty young Londoner when the call comes. Her pragmatic father, a keen hiker, has fallen to his death from a 60ft cliff in Japan . That means a journey away from her fiance and her adopted home, and into the uncertain embrace of a country and a family she left behind years before. Obata - an artist and animator who, like Yumiko , was born in Japan but lives in Britain - explores high-rises, bullet trains, fish bars, pagodas, side streets and mountains as he charts her return, but is most interested in human behaviour, in awkward moments, small reactions and unspoken thoughts. One fine scene comes at the funeral, as a jet-lagged Yumiko deals with death and her curious relatives, and her father's corpse provides a brief point of view, gazing up from his casket. The rituals of Noh dancers offer a spiritual counterpoint to the action, and Obata's seemingly simple drawings capture emotion very effectively, using colour to memorable effect. The result is a beautiful and observant graphic novel. James Smart

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Source: Guardian (UK)

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