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Tanpenshu Vol. 1

Creators: HIROKI ENDO
Active Anime, July 2007

Tanpenshu is a collection of stark existences in gritty real-life settings in this first part of an anthology by Hiroki Endo (author and artist of Eden It’s and Endless World). This first volume collects three stories that will shock, at times horrify, and challenge readers with dichotomies of hope and despair, reality and illusion, and life and death.

None of these three stories pull any punches. The first looks at the relationship between a disfigured girl and a wounded Yakuza. The second story examines the dreams and disappointments of a high school girl pushed past the edge of reason by her own unhappiness and anger. The final story mixes illusion and reality as a disturbing play illuminates various unsettling aspects of its players.

The art style is realistic and gritty. The stories are unflinching examinations of lives ravaged by events both extraordinary and mundane. There is a depth to the story telling that gives an edgy realism to the characters. Out of the three, the story that stood out the most was the first one, “The Crows, The Girl, and the Yakuza”. It shows life’s unfairness with a merciless gaze and yet, despite this, there is an unusual thread of hope within the story. There is a symmetry to it that is both disconcerting on one hand, yet comforting on the other. This ability to evoke such complex and even contrary emotions is one of the signs of the masterful story telling that makes Hiroki Endo’s works stand out. His stories are often harsh, yet compelling, and you can read them repeatedly and take away something new each time.

IN SUMMARY:

The first of a two-volume manga anthology, Tanpenshu is a collection of masterful story telling examining the heart of despair, the longing for love and hope, and the reality of life in an unforgiving world. It makes the smallest gesture of kindness worth everything in a merciless existence. (Holly Ellingwood)

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