Japanese Roaring Twenties: The Strange Tale of Panorama Island

GameStop, Inc.

Written & Art By Suehiro Maruo
Last Gasp
ISBN: 978-0867197778

Cvr PanoramaHitomi Hirusuke is a poor novelist, who can’t sell his work. When he learns that his rich, old schoolmate Genzaburo Komoda dies, Hitomi is reminded how much they resembled each other.   He devises a way to fake his own suicide and take over Genzaburo’s life, effectively raising from the dead. Henzaburo’s household believes Hitomi is truly their dead master, though his wife Chiyoko has her suspicions. Hitomi indulges himself in his new fortune, spending most of it to build an island wonderland. Panorama Island is a hedonistic paradise filled with artificial splendor, where visitors revelers indulge their every sin. Hitomi couldn’t have dreamed of a better lifestyle, but when Chiyoko and a detective start to investigates, it could all end.

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is set in 1920s Japan. The glitz and splendor of the Roaring Twenties made it all the way to island nation and Maruo evokes the feeling of that era through his drawings. Upon first reading the manga, readers will believe that it was actually written in an earlier time, not only a few years ago. It captures the feeling of art nouveau with Japanese influences.

The story is a thoughtful expression of how far a man will go to accomplish a dream. It could also be seen as a commentary as humanity’s endeavor to satisfy their every pleasure or even on Japanese society in the 1920s. The manga has many facets that the reader can interpret however they wish, which plays into Maruo’s theme of people finding their every want on Panorama Island. The story is starkly simple compared to the luscious art that bedecks every page. The story is more of a vehicle to display Maruo’s art, but the simplistic quality maintains the story’s ripple effect.

The Strange Tale of Panorama Island is a rare import of a mature art comic. Most manga published doesn’t show the breadth of the comic medium in Japan. This one is presented beautifully and will please readers searching for a thought provoking story along with great art.

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