Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories

Moto Hagio’s A Drunken Dream and Other Stories
by Moto Hagio
Fantagraphics, 2010

A luxurious collection of Moto Hagio’s influential comics, with a brief essay about the Magnificent Forty-Niners, the group of Japanese women cartoonists who gave the marginalised shojo format a kick in the pants in the ’70s, and a long interview with the artist by “shojo manga evangelist” and translator Matt Thorn.

Although Hagio is famous in Japan for her epic shonen-ai, little of this work is available in translation, so this collection is a valuable sampler of her long career, a compilation of short stories from 1970 to 2007 which feature her innovative panel layouts and expressive characters, and include many of her favourite themes, such as sibling rivalry, postnatal depression and ghosts.

Some of these are combined in Iguana Girl, a poignant fairytale satire about an iguana princess who has turned human to win the love of a human man. Unfortunately she can’t stand the sight of their firstborn daughter, a bright and sensitive iguana who everyone else perceives as being human. To make things worse, Iguana Girl’s little sister is an empty-headed blonde cherub who receives all the love. There’s also the title story, a sci-fi-fantasy-romance about love throughout the ages which is a superior version of The Fountain.

This is yet another beautiful book-as-object-of-desire with a ridiculous gold-ink cover (ooh, shiny!) and a rather breathless blurb on the back, announcing it as “the debut release in Fantagraphics Books’ ambitious manga line of graphic novels”. Oh Fantagraphics, you do spoil us so.

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