Saturday, February 6, 2021

Blood on the Tracks 3 and 4 by Shuzo Oshimi

 * Blood on the Tracks 3 by Shuzo Oshimi

In the aftermath of his cousin's "accident," Seiichi has to navigate his unstable mother's feelings as well as his blossoming love for a classmate. Through all of this, his cousin suffers in a hospital bed, unable to communicate. He is pulled in many different directions and finds it difficult to speak after his traumatic experiences.

I just want to give Seiichi a hug. His cousin lies in the hospital comatose while his mother refuses to visit him in the hospital. She ignores the wave of misery she caused and expects Seiichi to act like a happy child. He develops a stutter and struggles to communicate with others on top of keeping the horrible secret for his mother. Seiko seems oblivious to everything. She smothers him, isolates him, and alternates between expressing love and attacking him. His father knows that Seiko has issues, but seems to underestimate how far gone she is.

The ending is a complete gutpunch with the most intricate manga art I've ever seen. The shadows and expressions are incredibly detailed. Seiichi is faced with so much: his mother's instability and efforts to isolate him from everyone else in addition to seeing his cousin for the first time after his fall and witnessing the direct effect of his mother's actions. Heartbreaking. I can't wait to see what happens next.

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins

* Blood on the Tracks 4 by Shuzo Oshimi

Seiichi is not doing well. He struggles to speak at all and separates himself from everyone until Fukiishi reconnects with him. They get to know each other, share their experiences, and commiserate over their troubled parents.  His mother makes every effort to separate them and keep him isolated, but Seiichi refuses to let her take away the one person who makes him feel normal again.

This quiet story of abuse and unfolds slowly through each installment with great care for Seiichi and his reactions and struggle to cope with everything. It starts off at his lowest point, struggling to speak so much that he claims sickness for months so he won't have to speak at school. His father is completely clueless and his mother acts as if nothing happened. His classmates bully him over his odd behavior except Fukiishi, who is the only one to truly listen to him and makes him feel safe. They meet in a remote park and talk for hours after school and Seiichi seems happy and relaxed for the first time since the beginning of book one. Of course his mother can't have that.

The ending of the book has Seiichi taking huge strides forward in defying his mother's clingy, inappropriate demands and her delving deeper into madness at the rejection. The series keeps getting better and better in addition to keeping with the highly detailed art. The park seems so peaceful and the perfect haven in contrast to his feeling of being strangled as he tries to speak and his mother biting through her own nail. Each important scene takes several frames and takes its time, showing more  minute details and expressions than I've seen in manga. 

My rating: 5/5 fishmuffins