I’m slowly but surely finding my way through the endless stacks of manga. Takehiko Inoue’s art has been by far the best I have come across in the manga that I have read or seen. His work is the only manga that strikes me the same way that American style comics with great artists due. The art by itself could sell his work but thankfully he also happens to be a talented storyteller. I started reading his popular ongoing Vagabond series, which continues to impress me despite how tiresome it is to that so many manga involve swords in some form or fashion. I suppose the sword is to manga like what spandex is to superheroes. You just have to learn to sort of tune it out as it just part of the infrastructure.
Being so impressed with Inoue’s work I picked up his other current on going series Real. Inoue is a life long basketball fan evidence by the fact that most of his manga work has been centered around basketball with Vagabond being the exception. He had a more tradional magna style series called Slam Dunk that was quite popular. Real is a different take on the subject. The main characters are Nomiya a trouble youth who loves basketball but looses his focus after a motorcycle accident where he injuries a young women he barely knew, and Tagawa who is wheel chair bound and having trouble of his own after having a falling out with his wheel chair basketball team. Nomiya and Tagawa develop a competitive sort of friendship centering around basketball. The setup does make it sounds like one of those feel good movies where troubled youths magically work out their issues, but thankfully this is a ongoing series so everything doesn’t get wrapped up nicely. The focus is more about the struggles of dealing with trauma and trying to over come them. Like most good manga it is like a quality TV show where each chapter feels like a episode. There really isn’t much I can say about the artwork that would do it justice as Inoue’s work is the kind of thing everyone needs to experience in their own way. I’m glad he is putting out Real along with Vagabond since Real is something most anyone can appreciate where Vagabond is a bit more limited by the bloody fight heavy nature of the work.
If you are looking for a good book with fantstic art and a good honest story you can’t go wrong with Real.