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Review Vol.1 Fool Night – Manga

The least we can say is that the Glénat editions were able to seduce us with their first two Seinen novelties of 2002, namely The Book of Witches and The Golden Bird of Kainis (even if the latter has been classified in the publisher’s young shôjo+ collection), two rather original and elaborate stories, in addition to having allowed us to discover two promising mangakas in France. And in these first days of May, the publisher seems to want to do it again by offering to discover the very first series of a certain Kasumi Yasuda: Fool Night, a work with a pitch that could not be more intriguing and which has received praise from the from mangakas Shuzo Oshimi and Sui Ishida (just that). Launched in 2020 in the pages of Shôgakukan’s Big Comic Superior magazine (magazine from which the series Pour le pire, Les liens du sang and La Danse du Soleil et de la Lune, among others), this work is still ongoing, with three volumes published in Japan at the time of writing.

Fool Night plunges us into a fairly distant future, where human living conditions have changed a lot. For a hundred years now, a thick cloud, no doubt due to human activity, has prevented the Sun from shining on planet Earth, with all the harm that may entail. In this world which would be constantly plunged into darkness if there were no electricity, the night and the winter were therefore prolonged indefinitely, so much so that the plants, so necessary for life, perished. In order to be able to continue to breathe and live, the human species then developed the technique of “transfloration”, a process allowing humans to be transformed into plants, little by little, so that they could compensate for the lack of plants. . It is enough to sow a special seed inside the body of an individual close to death so that, little by little, his body and his soul are consumed by serving as compost for the plant. It takes about two years for transflorated humans to fully become a plant then taking the name of “sanctiflore”, thus generating oxygen and clean air allowing the survival of humanity, not without losing more and more use of speech until it can no longer be understood by humans. it is therefore a kind of sacrifice, but which is not open to everyone: only people who are very sick or at the end of their life can make this choice on justification of the evil that is eating them away, and obviously nothing is wrong. is mandatory and requires the consent of the person concerned. But to allow the transflowers to spend their last two years of human life as they see fit, the state pays an indemnity of ten million yen to the volunteers, and it is precisely this indemnity that Toshiro aims for. Young man that nothing good awaits in life between a job where he is exploited, an senile and aggressive mother whom he struggles to pay for, and total poverty, he decides to apply to Yomiko, a friend from serious childhood who works for the institute of transflowering. But while the young woman initially rejects Toshiro’s request because he is still young and not seriously ill, the desperate young man insists to the point of making her give in. But some time after her operation has taken place, Yomiko meets again in the street a Toshiro still in bad shape, but who seems to have acquired an ability she has never seen: he can understand the language and feel the states of soul of other transflowers…

Kasumi Yasuda therefore involves us in a rather original and intriguing universe since humans and plants merge there. And this, the author manages to make us feel wonderfully from the first pages where we simply follow two teenage girls walking and talking with enthusiasm about quite banal things while, on the sides, their steps are strewn with inanimate beings, humans in the process of experiencing their transformation into a plant for more or less a long time, all in designs that are intended to be quite elaborate and which can appear alternately as destabilizing and gloomy as they are beautiful and fascinating. And since we are already talking about the visual aspect, we might as well continue on it, emphasizing the qualities of a designer who, for a first work, impresses more than once: if we appreciate his rather fine character designs , expressive and rather personal, we will just as much salute his management of the immersive sets with neat angles of view as well as a very clean work on the inking and the frames. but above all, there will be something to enjoy in the face of a regularly ambitious management of the boxes, between several rather cinematographic scenes perfectly cutting out the action of the characters on fixed sets, and a few moments with a certain audacity (like ‘zoom inside Toshiro’s ear as he tries to perceive the feelings of the transflowers).

An excellent visual work, therefore, in the service of a universe which arises quickly and well in the first pages and which then continues to grow richer over the course of Toshiro. The young man, because of his unique gift and which could prove useful, manages to get hired at the institute of transflowering as a separate employee, thus has the opportunity to finally obtain a decent salary, but is also entrusted with the first interesting tasks. And while a common thread seems to be emerging with the search for a transflowered young girl who has decided to reach the South Pole, our hero is immediately entrusted by Yumiko with a first real delicate job, centered on the desire to a young pianist promising to find the trace of her father, who disappeared from circulation after being transflorated to pay for his daughter’s studies. The young woman claims to want to find this father to pay homage to him, but what is it in reality? While making his narrative captivating with the way Toshiro communicates with these plants that were once humans, Yasuda also manages to probe some depths of the human soul and some of these issues, between Toshiro’s initial worries and then the feelings that the young pianist really has towards a castrating father.

For the first volume of Fool Night and the first volume of his career, the young mangaka Kasumi Yoshida strikes hard, by perfectly installing, under a very worked visual style, a rather original and captivating universe, whose enrichments are already multiple between the principle -even of the work and the first human developments. A work to follow closely, certainly.

On the publishing side, Glénat offers us a neat copy, in the first place thanks to the really clear translation by Hana Kanehisa and where the various specific terms (transfloraison, etc.) have been transcribed into French with a certain logic. Although thin, the paper does not show any transparency and allows a quite honorable printing quality. Finally, the Studio Charon lettering is clean, the dust jacket remains close to the Japanese original, and the first four color pages are a little nicer.

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