The Heart of Thomas

Moto Hagio, Author, Matt Thorn, Translator
Moto Hagio. Fantagraphics, $39.99 (528p) ISBN 978-1-60699-551-8
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The impact of Hagio’s work on the shojo (Girls) and shonen-ai (boy love) genres of manga is clear from this classic, trailblazing story of boarding school love, appearing for the first time in English. Opening with the suicide of an angelic boy named Thomas, the story follows the friendships between the fraught Juli, rebellious Oskar, and a new transfer student, Erich, who looks exactly like the dead boy. Juli blames himself for Thomas’s death, and Erich’s presence drives him into madness; Oskar tries to protect both Juli and Erich from themselves, as the secrets that all of them bear are slowly revealed. The romances between the boys are engaging but nearly ritualized, like many manga romance conventions. Each character’s inner search for healing and redemption from his own darkness is compelling. Hagio’s influence on popular, modern manga such as Fruits Basket and Loveless, in both her clear art style and her internally dark tone, is abundantly obvious. An introduction by translator Matt Thorn places Hagio’s work in the context of when it was published and offers a fascinating window onto manga history. (Jan.)
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