cover image Otherworld Barbara

Otherworld Barbara

Moto Hagio (trans. from the Japanese by Matt Thorn). Fantagraphics, $39.99 (400p) ISBN 978-1-60699-943-1

This Josei (adult women) manga by the famed Hagio (The Heart of Thomas) is equal parts memorable, odd, and beautiful, with a dreamlike narrative that explores dreams themselves. The wistful story opens the strange yet magical island of Barbara, where Jujo Aoba and her friends live a carefree and joyful existence alongside sentient plants. Enter Tokio Watarai, a dream pilot and lovable deadbeat father. As a pilot, Watarai peeks into the dreams of others as required for various jobs. Watarai accepts a job to explore the dream of a girl who has been asleep for nine years in order to wake her. These events introduce Tokio’s son, Kitakata Kirya, who experiences recurring dreams of Barbara and an enigmatic girl with long white flowing hair. The soft, gorgeous art belies the story’s heavier themes which explore strained parental relationships, and the psychological effects of dreams on the human psyche, for better or worse. (Aug.)