cover image Fallen Words

Fallen Words

Yoshihiro Tatsumi. Drawn & Quarterly, $19.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-77046-074-4

With each of the eight short stories in Fallen Words, Tatsumi (A Drifting Life, Abandon the Old in Tokyo) shows us the innovation and insight that make him one of the most relevant figures in Japanese comics today. In this work he draws upon the storytelling tradition of rakugo—in which a live storyteller recounts both sides of a conversation—and provides a series of cautionary tales about day-to-day hopes, fears, and petty excesses. What makes these moral fables so enjoyable to read is the humor that the author brings to them; readers can relate to his characters, sympathize with them, and enjoy a chuckle or two as Tatsumi exposes their delightful fallibility. He also elicits a smile in the way he brings about the resolutions to his fables, whether through a quirk of fate (in “The God of Death”) or through a humorous linguistic association (in “Escape of the Sparrows”). As the artist who coined the term gekiga (“dramatic pictures”), but was nonetheless influenced by mainstream manga, Tatsumi’s flat yet expressive drawings always move these short narratives forward without ever feeling unnecessarily distracted by the visual—the results flow as naturally as a rakugo tale. (June)