Saturday, October 21, 2017

Apple & Honey: His Rose-Colored Life: College Angst and Art

Apple & Honey: His Rose-Colored Life by Hideyoshico is one of my absolute favorite manga volumes. It is quiet and ordinary, being the tale of two boyfriends in college. Their meeting is actually described in a prior volume of short stories Apple & Honey.

The second volume focuses on Natsuki and Komano exclusively (and has some of the funniest single strip stories I've ever read). It details the beginning days of their relationship, leading up and past when they first have sex. It is the ultimate show-don't-tell. The psychology is all through interaction. There is some inner dialog, but it is the inner dialog of the moment, not the inner dialog of reflection and explanation. The author never tells us how to think.

Some readers criticize the volume because one character starts out as ostensibly "straight". I address this criticism in a prior complaint. For now, I'll state that the designation isn't the character's although he doesn't deny it either--when used by the narrator, the label appears to be more wry than absolute.

And it is irrelevant to what the young men are going through. Natsuki's self-effacing and pained comment early on in their relationship, "You were a popular kid, weren't you?" followed by Komano's uncertain response (he was but doesn't want to say so) is so perfect to the age (19/20) and the milieu (a college cafeteria surrounded by their noisy friends), it rings true at every level.

This is slice-of-life taken to the nth degree. Honestly--it makes me happy not to be 20 any more since I can relate too well. But it also impresses me with its profound comprehension of human nature.

* * *

Another odd criticism of this and other manga is "the art is bad because it is incomplete--sketchy."

I have seen quite a lot of manga art that I didn't care for. But the reason had nothing to do with the style being bad. It had everything to do with personal taste.

That is, there are certain styles of art I don't care for--like cubism, for example--but that does not mean that cubism is an inherently bad style. It isn't. I can admire Guernica even if I have zero desire to hang it in my house.

When I read this type of criticism in reviews, I start thinking that Paglia has a point: not training students in art makes them witless. I go on and on a bit more about that here.

A lovely final scene from Apple &
Honey that captures the loneliness of
being uncertain in a couple.