Real 8Posted: May 27, 2010
Takehiko Inoue – Viz – 2010 – 9+ volumes
The focus in this volume shifts away from Kiyoharu and the Dreams, who had a pretty epic cliffhanger last volume, and back towards Takahashi and his rehabilitation. And alongside both, there’s Nomiya, who still can’t find his identity.
Takahashi’s story is most heartbreaking and hard to read. He’s not a very likable character, even in his condition. He’s also trying to overcome a very severe handicap and learn to function by himself. He motivates himself by looking at others he deems “below” him and seeing that they can do things like lifting themselves to and from sitting positions. This alternately depresses him (“if they can do it, why can’t I?”) and motivates him. He’s a very… er, real character, I suppose, and he does get a lot of sympathy from me for having to go through all that. It’s hard to take. But he’s also a jerk, and I have a feeling that my sympathy is exactly the kind that makes him feel bad. I’m interested to see where he ends up in a volume or two. Probably playing basketball for the Dreams, but I’m interested to see how he gets there. Hopefully he crosses paths with Nomiya again.
Nomiya… his story was also sad. He has no physical disability to overcome, and yet he just can’t win. He can’t find a job, and can’t find his place in life. He stays positive, but man is this section depressing. He is quite good with people for how intimidating he is, and after consulting an unlikely source, he decides to pick himself up and do the one thing he cares most about. Of course, he always ends volumes on a positive note, so I’m going to reserve judgment until next time.
I think I like Vagabond more, but Real does give you more to chew on, and it’s easier to relate to the characters and their struggles. It’s… probably just as meditative as Vagabond is, except the thoughts all go towards other things, like bettering yourself in modern society and whatnot, though it’s more successful than that sentence makes it sound. In fact, it’s more compelling than it has any right to be. I mean, I still can’t get over how much I like this manga. It’s not about wheelchair basketball, that’s just something that comes up every once in awhile. It’s more about the characters. This reads a lot like Inoue is taking all the themes he normally uses and making the best use possible of them. It’s excellent, and full of good characters and good messages. There’s nothing quite like Real.