Fallen Words

Fallen Words

Graphic Novel - 2012
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In Fallen Words, Yoshihiro Tatsumi takes up the oral tradition of rakugo and breathes new life into it by shifting the format from spoken word to manga. Each of the eight stories in the collection is lifted from the Edo-era Japanese storytelling form. As Tatsumi notes in the afterword, the world of rakugo, filled with mystery, emotion, revenge, hope, and, of course, love, overlaps perfectly with the world of Gekiga that he has spent the better part of his life developing. These slice-of-life stories resonate with modern readers thanks to their comedic elements and familiarity with human idiosyncrasies. In one, a father finds his son too bookish and arranges for two workers to take the young man to a brothel on the pretext of visiting a new shrine. In another particularly beloved rakugo tale, a married man falls in love with a prostitute. When his wife finds out, she is enraged and sets a curse on the other woman. The prostitute responds by cursing the wife, and the two escalate in a spiral of voodoo doll cursing. Soon both are dead, but even death can't extinguish their jealousy. Tatsumi's love of wordplay shines through in the telling of these whimsical stories, and yet he still offers timeless insight into human nature.
Publisher: Montréal : Drawn & Quarterly, 2012.
ISBN: 9781770460744
Branch Call Number: 741.5 TAT
Characteristics: 278 p. :,chiefly ill. ;,23 cm.
Additional Contributors: Allen, Jocelyne 1974-


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Sep 03, 2015

Reads like morality tales, looks like a black and white comic.

forbesrachel Apr 25, 2014

Fallen Words is full of short one-shots about everyday characters in everyday situations with a humourous twist. Each part is an individual story based on a rakugo (a type of Japanese storytelling) set in the Edo period of Japan. With this format the author is able to explore a good variety of this distinct culture. Thanks to the flexibility of rakugo, and its universality in regards to human nature, it is easy to relate to various characters, with their foibles or strengths, and to find amusement in their tales. Each shares the common theme of fortune or misfortune, which often stems from monetary wealth, or those whom one knows. Choices of morality often bare the brunt of the joke. While this title comes from Japan, it is not manga, rather it is a graphic novel with characteristics similar to a comic strip. The art is fairly standard with a focus on comedic expressions. Each section ends with one climatic line, which is only made possible by the author's perfect pacing, and leaves us with a strong impression of its point. The troubles of these people will only be appreciated by adults, and certain topics are only appropriate for an older audience. Most of the text is translated in a way that the western audience can easily understand, however there are notes in the back that expand on certain words, and explain the more subtle jokes.

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