Kappa At Work, the review of an unusual manga

Kappa At Work, the review of an unusual manga
Kappa At Work, the manga featured in today's review, is one of the most complex works to review that we have ever read. It is, in fact, a decidedly complicated comic to frame and enclose in a single concept or genre. It is a work of absolute break with the canonical Japanese comics that are usually sold on newsstands or comics shops and for this reason an applause should be made to Edizioni Star Comics which has decided to bring to Italy, through its Umami series, the particular and innovative work by Imiri Sakabashira after having already presented the mangaka in Italy with The box man.

Read also: The Funeral Procession of K, the review of the manga by Maki Kusumoto

Kappa At Work: an unusual story between realism and surrealism

The story of Kappa At Work is that of Anne, a young girl looking for a job that can allow her to support both herself and her father, who does not it may work due to a strange and rare disease. One day, while on her way to a job interview, the girl suddenly finds herself inside a submarine dedicated to octopus fishing, the Takobune. Inside this submarine, the girl will have to cook for a crew of Kappa pirates, or rather animal creatures born from Japanese folklore. From this moment on an unforgettable journey will begin for her between hallucinating landscapes, battles against scary beings and mystical creatures, encounters with indescribable subjects and crazy experiences halfway between realism and surrealism.

Light but not trivial narration

Already from the plot you can understand how the narration is anything but linear and there is no logic either in the succession of events or in the actions of the characters . Kappa At Work is a sometimes revolutionary work that mixes bright Western influences within the Japanese tradition. Just look carefully at the rich market to notice original characters, sometimes disgusting, who mix yokai and kaiju together with robots and icons of Western culture. The mergers between East and West, between magic and technology and between nature and artificiality make the atmospheres dreamed, psychedelic and highly illogical, but they have also allowed the author to be included in the Olympus of the gekiga genre.

L he work of Imiri Sakabashira should not be understood, but neither should it be read with speed and superficiality as it shows a path of growth that involves both the protagonist and the reader. By carefully analyzing the manga, we understand how the chaos is not the final result of a disorganization or inexperience of the author, but the result of a detailed and long-term study over the years. The characters are also quite inscrutable as they are characterized by an absolute lack of logic both in their behavior and in most of their dialogues. The plot, therefore, is almost overshadowed, leaving the viewer inside a physical and mental journey made by the protagonist who offers many interesting insights.

Between paintings and drawings " ungraceful ”

This is undoubtedly a very intelligent narrative technique that makes it possible to make Kappa At Work a work universally enjoyable by all types of public. It is in fact able to entertain those looking for a light and easy-going adventure, but it can also be enjoyed by all readers who instead want to keep their minds occupied with the observation of rich details and important reflections of the ancient and modern world. All this is also reflected in the aesthetic sector: the tables are rich in both environmental and anatomical details regarding the characters.

The expressiveness of both the protagonists and the secondary characters allows you to understand the events simply by observing the boards without necessarily reading the dialogues. There is an imposing influence of the Heta-uma artistic movement, with an almost clumsy drawing style characterized by a thick stroke reminiscent of the most retro manga. The characters have an almost beginner's trait that allows you to make the work even more special and original. If we then think that the settings are halfway between the pre-industrial era and the modern era with influences from Russian society in the first half of the twentieth century, but also with strong Japanese cultural traits, we understand how drawing is the main means of showing the irregularity of the work.

The editorial component

The Italian edition created by Edizioni Star Comics is of excellent workmanship. The cover, brilliantly decorated with one of Imiri Sakabashira's color plates, has flaps that are convenient to use as a bookmark.

The first pages are characterized by the presence of other beautiful color plates by the author who, in addition to being known as a skilled mangaka, he is also a famous Japanese painter (the latter aspect can be observed from the presence of tables in which there are dialogues interspersed with totally lacking tables). At the end of the volume there is also a photo and a short story in prose. Finally, the choice of textured paper is excellent, which gives the work a beautiful visual and tactile sensation.

In conclusion ...

Kappa At Work is therefore a work that allows the reader to abandon the own comfort zone made of classic manga and sometimes lacking in originality. The work must be read and observed while enjoying its philosophy made up of illogic and psychedelic and dreamlike settings, but also great care and not a few teachings. The lightness of the drawings and the narration can, however, be misleading: Kappa At Work is not a manga to be taken lightly.

Emotions and details must be captured only by paying the right attention, perhaps by reading the work many times. In short, if you are a lover of manga and comics in general, you cannot miss this little gem.

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