Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie, review: goin 'where the wind blows

Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie, review: goin 'where the wind blows

Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie, review

J-Pop with Nuvole a Nord-Ovest 1 brings to Italy the new series by the acclaimed Aki Irie, author of the excellent Il Mondo di Ran. The series, which begins with the manga in 2016, is still being serialized in Japan and currently boasts 5 tankobons.

Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie

Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie: a Japanese, a French and an Icelandic…

Kei Miyama ha seventeen years old, he is Japanese but lives in Iceland. Miyama is the guest of his grandfather Jacques, of French origin and still handsome, however he must earn a living in a very expensive foreign country among other things and for this reason he "invented" the profession of private detective. Leaving his phone number on the bulletin boards of the city's cafes, Miyama is contacted to find people, objects and even animals as the first case we see him busy where he has to retrieve a big dog and his gruff owner.

Waiting to meet him again, and understand what happened, Miyama accepts another seemingly simple assignment that leads him to meet the beautiful Lilja. Yet another chance causes the girl to be Katla's granddaughter. When Miyama is approached by another Japanese, a rarity in Iceland, he immediately senses that everything has to do with his younger brother Michitaka: his disappearance and the death of his uncles could hide a terrible secret. It is Lilja who confirms it to him, the girl, a musician, in fact she doesn't like the tone with which Michitaka justifies herself once she embraces Kei again.

Nuvole a Nord-Ovest 1 by Aki Irie, goin 'where the wind blows

Nuvole a Nord-Ovest 1 definitely falls into the seinen category however, as happened for Il Mondo di Ran, the sensei loves to mix genres and influences to obtain something very personal, engaging and certainly unusual narrative tension. If in his previous series majokko and slice of life were mixed, here instead the slice of life component is always present but is underlying a magical realism also given by the exotic setting and a detection component that reappears dramatically in some chapters.

In this sense Nuvole a Nord-Ovest 1 is highly satisfying reading because it manages to keep the reader's attention high by constantly providing him with points of reference that are then overturned or disavowed. The most striking example is perhaps the interaction between Lilja and Miyama. Apparently preparatory to the vertical plot, the introduction of a female character who can interact with the protagonist, especially with comic gags that bring to mind Tsukasa Hojo but in general there is also to underline how certain 80's atmospheres pervade the whole tankobon, then suggests in the finale that the girl could become a more active component in the mystery that surrounds Michitaka.

The 80's atmospheres mentioned above are also reflected in the graphic part of Nuvole in the North-West 1. The sensei he illustrates the story with long continuous lines, his figures are long and the protagonist Kei Miyama is androgynous but not too much (an evident influence of the shojo tradition) while the female characters are curvy but without excess. What is striking about the sensei's work is the ability to use a few lines to outline expressions and more generally to characterize all the characters who are all, since their first appearance, recognizable.

Nuvole a Nord-Ovest 1 by Aki Irie There is obviously an attention to detail with a hatch that increases slightly especially for drapery and more generally for environments, landscapes and objects, while the use is intelligent halftones and halftones that are never too invasive also because a style that prefers to work on thin lines, chiseling spaces rather than digging into the material. From the point of view of the construction of the table, however, there is a certain orderly preference for verticality, the whole table points in this direction even when horizontal squares are used to give greater dynamism or airiness to the sequence. This expedient enhances the flexuosity of the figures, often even overwhelmed, while maintaining shots that instead prefer close-ups, half-lengths or American shots. This solution increases the purely recitative aspect of the sequences while not disdaining a certain dynamism, when the "scheme" is broken, in the rare scenes with a more sustained rhythm.

The volume

J- Pop packs a 12.5 × 18 cm tankobon with dust jacket. The Italian edition immediately stands out for the excellent carto-technical care: the dust jacket is in fact embellished with embossed writing while the cover is in thick and porous cardboard in a raw brown color recalling the camping equipment that the protagonist Miyama always carries with him. (equipment which is among other things described with simple illustrations on the back cover with the words in Icelandic).

Clouds in the North-West 1 by Aki Irie A handful of pages a colors open the tankobon for which a white uncoated paper with excellent weight is used. From an editorial point of view, the reading is accompanied by a few but meaningful explanatory notes while at the end of the tankobon there is a short but important post-faction by the same manga artist that explains the inspiration behind the series.

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