Comic Book Resources review RED SNOW

“Robot reviews: Another manga round-up” / Comic Book Resources / Chris Mautner / November 4, 2009

A woman falls in love with the spirit of a chestnut tree only to see it chopped down. A traveling monk becomes the unwanted play thing for a group of lonely house wives. Anothe rmonk dreams of sexual conquest. A battered wife puts up with her husband's alcoholism and abuse because that's the only time he can sexually gratify her.

As my poor attempts at encapsulation suggest,, this collection of short stories by the late gekiga artist Katsumata deal with the give and take between the sexes, set against the backdrop of a rural, feudal Japan. Katsumata makes no bones about the second-class status and hardships that women in this particular culture must endure, but has no interest in being one-sided. The women here can be just as abusive and manipulative as the men, they just aren't always as successful in getting their way, and their fall can be a lot greater.

None of this is overt. Katsumara delivers all his stories in sleight-of-hand style so that the book's themes only seep into your brain slowly, and with multiple readings. This is a book I'll be pulling off my shelf and musing over for some time to come.

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