I first heard of Kabuki from Carl’s blog and picked it up from the library not long ago (a review that makes me run to the library to get a copy is sure one hell of a great review). Somehow my library had only Kabuki: The Metamorphosis, which after halfway reading I found out was actually the fifth in Kabuki series. *knock myself in the head*
People say however that you can read the graphic novels in the series as standalones, as a lot of the back story is often repeated.
Kabuki: Metamorphosis starts with Kabuki, one of the secret assassins, caught by the organization she works for, and held in some kind of ward. The psychiatrist asks her about her past and background. She plays along, but with escape plan in mind. Here we get to know her history. Her mother is a Kabuki player during war time, who attracts a general. The general pays her so much attention that he neglects his own son. Growing up hating the woman, on the supposed wedding day between the woman and the general, the son rapped and hurt her, leaving a conceived child in the womb. The woman dies giving birth and the general raises the baby girl, who later becomes an assassin of his organization. Kabuki is her code name. Meanwhile, the general’s son never feels remorse, only more hatred to find that his act results in an unwanted child.
Reading Kabuki is all so dream-like. The art style makes everything feels abstract: the characters, their mind and their reality. Like in limbo state. Even the text often goes all around in circles that made me need to turn the book around and round to read it. At a few points the pages are filled with small tiny text scattered all over that I had to skim some in order to move on (otherwise it’s gonna take me forever). So that’s a bit of my grudge.
But how lovely lovely arts. Almost all the pages resemble paintings of high quality. His myriad of styles are very interesting as well. David Mack used water color, crayon, ballpoint, pencil, even collages of manga scan and photos. Below is sample of the drawings in the book:
I love his drawings of the Japanese/Asian women. They seem to resemble the real ones closely, face and body. It’s a breath of fresh air to not see women with exaggerated boobs in graphic novel.
I had a hard time rating this. There’s little plot, and it focuses mostly thoughts, memories, dreams, and philosophy. But I think the plot is beside the point for this graphic novel. As an art book it’s excellent. As an experience it’s one of a kind. So make of it as you like. As with other graphic novels, I have rate for art and story. I’ll give 3 for story and 5 for art, which makes it a 4 stars.
2001, 280 pp
Read for Graphic Novels Challenge 2009 (book #16).