The independent manga scene has always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve had the pleasure of reading classic gekiga (alternative/independent manga) from Masahiko Matsumoto and Yoshihiro Tatsumi, but haven’t found much else. When Denpa offered a review copy for An Invitation From a Crab I jumped on it to see where the independent scene has gone. We don’t have many indie manga in the West, but I hope manga like this one will change publishers’ minds. It’s a great manga that captures life in a unique but always relatable way.
The manga’s greatest asset is the art style. The watercolor is refreshing and everything, even the panels, have a handcrafted feel to them. This creates an intimacy with the author, panpanya, and we get to see her perspective on the small details that enrich our lives but are often ignored. This leads to quirky plots such as returning a giant salamander to the Amazon rainforest. But it’s always done with a wry sense of humor so it never becomes pretentious. In the Amazon story, they use a boat because with planes, “You can’t bring wild animals onto them… They’re so inconvenient.”
This could just be a fun collection of stories, but panpanya makes it clear they are parts of a greater whole. The stories are often broken up with diary entries from the author. In them, the author talks about a single observation and how it gives her enlightenment. Like how an airplane in the sky makes you think about how distant people are from one another even though they are so close. Then in the short story after it, there’s a panel showing an airplane in the sky. This continues throughout the book, with each preceding story informing the next even if they have no direct relation to each other. Kind of like real life.
So slow down, open your mind, and pick up this book. And never turn down an invitation from a crab.
If you are ever fortunate enough to see a crab strolling through your neighborhood, please follow its lead. By slowing down to a crab's pace and looking around and about in this world, you too may discover life's many mysteries that are hidden in plain sight. This English-language debut from artist panpanya collects eighteen short stories detailing the comical, creepy and whimsical world of Japan's indie comic scene.Add to CartLearn More