Anything But Simple
A review of
Natsume Ono’s “Not Simple”
There’s a certain mystical quality about Nastume Ono’s “Not Simple,” that lures readers in with its minimalist artwork and intriguing cover. On the amazon.com review section for the graphic novel, many shoppers and readers agree that the cover and unique art style drew them in, causing them to purchase a book they might have otherwise skipped over. Ono doesn’t draw or write her characters in conventional manga styles or pacing, and this gives it an atmosphere that allows it to transcend borders when read outside of the country of Japan.
Her artwork is a monster in and of itself in the best of ways. Her use of line and movement fills the page with open space, massive filled black clothing, and spooky atmospheres in even the simplest of moments between characters. This atmosphere that Ono builds causes the dramatic flair of the story to leap from the panels and keep the reader turning the page over and over.
The story itself is about a young Australian boy named Ian, walking across America, looking for his sister. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? The complex characters in Ono’s narrative, however, are anything but simple, and add an emotional depth as massive as the Grand Canyon. Ian’s sister, Kylie, has been a troublemaker since her youth, and Ian’s best friend, Jim, a sports reporter turned novelist, is dead set on helping Ian find her.
Every chapter reveals something about Ian’s troubled family, including his alcoholic mother and distant father, that makes every reveal a huge surprise and an emotionally powerful moment.
If you’re looking for a graphic drama that deals more with the problems of discovering your identity and has more of an American/Indie feel that most other manga titles out there, this is a book for you.