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Danza back

Natsume Ono


Page 45 Review by Jonathan

Six delightful vignettes from the author of RISTORANTE PARADISO which all revolve around family and friendship. It would be fair to say relationships are a common central theme throughout pretty much all of Ono’s work, and whilst I have found much of her output endearing and subtly enchanting (and in the case of NOT SIMPLE, simply compellingly shockingly distressing), there has also been the very occasional miss where I didn’t feel a sense of engagement with the stories or characters.

I think it is quite possible, however, that may have simply have been due to when I read the works in question. In any event, I found all of the six shorts in this particular work perfectly formed snapshots in the lives of the various protagonists, each capturing a few brief scenes of touching sentiment plus the odd bit of gentle strife, and I do think each short could quite easily have been expanded to form a self-contained longer-form work, which hopefully gives you an idea of my regard for them.

Just to mention, if you have read much of her work, you will note she has a particular affinity for Italy, with stories often being set there, or characters having a connection to the country. I have absolutely no idea why this is, other than to say that yet again that is the case in this particular work, with some shorts featuring vineyards, carabinieri and gelati. Though we also do have a time traveller too! In addition the title translates from Italian as ‘dance’. It is a very appropriate title, actually, given the polite movements and turns various family members perform around each other to avoid, or occasionally deliberate choosing to, tread on each other’s emotional toes. Very much like real life then!

In terms of an ongoing series, I really must mention for those of you not reading it that we do have her genial comedy of manners THE HOUSE OF FIVE LEAVES, featuring the not-so-dastardly gang of Edo-period kidnappers and their slightly calamitous newest member who is probably the least likely Yojimbo ever! I note she is also about to begin another Edo-period series on the generally excellent Viz Ikki imprint, though I have no further information about it.