Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Like a Japanese Cowboy..."
Ween - Japanese Cowboy.
There can't be many comics that immediately make one's mind turn to alt-rockers Ween... but then Yokoyama Yuichi's manga always makes my mind do strange things.
His unique art style, replete as ever with a truly insane amount of sound effects, is easily identifiable by its delightful future retro combination of curves and long straight lines. Those sounds effects, which I think must be present in at least 95% of the panels, really add to the at times claustrophobic intensity by the way, something Yuichi comments on in the excellent, if typically terse, two-page interview included at the back of the book. He seems a real character, I must say, which does not surprise me one iota.
His style has always struck me as being of two time periods, straddling both like an enormous yet elegant mega-robot. For there is a sense in which he has the feel of really early Yoshihiro Tatsumi, by which I mean the likes of BLACK BLIZZARD, and also Tezuka in ASTRO BOY mode. I think that is due to the seemingly simplistic panel layouts but also the panel progressions, the actual visual sequential storytelling which feels very of that period.
But then that is transformed into something truly idiosyncratic and futuristic with his trademark illustrative flourishes. Not least the repetitious symmetry of minor (and occasionally major) components, including the sound effects, frequently deployed in precise patterns and formations which has a very pleasing effect on the eye. Well, to mine at least!
The typically ultra-minimal plot, consisting entirely of a group of cowboys riding the range on their minature rocket ships, doing all the usual things that ranch hands do and nothing more exciting than that, okay occasionally waving their ray guns around, only adds to the dualistic contrary temporal feel.
Yuichi will never change, he clearly likes to make manga his own very special way, probably entirely for his own satisfaction I suspect, and I wholeheartedly applaud him for it.