by Frederic Boilet
published by Fanfare/Ponent Mon; $13.99 US
The protagonist is infatuated with both Japan and Yukiko, the woman modeling for his story. The photorealistic art, reminiscent of Strangehaven, can be stiff but also beautiful. The title, which comes from a Japanese pun for navel, show how the lead is obsessing over parts of Yukiko’s body — her navel, a scar on her forehead. (There’s nudity in the art and explicit sexual scenes.) She’s not a real person either to him or to us, since we only see through his limited eyes.
From the beginning, the protagonist comes off as needy and a bit obsessive, so I’m not surprised Yukiko doesn’t want to get involved with him permanently. He’s the one that proposes a brief interlude before another man returns to her, even though he knows going in that he’s not going to be satisfied, so I have little sympathy for him trying to settle for less. He commits the classic mistake when it comes to relationships like these. When you have limited time together, for whatever reason, you need to focus on the time you have. However, he’s already looking ahead to when she’s no longer there, and ignoring their good times together to focus on when she’ll be gone.
The artist is fond of montage techniques, where unconnected images follow each other to establish a setting. It sets up a first person perspective where the viewpoint can’t stay fixed on anything, a nervous person with eyes constantly darting. The book is mostly a sequence of images, not a flowing story. The obvious reason to read this is if you’d like to look at a lot of pretty pictures of a Japanese girl. Anything beyond that isn’t as well-developed as I’d hoped.