But first, an important confession: I read this manga as it was being released by DMP, and eagerly anticipated each new volume. I can remember counting down release dates, driving on my lunch hour to (of all places) the local Game Stop, and bringing the volumes home with twitchy fingers. La Esperança made me nervous. It still does. I often delayed reading my new volume until I had re-read all the previous ones. I was certainly anxious to know what turn the story of wealthy private school students Georges Saphir and Robert Jade might take, but I'd need to ease myself back into it. To be frank, I was nervous for the characters. I both wanted and did not want to see them break. I was nervous for me as well, La Esperança is a series I had to physically step away from on several occasions (putting the book down mid-chapter with a sigh or sharp intake of breath) to ward off the emotional heartbreak that seemed inevitable.
In short, this series is pretty powerful stuff at times, especially in terms of image, emotion, and characterization. It also has a lot of wind blown angst. Lots of wind. So much wind that Ms. Shakespeare once went on a lengthy diatribe about the amount of wind in this manga series, claiming that in order for this to be realistic each character would have to be sporting around their own wind machine at all times. Wind aside, because I don't really care either way, this is a must read. Chigusa Kawai's first work is intense, impressive and (dare I say it? ) literary. I have been looking forward to some new work from this writer/illustrator since the end of La Esperança, and Kawai has finally produced something new--a series entitled Alice the 101st, which is on my to read and to review list as we speak. I only hope the new series lives up to my expectations based on this one. I'll certainly be letting you know, Dear Readers.
WARNING ONE: Blogger may have just screwed me out of a crazy-good, long-ass essay on this manga. In fact, I know it did. I have never had this experience on blogger, and am half-furious at both it and myself at the moment. I will have to rewrite it, and I am ensaddened. I hope it is even better this time around, although I expect it will not be. Hey, blogger, what happened to the auto-save? Did you forget to do that? Because it would have been really nice in this case. SO ANGRY!
WARNING TWO: Dr. M (seriously, I have an actual PhD...don't question my ability to get all schooley) is about to wax all academic up in this mug, please bear with her, humor her and acknowledge that from time to time this sort of thing has a place.
|Robert and Georges first meeting. |
Georges literally falls into his arms.
Only to be dumped out unceremoniously with a
"Tsk, I thought you were a girl."
Thematically it deals with some very important, and sometimes heavy, topics, asking us, as readers, to consider, what we do to protect ourselves from the world as human beings. It is very human to put up our guard against the world around us, because vulnerability leaves us exposed, but closing ourselves off keeps us from living fully in the world through connections with others. Georges, the protagonist of the novel, begins as nothing more than a pretty object--a self-effacing angel popular with all students, but close to none. Henri, the best friend, is held at arms length and longs to breach the unseen barriers Georges throws up to guard his inner self from the outside world. Robert, the antagonist and eventual love interest, hides his true self behind the perceptions others have of him; he lets his classmates and others believe him to be cold and callous because it is easier (and safer) than having to explain or relieve past sorrows.
|Georges kisses Robert out of the blue,|
finally taking something for himself.