Midori is a young girl who sells flowers until her mother dies, leaving her an orphan. She’s conned by a freak show manager into joining his troupe, but once there she sees a shocking variety of deformed people and is occasionally the victim of their depravity. Midori’s situation changes, however, when a mysterious dwarf with a unique magical act joins the freak show. This dwarf is able to put himself through a bottleneck into a glass jar – and that is not the extent of his powers. Midori falls in love with the dwarf, but his ambitions and jealousy will have further unpleasant consequences...
I initially didn't want to review this, but since there's so little information about it on the site I changed my mind and decided to go for a relatively short look on what is probably the most macabre Manga I've read. Story: 5/10 Story wise, Midori is comprised of a somewhat unoriginal premise: a traveling circus of freaks reminiscent of the movie from the 30's performing in front of amused visitors. An orphan named Midori is forced to join the circus as a performer and is constantly abused physically, mentally and sexually by her cruel and deformed colleagues. The story itself is a pretty good and sympathy-inducing one; poor Midori is one of the most miserable characters in fiction and each time a tiny grasp of hope is gazed at by the horizon a plot-device is introduced to once again destroy her happiness. If it weren't for Suehiro Maruo's profound focus on perversity and pedophilia Midori could have been a surreal masterpiece, but every inch of potential is sacrificed in order for some unnecessary paraphilia. It sort of fits in well with the otherwise grotesque story, but when there's something sexual on every third page or so you can't help but question the intentions of the author... Art: 8/10 The art may be just as indecent and demented as the story, but it's still able to achieve a peculiar form of beauty thanks to the occasionally surreal touch and the great attention to details. The character designs are done very well to reflect a specific performer’s personality through his/her appearance, and even moments of explicit sexuality can be made really fascinating. If there is one single reason to read this Manga, it's definitely because of the extraordinarily good artwork! Characters: 5/10 The circus performers are quite peculiar, not only based on their looks. They constantly abuse and mistreat Midori in absolutely horrifying ways, but when the girl decides to leave together with a dwarf they all act as if they've shared long and warm moments of serenity with each other. This may be a sign of regret from their side, but I highly doubt such kindness would simply drop in overnight. There is character development, primarily aimed at Midori, but despite being a character with potential she's far too bland to leave a strong impression. Overall: 5/10 Grotesque, explicit and pretty much the Manga equivalent of an exploitation flick; Midori may carry plenty of flaws, but is despite this very memorable. Emphasis on "very". The surreal artwork may be the highlight, but the story itself is blunted by the obvious fact that Maruo is far more interested in drawing nudity than he is in creating a story.
I only read this because it's such a controversial book. I think it was banned at one time in multiple cities at one time. The live action film based on this graphic novel is still banned. More importantly one of the first cases of ahegao is supposed to be in these pages, but I couldn't find it. Be warned that there's rape, pedophilia, and gore. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, though. (Anybody looking for a sexual thrill will be disappointed.) But I really couldn't stand the animal abuse. It was horrid. The ending was confusing. The artwork, however, is amazing. You won't be bored. Save yourself a few bucks and read it online.
Let's ask ourselves the question we all inevitably ask about every manga: "How does it compare to Horimiya?" And the first thing that should be mentioned is that there are stark tonal differences between the two, both aesthetically and narratively. Boiled down, Horimiya attempts to evoke positive feelings and this manga attempts to evoke negative feelings. The art in this one uses a lot of inked-in shading and darkness to create a gloomy atmosphere as opposed to Horimiya's bright and largely unfilled artwork. It doesn't use nearly as many patterned effects--at times using some radiant lines--and instead fills the backgrounds with minute details and objects. The hair glimmers similarly to Miyamura's, but in a more detailed and beautiful way. The story is set in a circus instead of being set in a school, but they both tell the story of a couple and the ensemble that surrounds them. They both veer off into random tangents, though Horimiya does so in deadpan dialogue and this one does so visually. The tangents in this story can be slightly humorous, but are moreso intended to be gross and disturbing. The same type of tantalizing hook that an actual freakshow might use (do freakshows still exist?). Obviously, this story ends much quicker than Horimiya and doesn't delve nearly as deeply in the interpersonal relationships between the various ensemble members. It is melancholic throughout and we are left to wonder whether Midori will ever find contentment and peace in feir life.
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