22 October 2019

SPECIAL - White Note Pad - (manga)

“(She) was above all things a projector of works in the face of nature, and a modifier of nature itself. A road to be made, a tower to be built, a harbour to be constructed, a river to be trained and guided in its channel – these were the problems with which (her) mind was continually occupied; and for these and similar ends (she)
 travelled the world for more than half a century, like an artist, notebook in hand.” (italics mine) 

Robert Louis Stevenson

From the outset, White Note Pad presents me with a difficulty that challenges the reader.  Or at least those readers of my variety; we all have a stroke to contend with.  But Tomoko Yamashita plumbs the depths most deftly.  

In the beginning, we see Hana, outside, and climbing small snow mountains.  Her face shows forth a bit of a square jawline; at the beginning, I mistake her being a transgender young woman.  Rather, Hana is switched with an older man, a common trope.  When she gets to work, however, she shows a confident demeanor. When a coworker asks what she would like to wear, Hana says black. (1) Kine, on the other hand, is really a mess. His hair is knotted, his body in an overall.   When the switch took place, he spent some time in the hospital.  He lost his job at an auto mechanic's shop. 
When they wake up, however, they both are sweating.  Hana's just better at it - at least at first.

The two meet up at what appears to be a swanky coffeeshop.  As usual, Kine is the odd man out here, hair and clothing unkempt.  Conversely, Hana looks the part, stylish, not a hair out of place in her outfit.  Once again, the two look curious.  After Kine vents out a bit, Hana has a plan:  the magazine works for has a need for some part-timers.  This way, they'll get to see each other, and make plans for the future. It seems like a good plan.  

However, Hana's perfect plans slowly, slowly start to unravel.  It starts with an offhand remark, "I just can't be by myself".  Standing alone,  you might not discern the comment.  But notice the opening scene.  Hana is not walking on the sidewalk, where the snow has been plowed, a sensible path.  Rather, she mounts the small mountains of snow - but not with confidence, rather with abandon.  Kine, on the other hand, walks sensibly.  He has gone through some rough times, and has lived through scars, but muddles through.

I think that you well know by now that I really don't care for giving away all of the secrets, so you'll understand if I don't.  However, I will get through some of the technical work.  Ms. Yamashita happily avoids the busywork on the cover, preferring rather a spare Hana, with warts on parade.  Another scene where Yamashita does her best work is the scene of the angry ocean.  Hana says in these scenes "My mind and body..."  but rather should be saying "My mind or body..."

And the seas roar.    

1- In Japan black can also symbolize experience, as opposed to white, which symbolizes naiveté. The black belt in martial arts symbolizes experience, while a white belt is worn by novices.[59] Japanese men traditionally wear a black kimono with some white decoration on their wedding day.  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black