Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Freesia by Matsumoto Jiro

Matsumoto Jiro


Freesia is set in an alternative Japanese society that is at war, and has passed a law legalizing retaliatory killings. If somebody kills your loved one, you are legally sanctioned to kill, or hire someone to kill, the victimizer. The manga is set around a character who works for a firm that specializes in these retaliatory killings. 

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)

Rosy's scrawlings on Freesia
This story is for adults only. If you're a young one of any young age or mindset then just steer clear. I say this simply for your own benefit, not as one trying to hide things from you. This manga is far too twisted and contains sexual abuse of multiple characters, themes of insanity, multiple killings written in the form of hunting humans and more. Basically, it isn't even your average fare R rated movie with all that extra gore and guns blazing. This is truly off the scale twisted. Which does mean that when you're ready for it you'll probably greatly enjoy reading it. Just hold off for a little bit while you get used to the grades of themes and violence between what you can currently deal with and this. You'll get there in your own time, believe me.
For the adults who like dark psychological stories, this is what I have to say about Freesia. Basically, it is both repulsive and addictive, awesome and enthralling for all the wrong reasons. Freesia follows the story of Hiroshi Kanō, as best it can anyway. He's a man who could be classified as well and truly insane although just what he is is beyond me. An amalgamation of a few things probably. He hallucinates frequently, giving the Freesia episodes unexpected twists and turns that keep you wondering. He's mostly unlikable for his almost complete detachment from reality, a detachment that slowly begins to crumble thanks to the meddling of Higuchi, but once you meet the remaining characters you begin to really like him for his strange analysis of reality and his reflexive approach to dangerous situations. Sometimes he seems an impersonation of Death while other times he's the perfect blend or hunter and prey. Mostly he's just insane. 
Kanō also sometimes reminds me of Kevin from Sin City for the glasses.
Alongside Kanō are Higuchi who is a scout and manager of sorts for the firm and who is a gang rape survivor bent on creating chaos around her, Mizoguchi who is an insane sadistic hunter of humans and savage abuser of his wife, and Ichirō Yamada who is a man so trapped by his idealistic  approach to justice and morality that the reality of his own actions and crumbling world escapes him. Does it sound like there aren't any bright ones in this character list? You'd be right in guessing that there just aren't any in this whole manga. Ichirō Yamada is as close as you get. And the world of Freesia is just as dark and insane as the character, so don't expect anything like a flicker of light in this manga. Instead, expect to find yourself searching for just what reality is, what the expected morality is and whether there's anything good in any of us. 
I should not that I feel sorry for nearly every female character in it, my pity of Higuchi having worn rather thin what with her now being a manipulative one only interested in the confusion and misery of others. Basically, every female is exposed to abuse of one sort or another but all receive sexual abuse as well. There's rape, beatings, mental abuse, sexual training, enforced pregnancies and so on. I don't expect their treatment to get better either. Still, each character seems to find a way to survive, whether by denying it, buckling down, doing as demanded, using it for their own purposes or getting revenge. The range of responses is just as interesting as the fact that the author has chosen not to include many women without such treatment. The most amusing female character is Kanō's mother. I often begin to wonder if she's actually dead and Kanō's simply imagining she's alive when suddenly she jumps up and whacks him over the head with a rolling pin, calling him a demon while she's at it. She isn't far wrong. Either that or one of the other characters fails to point out she's dead.
The art of Freesia is generally dark and scratching, reflecting the variety of indefinable and strange mental states each of the characters experiences. The hallucinations are also drawn and sometimes you can't tell whether they are hallucinations or not, just as Kano doesn't always know. The art gives you just enough flashes and glimpses of reality to be able to ground yourself in the story all while providing are myriad of images from several character's perspectives, showing the distortions of reality they live with. The art, being of a scratching style, is gritty and impressionistic, showcasing the dark and disturbing story of Freesia extremely well.

I'd recommend this manga to: adults only and only those adults who like darker psychological stories filled with violence and disturbed mental states. 

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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