SuzukaPosted: December 28, 2011
I read Suzuka yesterday. All 169 chapters of it.
There’s a certain feeling I get after watching a great anime or after reading a great manga. Some people describe it by saying that it’s hard to start another series because their minds are so preoccupied by the one they just finished. After watching Eureka Seven, I had a hard time sleeping because I kept thinking about it. The same with Welcome to the NHK. Nichijou, too.
And now I can add Suzuka to that short list.
So I knew I had to write a post about the series. I was originally going to compare it to Kare Kano (shoujo romance) and bash shoujo while singing the praises of Suzuka. Killing two stones with one post! I also wanted to write about how realistic the relationship between Suzuka and Yamato was. I even considered dropping out my Editorial Day post for one on Suzuka. It’d probably be more on-topic (aka less meta), too.
But I concluded that the best way to show you why I love Suzuka was to… well, show you. Below is the break up scene, from Suzuka chapter 112.
At first, I thought my computer froze, or that the scanlation was just bad. But I found myself mouthing “oh fuck.” Three full-page spreads covering a split-second of shock. Suzuka’s words sink in for six pages. Yamato tries to say something, but sees Suzuka’s smile.
This smile is literally a side of Suzuka that’s never been seen before. I could call it shitty art, but the style suits the purpose. It’s a smile that could break hearts. By showing only Suzuka, the mangaka puts the audience in Yamato’s position. As Yamato tries to stare down this smile, we do too. And as we catch another glimpse of the resolute Suzuka, we grit our teeth and give up. Who can blame Yamato? How can any guy respond to such a determined face?
The mangaka, Kouji Seo, could have gone with the classic break up scene where the girl slaps the guy and runs away. It would have been clean, predictable, and boring. But it would have been an easy read. This chapter was by no means an easy read. Seo forces Yamato and Suzuka to confront each other, face to face. And he forces the reader to watch. It’s a depressing scene, and so realistic that it feels like you, yourself, have just been rejected.
And that makes it brilliant. For anybody who thinks I’ve just spoiled the series: you know they’re going to be together in the end. It’s a romance, and there ain’t no Nagisas here. It’s the whole package that really matters here. Reading Suzuka is like going through a relationship – one hell of an experience.