Yuki Tachibana (whose first name means ‘snow,’ and last name means ‘standing flower’) is not your average first-grader. He draws strange pictures on his desk that unnerve his other classmates. He can see things no one else can. He talks to the invisible Super Star, and all the others who have claimed the the school’s fourth floor, an area forbidden to the students. And his best– and only – visible friend is the elderly widower, Ganz (whose name happens to mean ‘all’ in German), who tends the school grounds, bringing the surrounding plots to gorgeous fruition. How fitting that Yuki is most at home amidst all of Ganz’s special blooms.
That spring of the new school year, transfer students arrive from a nearby school that’s been closed, including Makoto Suzuki, who is assigned to the desk next to Yuki. Little by little – through the book’s four chapters, named for the four seasons of the year – Yuki offers glimpses into his mysterious world to his new friend (makoto in Japanese means ‘truth, sincerity, devotion’), a much needed companion during a time when Yuki’s ‘other world’ begins to collide more frequently with his real world … and he is caught in the nebulous in-between.
Matsumoto, creator of both manga and film, TEKKON KINKREET, offers another modern fable of two boys and their less-than-real lives. Matsumoto offers disjointed reminders – the tiny room that holds the elderly Ganz’s whole life, the school that does not have enough students to fill its empty floors as Japan’s population decreases, the miscommunication between teachers and students, the ever-missing parents, and so on – of today’s disconnected contemporary world filled with inexplicable events, in which children are often left to create their own reality … or escape the one they are not able to face.
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult
Published: 2009 (United States)
GOGO MONSTER 1 © Taiyo Matsumoto
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.