Manga is my guilty pleasure (besides boy bands that is) and courtesy to netgalley and the publisher I got this ARC of The Awakening by Donald Lemke, illustrated by Claudia Medeiros.
Here is the summary of the book:
In every moment of time, two sides exist. Each has a story, and each its own point of view. One event. Two perspectives. The choice is up to you... In 1984, a teenager finds a cassette on the streets of Tokyo, Japan. At home, the teen sticks the mysterious tape into his Walkman and pushes play. Suddenly, an Oni-like creature awakens deep below the apartment building. It surfaces, seeking out the irritating music and chasing the boy to the rooftop — where both their fates will be decided. A part of the Good vs Evil series.
As the tradition goes manga is read from right-to-left but this graphic novel can be read in three different ways. All of which can be interpreted in equally different manners. The scenes enfold in blue and red frames, showing Yoshihiro Tanaka’s point of view for the good, and the Oni’s (demon) for the evil. There is a note at the beginning of the book saying that the reader can first do all the blue frames before doing the red ones, or vice versa, and read them all together afterwards and see how differently it works each time.
I tried to read through the blue and red frames separately only ended up confusing me. I guess this type of reading material does not really work all that effectively when read as an e-copy since you have to scroll through the whole page and see either the red or blue frames anyway even when you’re reading the opposite color. I appreciated the story more when I read it in full, blue frames, red frames and all. The ending, though, leaves a wide array of interpretations for the readers.
Lots of questions arise at the end of the book - Has Yoshihiro been eaten by the Oni? Has Yoshihiro become the Oni? Are those scenes where the Oni awoke to the music from the mysterious cassette tape mere representations of the monster finally awakening within Yoshihiro’s subconscious?
If you ask me then i'd consider Yoshihiro and the Oni are two different being - its easier to understand the plot like that and in the last frame where both of them stand in the same posture it looks like they have somehow merged together because of that mysterious tape or somehow Yoshihiro is no longer the same after that ordeal.
Nevertheless, the graphic novel cannot be seen in one light even if you think long and hard over it because different people with a different mind-set are bound to view the plot from a completely different angle than the other and with all the differing lines of thoughts I suppose it is best to leave it at that.