Among the manga serialised in Gangan Online (Barakamon, Nozaki-kun, WataMote, Danshi Koukousei), there is a little-known ongoing series I am infatuated with: Ryuushika Ryuushika.
The reason I gave such a title to this article is because I often see Ryuushika Ryuushika compared to Yotsuba& and never the other way around. This saddens me, because this gem of a manga very much stands on its own — not just as a side dish “if you liked Yotsuba.”
Each chapter tells an everyday adventure with at its centre Ryuushika: a little girl brimming with imagination and curiosity and craziness. Take this plain synopsis and put it in the hands of ABe Yoshitoshi (Haibane, Lain). The result is one of the most creative works I have come across in recent years.
Innocent Ryuushika doesn’t know much about life. As a result of her imagination and lack of knowledge, the little nothings of every day turn into exciting dreams. It’s very resourceful, artistic, inventive, and it never stops amusing you. The little girl pictures the world in crazy ways, like mosquitos “laying eggs”, and the abstract illustrations give a lifelike insight into her hyperactive mind. Like with this depiction of her fantasies being shattered. Let’s look at a few more examples:
We see Ryuushika at the usual business; in the first example she is playing hide-and-seek… by herself. From something so simple as a rattling chair, Ryuushika sees herself in a train on its way to the beach. This makes for a beautiful scene, and while colouring could be better, the mere presence of colours particularly fits Ryuushika’s vivid imagination. The colours of her daydreams contrast with the colours of reality — shades of grey would just not provide the same effect.
The way Ryuushika Ryuushika captures the essence of childhood is enchanting, yet realistic. The recurring parts where she has strong feelings for simple objects (e.g. snowmen, see the slide below) are absolutely typical of young children (as is the omnipresence of “talking” objects, e.g. leaves) — and the visual representation of her fantasies is likewise very childlike, and always adorable.
Ryuushika Ryuushika has a few emotional moments, too. As with everything, it uses its creativity to devise them: in making amusing situations like the snowman’s example below, or in writing sentimental dialogue like the father’s explanation. Judge for yourself: