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A Manga classic

A Manga classic
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First Published: Sat, Sep 13 2008. 12 48 AM IST

Oldboy: On a journey of discovery.
Oldboy: On a journey of discovery.
Updated: Sat, Sep 13 2008. 02 20 PM IST
It is common for a book, a comic book, to be made into a movie. Some books make good movies. Others, not so. Still, the release of a movie usually tends to increase interest and sometimes, sales of a comic book, even in India. That this doesn’t always happen is evident from unsold copies of V for Vendetta at my neighbourhood bookstore.
As CF winds down to its conclusion a few months from now, and as this writer tries to tie up loose ends by writing on books he has thus far ignored but which form part of the must-have-must-read pantheon of comic books, it is but inevitable that the Oldboy books come up.
Oldboy: On a journey of discovery.
These are a series of books written by Nobuaki Minegishi and Garon Tsuchiya and they would have remained unknown to most people if not for the spectacular success of a movie of the same name, a South Korean one, made in 2003 by Park Chanwook. The movie’s success (it won the second prize at the 2004 Cannes film festival, the year Q was president of the jury—there’s a story, perhaps apocryphal, about his efforts to convince the jury to give it the top prize but that eventually went to Fahrenheit 9/11) encouraged Dark Horse to publish English translations of Oldboy in eight volumes.
This writer remembers reading in the papers about a Bollywood movie based on Oldboy although it’s difficult to imagine how they would have told the story.
The plot of Oldboy isn’t an easy one to tell, although it is a simple one. A man is kidnapped and locked in a private jail (between the floors of a tall building) for reasons that remain unknown. He is released after 10 years. The man, Shinichi Goto, then sets out to find out who did this to him and why.
The English translation of Oldboy was considered good enough to win an Eisner Award (sort of like the Oscars for comic books) in 2007. Like all Manga (and like some Manga translated into English), the book has to be read from back to front and right to left (the reason being that most Manga was originally meant to be read on Japan’s crowded metro and the dimension of the books as well as the size meant that they could be held in one hand and read easily. The spine on the right means readers can, with some practice, just move the page without flipping with just a bit of pressure). This writer has often wondered how left-handed people cope.
Write to Sukumar at cultfiction@livemint.com
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First Published: Sat, Sep 13 2008. 12 48 AM IST