When you look at the sheer range and number of original stories being told in comics form today, it’s hard to imagine a better time to be a comics reader. Online and in print, from all around the world, artists and writers are telling stories with their own voices and styles, and there’s so much to choose from that it’s sometimes difficult to know what to read next. With Should I Be Reading… ?, ComicsAlliance hopes to offer you a guide to some of the best original ongoing comics being published today.

In ReCollection, by Ichigo Takano, a man with no positive attributes beyond the physical basics discovers that he’s an amnesiac high school teacher. He’s dating a student in his homeroom class. And he can see God.

 

ReCollection, ICHIGO TAKANO/FUTABASHA PUBLISHERS LTD. Translator: Sheldon Drzka Editor: Emily Martha Sorensen Letterer: Carl Vanstiphout

 

WHAT’S IT ABOUT?

As with her series Orange, Takano presents her  readers with a protagonist being led by a supernatural agent. Unlike Orange, where the heroine was a student with a letter from her future self, and the goal was to help somebody, ReCollection focuses on an adult male, guided by an alleged manifestation of god, whose task seems to be to stop hurting somebody.

A teacher cannot date a student, no matter how much she may desire him — but a teacher, by profession, has a lot of guiding principles that our amnesiac Kanade Natsume fails to live by. The three chapters out so far have seen him fail to control class after class full of teenagers, manipulate a truant student with lies, and --- I can’t emphasize this one enough --- allow a student to call herself his girlfriend.

 

 

While Orange’s Naho shows early determination to become the stronger, more decisive person that her future self says she needs to, Kanade shies away from the necessary steps to better personhood that are encouraged by the strange, floating young man who calls himself God. He's much less likable than Naho, but much more mysterious too — did the pre-amnesia Kanade do his best to put off his teenaged fan, but fail due to an inability to authoritatively define boundaries? That's a much better option than than to have engaged with her due to a more obvious, more unseemly weakness.

The point is, as the comic makes it, that the relationship is inappropriate and its continuance cannot be allowed. Weak people must find the dertermination to grow stronger, as a necessity of compassion. Of course that’s much easier said than done.

 

 

WHO’S IT BY?

We covered Takano's work and style in Should I Be Reading 'Orange'. Her art here is just as cute here as it is on Orange, with clothing and footwear detail that makes the world around the narrative sparkle. School uniforms look comfortable and snuggly, God’s trousers are tucked into his boots, looking workmanlike, determined. They’re clean and essentially box-fresh, but structurally sloppy — a visual echo of the confusion of fictional amnesia, the blank slate/everything dumped liminal state that Kanade finds himself in.

In the context of this student-teacher dalliance and in a story about an adult falling short of adult potential, the cute lines and sulky faces are a little unsettling. All is as it should be, nothing is dissonant.

WHAT MAKES IT SPECIAL?

Have you often read a story where God wears glasses?

 

 

Ichigo Takano’s stories have a refreshingly easy attitude to introducing new characters to the story's central secret. Just as more and more friends confided in each other in Orange, within the first three chapters of ReCollection Kanade has not only seen and spoken with the floating hipster who claims to be God (how the word is written and what it signified in the original, these volumes don’t relay), but his student girlfriend has heard the voice of God, and a second student has invited himself into the ring of Kanade’s confidence too.

Two further students and two adults have been established and interwoven with Kanade’s personal growth forecast. Nobody, except for our “hero”, has been humiliated. Takano tackles gravid themes of how humans harm with gentle grace.

WHO SHOULD READ IT?

Fans of Fred Vargas, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Maj Sjöwall and Per Wahlöö — if you like a read that takes a look at frailty and sin without calling them such pejorative things, if you like to read about people doing things that they shouldn’t for reasons that they can’t yet see past, or enjoy crime writing which will not light fires of hot anger within you, I should think that Takano will please.

Fans of deft lines and light, scaffold-style backgrounds, and the comfort in the crumpling of clothing, will also find much to enjoy. If you like urban fantasy or supernatural themes but shy away from high fantasy or aggressively chromed sci-fi, ReCollection has enough spiritual whimsy and “is he God, really?” to check your boxes.

WHERE CAN I READ IT?

ReCollection is being serialized in English on Crunchyroll.