Review Status: Complete (1 Volume/1 Volume)
Licensed: No, this is unlicensed in the US.
Art: This has a rougher look to it than more lighthearted stories. I wouldn’t say it’s like a rough sketch, but it’s not as finished or as fine as other titles. I’d liken it to Music of Marie or Children of the Sea. It looks good. Different, but good.
Summary: A boy. A girl. A ferry. A wild story about memory. Who is Emanon, and why does she have memories going back to the beginning of life on earth?
Review: Told in chapters that are labeled by what time they take place that day, Memories of Emanon makes no bones about what it is: a story about a girl who has memories dating back to the beginning of the world. And to get you to buy into it, this breaks the fourth wall a bit by having her tell it to a boy who’s very into sci-fi stories. Suspension of disbelief at work right there!
Emanon works very well as a manga about identity. If you have memories of thousands of people and beings that aren’t your own, where does your personality begin and theirs end? The anagram of her name (No Name, to be specific), is a subtle hint that because she’s unsure of her own identity, she can’t really differentiate herself with something as simple as a name. And what use would someone like that have? These ideas are actually explored by the characters themselves on their trip across the sea.
Emanon takes a bit of a unique take on the idea of traveling, as well. Usually we see men wandering, trying to find themselves. Having a female heroine gives a different twist on matters, especially since this also plays into the memory and theories – apparently, she only remembers the memories of her direct female ancestors, and if you know your biology, mitochondrial DNA is passed on from a mother to all of her descendants, creating direct genetic lines through women. So when it plays with the idea of those memories being a genetic ‘illness’, it isn’t that far out there for a sci-fi story.
This is an incredibly short manga, but for all that it manages to balance the themes and characters really well. The POV is from a man who is fairly average in every respect. He’s in college, he likes sci-fi, and he likes to drink and have some late-night theorizing with a girl who can talk about anything and everything under the sun. Enamon also seems fairly normal except for her story. There’s a bit of a throw at the end of it, where she claims that it was merely part of a story she had made up, but the amount of pages it takes up clearly shows it’s not to anyone reading this. Tossing theories back-and-forth give you a good amount of personality for both of them, and there’s an interesting chemistry going on. I have to admit, I was curious about where that would go (and wasn’t all that shocked by the ending), but nonetheless thought it an excellent way to build and bring depth to these characters.
What this manga really lacks in is space. This really did a fabulous job with the amount of pages it had, but really could have been expanded or given more impact had it been longer. Sometimes a manga can outstay its welcome, but this is a rare case where I think that it could be improved with some breathing room. Because it only had so much, things that could have been (should have been) given with subtle pictures and dialogue – and this had starkly beautiful pauses where it could squeeze them in – had to be spelled out. Emanon’s decision at the end of the volume really stands out to me as part of it.
Overall, it’s a fantastic and incredibly brief read. Definitely worth the five minute perusal!
Recommended: If you like sci-fi, it’s a solid, short title that is very enjoyable. 16+ for some partial nudity, implied sex, and heavy themes.
Overall rating: 8/10. It spells out a bit too much, but is pretty interesting.