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August 16, 2011

Manga Moveable Feast: The Many Faces of Fumi Yoshinaga

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Written by: Kristin
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The Many Faces of Yoshinaga

Welcome to the second day of the August 2011 Fumi Yoshinaga Manga Moveable Feast! For new posts from around the web, please scroll to the bottom of the page. Or see the anchor page for a full, updated list.

Perhaps my favorite thing about Fumi Yoshinaga is her ability to express deep and complex emotions without a single word. Her books are filled with wordless pages of simple and honest facial expressions. Series of panels that tell an entire story through the changes on a character’s face. It’s one of the most defining features of her work, and she makes use of it magnificently. Today is going to be less talking about Yoshinaga, and more showing of this particular way of storytelling. Some of my favorite pages in her books are simple panels, with no background, filled with a face that subtly changes panel to panel across the page (or pages, as is sometimes the case). These are honest emotions, pouring forth from Yoshinaga’s pen, that can make us laugh, warm our hearts, or make us shed a tear. All without a single word. Now, without further ado, and in no particular order:


The Moon and the Sandals, volume 2, pgs 108-109.


The Moon and the Sandals, volume 2, pgs 110-111.

In the above scene from the two volume The Moon and the Sandals, a grown up Naru is asked by the narrator about her life. Her expressions convey the slight melancholy of being rejected by the guy she loved (who was also her best friend), a guy who eventually began dating her brother. She remembers the broken heart, but she remains strong and appears happy with her current situation.


Garden Dreams, pgs 104-106.

This heartbreaking and silent scene from Garden Dreams occurs after the fragile trust between this husband and wife is broken when he accuses her of murdering her own sister.

Yoshinaga’s four volume Antique Bakery series has some of her best work in this area, in my opinion. One of her main characters is always sporting a dark pair of sunglasses, yet she still manages to convey his emotions, even though we can’t even see his eyes most of the time. Then there’s this pivotal scene:


Antique Bakery, volume 4, pgs 116-117.


Antique Bakery, volume 4, pgs 118-120.

Tachibana, recently dumped and in a foul mood, reacts to Ono’s poorly timed love confession during their high school days. As he watches Ono walk away, Tachibana reflects on his harsh words, which we later learn are triggered by memories from when he was kidnapped as a child by an older man.


Lovers in the Night, pgs 108-109.

On the cusp of the French Revolution, butler Claude sends his young master, Antoine, away from France for his protection, but stays behind to sell off his master’s assets. He finally returns over a month late, with no prior word and no explanation, to an angered and worried Antoine.


From Gerard & Jacques volume 1.

This scene from Gerard & Jacques (another French Revolution story) has a bit more dialog, but I couldn’t resist sharing the delightful facial expressions across these pages. The recently bankrupt aristocrat Jacques, who has just been hired as a servant by commoner Gerard, reacts with awe and then surprise at the size of Gerard’s private library.

And now, your Manga Moveable Feast Daily Updates!

From Ash Brown at Experiments in Manga: Collected Yoshinaga Reviews

From David Welsh (the Manga Curmudgeon), a review of one of my favorite Yoshinaga titles: Ichigenme…The First Class is Civil Law volumes 1 and 2

Johanna Draper Carlson makes some quick recommendations and links her past reviews at Manga Worth Reading, and also makes some suggestions about hosting events of this nature (which are good suggestions that I hope I am at least mostly following this week!).

Erin Jameson of PLAYBACK:stl uses her Lovefood column to talk about the simplicity of romance in Yoshinaga’s manga.

And if you missed it, here is my introductory piece from yesterday, Foodie Yoshinaga.


The Moon and the Sandals, Garden Dreams, and Antique Bakery are published by Digital Manga Publishing.
Lovers in the Night and Gerard & Jacques are published by Tokyopop (BLU).



  1. […] MMF host Kristin has a great post about Yoshinaga’s use of facial expressions with art samples. Similar […]

  2. […] Tuesday: The Many Faces of Fumi Yoshinaga […]

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