By Dustin Cabeal
Miyoshi is such a hard book to review. On the one hand, it’s well-written (with some exception I’ll get to later), illustrated wonderfully and overall not a bad book. On the other hand, it’s about a woman being tortured, raped and beaten. Sure, she’s portrayed as being very strong and seemingly overcoming all of this, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s not offering anything new to this style of story, nor did we need yet another comic about those three subjects.
As for the storytelling, the biggest problem is that it’s all over the place. There’s no sense of the timeline, and we have to assume that the scene we return to the most is the present. Miyoshi had a shitty childhood with a mother that didn’t love her; she is full of rage that isn’t explained and yet commented on and finds herself being held captive for reasons unbeknownst to the reader. At one point her captive attempts to rape her but is fought off. Then he tries again and ends up losing his private parts in the process. Now, I know that seems strong or that the ends justify the means, but it still just looks like another female character being victimized in comics.
The scenes that are the best show Miyoshi with her daughter, who we can only assume is dead or worse. These touching moments deepen her characters, but then come crashing back down when we return to the present or a different scene from her past. The way the story bounces around is very cinematic and something that’s been done hundreds of times in movies. It’s effective in movies because of the moving images, but in comics, it tends to end up feeling choppy, which is what happens here. It’s not bad, but it could have used more focus. That and the story needed to give some idea as to why Miyoshi is imprisoned.
The art is beautiful considering the subject matter. It is very gritty and brutal for the most part. The coloring is… different. There’s a lot of different effects and styles used, often on the same page which ends up giving it an inconsistent look, but then at the same time… it still works. It’s not bad, but there could have been some better coloring choices overall. If it didn’t switch so suddenly, it might be an even better-looking story.
I suppose the saving grace of all this is that the book is free for everyone to read. Again, it’s well-written, there’s some intrigue, and the main character is well developed for a first issue. The art has wonderful line work, some interesting coloring choices and elevates the quality of the story for sure. A weaker artist would have ruined this book. It is still a story about a woman being victimized for unknown reasons with little hope of getting free and a past that seems just as horrific as her future. I hope there’s something worthwhile in the final two issues that make everything in this first chapter more than just perpetuating rape culture, but we’ll see.
Writer: Justin Phillips
Artist: Di Lacerda
Letterer: Toben Racicot