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Calling You

Calling YouCalling You
Written by Otsuichi, Art by Miyako Hasami Translated by Agnes Yoshida
Tokyopop, 184 pp
Rating: Teen (13 +)

Calling You is a collection of three short stories from light novel author extraordinaire Otsuichi. Unlike many of the stories in his other collections these are not horror stories and are instead touching, emotional tales of people dealing with loss or painful situations. The book opens with the titular “Calling You” whose plot revolves around a young isolated teen and her imaginary cellphone. The second story, “Kiz/Kids” involves two friends and the painful but miraculous secret they share. “Flower Song” rounds out this collection and is a touching tale which explores the troubled life of an accident victim as they attempt to deal with the losses suffered from said accident.

I have to admit to being a bit surprised at how divorced the three tales are from the horror work which makes up the bulk of the stories I’ve read from Otsuichi so far. The stories in Calling You are far closer to his work in Faust or the short story involving the android in Zoo then anything else. Like most of his work all are written in the first person, something he uses to nice effect throughout the volume. The unifying theme in all three are troubled and lonely people coming to terms with something in their life. Usually this occurs through unexplained surreal or supernatural means, giving the book a bit of contemporary fantasy feel. Also, like most of his other works, the stories are all told from the first person perspective, making them all fairly quick and easy reads. It also allows him to reach into his bag of tricks and utilize the unreliable narrator trick, something he’s done well in the past and something he does nicely here as well. All three stories are so focused on the emotions of loss and reconciliation and are so touching that it’s almost hard to believe that these are from the same author who’s cranked out many of the fantastically disturbing and horrific tales that populate his other collections. It’s definitely a tribute to Otsuichi’s versatility as an author.

Miyako Hasami’s artwork is absolutely gorgeous but, sadly, there isn’t much of it here. When they do turn up they do a fantastic job at capturing the emotions of the characters and the scenes they depict. The facial expressions are quite lovely and reinforce the mood and atmosphere surprisingly well. It’s a bit of a shame that there isn’t more of them, but at the same time I don’t feel like Otsuichi’s stories really needed the artwork, they’re just an added bonus really. That said, I wouldn’t mind seeing more of Miyako Hasami’s artwork at some point.

I think Calling You was the first collection of Ostuichi’s work published in the US and after reading it it’s easy to see why Tokyopop and other companies have been publishing other work from him since. For fans of his work this book offers a better look at a side of Otsuichi you only get glimpses of elsewhere. For folks who have heard of him but have been avoiding his books due to not being fans of the horror genre, this book is a chance to sample his light and enjoyable style without the blood and guts of Goth or Zoo. Either way, it’s a fantastic and enjoyable read with some wonderfully touching and haunting moments that are sure to linger after the final page has been turned.

Calling You is available now from Tokyopop.

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