It’s suddenly cold here in western Massachusetts, and even though I know it’s only going to get colder as the winter revs up, my body is rebelling in many uncomfortable ways. My hands are dry and cracked, the air is increasingly difficult to breathe, and I’ve had a headache for the past three days.
With this in mind, I’m going to take a moment on this 3 Things Thursday to ponder three manga that evoke thoughts of cold weather, even if it’s just a particular scene that sticks with me from some point in the series. You’d think I’d choose obvious things like, oh, The Summit of the Gods. But no.
Shall we proceed?
3 manga that remind me of winter (click images for a larger view)
1. NANA | Ai Yazawa | Viz Media – It can’t be just me, can it? When I think of snow in manga, this is the first scene that springs to mind–a snowy evening where Nana’s entire life is thrown out of balance as her boyfriend announces he’s leaving. This kind of cold-weather upset happens more than once to Nana over the course of the manga, and I wonder if it’s just that she’ll never quite shake the snow-covered world of her hometown, no matter how hard she tries. Of course, the next page is really much worse.
“I’m going to Tokyo.” *shiver* For me, this scene is cold in more ways than one.
– NANA, volume 1, chapter 2, “Nana Osaki”
2. Fullmetal Alchemist | Hiromu Arakawa | Viz Media – Another frozen tundra that always comes to mind for me is the area around Fort Briggs in Fullmetal Alchemist. I remember feeling that the cold was palpable in the scenes that take place there, and there’s a sense that everyone is just always cold (perhaps not unlike its commander’s demeanor), yet this somehow makes their group only more tight-knit. Of course the scene that stands out for me most vividly is Ed & Al’s initial arrival to the area, when they are immediately overtaken by the Briggs Mountain Patrol. Brrrrr.
– Fullmetal Alchemist, volume 16, chapter 64, “The Northern Wall of Briggs”
3. Otomen | Aya Kanno | Viz Media – Okay, maybe “cold” is not so much the thing here as a general sense of the season, but I can’t possibly let a December go by without bringing up Asuka’s incredibly strange and charming obsession with the yule log he imagines as the centerpiece of his romantic holiday celebration with Ryo. The fact that, out of all the bits of holiday cheer he originally imagines, the yule log is what he fixates on, time and time again… oh, it’s just the most delightful and hilarious thing.
Michelle, this one’s for you.
-Otomen, volume 2, chapter 6… no known title
So, readers, what are your favorite cold-weather manga?
judi(togainunochi) saysDecember 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm
Funny when I think of snow, I think of scene in Nana where they are on the train and it’s stopped because of snow. There’s more snow in Nana than I thought.
Now as I think about it, there seems to be quite a few scenes where snow starts falling on the shojo couple, like Love Com or Nabari no Ou(that would be a slash couple, sorry). Now you’ve started me thinking up more. :)
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 9, 2010 at 8:20 pm
My entire purpose in life is to get you to think up more! :D
Michelle Smith saysDecember 9, 2010 at 8:14 pm
Yay, the yule log!!! <3
The first snowy manga scene to come to my mind is a particularly upsetting one from Fushigi Yuugi. I think those who have read it will know which I mean, but please don’t spoil Melinda on it; she has only read Genbu Kaiden so far.
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 9, 2010 at 8:21 pm
There’s quite a bit of snow & cold in Genbu Kaiden as well, actually.
Heeeeee I knew you’d be happy if I brought up the yule log. :D
Sara K. saysDecember 10, 2010 at 12:14 am
I’m torn whether to do manga which I associate snowiness and frost and traditional temperate-zone-northern-hemisphere winters or with manga like the cold weather that I actually tend to experience. To give you and idea of the weather patterns I’ve lived with all my life
Summer: September-October (though it can get warm for no reason at any time of year)
Winter: Random (for example, this year winter happened in July – there were a lot of days when I had to go out bundled up in coats and scarves in order to stand the cold – I think we even got hail)
Okay, I’m going with manga that makes me think of the cold weather I’ve actually experienced this year – enough people are going to pick manga based on more mainstream notions of cold weather/winter
1. From Eroica With Love
It does sometimes take place in snowy places while they’re snowing (Alaska and Sweden are two locations which come to mind) but it also has a spontaneity and surprising ridiculous twists not unlike spontaneous winter I experienced this July
2. Flower of Life – around here, the coming of colder weather after our summer (September-October) means things will stop dying and start growing, and generally after seeing lots of brown and dying plants for months I’m finally seeing plenty of green plants growing like wild again, not unlike the way the characters in Flower of Life grow in their own individual ways. However, some plants (particularly maple and ginkgo) are the opposite way, and are now turning yellow and losing their leaves, and I think you can see how this ties into Flower of Life without me spoiling it for all of the people who haven’t read it yet.
3. Okay, I am going to put down one manga that I associate with more traditional, mainstream notions of cold weather/winter: Area 88. The spontaneous/random factor comes from the fact that Area 88 just happens to be set in North Africa. I’m going to quote the narrator it in order to illustrate the atmosphere of Area 88 – “The sound of their burners went by overhead, fading into the glittering sky… the taxiway lights shone in the blue, accusing eyes of burning turquoise… while the runway lights illuminated this asphalt hell… in the darkness of the night, the devil said: ‘Live!'”
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 10, 2010 at 9:00 am
I’m glad you’ve come along with your own definition of what makes weather cold! Nice to have some real variety. :) And any comment that mentions Flower of Life automatically wins here at Manga Bookshelf! :D
Ahavah saysDecember 10, 2010 at 1:31 am
Ooh, Briggs is *cold*! Hiromu Arakawa grew up in Hokkaido, the northern most and coldest island of Japan (some of it is parrallel to Siberia, I’ve heard). I’ve wondered how incredibly freezing her childhood must’ve been while reading the Briggs scenes in Fullmetal Alchemist.
Another manga that reminds me of snowy weather is Sand Chronicles. The small town Ann moves to always seems to have snow, and a lot of her memories revolve around sledding and bundling up…
I really dislike cold weather! I think us humans who disagree with winter should consider hibernation as an alternative (imagines cuddling up all winter like a bear…). Or maybe moving to more tropcal locales for a few months? (Imagines flocks of birds flying south…)
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 10, 2010 at 8:58 am
I thought of Sand Chronicles as well—it pained me to limit it to three! :)
I loved cold weather when I was young, but I find it bothers me more and more the older I get!
David Welsh saysDecember 10, 2010 at 5:06 am
I may not like snow in life, but I do like snow in manga:
1. Sand Chronicles, as Ahavah mentioned previously.
2. Red Snow, which is totally, totally obvious, but I thought that was such a neat collection of gekiga about rural themes. Plus… so much snow!
3. Ichigenme: The First Class Is Civil Law: Am I remembering wrong? I’m recalling cold weather, or at least fabulous outerwear and accessories.
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 10, 2010 at 8:57 am
I am recalling fabulous outerwear as well, so I’m going to fully accept that suggestion!
Estara saysDecember 10, 2010 at 8:17 am
Not bad picks ^^. But you know that yule log? I think that was a mistranslation, from what I can recognize of what he actually is looking at, this is a Baumkuchen – a tasty cake for Christmas. Or something similar.
lys saysDecember 10, 2010 at 8:54 am
Y’think so? I thought it looked like a pretty convincing yule log cake(/bûche de noël, as I first heard of it in a French class). Either way, now I really want to eat some fancy holiday cake!
Estara saysDecember 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm
Oh okay, if we’re talking about a cake that is called Yule Log, I agree with you. I wasn’t aware there was one and I was sure what he was looking at wasn’t a log in flames ^^. I stand corrected and happy that I’ve learned of a new tasty cake ^^. Thanks for pointing that out!
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 10, 2010 at 8:56 am
Hmmm, yes, I agree with Lyx. My experience is that, in English, the term “yule log” is commonly used to describe exactly such a cake as well as an actual log for the fire. So I think the translation works.
Estara saysDecember 10, 2010 at 1:52 pm
Oh okay, if we’re talking about a cake that is called Yule Log, I agree with you. I wasn’t aware there was one and I was sure what he was looking at wasn’t a log in flames ^^. I stand corrected and happy that I’ve learned of a new tasty cake ^^.
lys saysDecember 10, 2010 at 9:17 am
Haha, Eroica is a great pick. It does spend a lot of time in Alaska and Siberia… (as well as the mediterranean, desert, central Europe, northern Europe, everywhere else…) I like your different take on cold weather, Sara! (and I’m trying to figure out where one would go to find weather like you describe…) I think David Welsh had a post about winter-landscape manga a few weeks ago, so my comment here might be a repeat of what I wrote there, but…
1. mangaka Hari Tokeino seems to have an odd fixation on winter and Christmas, as evidenced by a number of one shots and series chapters centered on the holiday, random illustrations of Santa when not seasonally appropriate and so on. I guess that’s Christmas specifically, more than winter, but at least in my mind the two are tied closely together… Also, I first read her series Me & My Brothers one winter, and it was so nice and cozy to read during that time that the association stuck.
2. the snowy scenes in Please Save My Earth (from Mokuren’s flashbacks) really stick with me, as do a number of other points from the series. The barren, winter landscapes and the super-comfy looking sweaters the characters wear…
3. Oh, Chikyu Misaki is set in winter, around a lake—brrrr. I haven’t read volumes 2-3 yet so I’m not sure if it carries through the whole series but the first volume definitely made me feel chilly at times.
I need to stop looking at my bookshelves for inspiration, because it just reminded me of a 4th! Song of the Hanging Sky is set in the mountainous, often snowy regions of somewhere. The characters always look warmly bundled up, so even when there’s not snow I get the feeling it must be cold!
Now to continue huddling under my blanket. We got our second snowfall overnight!
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 10, 2010 at 9:20 am
We haven’t had any real snow yet, thank goodness. I so dread that day, especially now that we live in an apartment building that lacks sufficient off-street parking. /whine
And much like Flower of Life, mention of Please Save My Earth is also an automatic win here at this blog! :D
Sara K. saysDecember 10, 2010 at 3:08 pm
How could I have forgotten that From Eroica With Love also takes place in Siberia!
I live in San Francisco, California. There’s a saying attributed to Mark Twain (though there is no proof he said this) “The coldest winter I ever saw was the summer I spent in San Francisco.” Mind you, most years our “summer” isn’t any colder than our “winter”, but the fact that our summer is the coldest in the United States (aside from some mountain locations) catches people by surprise and makes it seem colder than it is (the “summer” we had this year really was particularly cold).
lys saysDecember 10, 2010 at 3:22 pm
Aha! I visited SF this summer (mid August) for the first time since I was 2 years old. So now your analysis of the weather makes total sense! I packed two long sleeve shirts and a bunch of sleeveless tops anticipating warm, sunny days… and I wore one or both long-sleeves every single day I was there. I think the only day we saw much sun was the day we left. Where are you, sunny California of my dreams??
Sara K. saysDecember 10, 2010 at 4:14 pm
Inland. You sure won’t find the sunny California of your dreams in the coastal fog belt, at least not on a regular basis.
Travis saysDecember 15, 2010 at 10:42 pm
Yeah, Nana definitely has a lot of snow and a lot of key scenes in the snow. [Massive spoiler for vol. 21] happens in the snow, too.
Melinda Beasi saysDecember 16, 2010 at 7:19 am
I was thinking about that, but afraid to say anything!