So, I picked up volume four of Pluto earlier this evening, anxious to dig in to the latest volume of my favorite manga series this year. My plans were dashed less than a chapter in, however, when I became so emotional that I actually had to put it down. Since this volume is new, I’ll avoid any details. Suffice it to say this was a fairly small incident (relative to the scope of the work as a whole) that just happened to hit me unusually hard. This isn’t a fatal issue, of course. I’ll pick it up again once I feel I’ve recovered, perhaps in a less vulnerable moment. Nor is it a criticism of Pluto, by any means. I want to be moved deeply by fiction. That’s why I read it. It’s a powerful testament to the craft of both Tezuka and Urasawa that the series is able to affect me so strongly.
What this experience brings to mind now as I remain here uselessly in my chair, not quite ready to pick up anything else, is other moments in manga that have brought me to tears. I’ve mentioned several times, for instance, the fact that I sat sobbing for a good half hour after reading volume four of We Were There. That’s a pretty emotionally wrought volume, of course, so I suppose it’s not surprising. Nor, I suspect, would it shock anyone to hear that I’ve shed tears over more than one volume of NANA (volume four, anyone? eight? fifteen?) or that I bawled my eyes out during volume fifteen of Hikaru no Go. More unusual perhaps is the first volume of Her Majesty’s Dog, which got me worked up over the deep pain felt by a dog who was recklessly sacrificed by the woman to whom he’d devoted his entire life. Will I ever fully recover from the final volume of Tokyo Babylon, AKA a hundred and forty-something pages of Moments Guaranteed To Crush Your Soul? What about volume two of Fullmetal Alchemist? The vast majority of Banana Fish? I suspect that I will not.
It’s all rushing back to me now–moments etched so vividly into my brain that I can see them as clearly as if I was staring at the page. I see Nobu crumpled up against Hachi’s bed, begging, “Make up an excuse… even if it’s a lie… I’d believe anything.” I see Hikaru sobbing wretchedly in a room of dusty old kifu, desperate to make a deal with God. “Can we do it over?” he cries at the top of his lungs, not even trying to hold back tears.
Not all these moments are sad, of course. Throughout the last few volumes of Fruits Basket, for example, I shed tears alternately for sadness and joy. NANA has offered a great deal of that as well.
I hesitate to say too much about any of these moments for fear of spoiling them for others, but I admit I’m dying to know what this brings to mind for all of you. So my friends, without giving too much away, which moments in manga have moved you the most? Spoiler-free as possible, please!