Review: White Rain

White Rain
Oh, the hum of beings…

Author
Yoshitoshi ABe

Status
Oneshot – Completed

Plot Summary
“Consume, a word which means no less and no more than that.”

A grisly murder; an end to all that once was. A young girl is awakened in a cruel, cold world. Greeted by her mirror; her twin in all rights, she seems to be an amnesiac. With a name that is naught but a number, and a consciousness clouded by doubt, she sets out to explore the small house [situated on an island, no less] in which she is trapped. By the side of her newfound sister, she discovers that her reality is not all that it seems…

Personal Opinion
Without a doubt, White Rain my favourite oneshot up until now.

It is a heavily philosophical and psychological story, which takes pride in warping reality, alongside the characters. I would readily compare it to Serial Experiments Lain, although the plot is expressed more poetically and physically. The psychological content and mindsets are in some ways similar, though. In what I would consider all the good ways.

White Rain opens with a murder, thoroughly explaining the very act of cannibalism. This is all presented with ABe’s detailed art style, and a two-sided poetic verse. One side describes the physical events, while the second side describes the mental state at the time, and the darker feelings underneath said events. These few pages are one of the reasons I find myself so enamored with this title – ABe does something quite unique here, in showing such a dark and powerful event on several planes simultaneously. These pages are done in full colour, at that, enabling the art the full chance to enthrall you with what is unfolding before you. Captivating, to say the least.

After that, the plot takes a turn. It becomes more carefree, although memories of events just prior do remain. 329 [the awakened] and 328 [the twin; the sister] find themselves alone in a small building, in which nothing is real. The food is crystalline, leaving only water for survival. The reason for this is revealed under the plot later in the story, and is essential for the concept to function on any level. The concept itself is based around false reality – everything in White Rain is veiled in a vague sense of mystery, although not to the point where the reader is confused. Many aspects certainly are illusive, but they come into plain view with consideration. It deals with the idea that memory is an object; something transferable by certain means. Reality is only held in place by the collective essence of memories, and by consuming the memories of others, one can gain a greater understanding of their existence. Memory of the world does not cease to be with each death, as memory is transferred to another. And so the cycle begins…

Inner dialogue makes up a lot of this manga. 329 is quite well defined, as far as her mind goes. She is brought into conflict over her actions, and over her very life. More or less, her existence is brought into question. Where will she go; what will she do; how will she survive… She, brought in with no understanding of the world around her, questions her every move thanks to some sort of omnipresent, shown in the form of a dragonfly. This insect serves to provoke deeper thought in 329, as well as 328, individually. It pushes them to an emotional ledge, so to speak. It leaves them both in doubt of the other’s actions and plans. And as the only way off the island is a one-person raft, things get a bit more tense. Although I wouldn’t say that ABe’s presentation of such things is overly suspenseful, as he uses the placid presentation he is so fond of. That, along with the darker events, creates an odd tone within the story…

At just over 40 pages, this is far from light reading. Complex and unique, this is a manga that must be read by anyone who enjoys a good bit of psychology, philosophy, and the right amount of drama. White Rain utilizes the more intricate themes possible to manga to tear at the minds of the characters, and to give the reader the full experience. ABe wove a proper masterpiece with White Rain, the likes of which will leave a lasting impression upon the reader.

Personal Rating 10/10

[Reviewer: Simon A. Blake]

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