From crying to explicit scenes of sexual encounters, Tatsumi tackles masculinity and manhood in every one of his comics. Every comic can be seen as making a parallel between the loss of the war and the loss of manhood in the characters’ of the narrative. In Tatsumi’s second comic, “Just A Man,” we can see the main character falling down a mindless pattern of decisions in order to reap his revenge against his wife. He decides to cheat on her with women he can buy and even a woman at his job but nothing fills his sense of emptiness. This same emptiness can be felt in “Night Falls Again” where a man who hardly speaks visits peep shows and participates in voyeurism. The cycle continues for him at the end of the narrative when he finds himself visiting a peep show once again.

Phallic symbols are also all over the novel but actual penis’ are not ever drawn. For example, in “Rash” the main character on page 105, row two, panel two, speaks about his manhood and controlling the rash on his penis but the comic shows us a silhouette of a mushroom. Similarly on the last page of that same comic we can see he left his “manhood” in the bed of the woman he wanted to have sexual relations with. In the comic “Night Falls Again.” on page 140, row 3, panel 3, the character masturbates in the park but all that is seen is a hand grasping the darkness and then ejaculating. The character’s manhood had been literally removed by the artist. In “Just a Man,” the main character explicitly relates the cannon on page 52 to his “own youthful vigor” relating it to his penis and the penis being the epitome of youth, vigor, and manhood.

The depiction of women in this comic series is also extremely interesting as the characters that are women are often idealized, fetishized, or demoralized. However, all of the women have their own minds and feelings. The one comic that may deviate from this is “Woman in the Mirror” where Tatsumi’s character is a male that dresses up as a woman. This character emphasizes the general feelings of emptiness and missing identity that all of the character’s in Tatsumi’s work seem to feel. In “Life is So Sad,” Akemi, has virtually no personality except that her only purpose is to stay virtuous for her scumbag of a boyfriend/husband. The blood on her sheets she keeps as a memory to the night of her lost virginity. However, on her last night of waiting she decides to sleep with a man from the bar she works at. Her identity was always tied to this virtuosity and now that she need not be virtuous, she decides to live her own life. Later, she appears in “Click, Click, Click,” where she is free to be herself as a prostitute fulfilling desires as she pleases. Lastly, Mariko in “Goodbye” has sex with her father in attempt to plummet herself deeper into her clear depression. She cannot find love in the American solider, her father, or anyone else as she is forced to sell her body to survive. Perhaps she hopes the shame her father feels will keep him away and she often drowns her sorrows in an alcoholic beverage. As a character she is independent in that she finds her own means to pay for her life but it is clear her emotion health depends upon the actions of others.

 

Goodbye by Tatsumi