Otaku USA Magazine
Offshore Lightning Is a Unique Anthology on Life and Death

Offshore Lightning is an alternative, literary, slice of life manga anthology. It has 11 short stories: “Towards the Sunset,” “Offshore Lightning,” “Parakeet God,” “Buy Dog Food, Then Go Home,” “Countdown,” “A Mother of Pearl Ship,” “Gingko,” “Upskirt,” “In Captivity,” and “House of Solitary Death.” There is also an afterword that gives a biography on Nazuna, has explanations for some of her stories, and includes a very brief interview between Nazuna and an admirer of hers, BL Metamorphosis mangaka Kaori Tsurutani.

Except for the last two stories, the rest were published during the early 90s. In this stage, Nazuna’s artwork is sketchy and simplistic. The stories revolve around things in life, with varying degrees of plot. A woman’s mother has died and the woman has to come to terms with it. A man thinks back about ice in his childhood. Children oversee things adults are doing but don’t completely understand.

Some of the stories are quite abstract in their themes, to the point it’s unclear if there is a theme, or if it’s just that small of a slice of life story. Some of the stories are based on things that happened to Nazuna.

The last two stories were done about two decades later, after Nazuna lost both her mother and husband. The artwork in these is phenomenal. It’s gone from the basic, sketchy drawings of her earlier stories to lush, vibrant, graphic detail. Some drawings look so real they could almost be a photograph. Other drawings are dreamy and mood-altering.

The last two stories deal very closely with death. Death sometimes showed up in the earlier stories as well, but not to this degree. You can see Nazuna working through her recent life experiences with these works.

Nazuna isn’t a famous mangaka because her work is not commercial. She bucks trends. She writes about regular people whose lives aren’t necessarily exciting to others. But her talent, her uniqueness and her verve all led this collection to be translated into English, and it’s a nice change of pace from the usual manga genres that get translated. This collection is an example of the artistic limitlessness of manga.

Story & Art: Saito Nazuna
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly
Translator: Alexa Frank


Danica Davidson is the author of the bestselling Manga Art for Beginners with artist Melanie Westin, plus its sequel, Manga Art for Everyone, and the first-of-its-kind manga chalk book Chalk Art Manga, both illustrated by professional Japanese mangaka Rena Saiya. Check out her other comics and books at www.danicadavidson.com.