Otaku USA Magazine

Staring at this page and trying to come up with some words to put down about Yuichi Yokoyama’s Travel ended up being a lot like reading the comic itself. There’s a brief stretch of time at the beginning during which you’re just trying to figure out the best way to go about reading it. It’s completely dialogue free and the panels flow like a motion picture, but there’s still that traditional comic book tendency to go through panel by panel and absorb them each as their own thing. That didn’t work for me the first time, but there’s no right or wrong way to go through Travel, and that’s what makes this 200-page train ride so interesting.

The setup for Travel is so simple that it doesn’t really need one. The back of the book isn’t plastered with a detailed synopsis because all the reader needs to know is that it’s about three guys going on a trip. From there, it’s just a matter of following their journey and witnessing the sights they see, and the many strange characters that populate the world throughout their excursion.

Yokoyama’s style is distinct and shape-driven. His backgrounds frequently merge with his characters, with the only thing separating the two being the oblong heads and the way they clash with the angular environment. That cinematic style comes into play often in the way a page or two of panels will, for instance, show a hillside coming in and out of view as the train enters and exits a tunnel. It sometimes looks like a collection of extremely detailed storyboards, and the pages flow differently depending on the way one reads it.

There’s an obvious obsession with architecture here, as an expansive countryside quickly makes way for bizarre urban sprawls with sharp, jutting designs that either flash by the train in an instant or linger like they’re under study. More notable than what’s going on around the train, however, is what’s going on within it. Some of the passengers are just insignificant background noise, while others play a larger part in the visual narrative. They’re all a lot like blank slate dolls, each sharing a similar physique with a uniquely scrambled pattern that sets them apart from one another.

What’s most impressive about Travel, though, is the way each reading of it can be vastly different than the last. There are a ton of details readers will miss on the first or second flip through, and this is highlighted in the back of the book by Yokoyama’s page-by-page commentary. In a brief sentence or two, he expresses what’s going on in a particular section, occasionally focusing on a single aspect that may have breezed by unnoticed.

Just like Monster Men Bureiko Lullaby, Travel is another excellent release from PictureBox Inc. that could easily zip by most manga fans just like those aforementioned details. It’s worth going out of one’s way to look it up, as this is a trip that comics fans will want to take more than once. PictureBox has also published a couple of Yokoyama’s other books, like New Engineering, so support their products if you have the opportunity.

Publisher: PictureBox Inc.
Story & Art: Yuichi Yokoyama
Rating: Unrated