Tomine’s lines are so clean and precise, his compositions so natural-looking, that it’s easy to treat his images as transparent vessels of meaning, the cellophane wrapper enfolding the tart, bright candy of the plot. But even his smallest, plainest panels are heavy with subtext, thick with unstated emotion and full of the kind of information that can never quite be conveyed in language.
Empathy rolls quietly through this book, sometimes dipping so low beneath the action you’ll fear it might be lost, then suddenly raising the characters so high above their lives you’ll feel it constrict your throat.
Tomine’s experimentation with style, then, could be understood, at the most basic level, as an invitation to pay attention to what’s there on the page. We are being asked to see the details, and to wonder at the ways in which they complicate the story that’s being told.