Japanese manga about trepanation. Available online.
First read (June 2013...)Edit
Came across it in May 2012 when it was pretty highly recommended by a blogger I came across while looking up word counts. I added it to The List and there it sat for a year.
Volume 1 (19th June 2013)
A weird sort-of homeless guy obsessed with his car gets an offer of a lot of money if he lets a quirky med student drill a hole in his skull. Their investigations into the supposed psychic powers that can arise begin, and he finds his left eye sees strange things.
Read this on June 19th after discovering a manga store in Sheffield and failing to find Homunculus, only to learn it hasn't officially been translated into English. I realised I'd saved a link to an online translation, and read the first volume that day. Intriguing, and weird! Certainly interested to carry on after rereading the blog posts that first brought it to my attention.
Volume 2 (26th June 2013)
The guy tries to figure out what his left eye visions mean, the medical student suggests it may reveal 'homunculi', and the guy untangles what he's seeing when he looks at a Yakuza boss and cleanses him of childhood guilt that was being symbolised by the visions.
Read on the 26th of June, bored at home. Will read on.
Volume 3 (7th July 2013)
The guy and the med student meet up and discuss homunculi - the visual representations of inner states, like the 'touch' homunculus that has huge hands and lips, representing the brain's model of touch - and while testing it out they come across a girl who the med student is attracted to, who appears to be made of sand possibly because she is rebellious but still tends to conform to the roles she sees herself playing out.
Read on the 7th of July at home. Still not sure where it's going to go, but I'm not seeing a spark of awesome quite yet.
Ratings, awards, mentions and recommendationsEdit
The blogger who recommended it to me said this:
'“Homunculus” is a manga by Hideo Yamamoto that I’ve been reading for some years. It’s finally complete in Japanese, 15 volumes, but only 13 have been translated by fans in English. I consider it an extraordinary work and it is a compelling read. After you start you can’t stop as it works as a big mystery that starts from completely absurd, crazy premises, and then moves, every single page an incremental step forward, moving toward a final reveal that makes sense and explains perfectly all the absurdity that preceded it. It’s at times gross and violent, but it serves the purpose of the story.
It’s a kind of “spiked” food I’d recommend having, and it touches parts of this recent discussion about the ideas on reality and the “self”. There may not be an happy end, your mileage may vary.'