Cover Image: The Young Woman and the Sea

The Young Woman and the Sea

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Member Reviews

I wouldn’t want to box this book into restrictive genre classifications, but through her sublime illustrations, the artists has taken us on a journey of the parts of Japan she visited. This is done through characters based on japanese legends and folklore, adding just enough whimsy to elevate this from a travel diary. I’ve always been a fan of nature poetry, and this novel is poetry in pictures, about the beauty if the landscape the artist had visited.
There are a few moments of humor that add to the light and relaxed feeling that you would associate with a visit to an island country, and her comments on cultural and linguistic differences makes the experience of reading the book more  than just aesthetically enjoyable.
I am just dipping my toes into graphic novels and 5is one makes me eager to discover more! Thank you to Netgalley for giving me this opportunity!
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Gorgeous! The artwork in this was simply gorgeous—but it was also haunting. The graphic novel takes you on a very interesting journey in which you are transport through various landscapes in nature. It tries to discuss the difference between Western vs Japanese art, along with what it actually means to be an artist. Although this was a bit rushed at times I did thoroughly enjoy it!
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Beautifully illustrated landscape drawings of Japan following a woman as she finds peace in discovering herself through her work in a new land, where she meets a tanuki. He is a talking and playful racoon, who gifts her with a paintbrush made from his fur. 
The beautiful landscape and flowers shown really draw you in, also the fact that life is Japan is dictated by the weather. I found it a bit difficult to read some of the text, due to the font style they used, which occasionally made the story hard to follow. 

"Men always like to see themselves as champions, whether of creation or of destruction. Now and again, nature reminds them she got here first and she knows what's what." (pg. 103)

I highly recommend this title to anyone who loves art, Japan and their culture, or is looking to find their own balance in life.

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I first read Meurisse's work with Lightness, about her trauma after the massacra at Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. The novel was a bit unusual, deeply sad, and yet incredibly moving. It left me wanting more from her, but I knew I needed a break, her work left too big of a scar in me. Finally, when The Young Woman and the See came out, I felt ready again.

Even though this novel is only inspired by her stays in Japan, and therefore fiction, it has many similarities with her previous work. There isn't much of a story, at least not in the traditional sense; it's more of a dialogue of the author with herself (or with her companions in this story, a tanuki, a Japanese artist and an ethereal, suprahuman woman.) It feels like we just get a glimpse of a brief moment in time, in history, where the author ponders on the relationship between humans and societies with the nature around them; the sea, what it takes from us and what it gives us; art, and how artists across countries and cultures are inspired by the same things in different ways, to make art that is linked and at the same time is different. All of it never losing her sense of humour.

Although the story is interesting and meaningful, it is her art that really takes this work to a higher level. Just as the themes seem slightly inspired by Japanese literature and their use of magical realism, the art seems slightly inspired by Japanese art; ukiyo-e and woodblock printing, to be more precise. The mountains, hills, volcanoes, trees, rivers and sea are a delight, a treat for the eyes. The pages filled with only with watercolours of the landscape, with no text, are as expressive as the discussions on haikus or drowned women. I couldn't take my eyes off of the pages.

Meurisse has an incredible talent for saying a lot in few pages, and telling deeply important stories mixed with her characteristic sense of humour. The abstract themes she chooses, the poetic way she presents them to the public, and her soothing artwork are a perfect combination that allows her to create works that don't have many rivals presently.
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I was quite enticed by the illustrations which I found gorgeous and wondrous, but alas the text was a great disappointment. The narrative felt rushed and at times muddled. I also felt great reservations when it comes to the unavoidable western gaze which made this a very tedious read. To sum it up, this did not make for a pleasant read.
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Beautifully illustrated landscape drawings of Japan following a woman as she finds peace in discovering herself through her work in a new land. The graphic novel follows an artist as she visits Japan to “find her way” and get inspiration for creating. Along the way she meets a tanuki, who is a talking and playful racoon. He gifts her with a paintbrush made from his fur. She also meets another artist who predominantly works with haiku. 

The landscapes provide a serene and whimsical emotion as I read through the story. It’s a peaceful read, and I kind of favored the side stories in which the artist discovers through her journey. Thanks to #NetGalley & Europe Comics for providing a digital copy for review. All opinions are my own.
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Absolutely stunning book. 

Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publishers for letting me access an advance copy of this book in exchange for my honest feedback.
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A graphic memoir, picturing Meurisse's stay in Japan in 2018. It has interesting parts, but it feels like it falls a bit too much in the 'stupid westerner' stereotype, which means we also get the 'wise eastener' stereotype.

The art is beautiful, especially the depictions of Japan's nature, and I kind of like Meurisse herself looking like a Claire Bretecher character inside of that painterly landscape.
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Like the author, I too get lost constantly in Japan and am also in awe of its nature.  Not just the beautiful landscape and flowers but how life is dictated by the weather.  That can be the searing heat and humidity of summer, typhoons, rainy season or earthquake tremors that arrive out of the blue.  

Throw in haiku, a tanuki, myths, onsen, some romanticism and tea and this story really captures Japan.  There were so many little details that made me smile like the group of three painters with their easels.  A common sight! 

What beautiful illustrations! I would love to have these hanging on my walls.  

I had thought I’d missed the chance to read this one but it reappeared on my  NetGalley‘bookshelf’ (or I am getting scatty?!) and I am so glad, thank you.  In fact, I’m going to read it again before it expires!
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The style was very different from what i expected, but after getting used to it is was really nice! I really liked that every chapter there was this big impressive artwork. Honestly they were my favorite of the book 😊
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This story is a by-product of the authoress’ memories about her stay in Japan. Her stay at a villa Kujomaya in a far off strange yet familiar land of Japan in 2018 gave her a boost to go on this creative quest. In this story the west blends with the far East.
The story starts with an illustrator who is traveling through rural Japan to paint the perfect nature. Along the way she meets Tanuki, a talkative and mischievous racoon and a painter who prefers to work on haiku until he comes across the perfect picture to paint. The story is a blend of poetry, nature, folk tales of love triangles, natural disaster and most importantly their relationship with the sea. Catherine Meurisse also brings forth a most important topic about the present situation of the disappearance of the beautiful Japanese countryside only to be replaced by large concrete walls built in order to protect its people from the furies of tsunamis.  
The book has some gorgeous illustrations which would make you long earnestly to visit Japan at least once. The authoress’s vivid imagination and dialogue along with the beautiful illustrations are the key to unravel the mysteries of this land and understand why the young explorer is so fascinated by the strange yet fascinating land of Japan. 
Ratings: 3.5/5
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This is the story of a French woman who goes to Japan to paint nature and the people/creatures she meets during her stay. 

The art in this book is interesting in that it pairs detailed and beautiful landscapes with simplistic character designs. While this could be tied to the theme of the prominence of nature in our lives, it also reflects the lack of depth I felt these characters had. Because the story tries to hit so many points, there is little space for the reader to really dig in upon first read. I often skimmed over dialogue because I either wasn’t interested or didn’t understand what I was supposed to be learning. My genera opinion is that the storyline feels rushed. 

I often found myself annoyed with the main character’s actions regarding Japanese culture & how often she tried to impose European aesthetics on the Japanese painter’s work. I also had a hard time grasping the timeline — did this take course over a few days or a few weeks? The character growth felt unclear with respect to time. 

Thank you to NetGalley and publisher for providing access to this work in exchange for an honest review.
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I really enjoyed the art style and themes explored but did find it a little hard to follow at times. However I did find it an enjoyable and different read. Thanks to NetGalley for the chance to read this early!
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I would like to thank Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an e-arc in exchange for an honest review.

3.5 stars

I was attracted to this graphic novel because of the cover and the title. Well, the artsyle was very colourful and i like the colour palette used in here. The story leaned into whimsical and sort of fairy tale like but thats what i could say based from what i read. The plot was a bit meandering and i found myself lost at some point. I do enjoyed some aspect but the book is lacking in something which to me feels a bit of a letdown
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I will be honest I let this book lure me in with the  cover and the title, and I didn't read the description and that was a mistake.
I couldn't get into this book, and honestly really don't care for Meurisse's are style. It's weird to say but her style feels like it is grating on my nerves.
This paired with the fact that this really ended up feeling like another "Westerner goes East for Inspiration" Story made this whole book really off putting for me.
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Occasionally unsettling characters paired with a simple yet meaningful plot about connecting with nature and finding ourselves in nature. The beautiful illustrations of nature and landscapes makes the read worth it.
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This was a very interesting book, but one I don't think I could really get a hold on as the story continued. While the landscape and nature pages and panels were wonderful, it was hard to see those compared to the character designs. The characters themselves didn't feel really filled out either.
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The Young Woman and the Sea tells the story of artist Catherine Meurisse as she journeys to an artists retreat in Japan, and the extraordinary things she saw whilst exploring the Japanese countryside.

The book begins with Catherine arriving at the remote coastal retreat, a beautiful building that sits surrounded by woodland, nestled between the sea and a mountain. There to try and capture the beauty of the land around her, Catherine is unsure where to begin; and being jet-lagged she decides to take take a nap. Upon awaking she sees a tanuki outside her window and decides to follow it.

Climbing up the hill behind the retreat Catherine comes face to face with the animal, who immediately starts talking to her. Listening to her talk about her desire to recapture the beauty of Japan's nature, the tanuki gives her a paintbrush made from its own fur, and teaches her to write something on a piece of paper in Japanese. When she looks away from the creature for but a moment, however, it vanishes. Left alone and unsure where to go to Catherine starts to try to find her way back to the retreat, getting lost in the process.

From here the artist begins to explore the world around her, wandering the countryside, and befriending a local artist who is searching for the perfect woman to paint. Together, the two of them make their way to a bathhouse, where they are able to stay the night and meet the owner, a beautiful woman who the artist wishes to paint as a drowned lady. The next day Catherine is able to explore more of the surrounding land, discovering the beauty in the everyday, as well as small special places tucked out of sight. Throughout it all, she keeps meeting up with the Tanuki, who keeps challenging her as to why she has yet to find her inspiration.

The story of The Young Woman and the Sea is a little odd, and you can very much tell that its semi-autobiographical, as not a huge amount really happens here. For much of the book we follow Charlotte as she walks from place to place, discovering more of the beauty of Japan, and learning about various people's connection to it. She's looking to be inspired by what she finds, yet isn't sure how that will work for her yet. This is where the tanuki seems to come in.

Now, I would be extremely surprised if the real Catherine met a magical talking tanuki, and this is either creative license or a surprise revelation that magic animals are real. However, the creature seems to be trying to coax Charlotte into coming to the realisations she needs in order to make the most of her time in Japan, and begin to create the art she really wants to. But when the book comes to a close there is a question left hanging over whether any of it was even real. The final pages seem to imply that much of what we've just read, and perhaps everything from the moment Charlotte fell asleep, could in fact be a dream; her mind coming up with a scenario by which she's exploring the world.

Alongside the somewhat vague story, the characters feel a little strange too, and I failed to really get a sense of who anyone was really supposed to be. Charlotte spends the entire book lost, unable to find the thing that will kick-start her art, the old artist she meets is strangely obsessed with drowned women and poetry, the hostess they talk to seems to be implied to be ghostly and ancient, though perhaps not; and then there's the magical talking animal who's doing all this for its own amusement I guess. The characters seem to only be there to move events from one location to another, not really having much to do, but simply there to get the reader to new places.

These places are, in fact, the highlight of the book, as Meurisse has done some wonderful landscape art for the book, managing to craft some truly beautiful moments as the characters journey around the Japanese countryside. It really does feel like the artist went and spent some time in the place, and that it became a sauce of inspiration for her. The only thing that lets the art down is that the characters are very simple and cartoonish in comparison. The landscapes are stunning, but the people look like they come out of a newspaper strip comic and the two don't mesh at all. I often found myself being drawn out of things by these two conflicting styles; and that definitely hurt my enjoyment of the book.

Overall, The Young Woman and the Sea was a fairly enjoyable book, though one where I was enjoying looking at the art more than I was reading the story or getting to know any of the characters. It's a shame that I was unable to connect with any of the characters in any real way, but hopefully others will be able to do so. The book is a beautiful examination of the wonder of Japanese landscapes and countryside, yet contains little else to go with it.
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The narrative follows a French artist's creative quest to find inspiration in Japan. Stunning nature and landscape illustrations with remnants of Lewis Carroll and Studio Ghibli.
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This graphic novel was not quite what I was expecting.

While I enjoyed the calm, meandering nature of the story, by the end it very much felt like it didn't really do much to state a message. It didn't feel like the main character had learnt whatever she was seeking to learn.

I had extremely mixed thoughts on the art style. The background and the colouring was absolutely gorgeous and there were many panels that I would happily hang on my wall. However the character design looked like a carbon copy of Quentin Blake's character style which neither fit the vibe of the story nor the vibrant and intricate backgrounds and setting they were placed in. Beautiful rural Japan did not fit in with the way the characters that inhabit it were drawn and at times some of the Japanese character's were drawn... questionably.

Overall I thought the art was beautiful for the most part which is what dragged this up from a two stars but everything else about it was disappointing
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