One More Step, Come Stand by My Side
Writer and Artist: Toryumon Takeda
Translator: Jason Moses
Lettering: Chi Bui
Publisher: Yen Press (print and digital)
Publication Date: November 21, 2023
Rating: Older Teen
Genre: Manga (Japan), Drama, Romance
A collection of Toryumon Takeda‘s short stories One More Step, Come Stand by My Side, is among the November new releases from Yen Press. The artist’s English language debut is a striking and emotional fit for fans looking for a thought-provoking read.
Visually, One More Step, Come Stand by My Side is a sight to behold. A beautiful woman wearing garments with motifs that are reminiscent of traditional Eastern textile patterns and adorned with subtle and elegant jewelry against a contradictorily simple, muted crimson backdrop. The cover demands attention with its alluring beauty that conceals what kind of world you might be stepping into. Interestingly, it perfectly encapsulates the essence of the stories that come together under this exterior.
While the settings of the individual stories span from historical to post-war near future to modern, everyday life, what brings them all together thematically is “revealing/unearthing a side that is hidden away” to another and, consequently, to the reader. In “When The Time Comes,” it’s the face of a caretaker and, eventually, true feelings. In “Paradise,” it’s the rumored “untold riches” in an indigenous village, while in “Ten Minutes Later, The Cops Showed Up,” it’s the privacy of the main character. This way, the volume provides a unified read that’s sometimes missing in collections. Not to mention, it’s an interesting theme to explore.
The stories are exceptionally witty, and it’s clear that Takeda takes the characters and the situations or circumstances they are put in seriously. This isn’t to mean the tone itself is serious. Instead of going down the worn-down path, through either clever twists, creative fictitious worlds, or incorporating fresh answers to the same old what-ifs, each story leaves you with numerous questions circulating in your mind and feelings to untangle. Only when an artist faces their subject sincerely do you get refined, well-crafted, and compelling pieces. This carefulness is evident in the depiction of disabled characters in several stories where neither of them is reduced to a caricature or seen as their disability only instead of as their own person.
“The Wife Whom I Loved Dearly”
For “The Wife Whom I Loved Dearly,” I want to put a content warning for mentions of terminal illness.
This one-shot tells the story of Chika and Subaru, a happily married couple. But when an unexpected cancer diagnosis and finding out she has half a year left to live transform their day-to-day lives, the one who changed the most is Chika. Much to Subaru’s shock, his wife suddenly doesn’t even bother looking at his face, rudely orders him around, and at every moment makes sure he knows that Subaru is unwanted at the hospital. Terminal illnesses, disability, or death being watered down to a mere plot tool either to draw emotions out easily or to inspire the (abled) reader is not at all uncommon. What is concealed in this story is the suppressed negative emotions that “shouldn’t be felt,” but arise unwillingly from unfortunate circumstances such as Chika’s deteriorating health, her unkind behavior towards Subaru, or their financial situation. These feelings are unearthed and acknowledged in a moving, cathartic scene, providing a unique perspective.
A clean and intricately detailed art style accompanying the stories will make it impossible to turn your eyes away from the pages. Each story has its own character and visual tone, from clothing to interiors, accessories to possessions. Character designs are quite unique and very easy to tell apart, similar to their personal spaces. One flat looks lively and lived in, in which you can see clutter, while another flat tells you that its inhabitant doesn’t spend as much time in theirs. These visual cues enhance the storytelling; ultimately, we have a volume worth the time and attention.
To sum it all up, Toryumon Takeda’s One More Step, Come Stand by My Side is a great collection that’s beautiful not only on the outside but also on the inside. If you’re looking for a compelling and touching manga but reluctant to commit to a long series, want to meet a new artist and give their English language debut a chance, or decide to bless your eyes with gorgeously expressive panels, you should mark your calendar and don’t miss the release date.
(featured image: Yen Press)
One More Step, Come Stand by My Side by Toryumon Takeda will be out digitally and in print from Yen Press on November 21st, 2023.