Fool Night Volume 1: What Am I Supposed To Do?



Under an eternal twilight, humanity suffocates due to the lack of oxygen and the unbearable weight of suffering and sorrow bottled up by that black sky. In an effort to stem both of those issues, an artificial form of plant life is created- the Spiriflora, a marriage of humanity and flora. Boasting an incredible science fiction concept, and confidence to back it up, Fool Night volume 1 is a sophomore manga for the ages, and I’d love to explain why.

Dystopias are nothing to new to the realm of science fiction, but continually within them creators are always iterating on their version of a Torture Nexustm. With Fool Night volume 1, Yasuda’s creation of torture and oppression via upper and ruling classes is simply survival. Our main character Toshiro, and later on the pianist Sumi are great examples of that in different ways. Costs are sky high, subsidies are nonexistent (unless you’re a government employee), and options are painfully few. Because of this, the options for the lower class are nonexistent and largely tied to the stipend provided to those that become Spiriflora- though, it’s definitely only for people towards the end of their lives (certainly isn’t abused as a form of income for the poor). What I find most interesting about this dynamic is the emotional weight carried by characters. Obviously, it’s a facet of every individual stuck in perpetual economic struggle, but Yoshida’s emphasis on emotions is felt very strongly through this debut volume.

In fact, within Fool Night volume 1, you might even be able to theorize that emotions are the vehicle by which Spiriflora produce oxygen (or at the very least indirectly engage with the world). Toshiro, our recent transflorated (to-be Spiriflora) individual is a great example of that. With his incredibly unique post-surgery ability to “communicate” with Spiriflora, an interesting picture is painted in this bleak world. All that Toshiro hears is the negative emotions of a Spiriflora- never positive. This is spite of the fact that Spiriflora can positively respond to emotional stimulus (see the Spiriflora that lit up during/after Sumi’s performance). It’s a piece of information that makes the world all the more disturbing, but also cuts towards Toshiro’s heart- something rather devoid of emotion and much of everything else. A flashback sees a teacher parrot the words of “enriching your heart” (words being pushed by the government) to a young Toshiro during a conversation, but he doesn’t quite grasp the meaning of the metaphor. This in and of itself is incredibly interesting as it represents his journey as a (potential) Ship of Theseus. Devoid of much emotion, a pivotal aspect of Spiriflora, Toshiro’s ability to communicate deep and heavy emotions via Spiriflora will inevitably change himself and how he views the world. It’s a great idea that contextualizes the intricacies of suffering and sorrow that pervade the lower classes at the hands of oppression and abuse.

Though of course, that conversation is largely secondary to the mystery of the world. For one, how did Toshiro gain his ability to communicate with Spiriflora? We only see them “talk” in Toshiro’s presence, even when he was a kid, but it wasn’t until his transfloration that he could actually understand them. Is it a trait that’s intrinsic to him as a person- pertaining to his emotional awareness? Or is something that comes from one of the toxins or chemicals he ingested to qualify for the surgery? Similarly, why is the government agency that seems to exclusively focus on spiriflora and transfloration generalized into a division with “no specific duties”? Why is Yumiko performing surgery one day and then playing liaison the next? What could possibly be at the South Pole? Why is it that any plant is capable of being used for transfloration? There’s a wealth of information delivered to the reader, and interestingly enough seems to serve the purpose of obfuscating some of the deeper details of the world. For example, in two panels in Fool Night volume 1 we see different characters have their heads replaced with plants- a phenomenon that’s (presumably) isolated to a psychological experience rather than a physical one. Just how does transfloration effect the psychological and emotional state of those that undergo the process?

So we know that Yasuda’s world is perfectly desolate and despairing, and that the story and characters complement that incredibly well, but what about the visuals? In my opinion, Yasuda’s visual work with Fool Night volume 1 is what really delivers on that feeling of discomfort just shy of horror. Their work with visual negatives in terms of lighting, and the sort of “dead air” that pervades the world under a perpetually black sky is felt really well. The definitive lack of people, the oddity of Spiriflora that exist at every corner, the perspective used in so many panels, there’s a lot that Yasuda employs to truly make Fool Night volume 1 feel heartless and hopeless. Alongside that, Yasuda really knows how to build a scene. In spite of how many face shots they make use of, their use of architecture in scenes like the meeting between Unsection chief Jin Higarashi adds a great deal to the air of those sorts of engagements. Similarly, Yasuda’s able to maximize the potential in smaller panels- particularly vertical and horizontal slices. Frequently using them to isolate specific aspects of a scene, they work really well when employed with taller objects like trees, and the landscape slices help isolate specific features within the panel. It’s a very solid and dynamic first volume that doesn’t quite see Yasuda establish a strong visual identity in Fool Night volume 1, but the appeal of the style remains very strong and visible within.

Putting everything together that appears in Fool Night volume 1, Kasumi Yasuda has a pretty clear success on their hands. Taking in everything a freshman mangaka should from their first work, they’ve presented to readers their sophomore manga with a staggering degree of depth and confidence. Immediately, Yasuda confirms to readers that they’ve grasped the purpose of science fiction’s duality, delivering their own twists on all fronts, wrapped up in creative visuals. Because of that there’s really not much of any holes to poke in this work. If you went over it with a fine tooth comb, you might find an argument about ecological collapse somewhere, but I’m sure Yasuda’s got that covered in the future. Simply put, Fool Night volume 1 establishes this science fiction mystery and capitalist dystopia as something everyone should be picking up.

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