There’s a scene in american teen drama Dawson’s Creek where Dawson goes to film school and in his first class is asked, “Who's your favourite director?” and is met with sneers and guffaws when he meekly replies “Steven Spielberg”. Hasn’t he ever heard of Kurasawa or Bergman, his classmates crow. They are idiots, Spielberg is great on so many levels, but crucially for the purposes of this best of the year blurb, the films he directs are masterful at creating goosebump-inducing emotional drama. Rousing moments as our underdog hero rises to an impossible challenge (to a John Williams score). Pacing and cinematography utterly on point. Urasawa is the Spielberg of comics and Asadora is his latest blockbuster.
Superb cartooning, appealing linework and cinematic pacing bring this action packed mystery to life: Urasawa can do more with a facial expression in a panel than most cartoonists can do in half a book. A down on his luck ex-fighter pilot kidnaps a young girl of remarkable fortitude, not knowing that they are about to embark on an incredible adventure spanning decades. What is the cause of the devastating natural disaster that killed Asadora’s family? Will Shotaro make it to the Olympics? What secrets are the shadowy government agencies hiding and most of all, are the monsters real? Incredible stuff from the master, a worthy addition to the best of 2021.