Sometimes the process of grieving takes a strange turn.
Mikura Amelia is living a bright, colorful life as she and her grandfather work as a two person team delivering packages to remote islands in the Japanese archipelago. But as Mikura receives the tragic news that her grandfather has died, the manga shifts into black and white and Mikura mourns his death. Upon returning to the house they shared, Mikura discovers an old, undelivered parcel marked for her but with an island she’s never heard of, Electric Island. Mikura begins to dig and discovers decades of journals her grandfather kept while searching for the island and dozens of folk tails about an island drifting in the western Pacific.
While it sounds as if this manga might be rather melancholy, Kenji Tsuruta keeps the story from becoming too bittersweet by having Mikura look forward and focus on finding this traveling island instead of dwelling on her grandfather’s death. It’s clear that this search is one part grieving and one part trying to connect with her grandfather one last time, but Mikura still has to balance her new obsession with running the delivery company by herself. That’s the reason why she doesn’t move back to the mainland immediately after her grandfather’s death after all; she feels like she has a duty to the far-flung customers, even as Mikura slides farther and farther into her own world of maps and time tables.
The manga is a little slow to draw you in but once it does the story proves itself to be a gripping one as Mikura has unexpected successes and failures immediately. My one gripe with the story is how Mikura spends quite a bit of time wearing a bikini while flying her plane and an extended scene where she wanders her house in shorts and only a towel draped over her torso. I didn’t look at that scene and think “Ah, this is how engaged she is in her search, she forgot to finish getting dressed!” I thought “This manga has to be by a guy since you [a woman] don’t walk around the house half-naked looking like THAT. It’s a matter of comfort!”
It does not look like Mikura will be changing her clothing habits anytime soon but nonetheless I’m excited to see where she goes next looking for this wandering island. The rest of the art is quite lovely with it’s almost scratchy black and white inks and few screen tones. It’s a quiet sort of adventure story but one still filled with emotions.