The book review leads to creation 6 Fushigina Naifu (A Mysterious Knife) / A book review by designer Masami Takahashi

09.09.17

knife

Fushigina Naifu (A Mysterious Knife)
Story by Makie Nakamura & Kenzo Hayashi, illustrations by Takayoshi Fukuda (Fukuinkan Shoten Publishing, ¥840)

A book review by designer Masami Takahashi

Inspiration through imaginative presentation

Mysterious yet clear-cut. Simple but infinite. This picture book makes you feel the beginning, creation, expansion, infinity and inspiration through imaginative presentation of the knife.

The knives are loosened, torn, stretched, contracted, and inflated…. On each page the text is almost composed of and expressed in a word or two, and the pictorial composition has a clarity that requires no explanation. It is this very clear-cut expression that makes this book mysterious, and the mysteriousness perhaps is one of the factors that make the picture book so wonderful. It is so finely honed that when you finish looking through the entire book you’ll feel it has presented “the only possible expression of the knife.” There is also a sense of pleasing briskness and speediness to the story flowing at a stretch to the end. Children’s eyes light up and adults’ imaginations are stimulated as both are overwhelmed by the expression of the knife and its sense of presence.

Although every two-page spread is conclusive, one feels the larger design in the story quality of the book as a whole, and wonders how an individual and a group is seen and thought of. The knife is portrayed close to actual size so that it appears real. Even the background wood-grain pattern of the cover is contrasted with the material of the knife, and by serving as a supporting role, the wood explains the knife and the knife introduces the wood. Here, the wood has an overwhelming yet stable presence such that one can affirm there’s no other material suitable for use as the background, and expresses the characteristic of a thing to the extent it makes one feel there is no better way. The illustrations of the knife in the book are very beautiful, and within the volume that can be read through at a breath, various things and events are expressed in an integrated manner.

Although this book is essentially written for children, I encountered it when I was 23. I received this book without knowing its content from a person in charge of picture books in a publishing company who told me, “I want to make a book like this one. I thought you might be comfortable with thinking about this type of work. Could you just think about it?” I vividly remember that time as she read it to me aloud right there and the way she read it was very beautiful.

I think both children and adults in any country will enjoy this picture book. If people were to play around with or explore the way they perceive things and events using the kind of perspective and imagination with which the knife is depicted in this picture book, their lives would be much more enjoyable. Thinking about the woman who introduced me to this book and her intentions, I am compelled after all these years to get busy and properly write something, or I will have just received the book in vain. It is a simple, pleasant, beautiful and mysterious picture book that can refresh your mind, as if it directly embodied the link to creativity. (from AXIS vol.131)

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