Little Forest (2002) – A Majesty of Nature

Although this is my first time reading Daisuke Igarashi’s works, and as a fan with this type of work, “Little Forest” is manga yet not for everybody. It’s a manga about a girl who lives alone in the forest. Each chapter tells of her days learning about traditional Japanese food recipes. It’s a simple work from the author. Besides, there isn’t much to talk about. This manga plays like someone’s autobiography. As the synopsis of the series goes on, it involves surrealism of elements yet within the scope of reality. This manga, in a way, adds its simplicity to nature as part of the story.

There isn’t much going on from every chapter than this is a slice of life like “Non Non Biyori”. Both of the works use a rural landscape of Japan as part of the theme of the story. However, we don’t know much about the information in the characters in this manga. Especially also, this is about the protagonist itself. “Little Forest” in short doesn’t use a very fantasy and comic element compared to manga in general. It’s just a relaxing manga with solid experience to expand. Rather than you find this dull or repetitive, the story always plays outside besides being a cookbook.

I know that this manga got two film adaptations. There is the Japanese version directed by Jun’ichi Mori and the South Korean version directed by Yim Soon-rye. This is a type of manga that has to get anime and film adaptations. But, I haven’t watched both of them honestly. Manga like this doesn’t rely too much on dialogue or story. The scenery is the main key to the story. This manga relies on aesthetic elements such as arthouse films with thousands of experiences you get. But, the drawing is just a nice thing to talk about. The art isn’t your typical contemporary art style from various mediums. This type of art doesn’t really work in the manga. Yet, sketchy art is working quite well for me.

This book, or manga, features many traditional food recipes where the protagonist is also part of the reader. At the end of each chapter, there is a quote either from the author or the protagonist explaining things about farming. You get how to use farm tools properly, how to make this food, and so on. The part of the story doesn’t really depend on how the protagonist learns this and that thing. It’s just about food and food. Enjoying simple things in this life becomes the center and unique thing why this manga is great.

Characters always come and goes. It’s hard to noticeable and also hard to recognize their names except the protagonist. However, the manga doesn’t have character development whatsoever. The protagonist only reacts to the people around him, to the scenery, and to the food. This is like the best alternative when you don’t particularly enjoy “Food Wars!”. The manga is about how the protagonist is able to become part of the audience. She is innocent and still doesn’t have much knowledge about the theme. Just like the audience and you learn a lot easier because there isn’t much distraction.

“Little Forest” is an enjoyable work with just such a simple plot and has an artistic style from the visual. I still think if manga like this doesn’t have too many viewers or others. I also discovered this manga by accident just because the manga only contains two volumes. Yet, it’s not for everyone to be honest. If you like simplicity, love nature, and love food, this is definitely for you. Its simplicity makes anything more subtle than everything in this world.

3.5 out of 5 stars.