The Building Opposite by Vanyda

Categories:  Reviews

The Building Opposite Volume 1
Toptron Ltd T/A Fanfare

buildingopposite.jpgMultilingual people make me jealous for all of their comic reading possibilities. Every time I read a good comic that has been translated into my native tongue, it feels like a cheat. I find myself wondering if the comic would feel the same, or better, if I understood its natural setting. Specifically, if I was French when I read the first volume of “The Building Opposite” by Vanyda, would I have loved it any more? Or maybe, in this instance, the point is moot. Vanyda’s stories focus in on realistic people living realistically in a common, realistic setting—an apartment building. Through the lens of her characters, it becomes apparent that her two main themes, humanity and community, are concepts that transcend language and culture.

Vanyda’s style has been influenced by alternative comics and manga. For those of you who froth for alternative comics alone, please don’t believe that the manga persuasion will distract you from her work. She really avoids the plot traps (cheese and never-ending saga) that turn some readers away from manga and there are only a few gaping mouths and hissy fits. Just enough to be cute, actually. I believe she has taken some of the best qualities from both genres and the taste it leaves in your mouth will be mostly reminiscent of indie comics. However, neither influence has taken hold of her art yet. Her style tends to fluctuate throughout the book. This approach made her characters always appear fresh and spontaneous, so I really enjoyed changes. Honestly, it felt like an adventure. I had no idea how the next page would be set up! How very engaging.

The characters were playful and disorganized and found realistic ways to hurtle their impossible odds with the help of—or despite—their neighbors. A couple of young lovers, two aging grumps with their dog, and a single, pregnant mother all found harmony under the same roof. It struck me most that when the neighbors grew frustrated with each other, they found new ways to need each other and exist peacefully, rather than shut out their world. In this way, a very foreign concept to me seemed absolutely possible. These were good lessons to learn, but the book wasn’t preachy. It gave off a peaceful feeling without stressing itself or making me think too much.

“The Building Opposite” was fun to read and fun to look at. The fashion and hairstyles were realistic and seemed completely effortless. The hairstyles all except for one, I guess. The odd ball in the plot is a young guy with a mullet who isn’t nice to girls. The hair seems a bit unreasonable, but I knew a guy once who didn’t like girls. One ruined his life. Probably it’s not fair to oust a whole gender from your social sphere, but it happens. Vanyda’s book is realistically drawn from real life, she even included the pariah. So if you think Vanyda’s got no room for brooders in Peaceful Apartment Paradise, I guess you’re wrong. You’re invited too.

You’re going to like this book. If not, don’t come around here looking to punch me in the face. Maybe I don’t know you as well as I think I do, but Vanyda’s got me believing we should maybe get along anyhow. I’ve got a car, and you might someday could use a lift.

—Sarah Morean

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