Home is where the heart is. Home is also sometimes the place that you want to go back to the most and just cannot. There are times you long for it and there are times you cannot stand to be in that place. Relationships perhaps are the crux to home. They can either make or break what is home for the person. To a very large extent, it also depends on the past and that is exactly what Fumio Obata’s graphic novel, “Just So Happens” is about – the meaning of home and its importance.
I live away from home. I am from Bombay and I live in Bangalore. It is in the same country no doubt and yet home seems a million miles away. It is almost suffocating at times, not to be at home – the feeling of alienation and then I also try very hard to fit in. Homesickness, longing for home and trying very hard to not choke when you see others around you enjoying their home city.
“Just So Happens” is the story of Yumiko, a young Japanese designer living in London and making it on her own. The past seems a distant memory. Till her brother calls her one fine day, to inform her that their father has died in a mountaineering accident. Life changes in a flash. Yumiko has to return to Japan for a while and has to make choices, she never thought she would.
I am obviously not giving away a lot of the plot because I would like you, as a reader to experience it for yourself. The illustrations are beautiful (they better be, given it is a graphic novel) with vivid brushstrokes – also how the artist separates the two cities and also the hues which are well brought out in the graphics.
I could relate to the book at so many levels and yet at some points I thought the story was a drag, till it picked itself up and then there was no looking back. “Just So Happens” is a heart-warming and yet at times very introspective graphic novel of belonging, identity and to pick up the pieces of life and build it all over again.