One family. One Painting. One mysterious individual. This was all I had to go on when I decided to buy this manga.
And is a pleasant combination of humor, grand heists, and real-life problems. There’s also a slight bit of politics, but it’s a good read.
What is Mujirushi: The Sign of Dreams?
A confusing, sometimes frustrating, but enjoyable manga by Naoki Urasawa with Fuji Productions LTD. The plot focuses on an average family.
Although earnest and hard-working, Kamado is either the victim of a complicated plot or stupid. After talking with two people who work at the Chamber of Commerce, he decides not to pay his taxes.
Both his wife, who never gets a name, and Kasumi, their elementary school daughter, look at him like he’s crazy, and it’s hilarious! But sadly, the crazy wins when Kamado agrees to take their family on a cruise.
And guess which factory received an audit? We never see if they took their cruise, but the mother wins a luxury cruise shortly after!
Only to abandon her family and go on the cruise with another man. Kamado is shocked but eventually encounters a man who needs a bunch of masks made.
He guarantees they’ll sell, and Kamado still has a factory and agrees to take out loans to produce more masks. But, once again, Kamado is stabbed in the back and left with a massive inventory of masks and debt collectors.
This time. Kamado loses all hope and decides to kill himself in front of Kasumi. But this is where the manga takes an interesting turn.
A random encounter with an old lady tells them, “a bluebird of happiness will bring them good things.” Is somehow misunderstood by Kamado to mean any bird will bring him happiness.
And there just happened to be a crow with a scrap of paper tied to its leg right in front of him. Kamado follows the crow despite Kasumi’s pleading, and the two discover The French Research Institute.
Out of the frying pan and into the fire!
Kamado and Kasumi enter and encounter a man who goes by The Director! He listens to Kamado’s story and appears sympathetic.
The Director claims Kamado has given up on life because he’s never been to France! So, of course, Kamado’s first instinct is to ask if he should continue dodging his taxes and run away to France.
Fortunately, The Director tells him no, that’s not what he should do. So instead, the Director wants him to go to France, take a painting from the Louvre, hide it in another room inside it, and then place a round stone in an Egyptian exhibit.
Technically, Kamado won’t be stealing, and he’ll be able to sell a forgery and pay off his debts. However, the Director already has the forgery ready, and since Kamado hasn’t filed for bankruptcy, his passport is still valid.
During his explanation, The Director shows them a photo to back up his claims, but Kasumi notices that the picture has Tokyo Tower, not the Eiffel Tower. But when she calls him out on this, he dismisses her.
He’s not forcing them to stay or do anything. They are free to leave whenever they want. But Kamado is desperate.
And that’s when The Director reveals that he knows how Kasumi’s mother gave her money in case of an emergency. When and why she did this is unknown, but guess how they got to France.
What did I just read?
Although things didn’t go as The Director told Kamado they would, the ending is still fun and frustrating. The mom returns without repercussions, and the family is no longer in debt.
During these adventures in France, you have a subplot of an art smuggling ring and politics. But it’s not always clear if you’re in a flashback and The Director vanishes.
Was The Director behind the audit, and if so, why did he target Kamado and Kasumi? I enjoyed reading the translation notes at the end of the book.
And the Louvre approached Naoki Urasawa to make this manga!