Story & Art by panpanya
Translated by Ko Ransom
What is reality? What is fiction? Human beings often ponder these questions in their daily lives. When witnessing something far from the ordinary, we question whether our perception of reality is actually correct. Logic fades away and the mind shifts towards the fantastical. We become immersed in our own imaginations and the possibilities within the world. An Invitation from a Crab evokes these same feelings within its pages. This bizarre yet intriguing manga has readers think beyond the realm of reality and embrace life’s mysteries.
An Invitation from a Crab is a compilation of various short stories created by panpanya. While there is no narrative continuity between the stories, they’re all linked thematically. The line between reality and the surreal is constantly blurred within the manga. The protagonist goes on various adventures, ranging from mundane trips for fruit to being a wandering spirit in a new city. Through these scenarios, panpanya emphasizes the ambiguity of our surrounding world. What we perceive at surface value isn’t always what it appears to be, and that uncertainty is what makes the world fascinating.
While the manga’s protagonist remains consistent throughout the book, she encounters unique and strange characters in every story. Many characters appear with the faces yokai and animals, distancing the world further from reality. That said, this also falls in line with panpanya’s previously outlined themes, as interacting with other people is an area filled with as many uncertainties as the world itself. Every individual is ambiguous in their own right, and having the protagonist interact with these strange strangers inspires the reader to think about these ideas.
Panpanya’s artwork has a distinct style, using heavily detailed and shaded backgrounds alongside more simplistic character designs. The stark contrast between these two aspects helps the characters stand out against the elaborate environments, but it also draws your attention towards the backgrounds themselves. Just as panpanya wants their readers to be observant of people, they also want them to be aware of their surroundings, investigating the details placed in the background of their world. It’s a perfect unity between the manga’s thematic and artistic visions.
An Invitation from a Crab is as strange as it is fascinating. The manga blurs reality and urges the reader to seek life’s abnormalities. Combined with panpanya’s distinct artwork, it’s an all around fantastic book that breaks from the norms of comics as a whole. If you are searching for a truly unique manga, look no further than this.