25 Jul / La Quinta Camera | The Fifth Room by Natsume Ono, translated by Joe Yamazaki
Charlotte, 18, bored with her life in Denmark, hitchhikes into her chosen Italian city: destination – language school. Her thrill of “I’m finally in Italia,” is instantly dashed by her realization that she’s left her bag with all her valuables in the now long-gone truck. Wandering and unsure, she meets a cranky comic artist, sings on the streets with a pint-sized boy-man, and shares a meal at a local bar and meets its charming owner.
Buoyed by her new adventures, she heads to school to pick up her housing information, and is again thrown for a loop when she’s told she’s mistakenly been placed in an apartment with “four middle-aged single men!!” When she arrives, she’s welcomed with one of the best surprises of her life … on the other side of the open door are bar owner Massimo, street musician Luca, and even cranky Cele. The apartment’s fourth roommate – Al’s always sleeping! – turns out to be a miraculous (re)connection!
Into the sprawling apartment, Charlotte moves into the empty fifth room, made available to the language school for its ever-rotating roster of foreign students. When Charlotte eventually moves into an apartment of her own, the fifth room becomes home to many a unique visitor … more adventures await.
Natsume Ono began her manga career in her native Japan with La Quinta Camera in 2003; it’s just now being offered for the first time in English translation. She’s certainly achieved notable success, with two of her acclaimed series reborn as anime for the moving screen. She’s fast creating a manga empire in less than a decade, each of her titles marked by her signature style – a combination of strikingly simple lines that somehow capture the most soulful, knowing, questioning gazes.
Now that I’ve read Ono’s first, as well as her rest (in translation, anyway), I’ll certainly be waiting impatiently for her next.
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Readers: Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2011 (United States)
LA QUINTA CAMERA © Natsume Ono
Original Japanese edition published by Shogakukan Inc.