REVIEW: ‘Days on Fes,’ Volume 1

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Days on Fes Volume 1

I miss music festivals. I miss the communal experience, the music, and the beer. But I even miss the bad things too; I miss the sunburn, the tired feeling after you sprint from one end of the grounds to the next to catch your favorite band. Hell, I even miss the crowds. And to be honest, before I read Days on Fes Volume 1, I had forgotten how much I missed it all.

Days on Fes Volume 1 is published in English by Yen Press, written and illustrated by mangaka Kanato Oka, translated Ajani Oloye, and features lettering by Alexis Eckerman. This series embraces music festivals by telling two stories in this first volume. The first belongs to Kanade Sora. Kanade has never been to a music festival before. But when her friend Otoha lures her along with the promise that her favorite band will be playing, she finds herself having more fun than she ever imagined. In this story, we get the chance to see Kanade learn the ropes of festival life and ultimately fall in love with them. With the food, the people, and more importantly, the music.

The next half of Days on Fes Volume 1 is dedicated to the manga’s second lead, Ritsuro Umino. Connected to Kanade through his boss (which is Kanade’s friend’s brother), the second half of the volume is all about getting to know him. A typical tsundere, Ritsuro is not new to festivals. In fact, he’s a pro. And as we find out, they’re the only place where he just lets it all go. While his self-deprecating humor and slight depression get some laughs when juxtaposed against his boss and the girls, they ground his character when they all meet each other. He’s a college student who is afraid of the future. He doesn’t know where his life is going, and nothing feels right. Then he sits on the grass at a festival, hears the drumbeats, and he just vibes.

This may sound weird, but music can speak to us and for us at times. When you’re struggling, the way your heart syncs to the beat, the way the lyrics hit you, all of that turns a song into a moment, and Oka captures that in Ritsuro. It reminds me of when I saw Air Trafic Controller at SXSW nearly four years ago now. They played a song that clicked, that just worked its way inside me. And when I look at my husband and the lyrics filled the outdoor setting, it was a moment. One that I hold on to.  And with SXSW’s virtual version taking place this year, I can’t help but feel a bit empty reading this manga. And that’s because Oka so perfectly captures music and venues and how it makes us feel.

In fact, with Days on Fes, Oka doesn’t manage just to highlight emotions in their characters, they also manage to bring musicians in dynamic panels to life. While they’re still because of the medium, their poses and shading make them feel alive. Plus, the manga also features pages that break down what each person brought to the festival with them. Every single detail sings off the page (pun intended), and I can’t wait for volume two when it hits this summer.

Days on Fes Volume 1 is available wherever books are sold.

Days on Fes Volume 1
5

TL;DR

In fact, with Days on Fes, Oka doesn’t manage just to highlight emotions in their characters, they also manage to bring musicians in dynamic panels to life. While they’re still because of the medium, their poses and shading make them feel alive. Plus, the manga also features pages that break down what each person brought to the festival with them. Every single detail sings off the page (pun intended), and I can’t wait for volume two when it hits this summer.