Box of Light is a short 2 volume manga series that is a nice little respite from the ordinary.
It’s one of those titles that I think I enjoyed more than the average reader, but I think you might enjoy it too.
Why I Picked up Box of Light
Box of light has a lot going for it when it comes to grabbing my attention. The title is really cool. It doesn’t give anything away but it draws you in, you know? And the cover design just goes along with that perfectly. As you can see, it’s a small very bright convenience store in the middle of…nothing. Literally a box of light in the darkness, all rendered in shades of purple. I couldn’t resist. I got it without reading the synopsis. A bad habit of mine that has horrifically backfired at times.
The critically acclaimed, spooky tale of a haunted convenience store.
A quiet convenience store at the crossroads between life and death. Its faint glow in the darkness draws in transient souls, pulling them closer to the final purchase they’ll ever make. Prepare for shadowy creatures, strange employees, and an air of dread in this delightfully creepy supernatural tale.
This beloved tale was awarded a top spot in both the Kono Manga wo Yome! and Kono Manga ga Sugoi! rankings in Japan.
My First Impression
Maybe I’m just too shallow but why does this remind me of Clerks?
What I liked
Box of Light is an easy-going lighthearted slice of life about the horrors of the afterlife and the general existential torture of the human condition. There’s a cat made out of darkness in it. It’s cute in a kinda of evil way. So just like every other cat.
I wouldn’t say Box of Light is original exactly. I have read and seen this sort of story, or more accurately stories, before. However, it’s never been an overcrowded genre and I think Box of Light is a welcomed addition. Since every chapter is a completely independent story that follows different characters as they briefly detour in the convenience store between life and death, the tone and feel can vary quite a bit from one chapter to the next. As such, you can easily find yourself loving one and not caring for another.
But there is still an overall consistency to the manga. It’s optimistic without being overly sugary. It’s calm and more interesting in the mundane aspects of its extraordinary universe that the grand mysteries of life. It has a way of simplifying grand questions that feels soothing.
Oh, and I like the art style. That seems a little anticlimactic after all that but you know, it still matters!
The thing about open-ended and meandering stories like the ones in Box of Light is that you tend to get out of them what you put in.
For instance, I think that the way it pares down complex questions to simple components is a good thing. It has an appreciation for the little things in life. But someone else could just as easily see it as a cop-out and feel that it lacks a sense of closure or fails to truly explore its themes. We could both be right. Perspective is going to make a huge difference in how you read Box of Light.
This is minor but it sort of bothered me. One of the main recurring characters is a non-human (celestial being) that looks like a young man from South Asia. Visually, it’s pretty obvious. And the character’s name is Tahini… I don’t know, that seemed like a pretty dumb name to me and didn’t really jive with the rest of the manga.
At the end of the day (and Box of Light is very much a manga about the end of the day) Box of Light is not going to be for everyone. In a way not much happens. The individual stories are too short to go into too much depth and the overall feel is too sweet to appeal to those looking for a grim story of the afterlife.
It’s a manga that relishes in atmosphere more than answers and a character study that doesn’t want to be intrusive.
But it also has a refreshing hands-off morality and an easygoing pacing that makes it the perfect manga to relax with and still feel all gothic and macabre!