Ink & Paint IX: Suiiki, by Urushibara Yuki

Somewhere…there’s water. Cold water…flowing…

Chinami Kawamura’s swim team is working hard at their summer training—running around the high school campus. They’re running, not swimming, because there’s a drought, and the water conservation protocol imposed by the government is so strict, the school isn’t allowed to fill its pool. In frustration, made worse by the heat, Chinami pushes herself a little too hard, and she collapses.

She awakens immersed in water, swimming in a deep, rocky pool fed by a waterfall, within a silent forest. A soft rain is falling. Chinami seems to be the only human being around, but as she exits the water and begins to explore this strange, new world, she finds she’s not quite so alone as she thought.

Suiiki (Waters) is a gentle story, written and illustrated with a gentle hand. We travel with Chinami from a contemporary Japan, suffering beneath a relentless summer sun that makes the outdoors a hellish inferno and indoors a stifling, claustrophobic prison, to another, older Japan enfolded in the embrace of cool water and the caress of endless rain. The artwork has the quality of charcoal sketching, with soft lines that convey the misty showers and sweltering haze equally well. We soon discover that Chinami has plunged into something more than a fever dream or wishful fantasy–her journey leads deep into her own family’s history and a story of love, courage, tragedy, and hope spanning three generations. It’s a treat for both the eye and soul.

Suiiki is serialized in the monthly Japanese magazine, Afternoon, and I’ve seen rumors it will finish there sometime this month. So far as I know, only five chapters have been translated into English, by an independent translator, and I very much hope the complete story will appear in the U.S. soon. It’s currently available at

Chapter 1 starts here.

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