The Nao of Brown
A Sequential State of Mind
‘I had a feeling something wasn’t right, it was over my shoulder and inching up on me…it doesn’t always happen like that…’
Glyn Dillon’s tale of obsessive compulsion and the meditative journey one would seek to keep their head above the dark waters of depression is both a unique and often profound look at a particular state of mind. The story forces us to examine a mental state and reminds us of an often forgotten, illusive persuasion of where we should be – our mind planted in the present…’the now’; while all the time we strive to move forward and become more aware of our surroundings and the influence of others.
The Nao of Brown is as alarming as it is charming; and Dillon’s half-japanese character, Nao is the very embodiment of these juxtapositions. The story intends to fracture and unnerve and place you in her red shoes – presenting an individual divided by culture she has been left to seek her own identity where she attends classes on Buddhism to help improve her state of mind while rating her anxieties out of ten. Her cute, elven features – black bob and splashes of red add to her mischievous personality that often spirals in to violent fantasies of harming others. But while there are obvious moments of delusion, there are her interests that keep her (relatively) grounded where her obsession with Japanese Ichi comics sparks an infatuation with a local washing-machine repairman who resembles a title character called the ‘Nothing’. While their relationship develops, the love of her work colleague is eluded to amongst their trivial banter and is perhaps the one person who is truly able to pull her to shore.
The schizophrenic nature of the narrative is chosen deliberately to draw us in to Nao’s own, irrational feelings. We are often confused, then comforted, disturbed…yet reassured. In one scene involving a pregnant woman, Nao’s thoughts of harming the woman are visualized in alarming detail and we are often left alone with her figuring out whether she has actually committed such a heinous act. If you are a parent, the scene is magnified…quite literally.
The Nao of Brown is the perfect mix of Miyazaki fantasy and kitchen sink drama as her own story is interspersed with that of fictional author, Gil Ichiyama’s Ichi character, Pictor – a humanoid tree soldier whose world is brought to life further through Dillon’s dedicated website that presents an animated trailer, interviews and all manner of Easter eggs. It is during these pages that the style contrasts the subtle washes of Nao’s personal story and focuses on more distinctive lines reminiscent of ancient woodblock prints and the spirit of Moebius that infuses this sequential masterpiece in a rich tapestry of history and mythology that mirrors Nao’s own journey.
In the end we are left with the journey and one that reminds us of what is important in life. If you’re willing to invest in this story then be prepared to leave a piece of yourself behind.
This post was first published on March 24th 2013.