Review: The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi
by Robert Kondo, Dice Tsutsumi Published by First Second on September 2017
Genres: Graphic Novel
Pages: 160
Format: Physical Book
Source: Publisher
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5 Stars

Life in Sunrise Valley is tranquil, but beyond its borders lies certain death. A dangerous black fog looms outside the village, but its inhabitants are kept safe by an ingenious machine known as the dam. Pig’s father built the dam and taught him how to maintain it. And then this brilliant inventor did the unthinkable: he walked into the fog and was never seen again.

Now Pig is the dam keeper. Except for his best friend, Fox, and the town bully, Hippo, few are aware of his tireless efforts. But a new threat is on the horizon—a tidal wave of black fog is descending on Sunrise Valley. Now Pig, Fox, and Hippo must face the greatest danger imaginable: the world on the other side of the dam.

This exquisite graphic novel, the first in the series, took my breath away. Based on the animated short, The Dam Keeper‘s story is beautifully laid out, told from the outsider Pig’s perspective, the most important person in his small valley town.

I was immediately drawn into the story because of the artwork, this soft blur of shapes and animals, round and watery. But the story, oh my. Slowly, the story opens to reveal the outsider Pig and how he is alone at home and keeps to himself at school. We’ve all been there and my heart went out to him. He isn’t a sad character, but noble and thoughtful. He knows the importance of his job, but he is also lonely, missing his recently deceased father who walked into the fog.

The melancholy beauty of Pig’s character is balanced out by the growing threat of the dangerous fog, who seems to take on a life of it’s own. Increasing the stakes as something goes very wrong while his only friend Fox is over, and the town bully, Pig musters his courage to save his valley. It’s an adventure story. It’s a love story. It’s a friendship story. I loved every second of it. I’m surely saving it to read to my daughter when she’s old enough.

The art is one of my favorites in a while. It sets the mood of this fantasy story, quickly emerging the reader into Pig’s fantastical world. I was disappointed when the book was over. I need the next one right away.

I haven’t watched the short, and I don’t want to until I’m done. I don’t want to spoil the beauty of The Dam Keeper.