Days on Fes Vol.1 Review – From Woodstock to Budokan

    Title: Days on Fes Vol.1
    Author: Kanato Oka
    Release Date: February 23, 2021
    Publisher: Yen Press

Music has always been a passion of Japanese pop culture, with some Western artists arguably enjoying more success in Japan than in their native country even. Days on Fes is a manga that tries to capture the music festival culture in Japan and paints a picture of the subculture with interesting trivia notes.

It does this through the lens of a cast of characters who are dedicated festival-goers for different reasons. The first volume of the manga does the basic setup and introduces the main characters, not just how they participate in music festivals but also what drives their desire to chase gigs.

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Days on Fes Vol 1. is basically a slice-of-life serial with a cozy pace and a simple storytelling approach. Nothing too crazy here, and there’s a fun insight into music festivals in Japan. Much like the rest of the world, there’s plenty of booze involved with first aid tents ready to rescue music fans from a mosh pit trample. There’s fun trivia offered through the pages, and in particular, the first volume has each character present their tips on what to bring to a music festival, everything from earplugs to band towels.

The music festival serves as a backdrop to a slice-of-life drama, focusing on the cast’s daily lives and how their relationships and friendships develop. The cast has the usual archetypes of a typical manga drama setting, but all these different personalities juxtapose nicely against each other to allow.

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The main characters are best friends Kanade and Otoha, both with a thirst for music and life in general. Contrasting them are two other close friends, Ritsuru and Gaku, who are a bit nerdier about their musical preferences.

Of interest is Ritsuru, who is incredibly dark and nihilistic and can only experience joy at a gig. Some of his ramblings are quite self-defeatist but come across with humor, given the manga’s uplifting vibe. And let’s face it, we all have that one friend in the group who is a total buzzkill, yet we still love them enough to keep them around.

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Days on Fes doesn’t try to do too much with its story development. Instead, it keeps things calm and relaxed. The idea here is to experience Japanese music festivals vicariously through these characters, which might be the only way to visit a Japanese music festival for the foreseeable future.

Whether it’s the excitement of Kanade experiencing live gigs for the first time in her life or the ramblings of more experienced music goers getting all religious about the whole festival scene, there’s something any gig chaser can relate to here.

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Days on Fes Vol.1 is a comfortable slice-of-life manga, with the intent of experiencing the joys and wonders of attending music festivals vicariously through its cast of typical yet endearing archetypes. It’s a fun manga to pick up for some easy reading, and the little tidbits on the Japanese music festival culture offer some fun insight and even some tips for your next festival trip.

If you’re after something that offers an escape and you’re unable to attend a music festival, then Days on Fes might just be the staycation read for you.


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Jahanzeb Khan

Old SEGA games will go up in value... you'll see!