While the idea of a graphic novel is not new, this is the first time I have seen a less popular medium put to use with such skill. Tomo Kataoka, the author, has combined the use of minimalist graphics, haunting melodies and minced text to tell the story of a terminally ill boy and girl who find happiness amidst trying circumstances. He has certainly done the job admirably – I was nearly moved to tears, and my sister is livid at me for not letting her complete the story ( my exams are close ).

The novel is released under a Creative Commons license, and you can download it for free from their site. They are thorough – I found versions for Windows, Linux and Mac OSX. Do note, however, that you will need a torrent client.

It will be interesting to see whether this technique of story telling catches on. Any medium that still depends heavily on text is going to have a tough time matching itself against the motion picture; yet, words can be used to describe emotions that run deep and which would appear grotesque if drawn out on screen. It is hard to tastefully force strong emotive currents to the surface of a character in a movie – the only romance movie I've ever enjoyed is Casablanca, where Humphrey Bogart's restraint spake his love well enough. Words allow for poetry; they can express an idea without painting a picture, much like mathematical equations can describe gravitation as a phenomenon of the space-time continuum without resorting to any law of physics.

I see Kataoka's work as an instrument to express an idea to those who might not be drawn to reams and reams of text alone – this is why audio-visual techniques are adopted in education systems. But it is just as hard as writing a book, albeit in a different way. While writing an all-text novel, the author must rely on his own ideas and his own perception of the world to render a story. While it is hard to write a book, one can always expect a certain consistency in the pattern of expression, since it comes from one man alone, collaborative texts notwithstanding. A novel like Narcissu, however, depends on the combination of three media, often by three different people, who have their own perspectives on any given theme . This is the only weakness I saw in Kataoka's work; whether he handled everything or not, the graphics work appeared to me to be much weaker than his choice of words, or the running soundtrack.

Brooks' law can probably be applied here as well – there doesn't seem to be a silver bullet.

P.S. To those who asked – I've been busy preparing for my exams. Just had one – Computer Laboratory II. Simple stuff – VRML model of a coffee house. Advanced Unix Programming might be harder, though.