In the Walnut --- interesting name, right? --- is a special kind of art gallery. Run by Tanizaki, the gallery will do such things as restore art and sell it. Or destroy art. Or get involved with solving museum thefts. It’s all in a day’s work.
Tanizaki gets some help from his partner, Nakai, a cute black-haired young man who wants to be a filmmaker. For part of the book, Nakai seems more like a secondary character, only to take considerably more limelight partway through. Both men are of the artistic temperament and balance each other out well as they pursue different types of dreams. Tanizaki tries to explain Minimalism to an unappreciative Nakai, while Nakai does what he can to remind Tanizaki to bathe and shave. Because Tanizaki really does need to bathe and shave more often.
There’s not much plot here, as it feels more like following the two main characters along. If a reader is into the characters, it’s all well and good, but it’s not really for someone who wants a strong plot. In the Walnut feels like a collection of short stories, and in the beginning those stories are all about art. The latter part of the book changes course, flashing back to show how Tanizaki and Nakai first got together. These different segments have different feels and could almost be different books.
Art fans in particular might enjoy the references to such notables as Klee (whose work is featured on the cover) and Gainsborough. One story involves a boy trying to copy Klee’s work to please his sister, who might be going blind. Another story arc deals with a forgery of Gainsborough and what Tanizaki and Nakai are going to do about it. Perhaps the most touching story is the first one, which involves a made-up Minimalist artist who dies of AIDS. One of his paintings is stolen, then later shows back up when someone asks Tanizaki to remove the paint from it. But how can Tanizaki destroy the art of someone he admires so much? And, furthermore, why would someone want to destroy the painting? The answer is surprisingly touching and understandable once it’s explained.
In the Walnut earns a 16+ rating, and it just gets that from the latter part of the book, where Tanizaki and Nakai hook up. Both fans of shonen-ai and fans of the art world would be prime readers for this teen series.
Reviewed by Danica Davidson on October 18, 2011
In the Walnut, Volume 1