In a 2008 About.com poll, Red Colored Elegy was voted Best "Artsy/Quirky", and 7th best new classic or reissued manga. Publishers Weekly named Red Colored Elegy as the third best manga of 2008. In 2009, the manga was nominated for the Harvey Award in the Best American Edition of Foreign Material category. Red Colored Elegy was selected as part of Paul Gravett's list of "PG Rated Manga". The Comics Reporter's David Welsh commends the mangaka's approach to the story, saying "Hayashi's approach is very restrained and conscientious, particularly in its ability to convey the unspoken. Since communication is the crux of Ichiro and Sachiko's problems, the ability to convey the inability to express is essential." Another The Comics Reporter review comments on how "very simple cartooning can be taken in bold new directions through something other than a prodigious display of old-school craft." The Japan Times's David Cozy commends Hayashi's art, commenting "Hayashi shows us Ichiro['s] struggling, but it is the spatters that bring the struggle home." The comics artist and cartoonist Eddie Campbell described it as a good read, "a long strip cartoon about the stuff of life" and back to 1971 context would have been an inspirational work. He also replied to a reviewer complaining not able to make sense of it by linking the Red Colored Elegy and the '60s French New Wave cinema movement and describing today's reader as accustomed to linear read, concluding by if you are occasionally confused then "welcome to 1970". Red Colored Elegy was reviewed on the issue #292 of the Comics Journal by Bill Randall, who made additional notes about it on his blog and expressed his disappointment on the online reviews of what he considers as "one of the most important of all manga translated in English". Another contributor of the Comics Journal, Adam Stephanides in an earlier review of the Japanese edition described the storytelling as apparently simple at first but actually quite complex and elliptical, with a great deal left unsaid making a rapprochement with comics artist Jaime Hernandez's works, and compared Red Colored Elegy with the production of the American underground comix in '70s stating that no underground artist was doing anything nearly as ambitious as this at the time. However he criticized Drawn and Quarterly's edition for "rearranging the panels on each page so that the page (and the book) reads left-to-right, but not flipping the original panels." Tom Devlin, creative director at Drawn & Quarterly, answered that it was done so to reach the widest audience as possible, making a parallel with putting subtitles on a foreign film, clearly altering the work and yet the only way for many to access it.
Red Colored Elegy OVA was recommended by the jury at the 2007 Japan Media Arts Festival in the animation division.