ABANDON THE OLD IN TOKYO reviewed in Time Magazine

“What's Unavoidable, Unmissable and Uncovered This Fall” / TIME Magazine / Austin Ramzy / September 4, 2006

Asia's hits—and what you might otherwise miss—this season

Drawn to the Dark Side
UNCOVERED: Decades before the graphic novel became trendy, a few Japanese cartoonists were turning out gekiga (dramatic pictures), darkly realistic comic strips that appeared in lowbrow magazines in 1960s Japan. It was a prosperous time for the nation, but viewed through the gimlet eye of gekiga pioneer Yoshihiro Tatsumi, industrialization brought not wealth but alienation and cultural confusion. Nearly 40 years after initial publication, Tatsumi's bizarre, tabloid-inspired manga remains relevant—and this fall, non-Japanese readers will be able to sample the best of it when Abandon the Old in Tokyo, a collection of Tatsumi's work, is published in English. Tatsumi's shell-shocked characters include a truck driver who ditches his invalid mother; a factory worker who loses his arm in an industrial accident, then loses his job, his girlfriend and his pet monkey; and a bankrupt businessman who seeks solace through intimate relations with a dog. And what about that moon-faced young man who appears as the central loser in many of these cartoons? "You could say I projected my anger about the discrimination and inequality rampant in our society through him," said Tatsumi (who is now 71 and still going strong) in a 2006 interview included in the book. An example of early manga as nihilist social commentary, Abandon the Old in Tokyo is a revealing time capsule and a strangely moving portrait of survival in a land where everything is changing.


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