Wednesday, Dec. 20, 2006

The Pushman and Other Stories & Abandon the Old in Tokyo by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Drawn & Quarterly)

If you have seen and sampled the abundant supply of translated Japanese comics (a.k.a. manga) and dismissed it as a lot of saucer-eyed schoolgirls and sexualized robots, you need to look at Yoshihiro Tatsumi's two collections of short stories. As different from mainstream manga as Yasujiro Ozu's films are from Godzilla movies, The Pushman and Abandon the Old feature stories about the working class, urban denizens of 1970s Japan. Almost as unknown in Japan as he is in the West, Tatsumi's neo-realist tales feature mechanics, pornographic film projectionists and factory workers who struggle against the dehumanizing effects of a Japan on the cusp of becoming a major economic power. These tales of desperation achieve a poetic sense of despair in Tatsumi's accomplished hands.