GRAPHIC NOVELS

Tokyo These Days, Vol. 1

Viz Media Jan. 2024. 216p. tr. from Japanese by Michael Arias. ISBN 9781974738809. $28. F
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Shiozawa, a veteran editor of manga magazines, decides he’s fallen out of touch with the marketplace following the critical and commercial failure of his latest project, so he announces his retirement, effective immediately. Rudderless now that he’s separated from the industry to which he devoted so much of his life, he passes time by conversing with his pet bird and working up the willpower to sell his beloved collection of rare manga volumes. He’s determined to never have anything to do with the publishing industry again, but after a former disciple seeks advice on dealing with a tempestuous artist, followed by the unexpected death of an artist with whom Shiozawa worked early in his career, he’s stirred to devote all of his savings to commissioning a final work and enlists a group of veteran artists, all of whom left the industry disenchanted or traumatized by their professional experiences, to help him create what he describes as “the perfect manga.”
VERDICT Matsumoto (Cats of the Louvre) offers a provocative meditation on the struggle to maintain artistic integrity while creating art for mass-market consumption.
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