BRINGING HOME THE SUSHI
Various artists • Mangajin (1995) • 1 volume • Salaryman, Comedy, Drama • Unrated/13+ (mild language)
Subtitled An Inside Look at Japanese Business Through Japanese Comics, Bringing Home the Sushi collects samples of nine different occupational manga, from family-newspaper cheerful (Tsuri-Baka Nisshi, “Diary of a Fishing Freak”) to serious and even melancholy (Ningen Kôsaten, “Human Crossroads”). Explanatory essays accompany each manga segment. While the collapse of the early-1990s Japanese bubble economy makes the stories more or less into period pieces, the book contains fascinating insights into workplace culture, family roles, and seism, as well as sights that only manga can provide, such as a drunken, flag-wearing American auto manufacturer, a parody of Lee Iacocca, giving piggyback rides to Japanese businessmen. The artists include Jirô Gyû, Kenshi Hirokane, Kenichi Kitami, Yôsuke Kondô, Tatsuo Nitta, Sadao Shôji, Hiroshi Tanaka, Kazuyoshi Torii, Masao Yajima, Jûzô Yamasaki, and the lone female voice, Risu Akizuki. Two of the manga have been translated elsewhere: Risu Akizuki’s Survival in the Office: The Evolution of Japanese Working Women and Kenshi Hirokane’s Kosaku Shima. A fascinating book, sadly out of print.
Kowarehajimeta Tenshiachi, “Angels Who Have Started to Break” • Setsuri Tsuzuki • Tokyopop (2006–2007) • Kadokawa Shoten (Asuka, 1999–2003) • 5 volumes • Shôjo, Psychic, Fantasy • 16+ (language, nudity, seual situations)
The story of an unusual girl named Fujiwara Sunao who likes to dress in boys’ clothes and has the power to control water. She uses her powers and insights to help disturbed people around her; for instance, she helps a man realize that the reason his kid acts out is because he recently lost his mother. While helping out, Fujiwara rattles off trite philosophy such as “The only one who can reach your dreams is you” or “You won’t find happiness with a closed heart.” Unfortunately, in addition to weak writing, Broken Angels suffers from bad storytelling and confusing art. It’s never clear what’s happening from page to page due to the sometimes nearly incomprehensible panel layouts.