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"In the city of my birth, I had a dream..."
Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms by Kouno Fumiyo 
9th-Jan-2008 11:59 pm
Kouno, Fumiyo. Town of Evening Calm, Country of Cherry Blossoms. Trans. Naoko Amemiya and Andy Nakatani. San Francisco: Last Gasp, 2006.
          Summary: Minami, a young woman living in Hiroshima in the aftermath of the atomic bomb, has trouble responding to life-affirming love...and dies anyway. Some years later, Nanami Ishikawa, the daughter of Minami's estranged brother, shadows her father in an excursion into a past that still haunts him.
          Comments: An overly sentimental, nostalgic fantasy about two generations of a family of "ordinary" Japanese people whose lives were touched by the tragedy of nuclear war. In the tradition of certain works by Miyazaki Hayao and Tezuka Osamu, this manga pretends an apolitical, humane perspective on events of global import...when in fact the point of view is intensely partisan and potentially incendiary in an international context. Kouno's abbreviated tale is just the latest in a wealth of domestic pop culture and literary pretensions portraying Japan as exclusive victim during World War II. As everyone who is familiar with East Asia knows, this myopic, selfish preoccupation with its own wartime suffering continues to distort and aggravate Japan's relationships with other countries in the region. These sorts of narcissistic meditations on domestic suffering on the part of "ordinary" citizens allow the Japanese to forget that they started the war--and moreover forget unprovoked attacks of heinous brutality and magnitude conducted by ordinary citizens against other countries (such as the Nanjing massacre). Anyway, it's not a bad little manga per se (although I noticed a series of embarrassing and confusing editorial bloopers), but it's impossible to decontextualize from a lot of big, bad stuff in the world at large.
          Notes: paperback, 1st American edition; first published in Japan by Futabasha in 2003
          Rating: 5/10 - Only if you're good at taking your manga entertainment at face value. Otherwise, it's liable to provoke a strong--and, depending upon your politics, potentially adverse--reaction.
11th-Jan-2008 08:42 am (UTC)
Pretty cover though^^
11th-Jan-2008 05:28 pm (UTC)
Ha ha! This is why I love you!

I've never read the comic and thus have no opinion of it, but thank you, THANK YOU for thinking about the works you read on a grander scale. No work exists in a vacuum, and thus no work can be properly critiqued unless its individual merits/faults can be studied IN ADDITION to the how, when, where, and why the work was published. Good for you. It's no wonder your opinions are praised so highly in the manga world.
11th-Jan-2008 05:42 pm (UTC)
It's no wonder your opinions are praised so highly in the manga world.

Err...as far as I know, "manga world" in this context = Lianne Sentar. ^^;

But I'm glad you like the review. This is one that might yet bring a storm of wank raining down on my head.

11th-Jan-2008 06:52 pm (UTC)
Oh, please - Jason Thompson named you one of the top five North American manga experts. And I don't know anyone who doesn't respect the word of Jason Thompson. That thereby makes you indirectly respected by pretty much everyone. Besides, I only found your lj when Lillian D-P, star of Tokyopop's editorial department, sent me the link. So there's more direct respect for you, if the indirect isn't enough proof.

Bring on the wank. You can handle it.
12th-Jan-2008 12:57 am (UTC)
*laughs* You know, I think I ended up on Jason's list mainly because I was in his face that particular weekend. Did anybody actually care about that list? As for Lillian, well, can't quite explain that. Heh.

Seriously though, I do think you significantly overestimate my visibility in the manga world. Not that I'm not terribly flattered. XD
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