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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great autobiography with depth and integrity.,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)I loved the story of Hiroshi Katsumi (Yoshihiro Tatsumi) a school-kid artist and writer obsessed with manga. Growing up in late 1940's post-war Osaka, he and his brother Okimasa begin having work featured in Manga Shonen and other magazines of the time.
Hiroshi meets his hero Osamu Tezuka and embarks on a life-long career in the manga publishing world, the book follows his journey from a young mangaka creating short pieces for compilations and longer whole-book works to becoming a seasoned editor. Yoshihiro-san was an integral part of a group contributing greatly to a more modern adult style of manga. He and his artist friends named the movement `Gekiga' (Dramatic Pictures) which was heavily influenced by international cinema and literature.
This is the best translated work from Yoshihiro-san i have read. The book is a satisfying autobiography that also manages to be both part history of post-war Japan and an essay on the birth of modern manga. I just wish that some of the early works mentioned in the story were available in English translation - The Civilizing Beast (1955), The Man Smiling In The Dark (1955) and Black Snowstorm (1956) look especially intriguing.
The book is a very sturdy object- a 856 page weighty tome with solid binding, quality paper and is very good value for money. Designed and lettered beautifully by Adrian Tomine and well translated by Taro Nettleton. Highly recommended. A+
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Touching Autobiography and a Manga History Lesson in One,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)I can't pretend to be a huge Manga fan and Yoshihiro Tatsumi is someone I was aware of but knew little about before coming across this book. But I decided to read it to learn more about Manga and I was pleasantly surprised.
The book takes the reader through the author's formative years from childhood into early adulthood and records his love of traditional Japanese Manga, and his struggles to create and transform it into a deeper and more adult artform.
As the title suggests, this is not a book packed with action and ironically it's not really a Manga graphic novel, at least in the sense most of us understand it. It is a touching and honest account of one of Japan's most influential graphic artists and is a book that slowly pulls you into its world. Rather than a charismatic figure, dragging Manga into the modern era, Tatsumi shows himself to be a somewhat introverted and naive young man who drifted through his early years, lacking much clear direction and foresight, but knowing that all he really loved to do was to create Manga.
Of course the book was written in Japanese and contains a lot of background text in Japanese that is often translated only in an appendix at the back of the book. This had to be done because of the sheer volume of text. It's possible to read the book without referring to the appendix but it does add an extra layer of detail. In spite of that I did eventually get bored with turning to the back of the book and so, while it's not the fault of the author, I'm only giving this 4 stars not 5 because the English translation is not as rich an experience as the original Japanese version would be. If you speak Japanese then this little issue will obviously not be a problem.
Highly recommended to any fan of the author's work and to people who, like me, have an interest in the history of graphic novels but it's probably never going to appeal to a mass audience.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful look into the struggle of a manga artist,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)
For those who follow the work of Yoshihiro Tatsumi, this book is a treat. It's a wonderful manga memoir that took almost 10 years to create. The main protagonist is no other than Yoshihiro himself, using another name of Hiroshi Katsumi.
In this book, he explores the journey he took to become a manga artist. It's an inspiring tale that looks into his relationship with his family, friend, fellow manga artists and publishers. The book title is apt as we see how Katsumi "drifts" along in his life, making the numerous career moves. Most of the time, you'll feel the doubt and uncertainty as he felt within the panels.
The book, at over 800 pages, is smartly inserted with historical events to portray the passing of time. It starts in 1948 and ends, a bit abruptly, in 1960 where Katsumi took part in the demonstration against the Security Treaty. Throughout the book, we also learn how manga has evolved and affected the artists.
I'll recommended this book to anyone who wishes to know Yoshihiro Tatsumi a little better, or a little bit of Japanese manga history.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Manga life,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)The book starts in 1948 where the author is 13 years old and embarking on single panels of manga and sending it into magazines, and finishes in 1960 when the author is 25 and a successful author of manga and a new style he created, "gekiga". The book is autobiographical, taking in details of Tatsumi's (renamed Katsumi HIroshi in the book) home life, his ill brother, his philandering father, his dedicated mother, and moving him through high school becoming progressively interested and committed to manga, until he becomes a full time manga artist and writer. The cultural and political history of Japan is documented as well but the main focus is on the development of manga in this postwar era and how it developed over these years.
This is the best book I've read all year, comic books or otherwise, for so many reasons. The story is so well written and drawn throughout. We see Tatsumi's self doubt and determination to become a strong artist throughout and his admiration of artists he met when he started, particularly the superb Tezuka Osamu, but you can't help but notice Tatsumi today has surpassed Tezuka in skill to a whole new level. He writes ironically about attempting long works (48 pages! he gasps) all the while the reader is holding in their hands an 834 page book.
And its not at all a struggle to read through all 834 pages. The story is so compelling that by the end I could genuinely read another 800 pages. The story of the manga artists is well told with its highs, betrayals, sense of adventure, creation, and originality all done by guys in their early 20s.
Tatsumi does seem to "drift" into manga. While he wanted to become an artist in high school he quickly becomes a known name and ends up moving from Osaka to Tokyo and then becoming a contributing artist to half a dozen magazines, producing books, editing short story collections, editing magazines, and then starting the "gekiga" movement singlehandedly - he's only 25 years old by the end of the book!
Its such a great comic book and deserves to be up there alongside "Maus" and "Watchmen" as one of the masterpieces of the genre. It's certainly Tatsumi's masterpiece. I also recommend getting the recently republished "Black Blizzard", one of Tatsumi's best loved books, and one of his works he writes about creating in "A Drifting Life" so its good to read alongside this book. Even if you're not a comic book fan this is a great book and one of the highlights of 2009 publishing.
A virtuoso piece, a career best, a true masterpiece from one of the best comic book writer/artists that ever lived, I can't recommend this highly enough.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars great manga history & personal history combined,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)Others here have written about what it is. Highly recommended.
I also appreciate the fact that even though this English version is produced western-style (left to right), the publishers have not done the usual lazy thing and simply made a mirror-image of the original Japanese artwork. The panels --- with a few exceptions --- are carefully re-laid out on each page to preserve the original orientation of the drawings.
I have to subtract one star, though, for the quality of the printing, which is sometimes poor and often loses the low-contrast detailing of the original two-volume Japanese edition printed in JB6 size (128mm x 182mm).
The many references to books and films of the period are great fun to try to follow up on. Some are well-known, some very obscure.
5.0 out of 5 stars dramatic pictures,
This review is from: A Drifting Life (Paperback)Yoshihiro Tatsumi was the founding father of gekiga ('dramatic pictures') a form of manga that became popular during the 1960s and 70s. Having been a successful young upstart of the manga scene for much of the 1950s he found himself disatisfied with the often lighthearted and comic book nature of the form and wanted to explore more hard-hitting subjects.
Inspired by the film noir cinema coming out of the USA and the movies of Akira Kurosawa he started to create literary short stories more akin to the graphic novels we know and value today. Often tackling controversial themes - incest, abortion, domestic violence - and charting Japan's dark underbelly, his work is some of the most striking and disturbing you will come across in any genre.
A Drifting Life is a huge book - over 850 pages - and serves as Tatsumi's autobiography. It focuses on his younger years, from when he started out sending four-panel cartoons to local newspapers up to the founding of the gekiga movement. Of course, by telling his story he also tells the story of the new wave of Japanese manga and also paints a picture of post-war Japan. On all three levels it is a truly fascinating read and I sailed through it in a weekend, returning to it whenever I had a spare moment: the sign of a really great book.
I followed it up with an evening on the sofa watching the movie adaptation. Director Eric Khoo, not someone who usually works in animation, took the highlights of Tatsumi's life story and added in versions of five of his short stories. Together they form the movie Tatsumi and are every bit as powerful as they are in book form.
I would argue that any fan of the short story should have at least one volume of Tatsumi's work in their collection, and anyone involved in the creative process would find A Drifting Life an inspiration and revelation. If you are still not sure, then why not watch the film? I am pretty sure you'd be won over.
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A Drifting Life by Yoshihiro Tatsumi (Paperback - 1 May 2009)