While I am not or ever have been into manga or anime, I did go through a phase of severe obsession with Japanese style and music a few years back. This was the time when I was an obnoxious preteen who wore out a stick of black eyeliner in a month and who refused to look or be happy ever. Looking back, I felt like slapping some sense into myself.
However, some good things remained. Namely, my love for Hayao Miyazaki and the awe for Japanese culture. I know nothing about Japanese culture. Sure, I watched Doraemon as a kid, as did everyone in Portugal, and understand that they write vertically, sleep on mattresses on the floor and drink copious amounts of tea, but that’s it. The only thing I, a Western European girl, share with anyone in Japan is that we both need to breathe in order to live. And that’s it. Honestly, I think if I ever set foot in Japan (which I really hope to) I will feel like I have just landed in Mars. Actually, it might be easier to get around in Mars.
Anyway, I opened this book hoping to get some explanations about Japan and its weird and awesome culture. Yeah, didn’t happen. Carey takes his pre-teen, sulking son, to Japan to delve deeper into the universe of manga and anime, and they never really seem happy about anything. Carey himself has these pre-conceived notions about Japan, and when talking to locals and realizing he was wrong, he just goes into denial instead of taking anything out of it. He is incredibly rude to his son’s pen pal Takashi, and their entire trip is rushed and unhappy, and I don’t understand how this book became a book.
It is not good. Carey and his son got to meet several anime and manga artists, including the elusive Miyazaki (and Charlie, Carey’s son, still sulks while doing so. Not even a smile. I get it, you’re thirteen, everything sucks, but Carey could’ve pretended his son actually had an ounce of feeling in him) mostly because Carey is a really famous author who has won prizes and is respected in Japan in whatnot and had connections everywhere.
If anything, this book made me want to go to Japan and see what the heck it’s actually about; it also made me think of Memoirs Of A Geisha, which I really enjoyed. Not impressed, really. Thank goodness this was one of those books that come with the newspapers, and that I didn’t play 16-something euros for it. Also, I don’t think I’ll be buying his new book anytime soon.