When Peter Carey offered to take his son to Japan, 12-year-old Charley stipulated no temples or museums. He wanted to see manga , anime , and cool, weird stuff. His father said yes. Out of that bargain comes this enchanting tour of the mansion of Japanese culture, as entered through its garish, brightly lit back door. Guided–and at times judged–by an ineffably strange boy named Takashi, the Careys meet manga artists and anime directors, the meticulous impersonators called “visualists,” and solitary, nerdish otaku . Throughout, the Booker Prize-winning novelist makes observations that are intriguing even when–as his hosts keep politely reminding him–they turn out to be wrong. Funny, surprising, distinguished by its wonderfully nuanced portrait of a father and son thousands of miles from home, Wrong About Japan is a delight.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of eBook: Wrong About Japan|
|Release Date: 07-01-2009|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group|
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Wrong About Japan
I was at the video shop with my twelve-year-old son when he rented Kikujiro, a tough-guy/little-boy Japanese film whose charming, twitching hoodlum is played by an actor named Beat Takeshi. How could I have known where this would lead?
Over the next few weeks Charley rented Kikujiro a number of times, and although I was with him when he did so I had no idea how powerfully he’d been affected, not until he said, quietly, en passant, “When I grow up I’m going to live in Tokyo.”
Charley is a shy boy, and later I wondered if he had glimpsed a country where his own character might be seen as admirable. Whether this was true or not, his silent passion for Japan soon broadened, inflamed not only by Kikujiro but a whole range of other stimuli. I don’t mean that he lay in bed at night reading Tanizaki or Basho. That would finally be my fate. He was twelve years old. It was the year before Iraq, before he discovered punk rock, NoFX, and Anti-Flag. He and his friends skateboarded. They had Xboxes and GameCubes and PlayStation 2s, and although he read for half an hour a night, he set the timer for exactly thirty minutes and closed the book the instant that it rang. What he then picked up were English translations of Japanese comic books.
These came from stores inhabited by pimply youths sporting green hair and staples in their heads. Forbidden Planet is on lower Broadway, walking distance from our house, and I would accompany him there on Saturday mornings.
Although I knew that Japanese comics were called manga, I would have said that a comic was a comic no matter what you named it. At Forbidden Planet I slowly began to understand