Tokyo is a bustling metropolis filled with life, catering to both successful businessmen and the down and out alike. From a man who’s shackled to life because of his ailing mother to a tale of a struggling mangaka, humanity’s darker moments are revealed with sadness and shame. Whether it’s the tale of a man and his monkey or the vengeful feelings of a disfigured woman, many dreams and stories are told with insight and empathy.
It should be noted that the author of this manga: Tatsumi Yoshihiro - is widely regarded and respected as the founder of 'gekiga'. This was a movement which in the 60s/70s strived to create more mature manga suitable for an adult audience who had grown up reading what were still arguably Western-style cartoons. With this in mind 'Abandon the Old in Tokyo' is a dry, sombre series of short-stories each focusing on random examples of how modern society was (is?) steadily sliding into a morass of materialism and nihilism. This was (is?) a popular perception of the pre-War generation who were still suffering from the shame of defeat mixed with panic concerning the cultural changes brought on by rapid economic recovery. As a Westerner who grew up in the 90s - ironically when Japan was undergoing their worst recession since the War - I obviously do not share the worldview espoused by this manga which I found to be overly pessimistic and joyless. Nevertheless Tatsumi's simplistic art style suited the themes perfectly and though I generally found its characters and stories somewhat boring I would recommend this to people who - like myself - are interested in the history and culture of Japan both past and present. It's what I call 'homework' manga and if that doesn't sound appealing to you then give this a miss.
I understand that it was during the 70s but I just think the art was rather too simple and each stories were half finished just because it's the sake of story collection. I just think each stories had potential to be good if the author tried!
The art is pretty simple, but I actually like it alright. Especially the inanimate objects and the angles and general presentation. The biggest problem with the art is that many of the characters look the same across chapters. So even though each chapter involves entirely different characters, I kept asking myself whether this was the same guy or that was the same girl from earlier. Each chapter is a standalone story. The best ones are probably the first two. With chapters four and five being the worst and the remainder being alright. Some recurring themes include blue-collar workers, living in poverty, hostesses, and failed relationships. I generally liked the depressing tone found throughout. The most disturbing aspects might be the abandonment of an invalid elder (ch. 2) and the bestiality (ch. 5).
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