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Title: Tonoharu: Part One
Publisher Name: Top Shelf Productions
Artist/Writer: Lars Martinson
$19.95 128-page, hardcover graphic novel with a full-color dust jacket and two-color interiors, 5 1/2" x 8 1/4"
Safety Content Label: T+ TEENS AND UP - Appropriate for most readers 13 and up, parents are advised that they might want to read before or with younger children.
Top Shelf is proud to distribute the Xeric award-winning graphic novel from Lars Martinson. With amazing production values and a layered and cross-cultural storyline, this book is sure to make a mark on the comics community.
Daniel Wells begins a new life as an assistant junior high school teacher in the rural Japanese village of Tonoharu. Isolated from those around him by cultural and language barriers, he leads a monastic existence, peppered only by his inept pursuit of the company of a fellow American who lives a couple towns over. But contrary to appearances, Dan isn't the only foreigner to call Tonoharu home. Across town, a group of wealthy European eccentrics are boarding in a one-time Buddhist temple, for reasons that remain obscure to their gossiping neighbors.
<i>Tonoharu</i> is a book that easily draws you into the plight of an American, Daniel, "stranded" in a foreign land. In his quest to find other westerners that he could hope to relate to, only to realize that he has less in common with them than the Japanese.
The story is at times charming, funny, and even sad. Daniel is painfully boring (citing his hobbies to include "sleeping and TV"), making you feel for him at times when he's trying to warm up to other westerners but just doesn't fit in. The art is a very clean, yet cartoony style that's very appealing. Structurally, this book is very rigid, adhering to 4 panels a page throughout the book, which sort of echoes Daniel's rigid personality. I also can't review this book without mentioning the really great presentation job Top Shelf has done here, with this hardback edition. It's very sharp looking book, and has good tactile experience to go along with the reading experience (which I've found to be a hallmark of Top Shelf books).
Overall, a great slice of life experience, and particularly compelling as it relates an experience that many never have. I recommend checking this one out, if you get a a chance, and am definitely looking forward to continuing this story...