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Tonoharu: Part Two Hardcover – November 23, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The second volume of Martinson's semiautobiographical look at an American English teacher adjusting to life in rural Japan finds his protagonist Dan Wells trying to break out of his social isolation, and forming some relationships that aren't particularly good for him: a crush on one expatriate (she's not interested in him), an uneasy friendship with another one (he's kind of sleazy and kind of a mooch), and a sexual liaison with a Japanese teacher (whose feelings for him he doesn't really reciprocate). But what else is he to do? The undercurrent of the book is the crushing slowness of smalltown life and the way cultural clashes redouble Dan's boredom, frustration, and isolation. The distinctive look of Martinson's black-and-white artwork--four borderless panels on each page, fanatically cross-hatched backgrounds behind characters drawn as broad caricatures with a few bold lines, typeset dialogue--owes a lot to Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder's Goodman Beaver. But Martinson's breed of humor is less broad satire than a darker comedy of embarrassment: awkward silences, tedious karaoke, the frustration of trying to find a socially appropriate Secret Santa present, the wince of a one-night stand offering Dan her business card, Dan's growing sense that nothing he does will let him fit in with any community. (Dec.)
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From Booklist

Ivy League grad Dan Wells’ alienation during his time teaching English in Japan was shown in 2008’s Part One as it related to his status as a foreigner. Here, Dan continues to feel alienated but now it is from the acquaintances he has made, including a few young women and another man. Dan is self-effacing and quiet, in contrast to the other men he meets, and he borders on the melancholy. Martinson does an excellent job of showing Dan’s personal world as it becomes increasingly cramped and the winter skies turn dark, but this graphic-novel roman à clef stretches beyond his individual experiences to offer insight into the broader effects of trying to find oneself by going far from home and the known. A good crossover title for those who have had similar experiences to Dan’s in their youth or for the many young adults who may be pondering the foreign-teaching route as a way to see the world, though readers should begin with the first book to get the full benefit of Dan’s story. --Francisca Goldsmith
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Product Details

  • Series: Tonoharu (Book 2)
  • Hardcover: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Top Shelf Productions (November 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0980102332
  • ISBN-13: 978-0980102338
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,161,616 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B. Figgins on December 27, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This isn't a fun comic, but it's a must-read for anyone who plans to study or teach in Japan, or has a family member planning to do so. Culture shock in Japan is brutal, and anyone going abroad needs to understand that you don't fit in, and you will -never- fit in. Tonoharu can help a bit with understanding that.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By amazon1234 on March 15, 2012
Format: Hardcover
This graphic novel is excellent. I taught English in Japan, and while I'm happy to say my experience there was a lot more enjoyable than this book's protagonist's is, I can report that many ALT's teaching out in the countryside go through the type of isolation this character does, and the book does a great job conveying the experience of being in Japan for the first year, when basic communication with others can still be a struggle.

Part of the reason I wrote this is out of sympathy to the author, because another review on this page gave the book only 1 star, which is unreasonably low given its quality. The reviewer dismisses the character (and by proxy the creator) as a pathetic loser. Clearly, 1) this person has no experience spending an entire year in a foreign culture with almost no ties to people from his own, 2) the author is playing up the sense of isolation for artistic reasons, which seem lost on him, and 3) he claims to be a "comic book artist himself", yet I find it difficult to believe any serious artist would dispute the talent behind this effort, even if they can't relate to the subject matter personally.

My only complaint is that while part II is a lot longer than 1, it still flies by very quickly. I'm hooked and will keep buying them separately, but you might want to wait until he finishes the first four and compiles them into one larger volume. In the meantime, check out his website at larsmartinson.com , which has lots of good free comics (which are what got me interested in the Tonoharu series to start with).
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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Jewell on January 18, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a real piece of work. It's the story of the most self-consciously boring man in the world listlessly sharing his un-lust for life with the people of rural Japan. He is immersed for an extended period of time in a less-publicized part of a truly multi-faceted culture and is boldly bored by it and resists any urge to learn about his neighbors or grow his puny intellectual center or even make an effort to demonstrate why he's even made the journey all the way around the world in the first place, not to himself and certainly not to the reader.

I'm a comic book creator. I know firsthand the unbelievable strain and effort and skill and discipline it takes to complete a comic book of any length. And to see a book-length work devoted to a character who is in an extraordinary place and then does nothing and says nothing and learns nothing, doesn't even form any kind of basic opinion about his lot is to stare into the face of madness.

This book isn't bad. It carries the substantive weight of a shrew's sneeze. It isn't really much of anything.
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