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A Distant Neighborhood, Vol. 1 Paperback – September 15, 2009

4.0 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Taniguchi employs a familiar plot device to begin an amiable story. One morning, 48-year-old business traveler Hiroshi Nakahara boards the wrong train—a recently built express to his old hometown. Upon arriving, he visits his mother's grave, where he is mysteriously transported back in time. Hiroshi finds himself 14 years old, with full adult foreknowledge of all that is to come. The book proceeds to hit plot points typically associated with this genre at an easygoing clip, as the lead character visits long-gone people and places. As this volume progresses, Hiroshi slowly embraces his ability to relive his youth differently and prepares to address the great mystery of his childhood: the disappearance of his father. Just as Hiroshi is struck by the minutiae of a family dinner, Taniguchi exercises his own characteristic attention to ruminative detail. His artwork crisply delineates the details of place and time central to the story, while his writing dwells on the mental adjustments and minor pleasures of Hiroshi's fantastic situation. Taniguchi's execution charms, creating more anticipation for the forthcoming sequel than do the particular mechanics of this book's otherwise familiar narrative arc. (June)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Jiro Taniguchi was born 1947 in Tottori, Japan. He trained in the 60's and debuted in 1971 in 'Young Comic'. During the 70's he worked with author Natsuo Sekikawa before launching into their massive work 'The times of Botchan' in the 80's. The 90's saw many solo works including the prize winning 'A Distant Neighborhood'. The new millenium saw Taniguchi's epic adaptation of Baku Yumemakura's novel 'The Summit of the Gods' into a 1500 page manga. He continues to live and work in Japan.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 200 pages
  • Publisher: Ponent Mon S.L.; 1 edition (September 15, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 8492444282
  • ISBN-13: 978-8492444281
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.7 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #189,572 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Ellen W. VINE VOICE on December 21, 2009
Hiroshi Nakahara is a middle-aged business man on his way home from a business trip in Kyoto. Somehow, he winds up on the wrong train, one bound for his home town in Tottori. Although Hiroshi can't imagine how he made such a mistake, he decides to visit his mother's grave while he's there. But as he's about to leave, something strange happens. His body feels lighter and smaller, and even his surroundings seem to have changed somehow. Hiroshi finds that he's returned to his fifteen year old body, and that his home is exactly as it was when he was a boy. He has no idea how or why this happened, and all he can do is go home and try to adapt. He's living as his younger self again, but with all his adult knowledge in tact. Not only that, some events happen differently than they did the first time around. Will Hiroshi be able to change his past for the better?

This is not the kind of manga I usually read. I love wide-eyed characters and shojo romance. This, of course, has none of that, and none of the action found in shonen. But the story here really caught my attention. "A Distant Neighborhood" was written for adult men, but the story is universal. Who hasn't wanted to relive happy memories or redo mistakes? I'm still young at 21, but I often reminisce about my childhood. And Taniguchi handles the story so well. It's very emotional, especially the scene where Hiroshi first sees his family again. As he encounters old friends, he thinks about where each of them ends up in the future, an interesting touch. One of the best things about the story is that Hiroshi reacts and behaves exactly how you would expect for a person in his situation. He uses his adult knowledge to excel in school, and tries to convince a friend of his predicament in a moment of weakness.
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This is the first manga I have read and I learned about the author from a book I read called The Elegance of the Hedgehog. The 12 year old girl in that book said that she loved reading Tamaguchi manga. So I bought this one, and was completely entranced by it. I appreciated that it was formatted to read from front to back, which was certainly easier for a Western reader. The story of a man brought back to his childhood and having the opportunity to re-live it with his grown-up perspective and knowledge is very compelling and moving. I have already ordered volume 2 and have begun to read it. As a new reader of manga, I highly recommend this book.
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Having enjoyed Taniguchi's previous works like "Inu o kau" and the "Botchan" series, I figured I might like "Neighborhood" over "ICARO" (maybe another time); I wasn't disappointed. The premise here is simple: a man in his late 40s, burnt out, is given a chance to relive his life as a 14-year old boy. Wise and skilled beyond his body's age, he naturally begins to life life more vigorously and enjoying the basic things: friendship, nature, and family. Taniguchi perhaps excels at giving the reader the a sumptuous visual world of the ordinary (here: Western Japan, 1963).

As you expect with Taniguchi, the plot or dramatic tension in the story lurks so quietly in the background you'd forget about it: namely, how can the protagonist Hiroshi prevent his father from abandoning the family. Instead, this volume gives us small, flawless vignettes of jr. high school violence, love, drinking, and noisy parents. The scene where the character makes a connection with his father is sure to impress even the most cynical reader.

Again, the story here is minimal. But that's why you should read Taniguchi. He has a slow and gentle style of storytelling. Very little flash, but a lot of slow sizzle. I look forward to volume 2.
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By booksy on February 17, 2010
This is a beautifully drawn graphic novel about a middle-aged Japanese man who suddenly wakes to find himself in the form of his 14-year old self. At first frustrated by being trapped in his youthful body, he soon embraces it, and tries to find out why his father left the family during that time.

The artwork is exquisite, and though the story is slow-moving, it fits the art and left me wanting more.
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I once asked a friend if he would want to go back to his teen years. He replied, "Only if I could take with me the knowledge, abilities, and sense of who I am that I have now." That is what this story is about: what if you went back to being a teenager set in that historical moment, but as the person you are now?

At only two volumes, this is a good manga to read if you are an adult who does not want to get involved in having to collect a long running series. It is adult in the real sense, not in the gratuitous porn or violence sense that usually gains that title. Taniguchi has crafted a story that takes his protagonist, "middle aged businessman Hiroshi Nakahara," and asks him to face the question, "What does it take to change history." Can you do it merely by changing events? Or can you only do so by first changing yourself?

While the tale exhibits a warm humor, it is not played for jokes, like most time travel stories of this type have done in the West. The real centerpiece is the character of Hiroshi: his shock at being back in time, his coming to terms with being a teen again, the awkwardness of being an adult appearing as a teen having to relate to both other teens as peers (who really are not) and to other adults whose authority he is now under (yet whose effective authority passed out of his life decades ago). How do you see and relate to your parents, now? Your sister? The school toughs? That girl you were too shy to talk to as a boy? The hostess women who work for your friend's family?

Hovering in the background is the looming shadow that Hiroshi has returned to the year when his father mysteriously disappeared and was never seen again. Can he figure out why this happened? Can he stop it?
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