From Library Journal
These poignant tales of four immigrants in turn-of-the-century San Francisco try for irony in depicting the protagonists' attempts to understand the convoluted whims of their American employers. But the humor hovers near slapstick, and the pie is always in the face of the Caucasians. The illustrations are direct and effective; we see how hard it is for Japanese immigrants to reach the top shelf of an American cupboard. The story is bookended by the dates 1904 and 1924, as in 1924 the immigration laws stiffened and some of the protagonists elected to return to Japan. After 18 years of preparation, this book includes extensive notes historically pinpointing several of the cartoons and an introduction providing an overview of the author/illustrator. Though not quite the first "graphic novel" ever, as it is being touted, this book does have historical significance and belongs in libraries specializing in comics, cartoons, and graphic novels, as well as those focusing on California history, immigrant studies, and the Japanese American experience.?Stephen Weiner, Maynard P.L., MA
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.
While researching a book on Japanese comics, Schodt turned up this comic-strip account of the experiences of Japanese immigrants in early-twentieth-century San Francisco. Now, 75 years after its original publication, this unique record of issei life, newly translated, is made available to a wider audience (the original edition contained dialogue in both Japanese and English, making it unreadable to either Americans or native Japanese). Kiyama's autobiographical story follows four young friends who hit U.S. shores in 1904 and work as houseboys and farmers. They live through the great earthquake, World War I, and the influenza epidemic; suffer prejudice and misunderstanding; acquire businesses and picture brides; and turn from youths into men. The work is a fascinating cultural document of an era of great interest to scholars of Asian American culture. Since it is apparently the first U.S. comic book consisting of original material instead of reprinted newspaper strips, it is also of interest to students of American comics. Gordon Flagg