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Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero Paperback – July 17, 2012

4.4 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Johnny Hiro Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Mild-mannered Brooklynite Johnny Hiro works tirelessly as a busboy in a local sushi restaurant, hoping to become a sushi chef one day and make a better life for himself and his upbeat girlfriend. He doesn’t get much time to practice his cooking skills, however, as he constantly finds himself fending off giant monsters, angry fishmongers, and vengeful corporate yes-men. While many fantastical things happen in this graphic novel, the element that requires the most suspension of disbelief is the over-the-top accent of Johnny Hiro’s girlfriend, Mayumi. Aside from that, this is a fun, silly, fast-paced series of stories that features Chao’s unique drawing style, a large dose of humor, mixed families, and hilarious cameos by Judge Judy, Alton Brown, Mayor Bloomberg, David Byrne, Alex Trebek, and Coolio, among others. Fans of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series will enjoy Johnny Hiro’s challenging but entertaining journey into adulthood. --Candice Mack

Review

“It's rare that a new series will grab you by the back of the head and smack your face into a soft, comfy cushion of fun goodness. Yet that's exactly what Johnny Hiro does. It's hard to describe in the usual Hollywood pitch-style loglines--"Scott Pilgrim meets Bruce Lee and dates an adorable girl in a fantastically weird New York City" is about as close as you'll get, but even that doesn't convey the pure energy and enthusiasm evident in every panel of Johnny Hiro.” ―Boing Boing

“My favorite kind of illustrated story is the one in which both the art and writing is done by the same person. Consider the work of Terry Moore (Strangers in Paradise and Echo) and Jeff Smith (Bone and Rasl). And now I can add Fred Chao to that list.” ―Charles de Lint, award-winning author of Widdershins

“It's not often I find a comic that makes me snicker on one page and then touches me right there on the next, but Johnny Hiro is one such comic, and it's hard to imagine a comics audience that its mixture of silly humor and serious storytelling--and the light, airy art and strong sense of location that serves it--wouldn't win over.” ―J. Caleb Mozzocco, Newsarama

“The feeling that pervades Johnny Hiro is one of sincere, unaffected affection. It's the kind of book you'd be tempted to call sweet, if it weren't so clear-eyed and thoughtful. Call it winning, then. And pick it up.” ―Glen Weldon, NPR's Monkey See blog

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Product Details

  • Series: Johnny Hiro (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Tor Books (July 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0765329379
  • ISBN-13: 978-0765329370
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 0.5 x 10.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #904,342 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Zack Davisson HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 18, 2011
Format: Paperback
I first read "Johnny Hiro" as a sample in The Best American Comics 2010, and it was the only selection in that anthology that impressed me enough to seek out the graphic novel. There was something infectiously happy about Johnny Hiro, his Japanese girlfriend Mayumi, and the hijinks as the sushi joint that made me want to read more.

While I thought this was going to be a twist on the slice-of-life-young-couple-in-New York genre, by page three of the collection I knew it was going to be completely different. While Johnny and Mayumi are asleep in their small apartment, the wall suddenly burst in and Mayumi is grabbed by Gozadilla, a giant monster out for revenge. It seems that Mayumi's mother was once the arm in a Voltron-like giant robot called Super A-OK Robot who beat up on poor Gozadilla. I kept waiting for the familiar reveal that it was all a dream-sequence, but eventually you realize that this is real, and that this is the story, which makes it oh so good. Eventually Mayor Blomberg walks into save the day, but Johnny and Mayumi's problems are just beginning.

This collection contains the four issues of the "Johnny Hiro" comic series, and each issue has some goofy delima mixed in with the very real worries of a young-couple-in-New York. Paying the rent. Keeping the jobs. Fighting off an attack by 47ronin employees of a company put out of business by a friend's company's IPO. Hanging with Coolio and David Byrne (Mayumi's comment was classic "You look very handsome. Sit fit you nice.") Catching with a giant tuna with chef Masago off the shores of Shikoku. Mayumi having troubles at work because of her perceived English skills. The restuarant being short of Aji.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Poor Johnny Hiro. He's just trying to make ends meet, living with his gorgeous girlfriend in a tiny Brooklyn apartment, working as a busboy at a sushi restaurant, and genuinely trying to stay out of trouble. But trouble just seems to find Johnny. First a giant lizard snatches his girlfriend up from their apartment (causing extensive property damage while doing so). Then he's chased by crazed fishmongers. And barely escapes from angry warriors that are after an acquaintance. Really, anything that can go wrong does go wrong for Johnny Hiro. Luckily, his girlfriend seems to have an uncanny ability to get Mayor Bloomberg to show up and save the day whenever things seem at their bleakest.

Johnny Hiro does not, on the surface, appear to be a book that will change your life. It's not about a moment of epiphany in which Johnny realizes that with great power comes great responsibility. It's about the mundane activities that make up your world (except, of course, for the giant lizard) and how you just have to keep plugging and get through the hard parts. The narrator more than once detaches himself from the action to explain someone's motivations or to show how some small action can have unforeseen consequences or how someone who really does do his best in life can still fail so spectacularly.

One of my favorite characters in the book is Johnny's girlfriend Mayumi. At first, Mayumi seems like the typical damsel-in-distress that often populates comic books. We first see her snatched from her apartment by a giant lizard, screaming to Hiro for help. But then when Hiro does go to help her, Mayumi cheerfully tells him that she is fine and that perhaps he should get the camera and take a picture so that Mayumi's mom can see what a hero he is.
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Format: Paperback
Johnny Hiro is a busboy whose girlfriend Mayumi is kidnapped by Godzilla in the first story in this book. While racing to her rescue, Johnny’s mind flashes back to previous times he’d faced great injury. It’s that playful awareness that makes this more than just another slacker-starring action tale. Nothing happens as expected, but even in the weirdest event, there’s a sense of reality that stems from the core of the characters. Fighting giant monsters is punctuated with concern over getting back the apartment security deposit, for example.

Fred Chao’s art is wonderful, thin linework with shading for depth and detail for verisimilitude. It’s active and has a great sense of motion, plus a strong sense of place, capturing the craziness of New York City. A lot of it is a love letter to the city and all that can happen there.

Another story in this volume features Johnny having to steal a lobster to get ahead at work. The chase scenes allow for lots of dynamite action leavened with philosophy, plus occasional commentary by a drawn Alton Brown, which tickled me immensely. Johnny and Mayumi also go to the opera, which is interrupted by a samurai attack in the men’s room, and then he’s sent to fix a messed-up order from the fishmonger. Finally, he and Mayumi go to court (only it’s Night Court run by Judge Judy) against their landlord.

Not only did I get amazing cartooning and fun, playful adventure, I even learned some things in terms of how to think about life. (Review originally posted at ComicsWorthReading.com.)
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