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Tokyo Ghost Deluxe Edition Hardcover – July 11, 2017
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Story: Debbie has a strong moral code and followed her upstanding father by remaining unplugged - thereby avoiding the despised addiction that ruined her mother and most of society. As a young girl she friends neighbor Teddy - a boy nearly abandoned by his disaffected parents. Together they grow up and grow in love - until the day Teddy is unable to protect Debbie from anarchists and she must protect him. Thus Teddy spirals into self loathing over his weakness and he enlists in a program to make him nearly invincible so he can protect Debbie. But he loses himself in the process - and that's where our story begins, with Debbie and Teddy (now called Led) working as constables for the City. When they are given an opportunity to infiltrate a luddite city in old Tokyo, Debbie grabs at the chance to finally detox Teddy and get him back from Led. But what they find is what neither expected - nor can they escape bringing their own poison to the paradise.
The story has three main settings: first in a Los Angeles of 2089, a city drugged by mindless programs that ease people into an oblivion of escape. Then to Japan where they find a culture grown up around Bushido and honor. Then back to Los Angeles. Each of these arcs is distinct and have their own story but of course are part of the large picture. Most of the book is Debbie's struggle to bring Teddy back from Led while also separating him from the technology and those who manipulate him through it.
Remender does not pull any punches. From a "Hentai" amusement park where women 'ride' the octopus tentacles to Led completely destroying his foes in very violent methods. This is coupled with a very dark, hopeless, and fatalistic storyline; much as with a horrific car crash that one cannot turn away from while driving by, Tokyo Ghost sucks you in while also making you feel more than a bit sick from it all.
There are many statements being made throughout the story. One theme that came up the most, though, was A Clockwork Orange (the main villain bore more than a striking resemblance to Alex the Droog). From the sex to the ultra violence, masses drugged into stupidity by broadcasts/shows rather than chemicals, where sex and nudity is as casual as mass destruction. Each panel is a statement and worth exploring for all that is being said, and not said, about modern society. Not just American - but many societies around the world.
The artwork conveys the story perfectly. Debbie is beautifully drawn and Led is, if perhaps a bit too Judge Dredd Square jawed, captured neatly in his addiction. Imagine kids in front of a TV or YouTube screen for hours and you get the idea - it's impossible to drag them away and they have tuned out the world. The art is truly top notch - everything is very well done from character designs, to locations, to the panels themselves. It's hard not to appreciate just how much artistry went into the book and how well the artist and the author worked to create the final story.
This deluxe edition is a large book - I set aside a large block of time to read it because quite a lot happens. It's a book that greatly rewards on rereads, especially if one takes the time to really analyze and appreciate the statements being made in the art and the dialogue. There's a lot being said or shown and a lot to think about afterwards.
Tokyo Ghost is, in every regard, the very modern graphic novel - a story of its time though set in the future. I couldn't help but think of the movie Idiocracy and how this is a prescient and all too believable future, especially considering our modern politics. History tells that societies always love their dictators. Reviewed from an advance reader copy provided by the publisher.