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Tonoharu: Part One Hardcover – May 1, 2008
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Top Customer Reviews
Diane C. Donovan
The basic story is about an American who moves to Japan to teach english.
I lived in Fukuoka Japan for 3-years and taught "conversational" english at a company called GEOS. I started to go slightly "bonkers" my last 6 months or so and left a bit burnt out and I've never been back.
Some of this story is based in and around Fukuoka so it brings back some memories for me.
Many people have asked what it was like to live and work in Japan and I've told and discussed it with them to the best of my ability.
The writer does an excellent job of catching some of the subtlety and small detail that comes with living as a foreigner in Japan, and expresses some of the frustrations being a foreigner.
My experiences were quite a bit different than what is portrayed in the story but many similar things happened to me.
And, strangely enough, I knew people that lead lives very similar to the characters in the graphic novel. I also knew people that led lives very different but still went thru the same experiences and process of living there.
I'm not sure if I got so much out of this because I lived there or the writer does such a good job.
If your at all interested in the subject of expats in Japan, this is a graphic novel that you should read.
Volume 2 has just come out but I haven't had a chance to purchase it yet but I will.
The line drawings are spare, manga-esque and evoke the place well. My only (vague) criticism with the novel is its brevity; I'd like more for my $$ but at the same time I'm glad to support a talented artist and will certainly buy the sequels.
For the record: I quit my job with Aeon after my employer invented new, non-corporate rules such as no student friendships and others too absurd to fill this space with. I found another school in Tsukuba where I was treated well and finished my tenure without incident. Sometimes I consider going back ... but then again reading Tonoharu is probably sufficient.
As a piece of art, the entire book is a thing of beauty. The artwork is excellent with superb attention to detail, lovely clean lines and great backdrops so that the scenery, the architecture and the everyday objects are very accurately depicted. (If you like Guy Delisle's work eg: Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea - you'll like Tonoharu).
I have two criticisms; firstly - it's too short. I finished it in less than an hour, and for over £12 - I wanted more page for my pound.
Secondly, the storyline was a little disappointing. The book follows the life of 'Dan' a young American working in a rural(ish) town (called Tonoharu). But rather than showing us the excitement of life as a foreigner in Japan, Dan doesn't seem to have any fun at all. I don't think a single frame depicts him smiling, laughing or in awe of the incredible country he is now living in.
Instead of the "Wow! Japan!" excitement that most foreigners feel upon arrival, the comic depicts a lonely existence for an isolated Dan with no 'get up and go' who spends his time mooching around, head hung low, fawning over an American girl who is way out of his league.
Although almost all foreigners in Japan do experience such periods of bewilderment and isolation, what Tonoharu omits is the other side of life there; the incredibly enriching experience where every day is an adventure into the unknown - if only you embrace it.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Lars Martinson's "Tonoharu: Part One" is a semi-autobiographic graphic novel chronicling the first several months of 'Daniel Wells' arrival in rural Japan to teach English. Read morePublished on August 6, 2013 by Sibelius
I read Part One and it was so depressing that I'm not continuing on to the other volumes. This is a beautifully-packaged edition and the cover caught my attention. Read morePublished on May 18, 2012 by Gromer
This is a story of alienation and of the experience of being a foreigner in a strange land. I once dreamed of teaching English abroad... Read morePublished on October 6, 2011 by John Ronald
Many of the positive reviews for this book come from those who have experienced similar programs in Japan. Read morePublished on January 18, 2011 by FalPal
I bought this book thinking it would be an insightful tale into the ups and downs of teaching in Japan. Read morePublished on November 21, 2010 by BookWormBill
I really enjoyed this book, it managed to capture a lot of the emotions you go through spending time in Japan, without being particularly judgmental or drawing conclusions for you. Read morePublished on December 16, 2009 by S. George
I'm not generally big on memoir or semi-autobiographical fiction as a genre (especially in graphic formats, where the navel-gazing can get totally out of hand), but the beautiful... Read morePublished on August 16, 2009 by A. Ross
Lars Martinson's graphic novel "Tonoharu" is the story of Daniel Wells, an American who goes to teach English for a year in the titular backwaters Japanese town. Read morePublished on August 16, 2008 by Lothe