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Tropic of The Sea Paperback – September 17, 2013
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About the Author
Satoshi Kon was born on October 12, 1963. While in college, at the Musashino Art University, Kon made his debut as a manga artist with the short manga Toriko (1984) and earned a runner-up spot in Kodansha's 10th Annual Tetsuya Chiba Awards. Afterward, he found work as Katsuhiro Otomo's assistant. Kon is credited by some, including TIME, magazine as one of the faces most responsible for bringing Japanese pop-culture to America. His feature length films Perfect Blue, Paprika, Millennium Actress and Tokyo Godfathers We're all distributed in theaters across the States and saw critical acclaim worldwide earning a number of awards in the process.
Kon died on August 24, 2010 at the age of 46.
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Kon's work is generally adult in nature. He tends to get a little more philosophical, even more preachy, than most other writers, which is definitely not for everyone. There is not much cheesiness or camp to Kon's stories, so don't expect any stylized action or over-emphatic gestures; Kon's work tends to start with reality, and any deviation into fantasy is always treated seriously. Tropic of the Sea is perhaps his most straightforward work I've delved into, but it's also one of his earliest. It's a simple, beautiful story about a family's supposed pact with a mermaid. It has elements of a coming of age tale. There is, of course, a message about environmentalism as well, and materialism, modernism, rationalism, and many other -isms, all tightly packed into this very short manga (Satoshi Kon loved making points with his work). There's a great retrospect, written in 1999, included in the back of the manga that explains what point Kon was in his life during the writing of Tropic of the Sea.
It doesn't say it anywhere in the book, but I would like to point out that the author passed away in 2010. He left behind a letter to the public, and some unfinished work that hopefully will one day be released.
But more importantly this book reminded me of how important the personal experience of asking for recommendations from a book store clerk is SO much more valuable than going off Amazon Recommendation Lists.
I have such a love for ocean/sea based stories that are mythological with a layer of realism that, like I said, makes you believe. But I mean even I know that is SUCH a specific genre, how do you dumb it down?
But I find it so frustrating that a recommendation engine such as Amazon where it shows you what other people have read or things that are "Similar" to the book you're viewing are SO far off. I have read graphic novels like Carthago and The Wake and Sailor Twain and even Geoff Johns' Aquaman run, all books dealing with deep sea mysteries and creatures. But when you search those books what recommendations do you get? For Scott Snyder's The Wake you get Batman. For Carthago you get The Incal. And so on. All books with the same writer or publisher but never the same tone or story. I would Google search and forum search "comics with sea monsters" and million variations of this topic and of course people being people, recommending anything but.
This manga is critically acclaimed and written by one of the giants in Japanese manga. It's about a mermaid. Yet in years of searching "comics about mermaids" it literally NEVER came up.
Then one day last week I walked into a comic book store and just said to the guy "If I said the words "semi realistic, ocean based story with creatures", what would you recommend?" He took me to Carthago, Sailor Twain, The Wake, all of which I'd read. Then he mentions this book. Instantly I'm sold. I bought it and read it in one sitting and fell in love.
Of course I fell into old habits. Searching this book on Amazon I expected to find similar books. But no, I just get Akira and Goodnight Pun Pun.
So if anybody knows of books like this please tell me because the internet is useless and people and personal experiences are irreplaceable. And before you recommend Low or Dept H or Underwater Welder or The Massive, I'll stop you there. Been there. Just because the ocean is in those stories, doesn't mean I'll like it. Think The Wake, think Carthago, think this.